Thursday, November 30, 2006

This is now the fifth try to publish with this PC card we got through Alltel. Not at all happy with thie $100.00 purchase.

On the way to Midland I was charged up thinking about the possibilities with Green Power’s distributorship. It was one of those times that my mind was in top gear, running at a nine on the Bob scale. We went to Home Depot and then Lowe’s to price water heaters. It looks like Lowe’s has the best deal. The brand they carry is Whirlpool which we know and trust. It took a while to get someone who knew enough about them to give us some needed advice. I’ll have to crawl under the house and see about routing the 240 volt wiring to the area the water heater goes. I knew I’d have to go under there sometime. Oh well.

After we did all that we had lunch at Rosa’s Grill. Boy, I’d love to open this franchise up in Toledo. It’d go over great out there. Then we went to Barn’s and Noble to go online. It cost four bucks apiece for us to go online for two hours. I got the E-mails from Green Power and started to look at them. We were seated in the Starbuck’s kiosk for this. There were two businessmen seated at the table next to us. I wasn’t able to tune out their conversation and focus on what I was reading. This is not unusual for me. There are times when I can’t tune out even simple things most folks don’t even notice, such as air conditioners or even the hum of fluorescent lights. They left after talking about rebar, epoxy, and a myriad of other things that I heard every word of. Then a couple sat there and talked about stringing beads and how much money could be made.

As all this was going on I was getting depressed. I was faced again with the problems from this brain injury as I was unable to focus and process what I was reading. How can I run a company when I can’t even do this? Self doubt rose it’s ugly head and stole my enthusiasm and daydreams of again becoming a successful businessman. It was and is demoralizing. The distributorship requires a $5,000 investment plus more. Can I risk that? Do I just stay safe? This is hard.

It was a rapid change of attitude and with the stress I slowed down. We were going to stop at WallFart afterwards but by this time I just wanted to go home so we did. That was it. Done for the day.

11/30/06 Thursday
Lots has happened. The biggest thing in my mind, actually all I remember right now, is getting our cell phones and the PC card that allows us to go online. Cherie said it was like getting out of a locked room. It had a dramatic affect on her and I heard some laughs I haven’t in a while. Great stress relief.

We looked at hot water heaters and it looks like it’ll run a couple of hundred bucks. I’ll have to run a 240 volt line to the closet that contains the water heater. Lowe’s said they would install the water heater for $245.00 which is more than the heater itself costs. I don’t get my disability check till tomorrow and after getting the cell phones we may not have enough to get the water heater. We’ll just keep heating water on the hot plate till we can work this out.

As I write I am remembering more of yesterday. Actually the pictures I took and just downloaded brought it up in this mind. Wait till you see this. Again it’s the house Mickey Mouse built. Much of the construction is masterful but there is plenty that is scary. You can see the foundation under the office area has shifted or something. There are one by fours (I think) that have lifted off the two by six board that rests on the dirt. These are part of the support for the floor. Fortunately the office is small so the floor joists are only nine or so feet long and sit on the cinderblock that is the main exterior foundation. I know I may not be using the right words for all this but don’t know a thing about construction, or at least not much.

Now we get to what we’ve labeled as the back room. I think this was added to the original house later and the office was put on after that. Big difference in how they were built. This is a much bigger area and the floor supports are sitting on bricks, which just lay on the ground. No wonder the floor squeaks so much. Even more scary. As I studied construction stuff online I read that sandy soils like ours are fairly stable and don’t require as much as some others but this can’t be good. Right now I am thinking about pulling all the plywood floor up and doing this right. Living on this small disability check means we must be careful about what we do.

I was astounded when I saw the hive where the Africanized (Killer) bees had been. Whoa! This bad baby is at least seven feet long and that is all I can see from the tiny crawl space access hole.

If I hadn’t lost twenty five pounds over the last two or three months I never would have made it through. It’ll be interesting to see what’s there when I pull up the floor. No wonder it was so hard to get rid of those bees. Had to throw bug foggers down there a few times. The honey bees came into the other side of the house later.

I had two main motivations for going down there. First was to see the plumbing. When we get the new water heater we want to put a sediment filter on the water line coming in. It will filter out the sand and some of the minerals. We don’t want to use a water softener. Too much hassle and don’t like the salt it adds to the water. We plan on putting a three part filter with charcoal for the kitchen and bathroom water. It’ll take some serious rerouting of the pipes to do all of this. Because the filters have to be changed, especially the main sediment filter, I can’t have it under the house. Running the PVC pipe is something I don’t think I’ll have a problem with. The more I think about this the more I see that pulling up the floor is a good idea. Make it allot easier to access this. Still can’t tell where the septic tank it. That’s just another mystery to be solved.

Another reason I went into the crawl space was to see if any of the wiring was down there. NOPE, not a wire. Of course I saw all the old gas line but we have pretty much decided to go all electric. Fishing through all this to find a leak is hard enough but when you consider that if there is one leak another may not be far behind it doesn’t sound promising.

After this I ventured up to the attic for the first time. After seeing the crawl space I was afraid of what I might find. Surprise! Surprise! It looked great as far as my inexperienced eye could tell. I saw the 240 volt line that ran into the back room. I think this is on the breaker marked “Freezer” but will trace that down later. There was lots of other wires laid across the ceiling rafters, joists, or whatever you call them. Probably not the best way to do it. All of it that I could see was the two wire ungrounded type that I’ll need to replace. This house will end up no longer being the house that Mickey Mouse built but the one that Bob and Cherie built. It may take a while but it’ll be something we can take pride in.

We have an outside cat now. He’s still a kitten but not for long. We named it Skittles because it is quite skittish. It’s been out in the wild and bears the scars from some unknown attacks. Could have been coyote’s, hawks, or some other predator. Regardless Skittles keeps an eye on everything and is quick to dash for cover at any perceived danger. He is slow to get close and trust us each time we see him but then rubs on our legs and eats up pets. We feed him a little now and set up a place in the garage for him.

It went below freezing for the first time last night and will go down to the teens tonight so we put old blankets and a heat pad Cherie had in for Skittles. We also have been busy weatherizing the house for us. All we have for heat is two small space heaters. Fortunately this house is well insulated. Got some of that plastic film you can shrink with a hair dryer and put it on the office and bedroom windows. We hung blankets on the open doorways to trap the heat in the bedroom and office and to reduce the flow of cold air through the house.

The wind was howling as the cold front blew in. We did our best to seal up the windows in the living room. All we use that for currently is to store the unopened boxes of our stuff. The front door wouldn’t stay closed at all so we ended up bracing a bunch of boxes against it. All night we listened to things banging around outside. It had Cherie scared the metal roof was blowing off. That actually is a possibility out here and I will go out to check it in a while. All of our tumbleweeds are gone now. Figured that would happen. Allot of other stuff has been blown around. Even the wheelbarrow was blown over and across the yard. At least it’s still here.

The heater in our bedroom kept the temperature at 63 degrees. It wouldn’t go any higher but that’s ok, we can handle it. Snuggle a bit more and stay under the blankets. Tonight we will probably put the electric blanket on cause it’ll get down into the teens’. Hey, we’re from up north so can handle it. Just dress warm in the house. I’m not really affected by the cold because of the brain injury. Heat is different. That’s just one of the many strange changes that came with waking up.

Today I’ll stay in the house and get stuff done here. Think I’ll go online with our new PC cell phone card now. Got lots to catch up on. It’s nice to be able to do that now.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Took a while

This is just one of the staples that went through the power cord ran to replace the blown out circuit.
11/24/06 Friday
The House That Mickey Mouse Built. That title fits this place. Just looked at the fried wall outlet in the office. All the plugs in the room are the three prong type but there is no third ground wire. Some of the workmanship here is top quality. What is poor is some of the repairs and things done later. I suspect my brother, the professional contractor and drunk, did most of that.

11/25/06 Saturday
I put this laptop on the dresser next to me to remember to write in this journal. When we lived in Toledo I would usually write in the morning after Cherie went to work. Now I am up and working on this house at sunrise and am worn out come five o’clock or so, so I don’t write much if at all. That’s bad not only because this journal serves as a memory but also because it is how family and friends follow our lives here.

I got the floor finished yesterday. It looks great. I used the lessons learned from doing the kitchen so this should be a better job. The subfloor is a particle board underlay and when I read the instructions again I saw that this is not recommended. It said to prepare this and concrete surfaces with a sealing primer so I ran out and got some. It was a good thing that Walmart had it cause everything else is closed because of Thanksgiving. This morning I will put on the baseboard and we can assemble and move the office furniture in. That’s a big plus. It is the second room finished and will go a long way in helping us get organized.

Cherie went shopping yesterday, joining the throngs of frantic black Friday bargain hunters. What an insanity. Unfortunately, caught up in the frenzy, she almost drained our bank account. When she came home I made her go do the math and, seeing what she’d done she started crying. This move to Texas has been traumatic for her. In Toledo she had a job and was in the place she grew up so there was a form of security. Now she is in a different world. There are snakes and spiders, sand in the well water that is not drinkable, and the only income is my small Veteran’s pension check. Plus she doesn’t really know anyone and that doesn’t help. Add to that mix the emotional rollercoaster of menopause and it is tough.

Here's the wall of tumbleweeds I made the other day. The wind will blow most of them away.

I support her the best I can but am stressed a little myself also. Between the partial seizures and high levels of pain my emotional control is stretched. I don’t fly off at her but when I break something she can hear me cussing outside. The other day we stopped by the carwash in Stanton. As I washed the truck I felt something slimy on my hand and looking down I saw the hose was coated with globs of crude oil. For those of you unfamiliar with crude it is nasty stuff that is far worse than grease. Doesn’t wash off and soaks into the skin leaving a stain that is hard to remove. I went off. As I ranted about going to a car wash to get dirty and how I would love to find the inconsiderate son of a bitch who did this a guy waiting to wash his truck put his wife in the truck and drove off. Usually I am positive and work to keep Cherie’s spirits up but these moments are hard for her. They don’t happen as often as they used to when I was still in the initial recovery phases of the brain injury but still occasionally crop up.

This was in the old chicken coop. I remember using it years ago.

We are still discovering the secrets this place holds. When I cleared out the back yard we found where Lee’s old garden beds had been as they were lined with the stones that are native to this area. I also found an old hospital bed, gate, saw horses, fencing, and a fifty five gallon burn barrel among other things. There are more mysteries to come. Out by the garden there was a metal dome sticking out of the ground. I figured it is where the water line from the well comes in and is tied to the house so dug it out to see. Under it was a large glass jar about twelve inches around. When I lifted it I found the bottom was gone and that it covered a piece of PVC pipe. I pulled that up to see it was broken. There was nothing left but dirt so I got the shovel and started digging. Got down to about three feet without finding anything so gave up for the moment. I’ll continue that later when other more important things are done.

It’s 1:57 now. I am in the middle of a slow down. Also have a migraine ramping up. This is the first one I’ve had since we got to Texas. I got the center desk put together along with the hutch. It was an adventure, pretty much like putting a puzzle together. Some of the fasteners had broken when I took it apart in Toledo. This is standard for Sauder furniture. When I had the liquidation company I wouldn’t buy it because it’s impossible to move without breaking it and carefully taking it apart wasn’t cost effective. If it was part of a lot I bid on at auction I’d just leave it behind. That was then and things are much different now so I’ll get it put together one way or another. Time for some southern engineering and glue.

I had Cherie put the blanket we use for a curtain over the window because the light is hurting the eyes and aggravates the migraine. Am laying down for now. Hope this goes away soon. The partial seizure is not too bad, I’m running about a five on the Bob scale, the headaches killer though. Took some aspirin and one of the Tramadol I’ve been hoarding. There’s about a dozen left. I think I’ll try to take a nap now so be back later.

11/27/06 Monday
Yesterday Cherie called out “Honey, we have no hot water”. I checked the water heater and seeing the pilot wasn’t lit tried unsuccessfully to light it. No luck there as there was no gas. I got dressed and grabbed a flashlight and went out to check on the propane tank. It was empty. We had just spent $175.00 for a hundred gallons two weeks ago. Not good. I don’t know if there is a leak or what. Cherie said she had smelt gas the other day so it doesn’t look good. Wish she had let me know.

I spent allot of the morning digging where the gas line goes from the tank to the house. Pretty painful so I only got about seven or eight feet dug. Just laid down for a bit after eating the great lunch Cherie fixed. Will go out and resume the digging. When I would get tired or hurt too much I am putting tumbleweeds and other debris into the burn barrel. I got that uncovered yesterday and set it up where it will burn safely. At $35.00 a month to have our garbage collected we will be using the burn barrel allot and haul what won’t burn to the landfill. Every penny counts right now.

Yesterday was a good day up till we discovered the gas was gone. Went to church and saw Darryl Bradshaw. Actually he saw us and I heard a voice say “Hi Robbie”. I didn’t recognize him but I seldom recognize anyone unless I see them all the time. Darryl is a cousin or something. I’m never sure how that works. We didn’t get to talk much because he had to sing in the choir. The pastor and his wife came up to us after the service and we talked a bit telling them the short version of how we got back together. I always get choked up when I talk about it so Cherie had to finish it.

Cherie went into Stanton to check our mail. We got the deposit back for the apartment. That is a blessing that came just in time. Cherie has been stressing about money quite a bit so this helped. Time to go dig some more.

I’m done, worn out. It is frustrating to be this weak. I am digging about a foot at a time. It doesn’t take much to have me breathing like I was running a marathon. My life has been fairly sedentary since I woke from the coma but that has all changed now. It’s been a month but I can’t see where my stamina has increased much if at all. Seems like I’m in my seventies or something. When I was writing the last entry both my arms started tingling like they were falling asleep. I took two aspirin. Got a headache anyway but figure the aspirin will thin my blood, which is good for circulation I’ve heard.

Cherie went shopping for curtain rods and material. That will be good as the only window with any kind of curtain is our bedroom where we have a blanket over it. It will also be good for Cherie as she loves to sew and it will give her a sense of accomplishment.

So far the gas pipe I’ve uncovered looks good. Hard to find a leak when there is no gas in the line. When I get done uncovering the pipe outside I’ll have to crawl under the house to inspect that area. Fortunately the bees are gone. I sealed up the crawl space a few days ago when I saw that fewer bees were coming around. Figured they had got most of the honey. They looked for a way back in for a couple of days and seem to have given up. Good. Don’t feel like being in a tight space with a few hundred bee’s. Who knows what other critters are down there. We already had a scorpion crawl out of the bathtub, from the hole where the lever for the drain plug used to be.
Here's just some of the nails that have worked their way out through the years of wind vibrating the house.

We are going to look at getting an electric hot water heater. Not sure about the wiring but there is a circuit breaker labeled “Freezer”. The freezer has disappeared. Don’t know when or where or who got it. Another little mystery. Spending another $175.00 for gas is not really something we want to do, fact is we can’t really afford it. We are anxiously waiting for all the bills to come in. This will give us a handle on what it will cost us to live here. Then we can set a budget and have an idea what we can spare for fixing up the house each month. Of course we will keep a cushion for the surprises that seem to come up regularly. So far every time something comes up that need seems to be met by something out of the blue. This $440.00 check that came in today from our former landlords is just one example. Gas goes out, check comes in. There has been so much strange stuff since I woke up. Cool stuff like the miraculous reunion of Cherie and I. Of course there has been some not to cool stuff like being extradited and kicked out on the street by the Toledo court system to wander homeless with partial amnesia.

11/28/06 Tuesday
We’re off. It’s a beautiful day out but a cold front is on the way. It will get here tomorrow. They’re talking about temperatures going down to 20. That’s nothing new to us northern folks but with only two small electric space heaters we’ll be wearing coats inside. Maybe not, this house is surprisingly well insulated but we’ll wear sweaters for sure. We’re going to find some window stuff today to seal them up and reduce the drafts.

I saw an ad for distributorships for wind turbines and solar energy products. This is something I’ve been looking at for the farm so I called to see what’s up. They’re a Canadian company that is just expanding into the U.S.. It’s a ground floor opportunity for sure. They are using the name Green Power in the states. I’m going to put in an application. With my marketing and sales background I know I can do well, or at least think so. I often purposely forget about this disability. Keep fighting to get beyond it. With Cherie’s help I am confident we can do this. Their systems range from $14,000 to $80,000 retail. My cut is half of that. He said distributors average three to four sales a month. One a month would far exceed my veterans disability pension and I could drop that. Who knows what will happen. I always dream big. It doesn’t hurt to stretch. If accepted they will work with us to put a system on the farm to be used as a sales tool.

Time to go to town. We are going to pay the subscription at Barnes and Noble to use their wireless. It will be nice to be able to go online whenever we want. Sure it’s a twenty mile drive but that’s ok.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Out in the boonies

Well folks, getting online in Martin county is next to impossible. We finally found a starbucks in Midland where we could go online for ten cents a minute and I only bought an hour so I better hurry. Here is the last few days from my journal.
I'm just going to put pictures on where ever because of the time constraints. Hopefully we'll get this figured out.

11/15/06 Wednesday
6:30 PM – It was a rough day. The wind has been blowing pretty hard since yesterday. Cherie saw her first sandstorm. It wasn’t really much of a sandstorm by Texas standards but it was blowing pretty good. The tumble weeds were barreling along and hard to dodge when we drove to Midland. There were a few we couldn’t avoid and we hit square on. It stayed on the front of the car like a hood ornament. Cherie laughed about it all the way into town.

The front screen door had been just about torn off by the wind and was hanging on by one screw and a nail. I went to take it all the way off and right when I got the screw loose the wind tore the door out of my hand and smashed it to the ground about five feet away, breaking all the glass. That set me right off and Cherie heard some colorful language.

I went out to the garage and tried to work on the bench. As I tried to move it I aggravated my back again. This time the pain level was intense and stayed with me the rest of the day. On top of that I had a bad partial seizure that not only slowed down my mind but my body also. It threw my equilibrium off and I had to be careful to keep my hand on the walls and stuff so I wouldn’t fall or stumble. I laid down for a short while but soon went back to work. There would be no more lifting of anything remotely heavy. Bending down became a chore and I had to keep my back as straight as I could and tried to have something to grab onto to stand up. Not fun. Was like this all day. Hope it’ll be better tomorrow.

We had our first visitor today. Chuck and Lillian came by with their child, Miracle. They named her that because she was a surprise and they weren’t supposed to be able to conceive. We visited for a while and Miracle, who is just about two years old, provided ample entertainment and made sure everyone stayed active, keeping her out of things. What a live wire and adorable kid.

Cherie said that my getting angry probably triggered the slow down. I suspect she is right. She tells me I often have these after an emotional upheaval. I am tired, which is usually the case after a slow down.

Oh yeah, we still don’t have long distance. Cherie tried to dial 0 to talk to an operator from Wes-Tex phone but there was no operator. She got in the car and went to their office to find out what was going on. Right now we can’t even go online with dial up because Midland, which we can see from the house, is long distance. This is so not right. Wes-Tex is a legally protected monopoly so we have no options.

I’m going to call it a night now. We plan on going to Midland tomorrow. Hopefully we will be able to go online at the hotel.

11/17/06 Friday
Evidently the hotel no longer offers wireless internet. Between that and not having our ATT long distance turned on we are completely unable to go online. That is making things tough as it prevents us from accessing certain information and doing our online banking.

I went out to the garage to dig out the bathroom door. Virginia is to visit us and if she needs to use the facilities it would be very uncomfortable for her. When I did I found a list of my grandmothers possessions with prices. This is from the garage or I guess house sale, where I presume her brother Troy was selling off what would have been part of my inheritance. What kind of family is this? I know they are blood kin but don’t understand this at all. My brother, Larry, outright stole, not only from me but my grandmother as well.

Before she died she told Cherie and I that she wanted us to have the house and everything in it. We came to the house to see what was there and it had already been ransacked several times. Troy came in and said “If you see anything you want you can have it”. Being the blunt guy I am I replied “Troy, this is Minnie Lee’s stuff. She told us we can have it. Who are you to give it away?”. With that Troy turned around and left.

Whether my brother was involved I do not know but it wouldn’t surprise me. Everyone claims my grandmother said they could have things like the washer and dryer that Virginia’s brother took. She was 99 years old and easily influenced but from what we saw during our visits her mind was sharp. In my mind there is nothing lower than someone who steals and takes advantage of family. I may have gone to prison but that was for selling ground up aspirin as cocaine and being so incredibly drunk with the resulting loss of the ability to make a rational decision. That night I passed out in a parking lot. The only time I stole was to feed my family. That isn’t a good excuse but in my mind is at least a partial justification. Despite that I think my morals and integrity are better than those family members who robbed my grandmother.

What a start for the day. I noted to Cherie how much our life style has changed with this farm. We are up at or before dawn and get moving. By nine at night we are both tired and ready to go to sleep. Last night I didn’t even make it to ten when I usually like to watch the news. Got to get to work now. Just wanted to stop and write this while it is still fresh in my mind.

My frustration level is high. I finally got the workbench put together so could start cutting the baseboard with the compound miter saw we bought. Getting the first board cut I went to nail it in place. I have noticed before that hammering a nail was difficult for me but that was only doing a few large ones. When I woke from the coma the hospital and later the Brain Injury institute worked to help me learn how to use my right hand. They would throw me a ball and I would try to catch it. Now, as I tried to hammer the small finish nails I am once again faced with how much I lost. I bent nail after nail and kept getting mad as my failures increased. Such a simple thing to have a hard time doing.

On top of that is the fact that I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. The nails I bought aren’t working. In fact the baseboard just comes loose as I move on down to the next nail. I give up. Tomorrow I will go to Home Depot where they give instruction to folks that are as ignorant as I seem to be and ask them how to do this. To think that I was a craftsman who made high quality custom furniture for businesses and can’t put baseboard down is hard for me. I feel pretty stupid. Even reinforcing the base for the work bench was a series of errors. It is depressing to say the least. At least I was able to paint the kitchen. At least I can still carve and am grateful I didn’t lose that.

I fell down three times today which didn’t help the pain level. Working on the baseboard required me to be on the floor which adds to the pain level. I hope tomorrow will be better. Cherie has been a strong support during all this. I am a lucky man to have such an understanding woman.

11/18/06 Saturday
Woke up at four this morning. I suppose that’s to be expected when you go to bed at 7:30. Evidently I pulled a muscle one of the times I fell yesterday cause the right side of my neck and shoulder is hurting fairly bad when I woke up. That’s on top of the pain in my neck and back bones. I’ll take some aspirin and one of the Tramadol I’ve been so careful to save for these high pain days. They won’t last long here. In Toledo my life was fairly sedentary when it came to physical exercise but here on the farm it is very different. The doctors said I needed to exercise and reduce stress. I’m getting plenty of exercise but am not to sure the stress has been reduced much. Getting slapped in the face with my difficulties performing certain tasks doesn’t help. There are plenty of things I can do well but it’s the simple things I have a hard time with that frustrate the hell out of me. The snap, crackle, and pop in my neck has gotten much louder. A couple of times it was loud enough for Cherie to hear.

Virginia came by yesterday. We visited for a bit but she had to get to her doctors appointment. We gave her the tax papers so that should be the final hurdle to close the estate. We asked her about the washer and dryer that had been removed from this house because we would like to buy them back. She said her brother, Kenny, had them but that he didn’t talk to her much. I asked her how uncle Troy was doing and she said he was ok but Delmer had been in the hospital. They are both Minnie Lee’s brothers so that would make them my grand uncles.

We showed her the price lists from the garage sale that had been held at this farm. She didn’t seem to recognize many of the items and it may be they had been stuff Troy had kept stored here. Virginia seemed a little uncomfortable when we touched these subjects. She had some interesting things to say about Linda, whom she definitely suspects stole from Minnie Lee. I remember her at the funeral. She was real chummy with Larry despite telling us at the assisted living home before Minnie Lee died that she had never met him. Virginia said Linda had a key to this house. Another name to add to the list of potential thieves. I’d love to make a visit to her house to see how she acts. If it’s full of Lee’s stuff she may not let me in. That would speak volumes

As I was raking up some of the debri from when the tumbleweeds were cut a pickup truck did a u turn and came back. I went out to the road and an older gentleman asked "Are you Jessie Rea's son?" I told him I was and come to find out he had gone to school with her. We talked for quite a while. He knew my grandmother and everyone else in the area. Come to find out he was the one who had offered eighty grand for the farm. He said he would stop by from time to time. Had allot of good advice about what grows out here and things.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Slow but sure

I am sitting out in the driveway listening to the bee’s, window fan, train, highway, and the sound of approaching vehicles that are well over a mile away. There is an occasional near silence when the sounds of life nearby infuses the air with its hum. A group of leaves fell from the pecan tree that is over the garage with a deafening crash. The birds and bugs are beginning their sunset symphony. This was a record heat day here in Midland with it reaching eighty eight or nine degrees. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and wasn’t one yesterday either so it is cooling rapidly now. As soon as the sun got low it started dropping.
The bees worked all day to find a way under the house and eventually did. It was a squeeze evidently because not many were coming through. I saw how they had cleaned the remains of the hive I had dropped in the dirt and got to thinking. These bees obviously know how to detect honey and will take it away so…What if I just opened it up and let them clean it out? They’d pick it clean from what I saw, so does that mean my problem would be solved? As long as there is honey down there bees will try to get to it. We saw Chuck and his wife downtown in Stanton. He told of the honey bees they had in the big tree they had to take down, how they swarmed and left the hive behind. Would another swarm find this spot and come in? Got to work this out in my mind to decide what’s best.

Cherie took this series of pictures showing how they pick up the cotton.

I’m tired. Cherie went to the quilt show. I wasn’t into it so opted out. That was no surprise to Cherie. I hope she meets some friends here. It would help her allot.

11/11/06 Saturday
Yesterday Paula, the lady with the Farm Bureau, came out to inspect the house in order to get us a quote. From our conversation it seems likely that their rates will definitely beat out State Farm. When we got quotes from State Farm we went into shock. Who would have thought car insurance would go up when you move into the boonies. Paula said that they take into account things like running into deer but also the big hailstorms and occasional tornado effect rates out here. Similar to the rates being higher where the hurricanes hit last year.

As we talked of course we told her our story. This time I let Cherie do the talking, partly because it is interesting to hear Cherie’s view of this. It always touches who we tell it to.

We were expecting to have Virginia come out but she didn’t make it. We need to get her the farms property tax papers so this estate can be closed. There isn’t much left of the money now as Virginia disbursed most of it but every little bit helps. Besides I just want it finished so it’s one less thing to deal with. I had offered to run the papers out to her because it is at least an hours drive and would make things easier for her but she said she’d run them to us. We would love to see her and I’d like to show her what we want to do with the place.

Cherie and I worked hard on the kitchen to get it ready to paint and lay the tile. We pooped out by 5:00 or so, just ran out of steam. I patched many of the holes and this morning we will sand that down. I just measured to buy some new base board and trim. It would be a big help to have a compound miter saw but the budget won’t allow that so I’ll do it the old fashioned way with a hand saw.

I did pick up a circular saw on sale in Toledo. In fact I have done a fair job of collecting the tools we will need on this house. Considering that I owned only the clothes I could carry in a garbage bag when Cherie and I got back together it is amazing how far I have come. There is no question that I am blessed and I continually wonder “Why me?”. In my mind I deserve none of this good fortune and still ponder about how things have, and still do come together as if orchestrated by an outside hand. Is there a God? I don’t know but daily ask for him to show himself to me.

We’re going to head into town now to get what we need for the kitchen. I had to scrape the entire floor by hand to remove the crud that had built where the joints of the old tile had been. Hopefully the kitchen will get finished today. Then we can start getting things organized and move the fridge on in. It will be the first area finished.

I opened the crawl space access yesterday to let the honey bees clean out what’s left of the old hive. It is always good to learn how to work with nature. There is no doubt these guys will clean it much better than I could, in fact they will pick it clean. We will have to watch in case another group of bees try to make this their home.

Cherie took some pictures of the farmers picking up the bales of cotton. It is fascinating to watch, at least for us city types to whom this is novel.

It’s already 2:00. We came to Midland to pick up some wood trim for the kitchen. While here we stopped by some of the cellular companies to investigate their services and prices. So far Alltell is at the top of the list. Getting a PC card that allows us to go online is one of the biggies we’re looking at. It would entail getting a phone line just for that. It will all boil down to the money. We are going to be careful to make sure our regular monthly expenses will fit into our budget, which is based on my pension for now. For now we’ll use the Wi Fi at the hotel or other hot spots.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Step by step

11/9/06 Thursday
Typical start for the morning. I went out to check on the bees. Last night I had sealed up the area as best I could. They were trying to find a way inside but hadn’t as of yet. There was a piece of the honey comb I removed the other day in the dirt and they were on that hard. So far so good.

I washed my hair this morning. This is something we don’t do often now because of not having a shower and how hard the water is. It is so hard that shampoo barely lathers up so we use the bottled water. I will gently pour it over Cherie’s head as she rinses to wash it clean. Unfortunately it is not heated so provides a cold morning wake up shock. Like I said we don’t wash our hair as much. For me it’s no big deal because there’s really not much hair to wash and I’ll use the faucet water.

Anyway as I was outside I realized that I forgot to brush my teeth so went back in to do it. Coming in I heard a sizzling sound. OOPS, I had started cooking some eggs for breakfast and forgot all about them. Not good. It is pretty much par for the course for me. I go through my day forgetting what I was or was going to do so wander from one task to another. In Toledo I had developed routines to help compensate for this result of my brain damage such as using timers and scheduling things but here it is different. I will have to develop new routines. That will be hard until we get settled a bit.

As I wrote Cherie came in with her notebook and we scheduled our day as best we could. She called the State Farm Insurance lady and set an appointment to see her about transferring our policy to Texas. When Cherie told me how much it would go up I went ballistic but there may be things we can do to bring it down to a reasonable level. We are going in to see the Farm Bureau and the Farm Service Agency this morning. I had to call Cherie to get the names and what each one did. The Farm Bureau is where the farms insurance was issued and the F.S.A. is the government agency that handles stuff like the CRP program the land is under.

It is our goal to paint and tile the kitchen today. I think I’ll try to get the office area painted at the same time. I’m planning on using the HVLP sprayer that I bought in Toledo. It worked real good on the trailer and should help things go quickly. There is lots of work to do on the walls first, mostly patching holes and scraping off the glue used to stick paneling on the walls. Cherie will use a broom on the walls and ceiling to remove the sand and cobwebs that cover everything. Then we wash the floor and dry it with the help of a fan. With that done the tile can be laid.

In our mind these are temporary fixes to get the house livable but will be replaced when, or as we rebuild the house. Fact is it is important to do this for Cherie’s peace of mind. It will feel much more like home when it’s painted, floored, and we can set up house. Till then it is a mess and most of our stuff remains in the boxes we brought it in.

This is the two mainstays of this region, Oil and Cotton are king here.

It is 10:00 now. Time to get moving.

2:51 – We are at our Wi Fi hotel now. The phone line was activated this morning but we haven’t had time to see how it works with our dial up service. Went to the farm places and got Nester and FSA straight on where the five acres we are pulling out of the CRP program. He had to figure it out and seemed to have some difficulty with it but got it done.

We came to Midland and just finished talking to Laura, the State Farm insurance lady. She explained why insurance in Texas was more expensive, or at least tried to, and gave us a series of quotes with alternatives that might help. Paula, the lady we need to see from the Farm Bureau, called as I was writing this and will come out to the house to inspect it tomorrow. So far so good. Step by step we are getting this transition done.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Bee Wars

11/6/06 Monday
Right now I am in the room that will be our office listening to thousands of bees under the floor below me. I had put on layers of clothes and put a T shirt around my neck to shield me from bites. Using another thin T shirt as a veil I went out to pry the board covering the access to this crawl space. Despite my beating and prying I wasn’t attacked by a swarm of bees.

This tells me that these are regular honey bees, which makes me sad. I hate to destroy something good but we don’t have the money to pay a bee keeper to crawl under here and move the hive. That plus the fact this hive is in a vital spot intersecting the house doors, garage, and path to the back yard leaves me little choice.

Digging a foot deep around the access point I was finally able to pull it back enough to throw a fogger in. I had Cherie take a picture of me through the window and tossed in the fogger. That’s when the bees started coming out. Of course I was indoors by then so watched them from the office window. It must have been a huge hive from the number of bees that made a steady stream out for quite a while.

The sound of the bees has died out now. I feel a sorrow knowing how valuable these creatures are in the ecosystem. At some point in the future we may have bee hives to fertilized the planned fruit trees and crops. A little honey will be nice too.

Today I will go to the VA hospital in Big Spring to let them know I’m here. Then they can get my medical records transferred in addition to my medication. We are going to call AT&T this morning to see if they can offer phone service. It seems that the local phone company, WesTec, has some kind of legal lock on this county. It’s something some politician put in the law books way back when to give a few small pockets a monopoly on phone service. We have heard that in order to get cell phones here you must have an address out of this area. Our Verizon phones work here so we’ll keep them however we would like to go online so will have to do something. WesTec’s rates are way high but that’s what happens without competition.

This is just a small amount of the sand that was in the pipes. We already took out a skoop shovel full.

There has been so much going on it will be hard to catch up. I know now that the only way I will be able to keep this journal that serves as my memory up is to work on it in the mornings before I get going. Once I am moving that’s it. Everything else takes a back seat and whatever is before me I do.
Every faucet in the house leaks because of the build up from the hard water. They will all be replaced eventually.

That’s how it’s been for both of us. We’ll be working on one thing and in the process see something else that needs to be done so go to that. I have lots of starts with only a few finishes but that is still good.

11/7/06 Tuesday
Well the bee wars continue. There are still a crowd of bees going in and out of the crawl space though not nearly as many as before. I was out at sunrise to block the entrance as best as I could and there was almost no bee activity then. That’s because it was still cool out, about 45 degrees. Once it warmed up the bees began to make themselves known. I used my shovel to remove as much of the hive as I could. It’s a shame the honey is poisoned from the foggers. Would have been nice to eat.

Yesterday was tough on Cherie and wasn’t real easy on me either. We went to Big Spring so I could get registered at the VA hospital. That ended up being a four hour ordeal. In order to refill my prescriptions I was required to see a doctor. Because I was new and didn’t have a doctor assigned they sent me to the emergency room. There we sat for two hours waiting, along with eight or nine others, to be seen. Finally my name was called. The doctor, who barely spoke English, looked at my pill bottles for thirty seconds and said he would enter it on the computer and I could then get my refills.

We didn’t get out of there until 4:00 or so and headed straight to Midland, which is a half hour or so away, to see our lawyer Patrick. When we were almost there he called to say he had a 4:30 appointment so wouldn’t be there. We rescheduled for eleven today and will leave in about ten minutes to go there.

We went to Home Depot while we were in Midland. There we picked out some more tile for the office area but they were out of what we wanted. Of course we picked out what was on sale and cheapest. We can always improve things later. It’s important to get the house livable and functional right now. We also found a roll of carpet that had been purchased and not picked up so we got a nice discount on it. We now have what we need to fix the floors in three rooms.
Here's the top of a four foot high fence that will be removed when I can dig it out.

The valve on this propane tank needs to be replaced. I'd replace it myself but am unsure of regulations and would need to empty it. Will wait till we've used most of the gas.

This is our $2600.00 well. Looks much better than what was here.

Leroy, (The well guy) said these were rat nests.
I'll need to get a gun.

There are some beautiful sunsets out here. This is a nice picture to close with.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

We have water

11/3/06 Friday
So much, so fast. It is 12:38 now and this is the first time I’ve been able to get to this journal. Let’s see how much I can recall.

I got Cherie’s car fixed just minutes before check out time. What a bitch that was. I had to get Cherie to help so I could get this belt snaked around. I bought a Hayne’s repair manual for her Prizm. Come to find out the car is a Toyota Corella as well as a Geo. There was no diagram of how the belt was to be routed but I did find a picture of something else on the motor that showed enough of the belt to figure it out.

With that done we checked out of the hotel and headed out to the farm. Now we are committed, we are moving in. We stopped at Walmart to pickup a few things, especially some five gallon water bottles. We filled those up at the roadside coin operated water station that’s in Stanton. Leroy called when we were just arriving to let us know that Ronnie would be late with his shredder. “That’s fine Leroy. We’re not in a hurry” I told him. He said he had looked at the well and would talk to me about it.

We pulled in with the trailer and I backed it up to the front door. Maybe I had done that the day before, can’t remember now. Anyway it was work time. Cherie worked on cleaning areas we could put things on. I got out my tools and clearing a space in the garage to work began to make the attachments I need to hook up a ramp to the trailer. With that done I backed the trailer to

11/5/06 Sunday
We have been so busy and are so tired by the end of the day that this journal just doesn’t get done. Right now we are in the parking lot of the Sleep Inn stealing wireless internet access. We are such bad people.

We have water now. Don’t want to drink it but the well is fixed. That was $2600.00 dollars we hadn’t planned on. If we had dug a new well it probably would have been close to $5000. The water is hard and smells a little but water is life out here. With it we will bring this farm alive. I am taking tons of pictures so the family back home, and for that matter everyone else can get a good idea of things.

This has been a little tough on my beautiful city girl. She’s not used to this. Been roughing it. Now we can use a regular toilette and wash. We just came to Midland to pick up some floor tiles and bug fogger. That’s because we had a swarm of bees fly up and make a home under the house. Cherie yelled out “Bob, there’s a whole bunch of bees here. Sure enough they are flying in and out of a hole accessing the crawl space of the house. Don’t think they are killer bees cause they didn’t attack when I was five feet away, just wild honey bees of some type. Don’t care. We don’t need them or want them here.

I had a slow down while driving to Midland this trip. It came on fast. I am alright now that we are parked and there is no stress. It was hard to function in the store. I am going to download this and some pictures while Cherie continues on her computer checking our bank accounts and stuff.