Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The See Saw of life

1/31/07 Wednesday
Another early morning wake up. It’s 5:00 A.M. My mind has come up with a better way to make the support brackets for the chimney. We’ll see how that goes. After yesterday’s simple tasks becoming so difficult I don’t have much faith in this mind. Think I’ll go check E mail right now. Not real speedy judging from how hard I have to work to formulate these words.

It’s nine now and the daily see saw of my life is continuing. I am sharper than I was earlier. Running an average 7 on the bob scale. This roller coaster of mental acuity will always be a source of frustration and uncertainty. I never know how the day will be. There are sometimes periods of clarity that last one or even three days and then there are times I lose a whole day, unable to function except at maybe a third grade level or something. I’m not sure that analogy is a good one. How can I convey what this is like? It’s like getting drunk or being on drugs without the drugs. Confusion, forgetfulness, inability to focus, poor emotional control where I get angry or depressed, saying things without thinking, physically impaired as the brains ability to control my right side is affected, and on and on. Then I am sharp and lucid, a great guy who laughs, jokes, and carries on deep conversations. My joke, my attempt to lighten this up is “I am either the smartest dumb person or the dumbest smart person you will ever meet. It just depends on the moment you meet me”.

How can my beautiful wife handle this? What a sacrifice she made when she remarried me. Our divorce twenty one years ago was because of emotional control problems caused from another brain injury when I fell out of a tree, breaking my neck, back, and sustaining a concussion. Then seventeen years later she sees me on TV as Toledo’s John Doe with a much more severe brain injury. How ironic, a brain injury tore us apart and a brain injury brought us back together. This is love folks, the kind of love you read about in heart wrenching best sellers. It’s hard on both of us but when we look at each other the worries fade away like a movie segway. Her face comes into focus and everything in the background disappears.

I’m going to get moving now. Cherie is going to fix pancakes. Today I will continue on the chimney and will try to incorporate the new design my brain seemed to develop as I slept. It’s a simple design really, nothing a grade school kid couldn’t come up with I don’t think. Simple works best for me anyway. It’s when simple tasks become hard that I get frustrated. But I don’t quit. You watch. It’ll be four years before the land is freed up to use and in those four years I’ll have all the pieces in place to create an agricultural company that can be used as a model for other self sustaining organic enterprises. Or I’ll have a heck of a garden. Either way I will love life and always be aware that every day I wake up is a gift.

Just remembered I need to run the trash to the landfill so I’ll write it down to help make sure it happens. Also told Cherie so she can help me remember.

Got the trash down to the landfill. Noticed a bunch of old telephone poles that had been dumped there, probably by the phone company. I’ll have to find someone there to see if I can have them. They would be great for the raised garden beds I have in mind. After that I picked up the mail. Got a packet from Amy. The note said it was some things she had collected for us. I think its things people she had shared our story with had given her for us. There was a neat pad of notepaper that fits perfectly with this farm. Has pictures of plants and spices around the edge. There were gift cards for Lowes, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Starbucks.

When I got home and showed these to Cherie she kind of cried and kept asking “Why is she doing this for us”. I didn’t know that Cherie was going through a depression this morning so didn’t understand her reaction. It got worse and I didn’t deal with it well. Got upset because she was crying. That’s not the right way to handle a crying woman. I went outside to work on the chimney and stayed out till Cherie came out. We talked about it but I still didn’t handle things well. I’m just not very good at this. Getting upset and saying things like “Why don’t you quit feeling sorry for yourself” make things worse.

I got allot done on the chimney but will have to finish it up tomorrow. Lost much of my motivation because of all this. When Cherie’s not happy I’m not either.

My former secretary, Eileen, called. She had finally been able to get online after months of not being able to and read the blog. I’ll have to write about all this later. Just don’t feel like writing right now. Got to go.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Peacefull start for the day

1/30/07 Tuesday
It’s 4:30 in the morning. I woke up when Carman kitty crawled up between Cherie and I purring. I wasn’t deeply asleep and probably dreaming so he may have thought I was awake. I am now. He purred, snuggled next to my head and as I petted him licked my hand and forehead. I listened to Cherie’s gentle but broken snoring and looked at her face in the soft light filtering in from the nearly full moon. How pretty she is. The sleep apnea is always kind of disturbing as I hear her stop breathing for a few beats. I thought about having her roll over on her side as that usually helps but chose instead to lay there close against her warm body. Carman did it for me when he got up and walked over her head.

Lying awake I reached for this laptop and turned it on, knowing I won’t be going back to sleep anytime soon. Did so as quietly as I could so as to not wake Cherie. She woke anyway but Carman had already started that process. Now she has gone back to sleep and I am typing on these keys carefully to make as little noise as possible.

I opened up the calendar in this computer to see what day it is. That is not unusual for me but gone are the days I would wake up and not even know where I was. The short term memory is much better now. Of course waking up in the same place every morning helps. When I first moved in with Cherie it was days before I could wake up and not be totally bewildered as I looked around a room that was totally unfamiliar to me. Imagine the confusion I endured when I was wandering homeless, seldom waking in the same spot. What a turn my life has taken now, what extremes I have known.

So I am resisting the urge to go out and start bringing in the stones for the woodstove and manufacturing the straps that will secure the chimney to the house. Instead I am constructing them in my head, designing and deciphering the engineering required. What stresses to compensate for, the constant forces of the wind that will rock this continually for decades, working fasteners loose and fatiguing the metal. How to support the weight of fifteen feet of stove pipe running twelve inches away from the wall in order to clear the eave where the roof comes in. I think I have it properly over engineered now but we’ll see. When I go to put things together that I have designed in my head I often discover some vital area of miscalculation.

Suppose I’ll go online and post this. One of the greenhouse manufacturers I contacted sent me a list of websites that I can access to study and educate myself about this area of agriculture. This was exactly what I had asked him for, telling him I wished to develop a business plan for when the land becomes available in 2011. The five acres we are pulling out next year will just give me some practice room and a chance to develop the infrastructure for when the other seventy acres are opened up. The most important part of that is water. We’ll get another well drilled and install the windmill along with a large storage tank, something that will hold fifty or a hundred thousand gallons. I’ll figure out how much as I educate myself on this stuff.

We took the cats to the vet we met at church. I wasn’t going to go with Cherie because I wanted to work on getting the stove working. After getting Carman in his cat carrier we put Skittles in a cardboard box and taped it up tight. I went inside and heard Cherie honking her horn before she could leave. Coming out the door I could see Skittles out of the box. The little bugger is an escape artist. With that I figured I better go with Cherie in case he got out again. He did. I held him on my lap all the way to the doc.

Doc checked out Carman first. He has a bad heart murmur. Not good news. We already knew he was fat and that doesn’t help. This is hard on Cherie as he has been with her for his whole life, about ten years. Doc Law said he has congestive heart failure. Time to put him on a diet and some exercise. We’ll have to spring for the more expensive cat food instead of the cheap stuff we’ve been getting. Skittles was in better shape. She said he was two years old which is much older than we thought. They both got their shots so that was it and we came home.

It was a hard day after all. As much as I wanted to I didn’t get the woodstove operational. Got the stone all laid out and it looks good. When we get some more cash we’ll pick up a few more pieces and finish it up. Just fill in the spaces in the back. Getting the stove pipe put together was a frustrating pain. I am sure there is an easy way to do it but if there is it’s lost on me. Each joint was a fight to put together. The frustration had the effect stress always has on me. I began to slow down. Thinking became a chore and now everything was confusing. I would try to decide what to do next and after that had to decide all over again. Wasn’t sure about anything and proceeded slowly and carefully.

I had to run to the store to get some sheetmetal screws. I used them to screw all the sections of stove pipe together. Even this was difficult for me. The cheap cordless drill I bought at Harbor Freight has been on it’s last legs for a while so wasn’t doing well. Screws broke and stripped out and my language illustrated my frustration. Not fun at all. I finally got all that done and went on to trying to fabricate the brackets I will need to hold the chimney up the side of the house to above the roof. It was pretty cold out and I was getting in increasingly bad shape. Cherie tried to convince me to call it a day but I am stubborn. I was at stuttering level and having a hard time keeping my balance. Finally I conceded and came inside. Now, four hours later, I am doing fine, just needed to distress. It’s so frustrating to be so…weak? Delicate? Incapable? I don’t know what to call it but it pisses me off. I used to rule my world and ran two companies along with an active social life. Now what would have been a simple task drives me nuts. Enough whining, Bob, shut up.

These are the pictures of what I managed to get done. Maybe tomorrow I’ll finish it. That’s when the hard part is. I’m not sure how I’ll put twelve feet of stove pipe up by myself but I’ll figure it out. Probably will need Cherie’s help. Climbing ladders is particularly hard because of my difficulty controlling the right leg. Actually climbing isn’t too bad but coming down is much harder. Don’t ask me why but walking down stairs can be tedious as I must look to make sure the leg is where I want it to be.

We’re about done for the day. Cherie is playing with Carman to get him some exercise. I’m just going to veg in front of the TV, enjoy the two and a half stations we can get in. (One comes in when it feels like it, which isn’t very often) I don’t count the two Christian stations that come in better than the others. They’re curious and I’ll watch on occasion to see who’s selling Jesus for what. Occasionally there’s something I like, usually dealing with ancient history. Really miss not having any PBS stations down here. At some point in the future I’ll move the antenna that’s mounted on the garage and run the wire to where we can use it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Look out cause here I come

1/29/07 Monday
Good morning world, look out cause here I come. Sounds impressive don’t it? Sure it does. You got to talk a good game to have one. At least it helps. If I started out with “This day will suck” it’s pretty much a guarantee that it will. Didn’t get to sleep till after midnight cause a big part of the end of the day was spent doing the migraine thing so when it cleared up I worked on getting my journal entry written and posted. Gotta use the time I have.

We slept in, not waking up till 7:30. Partly from being up late. Cherie was online studying things for the sewing business she wants to start so she came to bed at midnight also. It will be a busy day. Cherie is going to Midland where she will shop and take care of some things that I don’t recall right now. When we went to Lowes yesterday of course I forgot some things. Part of this is because of the headache and the confusion that often comes when I am surrounded by so much that my brain must process. The main culprit though is not making and taking a list. I know better and always talk about writing lists, telling Cherie she needs to do so also. I need to practice what I preach.

So what to do today? I of course will work on getting our new woodstove installed. The two items I forgot to get yesterday are related to that. Need straps to hold the stove pipe in place on it’s journey to the top of the roof. Also could use an axe to split the wood I’ll cut with the new chainsaw. I checked prices on new ones at Lowes but they didn’t have the Homelite brand. Prices ranged from $139 to $350 for the ones close to the size we got. I may or may not have gotten a good deal but it doesn’t matter now. I’ll hate to run back to Midland and get what I forgot but I just remembered something else I forgot. That is some wood for making Cherie’s sewing table. I was planning on recycling some of the weathered two by fours but really don’t want to risk missing some nail or staple and tearing up the blades in the planer. Looked for a hand held metal detector at Ace Hardware to help find that kind of thing but they didn’t have one.

Looks like we won’t be doing any shopping today. Cherie is doing the math and it appears we pretty much spent what we had. There are funds coming but they won’t trickle in till tomorrow or Wednesday. It's always tight at the end of the month. One will be the life insurance payoff that Kim said would be issued today. That’ll be fifteen hundred or so. My VA pension check is reliable and is direct deposited on the first. Cherie was stressing about how close we are running but when I thought about it I told her to go ahead and go shopping cause she is getting things we need, no fluff. I told her to write checks instead of using the bank card. This goes against the rules I set up on how we use our money. “Never write a check if the money isn’t there” I’ve said many times. The bank card won’t work if the funds are not in the account but there is a three hundred dollar overdraft protection we have. This is as much credit as I will go for. No credit cards cause if we don’t have the money we don’t need it. Admittedly this causes hardships. We could have had a hot water heater a long time ago but have done without for two months. That will be taken care of shortly, either when the insurance check comes or the income tax check. If there’s enough left after our run up to Toledo we’ll get it then. Nate has a breaker box so we’ll be able to run wiring for it and the stove that’s setting in the garage for now.

I had a headache come on around 9:30 so took aspirin and the Hydrocodone I’ve been staying away from. It seems to be helping a little. It’s 10:46. For you new readers I use this journal to record things like this for doctors and such. They haven’t used it but I always get asked things like how many headaches I’ve had and how bad they are. When you sometimes can’t remember yesterday and certainly not the month it’s hard to answer. Usually I just guess, make up an answer that is conservative cause I don’t want to make things worse than they are. Despite the headache my brain is working at a 7 on the bob scale. (another note for new readers, using the term “bob scale” allows me to use it with the search engine thus accessing this information easily. That way I can graph the frequency and severity of the partial seizures as well as the levels of lucidity I have.)

Cherie is just about ready to head out the door and I’m good enough to get moving as well. Time to get out of these sweats and into work clothes. It’s cooler today and will remain in the forties the rest of the week. That’s the latest guess from the weather guy on TV. Lots of clouds and some rain. Suppose I’ll go online and post this. Don’t forget to check in cause I most likely will add to this as the day goes by. You guys, (that’s the way we talk up north in the mid west though it usually comes out Youse guys. The term is generic as far as gender goes) if you want to get notified whenever I post there’s a way to sign up for it at the bottom of each post.

I’ve made Cherie laugh as I always do. Actually making her laugh right now but I can’t tell you how cause she’ll kick my ass. She’s a wonderful miracle. Ain’t love grand! You bet it is. Got to get moving now.

I just looked at yesterday's post and thought I'd say something about the picture of me with the rather radical look. I adopted this look when I was wandering homeless, sleeping wherever I could find. This is shortly after I woke from the coma, actually about a year after. I was in no shape or condition to defend myself. Lost seventy pounds in the month I was comatose on top of breaking my neck amd being partly paralyzed. For me it was a self defense mechanism. Figured the crack heads, alcoholics, and mental cases would think I was crazy and leave me alone. Worked fairly well though someone did steal my dirty underwear at one of the homeless shelters. Not my favorite look but I thought an explanation would help. Here's a before and after shot.

Just got back from Lowes where I bought some more of the rock walk stuff we are using as a fireproof base for the wood stove to set on. I also got some steel that I can make brackets to secure the chimney with. Looked for some gasket material that I can seal the stove with. They didn’t have any. Went by the Bill’s Fireplace store but it wasn’t open. Got lots of the work done installing the stove and should finish up tomorrow as long as I don’t have any slowdowns or migraines. Done for the day now.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

It's a late post but it's here.

1/28/07 Sunday
It’s 8:40 in the evening and I am just now opening this journal. My mind is reeling because there are so many things happening, so much to process and absorb. So where do I start? With the beginning of the day? With what is preeminent in my thoughts? I’ll start with recreating the day best I can but do want to note what is occupying the largest portion of my thoughts. That is this blog itself. It is experiencing an explosion in the number of visitors. That has me wondering, thinking, pondering what will this mean. What responsibilities come as more folks peak into this window that reveals the wonders and hardships of the miracle of our life? I will have to think on this for a while so till then here’s how the day went.

The coyote’s were stirring last night. We could hear them yapping off in the distance so when we got up we were anxious to see of Skittles, our outside cat who adopted us last month, was still there or had become a coyote meal. He was there but Cherie said he was on top of the house I put up for him with his back arched and fur up so there was something that had him perturbed. I went out and gave him some lap time which he ate up as always, purring and making sure I petted every part of his body, especially around the ears.

Cherie has gotten much better at getting ready for church on time so we got there early like I want to. I know it’s probably not the right “spiritual” reason but my main motivation for going to church is to make friends, to become known and accepted in this small community. The most important part of that for me is for Cherie. She is far from home, as in two thousand miles, and has no one to talk to during her day. Sure she has me and we love each other dearly but I don’t do the girl talk thing well if at all. She needs some outside emotional support.

Just like last week, and for that matter nearly every week, I could see her stress up. “I don’t like going to Sunday school” she told me when we parked at the church. “I don’t know what to expect. I’m afraid I’ll get hurt again”. This is nothing new. We’ve both been hurt, stomped on at other churches in Toledo and in Cherie’s case Arizona too that being gun shy should come as no surprise. She was the same way last week and her fear and trepidation was as apparent as it was now. Last week she brightened considerably by the time we finished Sunday school and were in the church. It was the same today. I talked with a gentleman about woodworking and we both have similar interests. We discussed old tools and the old ways of doing things. He told me about how Mesquite is for woodworking, which is a wood I am totally unfamiliar with as you can’t find it up north. I look forward to working with some when I get a shop together. During this time Cherie was talking with the guys wife and they seemed to have connected well.

Chuck and Lillian were there so we were happy to see them. In church pastor Dave seemed rather inspired with his sermon and was very effective at getting his point across. He made a point of coming over to say hi which of course made me feel good. There were many others we are getting to know who greeted us warmly. We really aren’t used to this but that’s OK, we’ll get there.

After church we went home where I got out of my Sunday go to meeting black jeans and shirt and put my regular clothes on. Cherie fixed some hamburgers for lunch and after watching the end of a John Wayne movie we headed to Midland. There we looked for some kind of insulation to use on our new wood burner in addition to another one of the panels to protect the floor and wall from the heat. They were sold out of the panels and I didn’t really find what I was looking for with the insulation though I did get a caulk tube of something that might work. We decided to get some stone to lay down for the wood burner to rest on and look forward to getting that set up. I picked up a file to sharpen the chain on the saw and Cherie looked at carpet. By this time I was wearing out bad as I often do in a store and a migraine was on it’s way. Cherie could easily tell that I was going downhill fast so we made it a day. Coming home I was about worthless and crawled into bed. The migraine was one of those turn off the lights and hide ones so that’s one of the reasons I didn’t crack open this journal till late. Now I am finally a bit lucid though at 10:00 it’s late for me.

Back to the blog. With all the new readers I need to be better at explaining some of the things because they won’t be up to speed on the people or events. Later, if I set up the website I want, this will be easier cause I can devote areas that will help them see the bigger picture. I kind of tried that with the two other blogs that I linked to this one. The “Love Story” tells of how we met, fell in love, got married, divorced, lost contact for seventeen years and got back together and remarried. She is my first and third wife.

The “What about Bob” blog is one I haven’t kept up with but I have been working on a short biography/timeline that gives an idea of the somewhat ugly life I had from birth. I’m not sure how that will go over and that brings up one of the internal debates I now have with this sudden increase of interest in us. Some of my life can be disturbing and I wonder if it may frighten some off. I suppose that is a given for there are always those who are judgmental and will categorize anyone who did something like use drugs as a form of evil they wish to hear nothing about and have nothing for them. But you know, the hell with them. I am who I am and I’m not who I was. Regardless I will tell the truth and not put on any airs. What you see is what you get. As you saw in the plaque I put on the last post I will love life and live a life I can love. That means there will be nothing I will be ashamed of in the life I live today. That is why I have no problem revealing our life through this blog, living in a glass house if you will. We all make mistakes and from those we gain wisdom. At least that’s the theory. By that theory I must be one of the wisest guys on earth cause I sure made some whopper mistakes.

So Eric and some others used the word “Inspirational” regarding our story. That word adds to the sense of responsibility. The very concept that I can have that kind of impact on another is one that stirs a mix of emotion or thought. Sometimes it’s hard for me to find the words that convey what I feel inside. In some of my old writing from the earlier days since I woke up I talked of how our lives have a ripple affect like a rock thrown into a pond. This goes back again to the plaque, where it says “money and things can vanish in a flash. What has real lasting value is the lives we touch”. When you touch a life and that person’s life is changed then those he touches are receiving a portion of your touch so to speak.
My oldest son, whom I raised since he was four when I married his mom, is now a sheriff in Toledo. He bears with him the influences garnered from me. The picture shows him at Fort Meigs in Toledo. He is a military reinactor, a hobby I introduced him to. Not all of them are good but even the bad things I did were lessons for him. I made sure of that.

“Inspirational”. That word carries a standard that can be hard to maintain. Who am I to inspire others? I am a fighter, I don’t or won’t give up, I have pulled myself out of the mud several times but I’m also the one that put me in the mud in the first place. A man does reap what he sows. That’s an inescapable truth. Yet I do live my life to help others for in this I find value in the life I have. If I can inspire others to get involved, to somehow improve another’s life then I have created a ripple. How can I do that? By writing. There is power in the written words one puts out.

Speaking of that, in the Martin County newspaper there is an announcement that the West Texas Writers organization is meeting on February the third. I want to go to that. So many have asked or at least stated that I should write a book or several. I always tell them I’m working on that though not much is really getting done. Perhaps this group will provide some impetus for me.

It’s getting late and I am tired so I suppose I will wrap this up. To Eric and the others who are adding me to their blog rolls, thank you. I will try to be worthy of that recognition. I don’t do bad for brain damage do I? Of course that is one of the purposes of this blog, to raise awareness and understanding of this injury. I may get lost and confused easily, I may not recognize you thirty minutes after I meet you, but I ain’t stupid. See Y’all next time. Night.
(Here’s the plaque again)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A contemplative start

1/27/07 Saturday
Starting this day out right. Just got a “first cup” out of the pot. That’s where I put my coffee mug under the coffee maker to catch the first drips of coffee. Now that’s a “wake me up” cup of coffee. Talk about legal drugs this is a caffeine shot that definitely gets the heart pumping.

So what are we going to do today? Going to Ace Hardware is on top of the list. That is where the new woodstove Amy bought us will be sent to. Then we will find a place called Bill’s Chimney to get the stove pipe we need to install it as well as get some advice from a professional. That’s always a good idea, especially for me because, despite having bought, installed, owned an airtight stove before those types of memories were lost with the coma. I have to relearn most things as if for the first time. When I first got back to Toledo a year after waking up the good people at the main library downtown had to teach me how to use the computers as I researched who I was. When you understand that I had built and owned two companies, one a marketing company that had twenty four computer stations networked and a website I managed you can see how much I lost.

When I woke up in that hospital room just before Christmas 2001 I woke up to a whole world that was new to me. Once they taught me how to use the remote I would watch hours of TV in amazement. I remember watching Oprah and thinking “Wow, this lady’s nice. She helps people”. It was the start of a long process of my brain rewiring and repairing connections to the memories locked up inside. Here’s something I wrote July 2003 in that library.

I wonder. As the brain tries to compensate for the damage done in a TBI it probably uses several methods. In a brain that has been, to use the words of Elvis, “All shook up” the range of damage will go from almost not there to nothing left at all. Sorry about the technical terms. So the brain is an extremely complex organism that relies on both neural pathways for a form of electronic communication and chemical communication. Chemical communication depends on the ability of the adjoining brain cells to detect the chemical releases aimed its direction.
I believe that the brain can repair the damage that is minute and that other sections of the brain can take on the duties of a nonfunctional area. However this is a process that requires time and conditions to proceed successfully. Any physical repair possible will begin immediately. There is still debate on the brains ability to regenerate its tissue.
As the brain rewires itself it is focusing on the areas that are being asked to perform. As I was taught how to walk it took some weeks for another area of my brain to learn how to tell my right leg to move. This was because the therapist worked daily exercising that part of my brain. Then as I continued to try to walk, some times without assistance (to the consternation of the hospital staff) my brains ability to control my leg increased rapidly.
Now here’s the point. Our brains are incredible organisms that in their complexity employ uncountable delicate balances to operate properly. So if during the long rewiring process the survivor experiences mental stimulation in specific areas, will those areas, by being used more, become dominate thus causing imbalances in ones mental processes?
I suspect that some of the issues I have now are because, as I faced a world that was in many ways new to me, I was literally painting on a new canvas. The experiences I have endured are those that have helped to remodel my brain. There is no doubt that I am a very different person from who I was before. I don’t like all of who I am right now. It is my hope that as I continue to paint on this canvas of my life I will be able to more carefully choose the paint of my experiences, thus helping create a better me and balancing out the bad I’ve gone through.

Your going to see this plaque allot. It relays my appreciation for the life I've been blessed with. I guess it's my way of preaching also, of conveying to all of you how precious life is and how vain so many pursuits we endeavor can be

One of the things I am grateful for is the innate intelligence I was born with and the fact that I didn’t lose it all. Despite getting lost and confused easily I was still a thinker. When they were testing me at the Brain Injury Institute in St. Louis they would look up from the results and ask “Were you real smart before your accident?”. Yes I was. My IQ tested at 136. Bit despite that I have a lifetime of consistently doing incredibly stupid things. That should be incredibly stupid with a capital “I” and “S”.

As far as now goes my humorous spin on this is that I am either the smartest stupid person or the stupidest smart person you will ever meet. It just depends on the moment you meet me. That really is true as my brain function see saws all the time. Right now I am sharp and running an 8 on the bob scale, above average.

It’s 8:30 now so I think I’ll go online and post this, then see what’s going on in the cyber world.

Well I just got added to the blog roll of the Fireant Gazette, a West Texas blog. My readership is steadily growing but this is the first time I’ve gone out and promoted this blog. Sent Eric an E mail asking him to see if Walked with angels would fit in. Guess he thinks so.

It is a beautiful sunny day out. Unfortunately I feel a headache rearing it’s ugly head in my not so pretty head. At least my cognizance is still high but the ringing in my ears aren’t a good sign but you never know, there is nothing reliable or predictable with this brain. Time to take aspirin and my seizure meds.

Looks like it might not be a bad headache. I am actually running shaper than when I wrote the previous paragraph fifteen minutes ago. Like I said, there is nothing predictable with this brain.

Cherie is dying her hair, which event always comes with an odor that assails the nostrils. A good time for me to get out of the house. The wind is whipping out there so I’ll make sure things are battened down. I’m also preparing wood for Cherie’s sewing table. That involves carefully going through each piece of scavenged wood to check for nails, staples, or anything else that will damage the blades on my planer.

Before we go to Midland I want to call the pawnshops to see if any of them have a chainsaw. We will definitely need one with the wood burner. It will be so nice to have a warm house, at least the back half. The living room is on the far side so getting warm air to it will be a bit harder.

It’s been a wonderful day. Unfortunately I’m doing the migraine thing right now so I won’t get too eloquent about it. It’s a bad one where I can’t handle light and am keeping the TV down to a minimum. Even have to turn the brightness on this screen to it’s lowest setting.

After calling Ace Hardware to see if it was in we went and picked up the wood stove. When I looked at the E mail Amy sent that had the order number on it I saw a link to check the status of it. It showed a picture of the stove so I showed it to Cherie. We were both enthralled at how the style of the stove has that antique kind of look that we both like. It’s almost like we picked it out. Absolutely amazing. We also bought the stove pipe we will need to hook it up. That cost $93.00. We went to Home Depot and got a ladder that is tall enough for me to install the pipe, another $100. Then we went to a pawn shop that I had found by calling through the phone book listings that had some chain saws. I’ll need one to cut wood for this stove. Found a nearly new Homelite saw that they wanted $150 for. Talked them down to $110. The reason I am listing all this is to show how things seem to just come together for us. Last week we didn’t have a spare dime but this week we have what we needed.

Cherie and I talked about this and are both…well I can’t find a word to describe it right now but we feel like we are where we are supposed to be, that even though it’s sometimes hard we will be OK. I just had Cherie call Amy to thank her. I would have but don’t feel up to it with this migraine. She was glad to hear from us as she was wondering if we’d picked it up.

What else? We went to a Mexican restaurant we have seen before near Walmart to grab a bite to eat. We found a gem of a place with wonderful food at great prices. Definitely will go there again. Cherie had called Nate earlier today and we had a nice long conversation. He was on the road driving to visit his dad in Wisconsin. There is lots going on in his world and lots of transitions he will be going through. Gee, he just happened to have picked up a breaker box that is new and a few other things that we have a need for. Again things seem to come together. We let Nate know we will be coming up probably at the end of February and what do you know, that almost perfectly coincides with some of his plans. He is going to drive to Las Vegas and possibly to see his friend in Arizona so he can follow us as we return to Texas. We’d love to have him visit of course.

I’m going to call it a night. Right now Cherie is talking to her sister Cathy. I’m under the covers with the lights and TV turned off. The migraine will be gone by morning. At least I’m still sharp. Night all.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Great sunrise

1/26/07 Friday
There is a beautiful sunrise this morning. Hopefully that is a precursor of the day to come. It didn’t freeze last night and was thirty five degrees out when we woke up. Going to get up above fifty today. What to do today? Cherie is going into town to get some badly needed things that she has been doing without because our budget has been so tight. When I found out she was running out of things like her favorite lipstick I told her to go shopping and take care of herself. “Don’t worry about the money, get what you want” I said. It’s a little thing but she got her Ohio income tax refund in and that frees things up tremendously. That’s why we splurged on going to the Olive Garden. Of course having a twenty five dollar gift certificate helped influence that. Regardless, being able to go shop for herself will go a long way to helping her feel better. She did her kind of dance saying “I get to go shopping” as she waved her hands with a big smile on her face. Helps take the pressure off of her and I love to do that.

Her phone just rang and it was the collection agency in Toledo about her hospital bill. There’s only about a hundred dollars left and when asked if she sent in the January payment she said “no” but was able to tell the lady that she will pay off the whole thing come February first. It’ll be so good to free ourselves of these last debts. Getting our things out of storage in Toledo will be one of the last. Both of our vehicles are paid for. The Direct Buy debt we are stuck with but hopefully will come into play at a later date when we can afford to purchase things for the house.

I dumped the water at midnight but it was still overflowing this morning. There’s a bigger container out in the garage that I was keeping scraps of wood in that I’ll clear out and see if it will fit under the pipes. Time to get moving. I’ve had my three cups of coffee. I’ll go online, post this entry on the blog, check E mail, and begin again research for the business plan. First thing I’ll look up is demographic data such as population centers within a sixty mile radius.

It’s windy out and I keep getting bumped off line so I’ll quit for a while. Called the Met Life rep about the life insurance policy that was on my grandmother, wondering when they would send the check. It is being held up by my brother which we expected so that was no surprise. He is being a spiteful ass and after us buying out his half of the farm is sitting flush so doesn’t care if he gets a check anytime soon. Besides that I figure he’s spending most of his time drinking now that he has cash. The lady I talked to said they have sent several notices and she called him personally in October. He told her he would get the form he was to fill out mailed. On top of that our lawyer called him and heard the same story. Larry doesn’t like being called a liar yet consistently lies to pretty much everyone, family included. After talking to the rep she asked me to send a request detailing the problem with my brother and they would issue a check for my half of the policy.

We had a nice conversation and she told of how many times she runs into this kind of thing. I told her how Larry had taken everything he could from our mothers belongings after she died, didn’t tell me she died for five months, and forged her name on the titles to the trucks. Then how he cleaned out as much stuff as he could from our grandmother’s house even packing his car on the day of the funeral and parking it seventy five yards away at the funeral so we wouldn’t see it. The second the funeral was over he scurried out, almost running to his car to get away. This was after we caught him lying about even going to the house just before the funeral service started. What a piece of work he is. Kim, the insurance rep, told of how her relative had forged a will leaving himself everything. “It’s a shame that death brings out the true nature, the worst in family” I said.

Well I’m going to try to go online again even though the wind is still whipping. Looking up more info for the business plan. I’ll go into the bedroom as the reception for the PC card is much better. Cherie has gone shopping and will be gone for a few hours with my blessing.

What a pain. Been fighting this computer as I let my feet soak in a hot water bath with some Epsom salts we found in Lee’s old stuff. My feet have been giving me problems for a few days now with the toes acting like they are ingrown though they’re not. Trying to research greenhouses for now and had to send an E mail to one of the companies twice. That caught me up into some kind of loop with the windows outlook program that I couldn’t get out of. Kept hitting cancel or trying to turn it off but the window would pop back up and nothing else could be touched. At least my feet got a good soaking.

When I finally got free from that I checked my E mail and there was one from the Met Life lady. She said that she approved our claim and the check would be sent out Monday. She’s sending a letter to Larry explaining their policy regarding claims after a year. Too cool. I called Cherie right away. I sent Kim, the Met Life rep, our blog address as I had told her our story in the course of our conversation earlier. She had been having one of those days where many of the people she had to deal with had been unpleasant so I said “Do you want to hear a story that’ll make you feel better?”. Of course she said yes and I did what I enjoy doing, I shared how blessed we are and how we had our marriage restored. God how I love that, how I love telling everyone this and seeing how it edifies. Kind of like bragging but not. Just sharing the love.

It looks like we’ll be heading up to Ohio fairly soon but it’s not wise to count your eggs before they hatch so we’ll see. We won’t go till after Amy gets here which barring bad weather will be the ninth. Think I’ll take a break from this laptop and empty the…

It's raining in the distance

OK. That stopped me in mid sentence. Kinda crying right now. Yeah, I’m a big tough guy who’s been to hell and back but…well it’s the brain damage OK? That’s my excuse cause it makes emotional control hard. My cell phone just rang and it was Cherie. Amy just called her and said the stove she was going to give us had a crack in it so she ordered us a new one. Cherie said Amy had to tell her three times cause she was crying too. She ended up at Midland’s airport cause she was in the turn lane and just had to go that way. Totally caught up with the call.

This just blows me away. Why us? Why do these things keep happening? Ever since I woke from the coma things happen as if some unseen hand is on us. Here I have all these doubts about God and am the most undeserving of men but I have no explanation for this. I pray “Is there a God? Where is the God of the Bible?” and on and on. Still am unsure of things and seek answers to my questions but why me? Oklahoma’s police report has me listed as dead at the scene of the accident yet I live. That death gave me a new life.

Anyway, before I go off on a tangent, (Too late, already did) Amy will still come to visit us. She’s got a big hug coming. Maybe two or three. Suppose I should empty this pan of cold Epsom salts water and go outside to walk on this land and ponder this life I’ve been blessed with. Wow!

I suppose the wonderful sunrise was a precursor of the good things this day would bring.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

An early start.

1/25/07 Thursday
It’s 4:00 in the morning. I woke up about an hour and a half ago as I often do with a need to empty my bladder. After emptying the pots under the sink I laid in bed listening to Cherie’s breathing, Carman kitty’s exploring, and thinking of…everything. The brain is lucid and in high gear so sleep is not an option. I mentally explored honey production, building design, the concept of an R.V. park here and how to set it up, mapping out the farm layout, and more and more. “OK. That’s enough” I said and got up. Just made me a pot of Bob coffee, put a stick of cinnamon in it for a touch of festivity, (Hey, anytime this brain is working at optimum is a cause for celebration) and came out to the office to take advantage of this time of lucidity. I’m gonna quick check my E mail and the blog then get on the business plan to put these concepts that have been rolling around in my head on paper, or I suppose it would be more accurate to say, on hard drive.

Got an E mail from Lash and Associates (AKA LA Publishing) that is their monthly newsletter. They are a company that specializes in providing resources for brain injury survivors, their caretakers, and professionals who deal with the issue. There is a link to them in my sidebar. My story is featured in their survivors forum along with many others. Just read one in there by Bev Bryant entitled “Let me fail”. WOW! How relevant it is. You ought to go check it out and the many other articles there. Great stuff.

OK. I’m getting sidetracked as I so easily do so time to post this, get some more coffee and get to work.

The sun is up now and there is a heavy frost on the ground. Today will be warmer than yesterday, which is always welcome. I am tired of course, having been up since 2:30 this morning. Took a break at seven to watch the news. Cherie was still asleep but the television woke he up. She fixed blueberry muffins for breakfast. Not exactly health food but yummy none the less. I took my seizure medicine and had some more coffee. That will make it almost a whole pot of coffee I drank this morning. Also not exactly healthy but…Oh well, I like it so that’s tough. I won’t tell the doctor if you don’t. I am running an 8 on the bob scale, just a hair above normal. Still in sweats so I suppose I should get myself dressed.

I think I’ll do some outside work to give this brain a rest from it’s far fetched imagination of what this farm could be. I’ll publish that fantasy when it is a little more put together. First thing I’ll do outside is open up the crawl space so Skittles can explore the nether recesses underneath this house and hopefully get rid of any rodents that may be there.

It’s 1:19 now. Finally got the shop picked up and straightened up. How’s that look? Finally have a place for things and almost everything in it’s place. Once I get used to it I won’t be losing things or time because I can’t remember what I did with it and spend a day looking. I know it will still happen as I get distracted and leave whatever I was doing and five minutes later don’t remember what it was.

I love this old bowling alley floor I had recovered from my old warehouse. It was so heavy those who picked through my property while I was in a coma and over the two years I was gone didn’t bother to steal it. There are two more sections of it left but I probably won’t be allowed to recover them. It’s a shame I had to go to Channel 11 news and use their Call for Action program to use the threat of TV exposure to get what little I could. When we go back to Toledo we will pick up what I recovered. It’ll be good to be done with the storage unit. That’s another fifty bucks a month we’ll free up.

I rewired some of the light fixtures I had recovered out of the school bus so now I have light in the garage. Won’t have to quit every time the sun gets low. Installed one of them overhead. Just remembered I left it on so will go turn it off now. Don’t need to waste the electric. Hard enough to pay the bill as it is.

My back is killing me right now. I came in to lay down and typed this while doing so. We’re going to Midland in a few minutes to look for stove pipe. We’ll hit Stanton first to check our mail. Probably stop by the Habitat for Humanity store to see what they have in.

OGOG – Oh God, Olive Garden. An Evening Dining Discourse by Cherie, Bob’s Wife.

Before I even discuss this evening’s dining extravaganza, I have to backtrack a little to allow his readers some understanding of his wife – me .

Before Bob and I got back together, this whole dining out thing was very new and fresh for me. An exciting experience to say the least. During the years we were apart I never seemed to date anyone with the funds or the willingness to drop more than $15.00 on me on a meal. And I lived in many different places in those years and would have loved an evening out someplace beyond what a 3 star family steak place offered. Anyway, when we were discussing getting back together, he had just gotten his first Social Security Disability check and wanted to take me someplace nice to eat. He decided on The Oliver House, which is one of Toledo’s big stars as far as eateries go and when we went there I saw why – the ambiance, the service, and the food was nothing short of fabulous and I felt like a princess at the dinner before the ball. The check was about $75.00 or $80.00 and Bob took out $100.00, gave it to the waiter who was at our side if we so much as looked his way, and told him to keep the change. In his former successful days this had been commonplace. I was stunned, duly impressed, and worried knowing he had only $400.00 to last him a whole month. It did.

Since we’ve been back together we’ve made up for the years we were apart with visits to some of the finer dining establishments in Toledo and the surrounding area. We discussed eating out many times as I would express my concern, thinking we were spending good money on “just food”. However we almost always had an enjoyable experience and the few times we didn’t, Bob wasted no time in getting a manager to discuss why he (or I) was displeased. The outcome was usually handled to our satisfaction which guaranteed we would (and did) make a repeat visit to said establishment. Needless to say we have easily eaten at least $2000.00 worth of wonderful dinners in the past three years. Perhaps more, I don’t know. I always have a good time when we go out which is evidenced by the fact that at every restaurant I always manage to spill something on my shirt. Right on the front, no exceptions. I have accepted this as the price I apparently must pay for the privilege of eating out.

Anyway, last summer Bob & I spent 2 weeks here before we moved from Ohio. We had to stay at a hotel as this house was not even close to livable. We had a room at The Days Inn in Midland with a kitchenette. Sometimes we cooked in our room and other times we went out to eat. One of those places happened to be The Olive Garden in Midland. We had a waiter who was adorable, just sassy enough that he knew he could get away with it, gave us excellent service, and paid for our dessert. We actually ordered what he advised and had a fabulous time. We rewarded him well, and knew this was a place we would definitely revisit once we had moved here and had some extra $$$.

Days Inn has this trips rewards program where if you stay with their hotel chain they reward you with points that can be exchanged for a multitude of freebies at select retail establishments all over the country. This was my primary objective for staying there – I love a good freebie. Our freebie for the Midland trip was $25.00 and after looking over the selections, I opted for Olive Garden in Midland. I mean hey, it was a no brainer, right? Well, we went there this evening arriving before 5:00, well before the after work dinner rush. The food was delicious – getting it seemed to be a problem. We had a female server at first who took our wine and appetizer order and responded with the wine and some drinking water right away. Then she was replaced with a young man who would be our server for the remainder of the evening. Whoa boy.

At Olive Garden, salad and bread sticks arrive before you even place an order. This guy asked if we wanted salad and I’m thinking, “Huh?” I responded we did and requested to have it served at the same time as the appetizer as the two would compliment each other. (I’ve learned a lot about what foods are good together, this was cheese fondue to go with the salad, yum). He brought out the salad and we ordered our main course. After we had been finished with the salad for awhile he brought out the fondue which only had a few pieces of bread to dip into it and the plate was so hot, we couldn’t get close to it until it cooled off a bit. I had wanted it with the salad but I didn’t say anything.

We hardly tried it when all of a sudden another server came out with the main course and said “Are you ready to eat? Are you ready to eat?” What’s up with this now? I guess we were ready to eat eat. We hadn’t had a chance to try the fondue and he seemed to be in a hurry and these plates were also too hot to touch, so now we had gooey fondue stuff and our meal and we couldn’t touch any of the plates. Bob requested additional bread for the fondue, but apparently the kitchen told our server that we couldn’t have it – so instead, he finally brought us the breadsticks. He didn’t tell us we couldn’t get more fondue bread, instead he brought even more breadsticks and Bob had already asked twice for the other bread, and told him to forget it. By now the fondue was a cold sticky glop. I had to cut it with a knife.

We continued with our meal and sat and talked for a long time before he came back and asked if we wanted dessert. We did and ordered it with coffee. All through the meal Bob kept saying “What’s with this guy?” I kept making excuses for him, because that’s what I usually do. After a while we got dessert, but no coffee. Bob asked him a couple more times for the coffee. How hard can it be to pour two cups of coffee? Bob asked to speak to a manager and when he finally came out – I almost laughed out loud. Remember the old Laurel and Hardy movies – he had a Hardy haircut, it was glued to his head. And he looked like he was 15 years old. And he had on a lavender shirt. There’s nothing wrong with lavender shirts, it just made it difficult to take him seriously. It was all too much for me. I chugged down what was left of my wine and I could feel the giggles creeping up, but with great control, I held back. Sometimes I’m amazed I survived to adulthood. He took the cost of our dessert and appetizer and we finally got coffee. At long last, our server returned and apologized and we found out he’d only been there three days, and he didn’t know where the coffee was. Yeeesh. No wonder. I bet he knew where the break room was. He did get a $5.00 tip for his efforts and a pep talk from Bob. With the discounts and the gift card, our meal only cost us about $14.00 instead of our usual $50.00. When we finally left we just had to laugh because the whole episode was absurd and I really felt sorry for the guy. And for the first time, I didn’t spill anything on my shirt! Go figure.
It could have been worse. It could have been spaghetti from a can.
“Are you ready to eat? Are you ready to eat?”
The End.

That folks is my wife’s contribution to this blog. She’s allot nicer than I. I pretty much just wiped out when we got home. Being up since 2:30 this morning caught up with me. It’s 11:00 now so I better call it a night or I’ll get my clock out of whack.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Woke up sharp.

1/24/07 Wednesday
Woke up sharp this morning. Always a good start for the day. Running an 8 on the bob scale. It’s going to get up to 48 degrees so that’s a great break from the cold we’ve had. The rest of the week is predicted to steadily warm up.

One of the few things the president said in his State of the Union address that interests me was his push for energy efficiency. He mentioned wind and solar electric generation and that bodes well for this farm as it indicates funds will be made available. I want to make this a model farm that can be used as an example of what can be done. One of the things I ran into during my research was “Agritourism”. Now that’s a concept. Groups and organizations paying to see your facility.

Today I want to take advantage of this time of mental clarity and get as much done as I can so I’m getting up and moving fast. Never know how long it will last. Some of what I have on my schedule does not require allot of mental agility. I often save some of the simple tasks for those slow times when it helps to focus on just one thing, thus distressing the mind and helping to get through the partial seizure. Despite that I’m gonna get the hallway carpet installed. Then I’m getting on the business plan.

Cherie just made this fantastic breakfast casserole from a recipe she got from her sister Connie. Thanks Connie, send us more. When I first got back with Cherie her culinary abilities were...well, not as refined as they are now. She has turned into a fantastic cook though she still is not confident. Her normal statement as she brings a dish in is “I don’t know how good it is”. I keep telling her “Honey, when you bring it in I want to hear you say “Your going to love this. It’s fantastic”. She never does but I’m working on it.

10:19 – I went out and buried the compost along with the cat litter from Carman’s old cat litter tray. Cherie had gotten a bigger one in hopes he would stop peeing on the floor like he did in front of the other one. I just had one of those dizzy spells where my head suddenly feels like it was pressurized with a pump. Now I am having a hard time finding the keys on this laptop. Damn, another slow down. Hope it doesn’t last long. Yesterday was such a good day. Headache is on the way now. Cherie just brought me some aspirin cause I forgot to take it several times already.

This slow down involves the part of my brain that controls physical movement, or at least the part of my brain they taught to operate my right leg. Still fairly cognizant though I do have to focus in order not to forget what I am doing. Running a 6 on the bob scale. Just have to be careful to be conscious of where my right leg goes and keep a finger touching a wall or something. That helps me not fall over or stumble. Gives me a reference point thus helping balance. Took a quick break to record this so back to the carpet. Took a picture of the empty floor for a before and after look. I know it’s not much but for me every step I accomplish is good. Cherie just left to do laundry in Midland.

It’s almost 1:00 now. That was a mercifully short slow down. Am doing much better. Works for me. Only lost three hours. Time to get back to work. As you can see from the short choppy sentences am not up to speed but running a 6 on the bob scale.
Made a pot of Bob coffee (As in super strong where you can taste it) Keep checking in folks as I add to these entries as the day progresses.

Headache progressed to migraine level. Pushed on despite that. Not the best job on the carpet but I don’t think it’s too bad considering I really don’t know what I’m doing. I remember my former secretary’s son, Bobby, bragging about he could seam carpet where you couldn’t see it. Not even close to that here. But I cobbled together the scraps I had left over from the backroom the best I could. Took all day to do what a proffesional can probably do in twenty minutes. When we get the funds later to rebuild the house it’ll be taken care of but for now it is much better than what we had.

It was a hard day overall but at least I got the carpet done. Cherie had a hard day also with a headache that was with her for a good part of it. She was worn out by the time she got home from doing the laundry. I put the threshold in I had made a week or so ago out of an old piece of baseboard but unfortunately the kitchen door wont close now. I’ll have to take it off the hinges and shave it down with the hand plane.

There is nothing scheduled for tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be in better shape so can get more done. The leak under the sink seems to be getting worse. It overflowed and I had to empty the pans out this afternoon. At this rate I’ll need to get up in the middle of the night to empty them out. Amy E-mailed me and said she would come up on the ninth of February providing the weather cooperats. She’s bringing a sink and faucet that she had just replaced even though they weren’t very old. Slow but sure things are coming into place. We are blessed.

I heard a scratching sound as I sat in the office working on this entry. Thought maybe it was Skittles doing something outside like climbing the screen door as he sometimes does. I looked out the door window and didn’t see him so sat back down. Heard the sound again. Sounded like Skittles was using the side of the house for a scratching post. I went outside to see but Skittles came around from the front of the house. NUTS. In retrospect it was kind of a knowing sound. I think one of the pack rats who’s nest I destroyed found it’s way under the house. So how do we get rid of it? Don’t want to poison it cause Skittles may get a hold of it or if not him one of the hawks that cruise our area. Maybe I’ll open up the crawl space access that I had blocked up because of the bees and let Skittles go hunting. Not sure if I want to do that either. Went under the house once to take pictures after we bombed the bees and to get an idea about how our plumbing was. Had hard enough of a time getting this broken old body in and out of there so there’s no way I’m crawling down after a rat. Besides I don’t know for sure there’s a rat down there.

Night all

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A dusting of snow.

We have snow on the ground this morning. Not much, just a light dusting of a half inch or so. Just a few miles up north in Andrews the weatherman said they got five inches. It is to go up to thirty eight by late afternoon and the rest of the week is showing highs in the forties. That will be a break.

What do you see? I see the garden, our first garden, with raised beds that will make it easier to tend the plants with this bad back.

Today Cherie will go to get her Texas drivers license because Tuesday is the one day during the week that the drivers license office is open. Evidently the state official that does the license stuff travels to these small towns on specific days so Tuesday is Stanton’s day. I’ll go with her to se if they have the form my doctor needs to get the handicap placard. I also need to turn in the stuff regarding the trucks my brother stole. Been meaning to do that for a while but like all things I never seem to get around to it. I’ll finish writing it up this morning. Doing well this morning. Sharpened up since I woke and am running at a good 8 or maybe 9 on the bob scale as evidenced by how my fingers are dancing on this keyboard. Love these moments of clarity.
A grand imagination is always good for a dreamer. "To dream the impossible dream" has always been a favorite song of mine because it exemplifies my creative nature. When I look out over these 80 acres I see orchards of different kinds of fruits and nuts. I see a large building halfway buried into the sand with a rustic wood construction and a large parking lot where people come from miles around to enjoy the organically grown produce. I see festivals for each harvest where we make apple butter and other products using the herbs and spices that will be grown in the greenhouses. They will use aquaponics where we will also raise fish. Off to the left, out of sight will be the pond strategically placed to catch the rainwater during the massive gully washer rains that occasionally come here in Texas. It may not happen and I will be happy with just the garden but will still reach for the stars.

Went into the license bureau but they were closed. We walked into the BMV first to learn that drivers licenses were issued from another office in the building. The lady did have the form I need for my handicap placard. She also ran off a copy of where I need to go regarding Larry’s theft. It’s in Odessa so I need to look up how to get there. The drivers license office won’t open back up till after lunch at 2:00.

“What do you want to do now?” I asked Cherie or maybe she asked me. We decided to go get something to eat. It’s nice to have a couple of bucks where you can get a hamburger or something. After considering the three places we knew of we decided to go check out a small roadside place we had noticed a day or three ago. It’s called “The Oasis”. We didn’t even know if they served food or what but figured it would be good to explore this big town a bit.

Yeah they serve food. Nice little Mexican place with that homey atmosphere we both like. A ma and pa kind of operation where he cooked the tortillas fresh when you order. The menu was handwritten on one of those white dry erase boards. We talked with the proprietor as we tried to figure out what to get. Much of the stuff like asado we are totally unfamiliar with. I chose brisket cause that I’m familiar with. Wasn’t sure how it was served but it came wrapped in a nice fat tortilla. Man was that good. We will definitely go back. We both ate for $6.50 and that included two pops that were in the refrigerator that was standing right there. No soda fountain pop here, the real stuff in a can. Better quality in my mind. Yeah we’ll do that again.

We just got back from Midland. When we went to see about the Texas driver’s licenses we had a nice chat with the lady. She told us that we needed to have both cars registered in Texas so that will throw a wrench into things. It will cost about $200 to get Cherie’s car registered. My truck is already registered in Texas but we can’t just use it. This means we need to wait for the end of the month when I get my check.

On that note we went to Midland. I wanted to drop by Lowe’s and Home Depot to check out stuff for the wood burner Amy is going to bring us. The fire safe floor was on sale for half price. There were two chimney outfits that include the insulated thing to pass through a wall or ceiling and another to go through the roof. That sucker cost $150 bucks. We already have the insulated thing installed in the wall so that’s covered. Almost everything else had been sold out. I got an extension cord after looking to see if there was any woodworking equipment on clearance but there wasn’t.

Going to the check out we saw one where the girl was not busy and had walked to the front of her counter looking for some one to come through. “You look bored” I said and told her I’d give her thirty seconds of excitement. (Now before you guys jump to conclusions, Cherie was right there with me) As she checked us out, happy to have something to do, I said “How about we tell you our life story”. She was glad to just have conversation so eagerly said yeah, obviously unsure of what I was going to get into.

So I started “I just woke up from a coma five years ago”. She looked at Cherie and asked “Is he serious?”. Cherie assured her I was. Then I told her about losing my memory and being featured on ABC as Toledo’s John Doe Doe when they learned I was wandering homeless, searching for who I was and the friends I knew I had but couldn’t remember. “He’s kidding isn’t he?” she asked Cherie again and again. Then I got to the part where Cherie saw me on that television show and that it was the first time she had seen me in seventeen years. “Get out, that didn’t really happen, did it?” she exclaimed. “Oh yeah it did” Cherie assured her. Now she got involved, telling of how we had gotten divorced after I fell out of a tree, breaking my neck, back, and getting a concussion. “That resulted in him having a drastic personality change” Cherie told the cashier. She explained that we ended up getting a divorce because I had become an asshole. It was so slow at Lowe’s that no one came to the register during this whole conversation. The girl said she was so happy we came to her register and that this is the kind of story you only see on TV or in the movies. I told her that we were writing a book. I had finally remembered to put the business cards we had printed up a month ago with the blog address on it in my wallet. I got one out and gave it to her in response to her enthusiasm about our story.

As Cherie and I walked out to the truck we talked about it. “You know, it’s so great to have a story that makes people feel good” I told Cherie. “So much of my life was a sad story that just wouldn’t inspire anyone. In fact it would depress them” I said. She replied “I know. I get to live this one”. We are so blessed and every day we are amazed at how things turned out. Still boggles my mind, when I look at Cherie’s beautiful face, I can’t believe she is there, she is here with me.

To the girl we talked to at Lowe’s, I know you’ll read this so leave a comment and let us know your name. First name will be fine. You just got included in our story. Pleasure talking to you.

Back to our day. I have been sharp all day long with no slowdowns at all. Love it and hope it stays that way. Always appreciate these periods of cognizance and clarity. Used to be this way all day, every day. That’s when I created two companies and thrived. You watch, brain damage or no I’ll do something again. My life is a gift and it’s a gift I’m gonna give. It is so nice to be past that period of depression I went through.

Click on this to enlarge it. It is the philosophy I now live my life by. Many of you know I carved this as I recovered from the wreck

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's cold again

Can you see the indians?
(click on the image to enlarge it)

1/22/07 Monday
What will this day bring? Who knows but it is cold again. We had our one day’s respite from that so it’s back. It’s a shame that I had a slow down in the middle of the nicest day we’ve had in a while. It went down to 28 degrees last night and is predicted to only get up to 33 today. There is snow or freezing rain expected to be here for the next two days. Of course being in West Texas means nobody knows what the weather will be. It’s all a best guess weather game.

We are planning to go to court for the handicap ticket at 10:00 this morning. Keep your fingers crossed. Hope I stay sharp but it’ll be hard in a high stress situation. If I can keep myself mellow I’ll be fine.

Let’s see…What else to make note of? Our leak under the sink has slowed down. Still there, just don’t have to empty the pans as much. I still empty them every night and morning but they are not full to overflowing. I thing the mineral deposits in this hard water are building up around the leaks and cutting off the flow of water somewhat. When I replaced the one pot we were using to catch water with a larger one I noticed what looked like spots of mold growing in it. No, it wasn’t mold, it was little hard mounds of mineral buildup. We will always get bottled water to drink out here.

OK I spoke to soon. I went in to get a refill on my coffee and checked the sink. The three pans were overflowing. Go figure. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this. Amy sent an E mail concerning her coming to visit us. She will be bringing a sink and faucet that are barely old that she has replaced with new ones. That will cure this problem as long as I can deal with the fragile plumbing under the sink. Shouldn’t be too hard but we will see. I’ll get my how to book out to see how to do it.

She’s also going to bring up an old wood burning stove they had sitting around for us. I’ll make a safe floor for it with the bricks that are laid out on our “veranda” (Still don’t know what a veranda is but it sounds good). That will help immensely with our heat, which of course will reduce our electric bill. We still haven’t paid for last month, waiting for my monthly check to come. I’ll have to hustle up some firewood of course but am sure I can find some. Chuck will know where to get it I think. He has a chainsaw he said I could use so I’ll cut the dead wood out of our trees for a start. Actually I think there is enough there to last the rest of winter.

It’s 8:30 now and time to get cleaned up for court after I go check on Skittles. I’ll post this and get going. Hopefully this won’t be as hard a day for Cherie. The mood swings and depression amplified by menopause have been hard on her lately. I don’t seem to be good at keeping that back and feel somewhat helpless. Just try my best.

I was eight minutes late for court so will have to go back at 1:30. Dropped by the post office to check mail and the check from Minnie Lee’s civil service came in. That’s great news. I called Cherie to let her know and then deposited the check in the bank. After putting some badly needed gas in the tank I went home. I gave Cherie the rest of the mail and asked her if she wanted to go out and get something to eat. Of course she did and getting out of the house was a good thing for her.

We went to the Stanton drug store and ordered the hamburgers and chocolate malts we love so much. The lady who served us recognized that we had been in there before so came up and asked us who we were. When she learned I was Minnie Lee’s grandson she beamed and started telling us how she used to help Minnie Lee come in cause she could barely walk. Then she told us how she used to visit her and even went to the Marcy House to see her before she died. One of the interesting things she told was how Minnie Lee would show her everything she had when she would come over to visit. She would tell Minnie Lee that she shouldn’t do that because she didn’t really know the nurses aids and others who came in. Lee had told her that some of the nurses aids would sleep over sometimes. It still eats at me how trusted friends and family stole from her.

Court went just the way I hoped and nothing like the way Cherie feared. The judge had read the letter before she called me up and already had a plan, which I am sure was the usual one. All I have to do is get a Texas handicap placard and bring it in. Once done the charges would be dropped. Instead of accepting my guilty plea she had me plead not guilty. I had a hard time following at first but when I understood I brightened up and said “Oh! Sure, Yes mam, I’ll do that. Thank you”. The judge rattled off where, when, and how to do this.
Well here I am folks, all spiffed up. Figured Cherie better get a picture cause you'll only see me like this for funerals, weddings, and Uh well...court

I had to ask her to have that in writing cause there was no way I would remember it. “Your honor, I won’t recognize you three hours from now” I said to explain my short term memory loss. She was fine with that and seemed to have an understanding of that issue so had the bailiff take me to the back and have her secretary do that. Back in the offices I had a good time taking with the various personnel who worked for the court. There was a boy scout who was brought in to observe the court system and we all discussed how great that was and how more kids should come in. I said that the state used to have a program called “Operation Kick-It” where inmates were taken into schools and would tell about the consequences of crime and drugs and tell what it had done to them. I didn’t say I was one of those inmates cause…well it just wasn’t comfortable. Sure I had talked to approximately a hundred thousand kids over the three years I was involved but I really didn’t want the label of ex-con to taint our conversation. It was thirty years ago but that still has a stigma. Anyway I told them about being in a coma and losing my memories and of course the miracle of getting back with Cherie.

Cherie just went to Midland to get a large cat litter box so Carman kitty can get his ass in and hopefully will quit peeing outside of the current one. I tried and tried but never got all the smell out of the carpet but it is much better now so I will finally get it installed in the hallway. We tried a blend of peroxide, baking soda, and glass cleaner on it. I also took it outside to have the sun beam on it a while. It’s down to bearable levels now. Now that we have some money we can get both cats their shots and have Skittles balls clipped. It won’t be long till we can run up to Toledo and get the rest of our stuff. Not long being a month or so for you folks back home. Weather will play a big role in that also.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Beautiful day

1/21/07 Sunday
It’s a beautiful day. We made it to church with time to spare. Cherie is getting much better at getting ready on time. This time we tried the other Sunday school class, the one taught by Kevin. Been debating that for a while because I felt it was a form of betrayal to Steve, the teacher of the class we’ve been attending. I worry so much about offending people and fear they will interpret actions like this wrongly or just not like me. I realize that there is no basis for this fear but it is there just the same.

I had two dizzy spells while in church and was afraid a slowdown was coming but it didn’t. I remembered to ask pastor about the veterinarian he had mentioned sometime so after service he introduced us to her. We talked a little and she gave Cherie her business card. Nice lady. She said she would work with us on the bill. We will take Skittles to her cause a home visit costs sixty bucks or so.

I went out to the garage to continue the work I started before, this time putting together a work surface made from the old dresser I pulled off the bus. It seems the dizzy spells were a precursor of a slow down. I started making lots of mistakes and kept getting lost so finally gave up and came in here to lay down. Hope that helps. Nap time folks.

It helped as naps usually do. Makes me feel like an old man to have to take naps but that’s the way it is and what the doctors told me. Don’t like it at all and it took three hours out of the middle of a really nice day. I got up at four and was rejuvenated and clear headed so went back to organizing the garage. It’s coming along well. It gets cold quick when the sun starts to get low and was getting dark so I called it quits at 6:00. Took these pictures of the sunset.

Tomorrow I go to court for the handicap tag ticket. Hope that goes well. Not sure what else is scheduled if anything. We are hoping the check that comes from Lee’s civil service comes though it probably won’t get here till Thursday or so. As it always seems to happen it will be just in time. We don’t have excess but we always have just enough.

I don’t know what else to write at the moment so that’s it for now.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bad weather? poorer inside than out

1/19/07 Saturday
The bad weather finally got here though it isn’t as bad as it could have been. No snow, mostly ice. Rte. 250 in Midland is closed as are several other highways. There are power outages reported from downed lines. These are from the weight of the ice and also limbs breaking off from the weight.

I am running a bit below average this morning, about a five on the bob scale. Went out and fed Skittles. The wound he had on his back flank is opened and raw again. This is strange because it had been healing up. I suppose I should put ointment on it again.

Our ice is not bad at all, in fact there are still puddles of unfrozen water out there. Don’t know what I’ll do today but there is a headache that is rapidly growing right now so I’m sure I won’t do much for a while. Cherie has the PC card so when she is done I’ll go online and post this.

It’s a crawl under the covers migraine so won’t be doing anything for a while. Even had to turn the brightness on this screen down to the lowest level because if my sensitivity to light.

5:26 – I spent the whole day in bed but I didn’t waste it. I’ve been studying online everything I can find regarding our farm. Lots of that was wading through the different government programs. What a big world that is. I noticed that mohair often was mentioned many times so I looked at that out of curiosity. Come to find out Texas is the second biggest producer of mohair in the world.

I kept copious notes as I must for studying with a serious short term memory problem makes things hard. For me to remember I must go through it several times. It’s just like it is for everyone, repetition helps things stay, just have to work at it harder than most. Gone are the days I could read a book on a day and recall it all. Used to drive the teachers crazy in high school cause I never did homework, just read the books and aced the tests.

Skittles front paw is so bad he won’t put it on the ground at all. We wrapped him in a blanket to look but didn’t find anything wrong. The wound he had on his side is fresh and raw again so I put some antibiotic on it. When we get some spare funds we will take him to the vet.

That’s it for today folks. Turned out to be nice with the sun coming out and it warming up. Been a headache day so never even got dressed, just wore sweats. Feeling a little better now and tomorrow is supposed to be nice so we’ll make it to church. See ya next time.