Thursday, May 31, 2007

A pupppy morning

5/31/07 Thursday
It’s a puppppy morning. Oh yeah! It’s amazing what difference a day makes. Both of them have more energy and are bouncing around with greater vigor and coordination. Still have a ways to go but that’s part of the blessing, to watch them grow. Cherie is a worry wart mom, fretting over every whimper they make. She got up twice last night to check on them. This morning they were awake plenty early and she said they were kind of pensive until they saw her. Then the tails started wagging and they were happy. It hasn’t taken long for them to recognize us.

We left the front door open so they came into the house from the porch for the first time. At first they were cautious as they entered this new frontier until they came around the couch and spied Cherie. Then it was scampering time and they both ran into the kitchen to see mom and confidently began sniffing and investigating all around them. We brought them up to the bed where I had to watch so they wouldn’t fall off the edge. That will be hard to keep up so I took them out to the veranda where I drank coffee and played with them. I usually watch the news every morning but that isn’t important now. They are both moving much better. Yesterday Cherie would come to the door and say “What?” often cause she heard my voice and thought I was talking to her. Nope, I was talking to the puppies. Carman kitty, by the way, is not at all happy about these new arrivals and has been hiding and pouting.

So I am doing much better this morning as you can tell by the fact I’m writing full sentences. Look forward to a good day. We take the puppies to the vet at ten this morning. The timing is right as it will cost sixty bucks to get both of them shots and stuff and her first check from work comes tomorrow. I have insisted Cherie find a dentist to get her tooth pulled. She’s been enduring the pain for some time now. We’ll E mail Janie and Eric to see if they can recommend one. They are our contacts or guides if you will, to local resources. It’s a shame we haven’t developed that kind of relationship here in Stanton, at least not yet. Peggy has been great though and in all fairness we could E mail her so that is our fault. Karla also has reached out via E mail and Cherie will call so they can get together. Maybe in time some others will open up to us.
Trixie is a typical female as it's hard to get a picture of her face. The old stainless steel bedpan makes a great water dish. I tried to give it to Steve for emergency field use but he has the Cadillac model we gave him so wasn't interested. By the way, I DID clean it out good.
We took the puppies to the vet. You’ve got a good eye Janie. The vet says she is sure they are a Border Collie Aussie mix. She also said that is a great combo. We got them their shots and will return in two weeks for the second set. It is good that Cherie is working right now cause otherwise this would break us.

There are two peacocks that we saw wandering front yards when we pulled up. I wish I’d had the camera with me. One of them was pure white. She said that someone had dropped them off at her door some time back. The neighbors all feed them and they roost in one of her trees.

So I went straight to work when we got back. Planted the eighteen black turtle bean seeds I soaked overnight and then fixed up the asparagus bed. The stuff I read online said it is about impossible to start them from seed but it can be done. The soil requirements are particular and include wood ash and bone meal as well as manure. So I burned a pile of limbs and wood that I had been building up over the last six months last night and used some ashes from that along with both composted cow and the goat manure. I already have the bone meal as it’s instructions say it’s good for root development and flowering. Got it all done and planted the seeds. Took lots of care with this cause if it works I’ve got ten plus years of asparagus.

It is pretty hot out so I came in to lay in front of the fan for a while. Cherie is off working and will probably put a hundred miles on the car. I plan on running to Walmart in a while to get the drip feed irrigation stuff I need and a water thing for the puppies. Will write a check because mine will come in at midnight via direct deposit so it shouldn’t bounce.
I’m having a bad slowdown that started about a half hour ago. That would be 7:30 or so. This one comes with a bad headache. Am planting carrots, chives, and onions. The small skinny kind. Will keep going cause I hate quitting. Thinking a lot about Cherie’s concerns for her family.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Puppy proofing

5/30/07 Wednesday
We’ve been puppy proofing around here. I got lima beans planted. Came in for lunch and started slowing down. Puppies sleep a lot. Should lay down till this passes. Will go play with puppies instead. It’s 12:49. Running a four on the bob scale. You can tell by how short sentences are.
I ended up just laying down and almost sleeping. Still slow an hour later with a headache on top of it.

The puppies are bringing lots of joy. They are the kids we can’t have so we are mom and dad.
I pretty much lost a whole day. Didn’t clear up till around 8:00. These things always drain me and leave me tired but I was able to plant black eyed peas and some Mammoth dill. Then I cleared the bed I decided to plant the asparagus in. That will take three years before I can start harvesting it but if I take care of it the asparagus should last fifteen or twenty years. We have the first silks showing on the corn so I was careful to dust them in order to fight the corn worms.

That’s pretty much the whole day other than playing with the puppies. They only last ten minutes or so before they go back to sleep. At five weeks old they are barely weaned and don’t even walk well yet though it’s cute to watch them try to bound around. I hope tomorrow goes much better as far as my being able to do stuff. Night all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Beans and potatoes

5/29/07 Tuesday
Couldn’t get to sleep till around 3:00 this morning. It’s nice and cool so I’m gonna get as much as I can outside before it gets too hot. Plan on planting the potatoes I cut two days ago and beans in the rows I made sometime a week or so back. Actually worked goat manure into some of them yesterday. I plan on putting in the drip feed watering system on the bean rows.

I got an E mail from the Texas Organic Farmer’s & Gardener’s Association, their regular newsletter thing. There is an organic farm, Boggy Creek Farms, near Austin that is hosting a two day workshop held by TOFGA. They will teach all kinds of things I need to learn and the farm itself could well be a good model for what I would like to do. Unfortunately it costs $110 bucks so we’ll have to put that off till next year or something. I will E mail Boggy Creek to see if they would be willing to just let us come down and look. I’m sure they will. Their website is great and gives a good idea about how they operate. I don’t have near the acreage that it looks like they must have and the climate is much harsher out here but it doesn’t matter cause good ideas are still good ideas even if smaller.

Time to get out and get farming.
It’s noon and time to take a break from the sun. Dropped the truck off at Wheeler. They don’t know how long they will keep it till they see what kind of part needs replacing. Might be two days or two hours.

Got small red potatoes and sweet potatoes planted. When I asked Cherie to buy potatoes to plant that’s all she came home with. Would like to have some good baking potatoes but this is what she likes. I’ll plant beans when I go back out. There are five rows ready to plant so I’ll pick out five types of beans. These will all be bush beans as ones that need a trellis I’m thinking of putting along the fence so they can use the fence to climb on. Plus I already have some green beans planted with the corn so they will climb on that. Back is pretty painful so I’ll need to take a pain pill. Cherie is off on her job. She’s doing well but needs to get organized and a little disciplined with it. Time to check my E mail, post this, grab a sandwich, and get back out there.
Well I over did it. But I tend to do that. Planting beans takes a lot longer than I thought. At least for me. I got two kinds of beans planted, white runner beans and pinto beans. I’m probably doing it the hard way. I make a hole, put a dirt mixture in it and .then put the seed in. I suppose I don’t have to put the mix of potting soil, peat moss stuff and…I don’t know, whatever else I could find to throw in. It’s just that the soil here is pretty sandy and I want this stuff to grow good. I planted some seeds straight in the soil without the other stuff to see how it does. It’s all part of learning how to do this stuff. I got the hose for the drip feed watering system run but need to get more connectors and hose to finish it.

I was pretty cranky by the time Cherie came home from work. She looked at me and said “You’re wiped out” and tried to get me to come in out of the sun or at least take a break. I kept plugging away because I hadn’t gotten nearly as much done as I wanted. It was hot and I think I stayed out in the sun too long.

So to the good part. Let me introduce you to Rascal and Trixie. They are Australian sheep dogs. Cherie met the lady who’s dog had the puppies while she was working and she was giving them away for free. We had talked about how it would be good to have some dogs out here so this was a timely thing. So we decided to get two of them, one male and one female, cause they will keep each other company and stand a better chance against coyotes. So we got two puppies. Cherie’s never had a dog but I’ve had several. They are a lot different from the cats she has always had. She said something about shredding up newspaper for the dogs to poop on so I had to explain that unlike cats, who are naturally fastidious, dogs need to be trained for this.

I’m tired. Drank about a hundred glasses of tea to replenish what I sweated out today. Time to call it a night.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Now it’s today’s journal, what’s going on Monday the twenty eighth. We just looked at the tape Eric put on DVD for us and were bitterly disappointed at how little we had of Minnie Lee. I thought we had taken hours of video but it was only minutes. I know we had hours of conversation during our visits and so wish we had the wisdom and foresight to record it. I am sad. What a shame. How I loved her and love the stories and history she shared. So much passed with her. I could kick myself for this.

Steve will be over around three or so with the cabinet he is helping his friend build providing it goes as planned. I need to motivate myself after the disappointment of the video. Will check the garden and work on the living room, patching the holes and taping the corner before we paint.

I was out in the garden working off my depression regarding not having the video record of my grandmother I thought I had when I heard a rattling noise. Looking around I didn’t see anything so I continued. Then I heard it again and this time saw the snake as it moved off into the weeds. Must have been right on top of it. A good reason to chop more weeds down. I got the hoe and began carefully clearing the area the snake went into. Went and got the camera first so I could get a picture of it.

Janie called about then to let me know Steve wouldn’t be out today. They have the cabinet built but the guy can’t make it out to install it. That will be fine as it will give Cherie more breathing room to get things done. I had been upset because she didn’t make the banana nut bread I asked her to make for Steve and them when they came up. I was already pissy because of the video thing so was easily upset. I called her right away to let her know. Always feel bad when I’m an ass.

So I went back to chasing down this snake in the weeds. It took a while as I carefully chopped down the weeds, inching closer to the fence as I kept my eye out, ready to jump if it came after me. Finally I heard it’s warning rattle and saw it curled up behind some fencing. It still took a while for me to clear out more weeds so it was exposed enough for me to safely pin it with the hoe. So here it is. A small little snake, only about two feet long, but enough to cause some damage if it bit you.

I am tired and a bit depressed. Probably should take a nap. I’ll post this first.

There was a good size storm coming our way. I hoped we would get some rain out of it but the storm passed on both sides of us and we didn’t get a drop. I sat outside watching the awesome lightning show as I always love to do. As I watch the lightning run across the sky and understand each flash contains enough electricity to power a whole city for a significant amount of time it lets me know how small and insignificant we are in the scope of things. As powerful as this one storm is it is nothing when compared to other phenomenon on this planet, which in turn pale when put up against what is found in this solar system. Our entire solar system is as a grain of sand on the entire planet when compared to the galaxy we are in. So who are we to puff ourselves up and say “Look at me, I’m somebody”. No, I will just love the life I have and do the best I can with what I’ve got.

I chopped a lot of weeds down around the corn patch after almost stepping on the snake I couldn’t see despite it’s rattle. I had been pulling the weeds and that got to where I couldn’t keep up with it and aggravated the carpal tunnel thing so I now where the wrist brace. Pulling them by the roots works better but now I’ll just chop them down even though they come right back.

It’s 11:00 now and I am wide awake. Figures. I slept maybe two hours when I took the nap this afternoon. Tomorrow I take the truck in for it has a recall notice on several issues. They are all connected to the truck being from up north where salt is used on the roads for ice. Cherie will be working on her job so I’ll be here at the house all day. Course that’s pretty much the way it is everyday.

Time to call it a day so night all.

Long post of a great day

5/28/07 Monday
Yeah I know, I wrote a short book.

It is a rough morning. Running a little slow, about a five on the bob scale, and have a headache on top of that. Yesterday was a wonderful day, very much in keeping with the pivotal time in life I referred to in Saturday’s post.

It started with us accepting Eric’s invitation to visit his church, First Baptist of Midland. We had arranged to meet him in the foyer at 9:35 but were late getting there because Cherie’s timing was off regarding how long it took her to get beautiful and I had to shave my neck after seeing how hairy it was when I put a dress shirt on. I got upset, as I am prone to do when rushed, as I drove through downtown looking for Louisiana Avenue. None of the lights are timed like they are in Toledo so I hit a red light at every corner. But we got there without me running anyone over. Found a parking spot right in front of the church.

We weren’t late for the church service, just to meet Eric because he was running one of the camera’s. I’m not sure but they may televise their service. What surprised us was a greeter who approached and asked “Are you the Westbrooks?”. When we said yes he greeted us warmly, telling us Eric asked him to guide us when we arrived. Then another man also came up and greeted us by name. They pointed to where Eric was running the camera and he waved. The greeters let us know that Eric would find us after the service and take us to his Sunday school class. It appears Eric has filled them in on us and some of my issues’. This is a good thing.

The service was more contemporary and upbeat than what we experienced at First Baptist in Stanton. That is no put down of the Stanton service. Seems that Midlands First Baptist has three services each Sunday. The first one is traditional and geared more for the older population, giving them what they grew up with. Stanton’s church has a high percentage of older folks, as the entire town does for that matter, so that is appropriate. The second service is the one we attended and appeals more to our age group I suppose but there were lots of senior citizens there. I think I was told that the third service is geared for the young crowd. That would make sense and it is commendable, to me, that a church the size of First Baptist of Midland would do this to reach out to everyone, especially the young ones.

Just an aside here, I think there must be thousands of “First Baptist” churches. I would love to find a third or five hundred sixty fifth Baptist church. Yeah, I know, I’m a smart aleck but it can be confusing. Kind of like the name “Bob”. You can go into a crowd and yell “Hey Bob” and get a dozen responses.

So back to church. It is memorial weekend and there was a great video shown at the start to honor veterans. It was asked that all the veterans stand up. While I am a Vietnam era veteran I am uncomfortable taking any kind of accolades because I was there because a judge told me “prison or service” and wasn’t a model serviceman by any means. Besides that, no one shot at me and I know too many vets who went through hell over there and feel completely unworthy to be included in those ranks. But I stood up anyway and regardless of all that still felt some pride I could.

After the service we went over to meet Eric. He is a great guy and happy to see us. I don’t remember what we talked about as he led us to his Sunday school class but not remembering I unfortunately do well whether I want to or not. There were warm greetings there and folks took a genuine interest in who we are, where we’re from, and where we are. Both Cherie and I were engaged in separate conversations as introductions led to them. I’m not sure I’m putting the sentences together right but you know what I mean.

The class taught on 2 Peter chapter three. It was a good lesson taught by a woman we later learned was a lawyer I think. I was able to have some input though was careful to say things that edified. They touched on the evolution vs. creation debate that has and will go on forever. Though I personally believe in evolution I didn’t voice that. It doesn’t mean God didn’t create the universe, I just don’t think He was in a hurry and don’t accept that the universe is 6,000 years old. I did say that God always has been and always will be, that He has no beginning and end but we know the universe does. So time means nothing to God and “How many universes has God created?” I asked. That seemed to be acceptable. So here is a thought, while I am expounding on this. If you go to the deepest jungles of, say New Guinea, how would you explain to the natives your radio and how it works? You’d have to put it in simple terms they might be able to fathom. Perhaps the creation story in Genesis was something like that. I don’t know. All I know is that I live and breath and my life is a gift.

Personally I don’t know for a fact there is God and desperately search for Him. This kind of honesty could well alienate me from some (only some) who do “know” there is a God. The paradox of this is that their doing so would reinforce my doubts. But on the other side of the coin are those who are fine examples of their faith, who practice what they believe. The Eric’s, Janie’s, Amy’s, Steve’s, and others who have come out of the blue and showed love and compassion, helping us with pure hearts that expect nothing in return. I suppose that the only way I can “see” God is in the lives of those who follow him. Sure I am confused but despite that I am honest and will not pretend. There is much I don’t understand but much I seek to believe. Forgive me if this bothers you but if I don’t ask questions I’ll get no answers.

So now that I have bared part of my soul lets get on with the wonderful day yesterday was. As I write my mind is clearing, illustrated by my fingers starting to dance on this keyboard.

After Sunday school Eric and his wife treated us to lunch at a great restaurant called Johnny Carino’s. (had to ask Cherie like always) It was more like dinner. I had shrimp scampi and Cherie had something with chicken. We talked and I think a better word to use would be “fellowshipped”. It was great for both of us and a fine reprieve for the isolation we have felt. Maybe isolation is too strong of a word but I can’t find another one right now. Regardless this has been evolving for weeks now so this time is another step in us finding a community and friends that accepts and welcomes us. I seem to be unable to write without offending someone and hope this does not come across as a condemnation of others.

Eric transferred the video’s we made with Cherie’s camera on to DVD. I mostly look forward to viewing the one we made with Minnie Lee. (my grandmother who’s farm we inherited) I had forgotten to give him the tape we got from ABC of the “Toledo’s John Doe” story they ran on me that brought Cherie and I back together after seventeen years so I brought it with me. I also brought the tape I got from my former secretary of the story channel 11 ran on one of my companies back around 1992. Perhaps I’ll be able to post them on the blog for y’all to see.

After this wonderful time we called up Steve and Janie as previously agreed. I forgot to bring the number so just started dialing the numbers recorded on my cell phone because I knew one of them was their’s. Got lucky on the second number. So it was off to Lowe’s where we were to meet them. We went back to where the counter tops were and picked out the style that Steve had incidentally thought was the best. He’s got a great eye for color where I find it difficult to match my clothes. Now it gets better. Steve has decided to purchase cabinetry to install our stove oven combo.

There was a time I would have been ashamed and embarrassed to accept gifts such as this but we are grateful now. I suppose the last seven years have amended the pride I once flaunted. Steve wanted us to make some decisions regarding colors and finishes as well as how to make the existing cabinetry match. I had a hard time with that as I didn’t grasp the concepts well and kept talking about how I could veneer surfaces and do all kinds of stuff that in retrospect would have been difficult and may never happen. Sticking stubbornly to a train of thought and having a hard time seeing other concepts is an issue that is not uncommon with brain injuries. Cherie was able to help me see things better as we drove to sit down at a restaurant with them. Just takes me a little time to process. Steve’s ideas are the wisest ones here.

We enjoyed some more food and fellowship. Keep this up and I’ll regain all the weight I was glad to lose. Steve and Janie’s younger son was with there as well. He seems like a great down to earth kid though he was quiet. One of the things I found Steve and Janie attentive to was an understanding of some of the problems that come with my brain injury. They asked me how I was doing on the “bob scale”. Janie gets a kick out of that. I was sharp as a rock almost all day yesterday, well above average. They were also careful to find a place that was quiet and not too active, finding a seat near the back of the restaurant. This time it was Cheddar’s. Another great place. I just had the baked potato soup and was easily talked into the apple pie alamode that I “just happened” to mention. I was wearing out and starting to slow down just a little towards the end though I doubt anyone could notice. I know Janie was tired as well but she seems to go at a hundred miles an hour all the time as it is.

We came home and you saw the post I made for yesterday. I went to bed. Zonk, I was out. Three of four hours later Janie or Steve called, can’t remember which one, and said they needed to drop by to take some measurements. We talked again about colors and how to do things and Steve figured out more things. When it came to colors I let him and Cherie take the ball, glad to step out of that picture. The emotion of all this is strong. Cherie cries or chokes back crying a lot with this generosity and love shown by people who didn’t know us yet have…I guess adopted us would fit here. I haven’t been far from crying a few times either. It is amazing and overwhelming to us. As Eric said, they are the Church at work. All I pray every day is for God to show Himself to me so I can believe in spirit and truth like the bible says. Perhaps this is it. Perhaps I am just blind. I still seek to know, I still look for answers to questions, but I’m beginning to see more.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I'll write later

5/27/07 Sunday
It’s been a good day, a long day, and I held up incredibly well. We just got home and I went straight to bed. Will write about it later.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A pivotal moment

See the wolf?

5/26/07 Saturday
It’s 1:00 in the morning. One hour ago tomorrow officially became today. I am wide awake and never approached going to sleep. Just too much on my mind and it is operating well on top of that. In a few hours I believe we will begin one of those leaps forward in this life Cherie and I have been blessed with. The six years since I woke from the coma has had many of these pivotal moments.

Last night (I suppose a few hours ago would seem more accurate) Cherie had been poring through some of her old calendars which had notes in them like a diary. There was so much she saw as she looked at what she had written years ago, things she saw as if with eyes newly opened. We talked about much of it before she went to sleep. She is sleeping restlessly now as I type as quietly as I can in order to not disturb her. There is an old saying my boss at Bowman Distribution was fond of saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. The whole thing with her family in Toledo has been brewing in a pot of turmoil for over twenty years, fermenting till it must eventually blow it’s top. It is a poisonous brew that will continue doing damage as long as all the ingredients remain together in the pot that house has become.
I only got about an hours worth of sleep before it was time to get up and get ready to meet “the guys”. I was sharp, running about an 8 on the bob scale, a hair above average. By the way, it’s 4:05 in the afternoon as I write this so I’ve got a lot of ground to cover. First I need to check on what I wrote in the middle of the night.

OK, not much there. We both were up and running, excited to meet these strangers (No Janie, not you) who have agreed to come and see how they can help. Now I made a big deal that Cherie didn’t need to go on a big house cleaning spree because these folks would be coming in our house, so what do I do? I rush out to the garage and feverishly work to tidy things up.

Cherie was ready to go uncharacteristically on time and made me quit cleaning and get in the truck. We got there at four minutes before nine. Walking in Cherie says “There she is” indicating she saw Janie. Of course I don’t recognize her because facial recognition is one of the big losses that has not improved. There were six people there. Another couple didn’t make it as they went to the wrong I-Hop where they had held a table waiting for the rest to show. That’s a shame and I would like to meet them later. Everyone was introduced and I made a concerted effort to remember the names. First there was Steve, Janie’s husband, and another Steve, (That made it easier) and his wife who’s name escaped the clutches of my mind. The last person was Gary, who is an electrician active in residential new construction.

So we all sat in the tables that were pulled together to accommodate us and began to get acquainted. I was sharp and lucid when we first arrived but all the activity and commotion soon took it’s toll. I explained how it was effecting me as I probably do more than I should. Steve said he didn’t really notice. I am more aware of it than those around but being self conscious or something try to explain what they don’t see. Need to reduce that.

There was lots of conversation going around and I wasn’t able to follow much of it so mostly focused on what Janie, Steve, and the other Steve’s wife were saying. Cherie shared how we got back together and I told of some of the trials I went through after I woke from the coma. We had all ordered and eaten our fill when it was decided to head out to our farm. There was a debate about how to get there and who to follow so in the end we followed Janie. More or less. I stayed behind Janie as she looped around, at one point turning on her turn signal and changing her mind at the last minute. The other two trucks went their own way and somehow we all ended up in a convoy running down FM 829 together.

Being away from the commotion at I-Hop and pulling into the familiar territory of the farm brought me back up to speed just fine. Gary, Steve and Steve got right to business looking at the electricity and finding other things they wanted to see about helping with. I’m not sure what Cherie and the other women were about but I stayed with Janie’s Steve. He was checking out what it would take to get the stove, oven, microwave combination set up and working. He asked questions, made suggestions, and pointed out problems that could arise. Asking for a tape measure Steve went right to work drawing up blueprints of what was there and I suppose what would be there in the end.

I’m not clear on it but I think that the original idea was to just get us hot water in. It looks like things will go far beyond that now. Both Cherie and I are pretty blown away by how quick all of this happened. Cherie more than I. Janie brought a bunch of her clothes that she replaces on a regular basis, that mostly Cherie can fit in, and gave them to Cherie. I wasn’t there but am told that Cherie just started crying, overwhelmed by the generosity and blessing.

Steve knows a cabinetmaker whom he will ask to prepare something to house the stove, oven, microwave. Gary will run the 220 volt wiring needed for that as well as for the hot water heater. A new hot water heater is going to be purchased and installed. Gary will clean up the wiring heading out to the garage as well, making that safer.

The other Steve inquired about my past business background and specifically asked how my computer abilities were. I said they were fine so he mentioned that he is computer illiterate and would like to compensate me if I could teach him. At first I was “Yeah, I can do that” but as we talked got a little nervous. I explained that I didn’t want to make promises I couldn’t keep and have shot my mouth off in the past, confident that I could do something because at one time I could, only to learn I wasn’t up to it. Regardless, I told Steve I would be happy to do what I can but wouldn’t know how much that was till I got into it. Still it’s exciting for me to actually try. I am looking forward to seeing what I can do and his understanding this takes the pressure off. Now I want to start tomorrow. He gave me his business card which I need to go find. Set it down somewhere.

All in all it was a great time of fellowship. I showed them the garden, my plaque, and the pictures of the wreck. We talked about life’s lessons and they revealed some of their colorful pasts as well. All the business stuff was done so this was good camaraderie. Something I have experienced only a little of since we moved to West Texas and most of that has been through Eric and Janie, along with Amy who's way down San Antonio way. There are a few others also. Want to say that so I don't offend any of them. You guys know who you are.

A story that Janie told on her blog regarding a mishap Steve had while on his job site prompted my wicked sense of humor. I had mentioned this to Cherie, who was mortified at what I had in mind and said “Don’t you dare”. Steve is an engineer or something in the oil industry where he is on site at drilling rigs much of the time. These are often in remote areas and seldom have what resembles “facilities” if I understand correctly. So he had a little potty seat thing made for use camping. Seems that it gave way under his exertions with unpleasant results that I probably don’t need to go into detail about.

So we have the potty thing my grandmother had for her use because of the great difficulty she had getting to the bathroom. It’s a sturdy thing commonly prescribed for those who’s condition required it. It saw much use when we first came down and worked on the house before we got the well put in. What mortified Cherie was that I asked if she had a big ribbon and bow I could put on it to present it to Steve. Well she didn’t and if she did there was no way I would get it. Regardless I am feeling comfortable now so as they were preparing to get in their cars and leave I make an announcement that I had a special gift for Steve. Cherie knew what was coming so I heard “Robbb, Don’t. I can’t believe you’re going to do this” as I led Steve to the corn patch where I had last been using it to sit on as I planted new corn.

Steve seemed quite amused and I think he really liked it. Regardless, he picked it up and we walked around the house to the driveway where the rest were waiting. Janie just cracked up when she saw it. Steve grabbed the notebook he’d made his drawing in and sat on the seat to model how well it would work. We all had some fun with that and Janie recounted the story with Steve adding some details we might not have wanted to know. At first I don’t think Janie believed Steve was taking this home with him and announced “You’re not putting that in my truck”. Yes he was.

As we wrapped things up I thanked them all and told how grateful we both were. But I closed with this. “The gift I most appreciate is the one you can’t put dollar signs on but it’s the most precious one you can give. That is a little time, just coming out to visit with us is more valuable than anything else you can do”. They said they look forward to getting to know us and of course we do also. All in all we are blessed by just knowing them. I gave them all cards I printed up that have the blog address on so want to say “Thanks guys. We are blessed by your love”

Tomorrow we meet Eric and his wife at their church in Midland. Something else we are looking forward to. Like I said at the beginning of this post it seems that we are once again at a pivotal moment in the adventure of our life. Nothing more pivotal than finding and developing friendships.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ping Pong balls

5/25/07 Friday
It’s a little tough this morning. The pain level is high as it has been a lot lately. I am moving a little slowly and the brain is operating at a six on the bob scale, a little slower than normal. The part of the brain that controls movement is working lower than that. This is hard to describe but what you see is me moving in a sort of slow motion. Just not zipping along at all. What it feels like to me is as if there is a resistance, like I am moving my arm through a muddy mixture. These are another form of partial seizure. I’ll get more into this on the paper I’m writing on TBI but seizures are where certain parts of the brain get overactive. The best description I’ve found was one given by Doctor Glen Johnson, a neuropsychologist who is the Clinical Director of the Neuro-Recovery Head Injury Program in Michigan. He wrote a book called “Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide” for survivor’s and their families. It is written in simple terms that avoid medical jargon.

Visualize a room full of mouse traps. Instead of putting cheese in the mouse trap, we put a ping-pong ball on each trap, and there's not a bit of space in this entire floor where I haven't put a mouse trap and a ping-pong ball. What if I just throw one ping-pong ball into that room? What's going to happen? It's going to hit one, which will bounce, hit two, which will hit four, which will hit eight and before long, the entire room has got ping-pong balls flying in it. That's a little bit like what happens with a seizure.

Anyway, I will put a link to this book and would like to encourage all of you to take the time to read it.

Cherie is off to work and I am plugging along as best I can. Took a pain pill this morning and will take another at 1:00. I am real careful with these because I understand the potential problems they can bring. I cut them in half like the doctor suggested. I have to lay down and put the laptop on my raised knees for sitting up with it on my lap hurts too much.

I plan on planting beans today. Got all kinds of beans here so the first order of business is to go online and research the proper way to do this for each type of bean.
Busted my butt digging the rows I’ll plant the beans on. I had barely gotten started when I had a slow down. Not really a problem cause when I have one I like to find something simple to do that I can focus on. Unfortunately I was preparing each row differently as part of my learning what does and doesn’t work. I poured goat crap soup on the first one, I put slow release nitrogen fertilizer on another, I mixed dry goat manure on yet another, and I did something else with a different one. The problem is other than the first row I am clueless on which one I did what with so all the rest of the rows are mysteries.

I had to take a break because all the digging was killing my back. Went in and asked Cherie if enough time had passed for me to take another pain pill. Then I took her out to show her what I had gotten done. We were looking at the corn when Janie called. I was down to a three on the bob scale and when it’s that bad you can hear it in my voice. Janie had called earlier today to see if we could meet her and “the guys” at I-Hop tomorrow morning. I said I would have to check with Cherie so Janie was calling to verify we could go. I was slow and Janie was a little loopy from not getting any sleep due to her flight being delayed and not coming in till something like five this morning so I handed the phone off to Cherie. I’m not really good at conversation when slow. Just to fill you in, Janie and “The Guys” (don’t know what else to call them) are going to see what it takes to get a hot water heater put in. I am sure there are more details about this that I’ve been told but I can’t really remember. I’ll fill you in later as things unfold.

I’m pretty sure I will be moving slow in the morning because I over did it working in the garden. Hurt pretty bad now despite medication. Walk like I’m ninety years old. Don’t really care cause I like to work and hurt anyway. Besides it makes my body stronger to work so there’s a long term benefit. I’m gonna call it a night so I can be rested up for tomorrow.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Goat crap soup

5/24/07 Thursday
It’s 1:24 now. Cherie has been working with her boss Joe. They went for her first interview with a farmer who’s way out in a little town called Tarzan. You have to wonder where that name came from. It’s an old town that my grandmother has talked about so I am sure it predates the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies. Anyway it went well. Joe is a neat kind of guy as it is. I’ve only seen him three times now but that’s my initial…can’t think of the word so that’s how I perceive him.

I’ve been working in the corn patch this whole time. Have had a few partial seizures or maybe just one I notice several times. Sometimes I am not aware of these till I talk with someone, stand up and walk to do something, or, as in this case, type. Earlier it was pretty warm out and the mosquitoes were swarming. I swear they were coming in formation, and just like fighter planes peel off one by one and dive bomb me. I sprayed some of the stinky repellant on and wore the strange mosquito netting hat Cherie bought for me. This is the first time I wore it. Kind of unnerving to see several of these blood thirsty demons covering the netting right in front of your face. Poking their hypodermic blood drills feverishly through the netting in their frantic quest to bite you. They were biting me through the T shirt so I had Cherie spray that down with repellant also.

So I’ve been cultivating the soil and planting more corn seeds in the spaces where the previous seeds failed to come up. I just figured out that cultivating means working the dirt up, in this case with the three pronged hand held thing I bought, so that you break up the crust that forms on the top. This has been hard on the back and left knee. I’ve had a knee brace for a while but didn’t need to use if for a few months. I just took the sander to a stick I picked up off the ground at Glassman’s when I picked up the rocks. Got it in case of snakes. Now I will keep it near to help me get up off the ground. I pretty much have to sit on the ground and scoot my ass along as I cultivate. I didn’t at first but it didn’t take long for the pain to let me know I should take it easy. Took two pain pills so far today but they aren’t keeping up with the pain. Tough, I’ve got things to do.

I mixed up some goat crap soup and am letting it steep for a while. Threw in a couple of cups of fertilizer to add some pizzazz to it. Much of the goat manure I got from Kevin’s was hard bricks that had built up over time under the pen’s roof and resisted breaking despite my pounding it with the hoe. Soaking them helped them break up and even dissolve. I don’t know what I’m doing, kind of making things up as I go, but it seems like a good idea. I’ll use this carefully around the plants to see how it works.

A cold front blew in that dropped the temperatures mercifully quick. It brought a brisk east wind and the mosquitoes seem to have disappeared. Works for me. Gonna post this and get back outside because I’m tired and will fall asleep if I don’t. Don’t care what the doctors say. I’ve got stuff to do.
Well, I planted 110 more corn seeds of four different varieties. I plant more about every three weeks or so. This way I will be harvesting fresh ripe corn over a three month period. Of course that’s providing everything works well and it doesn’t get eaten up by worms or killed by the weather. I gotta give it a shot anyway. Love good sweet corn and the stuff you find in the stores out here tastes like feed corn compared to what we got in Michigan and Ohio.

There is some kind of blight or something on the green beans and squash plants. Don’t have a clue what it is but I generally don’t have a clue about much of anything when it comes to growing food. It might be some kind of bug or some kind of…something. I’ll go online and see if I can find something

When Cherie got back with Joe she was pretty pumped up. She did good and learned a lot. Mostly it was good for her to be able to see how to interview farmers in person instead of relying on what they teach in class. It really helps with her self confidence. The other thing this first day of work has done for Cherie is beat back the depression. Really makes a difference when you are working.

One of the people they interviewed have an Australian shepherd dog that just had puppies. The father was not an Australian shepherd but some other kind of shepherd dog. Anyway they want to give the puppies away. I used to have an Australian shepherd when I was married to the other woman. Good dog but the German shepherd I had was mine, the one that attached to me and vice versa. So I think we might get a puppy or two. Need a dog around here any way and shepherds instincts will be good if we get goats or even chickens.

I’ve been doing more physical work lately, unfortunately that comes with more pain. The right hip seems to be getting worse all the time. That kind of worries me. Cherie is tired so wants to get some sleep so I’ll post this and call it a night.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It'll be a long day

5/23/07 Wednesday
It’s going to be a day. I probably won’t post a whole lot because I am preparing a post about traumatic brain injury. Part of the reason for this blog is to raise awareness of the issues that come with a brain injury which include the social problems that are common with many of us survivors. I haven’t done a good job of that, at least not locally with those I try to interact with. When it gets done the post will have quotes and links to medical, scientific, and other places that discuss these problems. I hope some, who don’t seem to have tried to understand, will take the effort to read the post when I get it done. Not just for me but for the 5.3 million recognized TBI’s from a survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control. (I’ll have to check to see if I got the name right) Also for the many soldiers who are coming home with this injury, rated as the number one injury sustained in Iraq. God I hope folks take the time to understand so others won’t have to go through what I have. It will be a long post when I get it done. Till then I have work to do.
I went into Midland to get some sandpaper for the walls in the living room. I really don’t know if I need to sand them before I paint but I am. They are textured but there are lots of cracks where the drywall joints are. In particular the corner is separating pretty badly. When I use the drywall patch stuff on those spots it will be smooth in the middle of the texture. So I am sanding the walls.

Anyway, I was slow when I left so Cherie asked if she should go with me cause she knows how hard it can be for me and is protective. I said “No” cause I know exactly what I am going to get so it shouldn’t be a problem. I need 5” discs for the random orbital sander but also wanted to get 7” sanding discs for the sander/polisher I got at Harbor Freight. Stopped at Walfart first but they don’t have the 7” discs with the hook and loop backing. Next stop was Lowe’s. No 7” discs there. They all have the five inchers I need but I figured I’d get them wherever I found the sevens. Home Depot was next. No 7 inchers there either so I looked through all the different kinds of five inch disks and picked out what I thought would be the best deal. Things were getting pretty hard to do by this time and mentally sorting through a wide variety of choices got overwhelming.

Getting out to the truck with the disks I decided to run to Ace Hardware in case they have the 7” discs. On the way I looked at what I bought at Home Depot and saw they wouldn’t fit on my sander. Instead of the hook and loop backing they were adhesive. Crap. I went ahead and went to Ace Hardware. They also do not carry the 7” disks. I think I’ll have to order them from Harbor Freight. So I bought the correct type of 5” disc and went back to Home Depot to return the other ones.

It was a short trip gone long. I’m pretty worn right now so will need to lay down a bit. Limping real bad and got a headache coming on. Plus I am tired or fatigued to use the medical term. Can’t believe it’s already 4:00. Where did this day go?
Got a second wind and busted my ass on sanding the room. I really don't know what I'm doing but at least I'm doing something.

Then I worked on the garden. The mosquitoes are out in clouds when the sun starts getting low. Pretty vicious too. Cherie bought some repellant that I used. Stuff stinks to high heaven. I made miniature greenhouses over where I planted the fennel seed. Just covered it with some plastic sheet I picked up off the side of the highway. It had evidently blown off some truck where it probably was covering something. Don’t know but I can use it so spun around and gathered it up.

Cherie has been fighting depression. I am sure I don’t help that with what I do on this blog. I’m tired. Never got much done on the post about brain injury.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Proud Tradition

A short while back, during the time I was trying to make my case regarding the welfare of Cherie’s parents, a well known saying was slung at us by both of Cherie’s sisters and Nate. That was “The pot calling the kettle black”. This really puzzled both of us. Sure it showed how all three were in collusion with this so at least I got them united on something but…What did they mean? To what were they referring? How did it apply to us? Sure it’s a handy thing to throw out when ones faults are being made public. Kind of intimates that the other has no right to express an opinion. “Oh, that ought to shut them up” is the thought behind it. It says you have the same faults as the other. So again “How does that apply to us?”. Had us dumfounded.

Then Nate sent me an E mail that gave me a bit of insight to their thoughts here. I had threatened him in order to get him to remove a picture that had Cherie in it. Not at all the right way to approach things but when it comes to Cherie I take the gloves off. Regardless, in his letter Nate threatened back. He said our electric was not up to code, our woodstove was improperly installed, and not having running hot water was a health code violation. The fact that there really isn’t a code out here in the middle of no where isn’t relevant. Our electric is fine, just not able to handle the extra loads we wish to put on because we are going all electric due to the gas piping being deteriorated. Some of it is polarized and some not and only the new part has grounded sockets. It still all works fine, just can’t turn on too many things at once.

The woodstove is absolutely installed correctly and safely. This is our house, this is where we are building a life, so there is no way I’m going to jeopardize that by taking shortcuts. So the stove sets on concrete stones which set on concrete bathroom tile backing boards. It’s two feet from the wall and the wall is covered with a UL listed steel lined insulated board designed to provide fire protection specifically from woodstoves. Then the chimney goes outside through a double walled insulated device made for that purpose. So what’s the point?

This country was founded by “Homesteaders”. People who came from far and wide to suffer great personal hardship in order to build their homes and lives. This country was grown with that same spirit. We expanded as these pioneers traveled into the wilderness’s and carved out their farms and homes. It was hard, it took sacrifice, it is the foundation of this nation. It was a time when neighbors gathered to help the new arrivals, when there was a fellowship, a joining of hearts, a coming together in unity of mind and purpose. A time of communion of sorts when all pulled together. How I longed for that as I read these stories of old, how I imagined what it might be like, how my imagination put me there as I saw through the eyes of the writers.

Uh, what’s that got to do with us? you might ask. Do you think homesteading died away with the advent of modern civilization? Go to my links on Homesteading and see. The spirit of America is alive and well. There are thousands who are pursuing the same dream, enduring the same hardships, carving out the life they choose with sweat and blood. Nah, no gunplay these days but I guarantee there will be a cut or two as they work. Some of these folks are lawyers and engineers who are tired of urban life and reject much of what it represents. Some were raised this way and are returning to their roots. All are willing to make sacrifices to pursue their individual dreams. And that’s where we come in.

When my grandmother died we easily could have accepted the offers to buy this farm and walked away with nearly a hundred thousand dollars in our pocket. We could still be in Toledo or anywhere else we wanted for that matter, living comfortably with nice cars and whatnot. Cherie could still have the security of her job with the health insurance that is so needed at today’s costs.

But that’s not the path we choose. We bought out my brother’s share of the land and took possession of this farm. We knew the house was in deplorable shape, we knew things would be pretty tough, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. And there were a lot of other things that we didn’t know. When all is said and done we came here with pretty much no money after buying the truck and putting in the new well. We chose what some would call poverty to pursue a dream, to build a life we longed for, something permanent and vital. This land can and will, through hard work and perseverance, produce a livelihood and provide for all of our needs. It will be a healthier lifestyle, it will be our creation, it will be good. So we heat our bathwater? So what. So I have a disability? So what.

I would like to think I can apply the term “Homesteader” to this dream we pursue. I’m kinda embarrassed to because some of those you can read of in the homesteader links are way beyond us. Building houses out of trees they cut down themselves, raising crops and livestock on land they cleared, making their own soaps and canning and preserving food for the coming winters, showing a grit and determination that puts what we do to shame. But I would think it an honor to be included in those ranks however meager our efforts are in comparison. But I see this as the spirit of America and though it may have died in many sectors, though the camaraderie, the pulling together to assist each other may have vanished in many, eaten away by the selfish cares of this world, this spirit is still strong and, though reduced, will never be vanquished.

Pot calling the kettle black? Still don’t have a clue where that came from. We are building, not tearing down, and we have no shame in this life we choose.

A better start

5/22/07 Tuesday
It’s starting out better today. I’ve got to get used to the carpal tunnel wrist brace but it sure does help reduce the pain simply by keeping my wrist straight. Just wearing it on the right wrist as that’s the one that hurts bad. Will wait and see how the left side does. I suspect I’ll start using the left hand more now.

There’s been a post or perhaps you’d call it an essay, I’ve been meaning to write for a few days now. Perhaps I’ll get to it today but right now it’s already 11:00 so I need to get motivated.
It’s been a good run today. Ran well till a little after 4:00 when this headache kicked in. That has me sidelined for the time being. It’s one of the close the blinds and lay down ones. Hope it passes soon. At least I got some stuff done but writing the “Proud tradition” essay is something I am particularly glad to have accomplished. That theme’s been running through my mind for a few days now. Took advantage of being clear headed to get it down on paper, or I suppose I should say computer.

Cherie fixed a great dinner made even better by the fact we just ate our first produce from the garden. That is some Butterhead lettuce. I should have had this garden planted long ago and could have been eating from it for months now but I do the best I can with what I’ve got. Besides that this is a learning year. Next year will be better. Think I’ll take nap. Cherie is laying down as well but she’s been working hard.

Monday, May 21, 2007

woke up angry

5/21/07 Monday
I woke up angry. Not good. Called Virginia and was an ass. There is so much that has been smoldering inside for a long time. I wrote a whole post based on that. Not going to put it on, at least not today, not till I think it through.

So what else happened today? This was Cherie’s first day of work. She called around 1:30 and let me know she was stuck in the mud on one of the back roads she had to travel on. I grabbed one of the chains that managed to not disappear from this place and rushed out to rescue her. Mud in the West Texas desert. Go figure. The ruts were so deep that even my truck would bottom out. Cherie’s little car actually was wedged on top of the ridge between the tire ruts. The front wheels were barely on the ground. Everything was so muddy I had to back the truck up a half mile to find a place I could turn around without getting stuck too, and backed the half mile back to her car. Then I laid in the mud and wrapped the chain around a safe part of her frame. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get her car out but it slid out easily.

With that done I rushed to Eric’s. He’s going to see about transferring the video’s we took of my grandmother before she died onto DVD. We talked for an hour and a half about much of what’s been eating at me. It is good to have someone to have an intelligent conversation with and I really needed to have some help to sort things out. Actually one of the things eating at me is that no one from the church is willing to spend some time talking. I’m sure pastor would but he seems overwhelmed with his duties as it is. It was good to talk. We discussed my doubts and thoughts regarding God and religion in detail. I think we will go to his church next week.

What else? I worked in the garden and got the mud out of the wheels of Cherie’s car. There was so much it threw them out of balance and had the steering wheel bouncing when it got over forty miles per hour.

One last thing. Two years ago the doctor at the VA in Ann Arbor poked around my hands and wrist and asked some questions about pain and stuff. After all that, to my surprise he announced I had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and prescribed some kind of wrist braces for both of my hands. I never thought much about it and only put them on once, then threw them in a drawer. Really didn’t buy that I had this carpal tunnel thing, just figured it was the latest fad with doctors.

Well I’ve been having problems with my right wrist for weeks now, spurred on by all the weeds I’m pulling along with hoeing, digging, and other stuff necessary around this house. I have an extremely high tolerance for pain and the back pain far exceeded the wrists so just ignored it. Besides the pain pills helped alleviate this. Today I had a hard time holding my glass and lifting this laptop off the dresser. Finally I dug out these wrist supports and tried the one for the right wrist. What a difference. I guess the doctor knew what he was talking about. These supports been sitting here for two years now and I am glad they are here. Maybe if I had been wearing them this wrist wouldn’t be hurting as much. Doesn’t matter now.

That’s all folks. Hope the anger gets under control. See ya.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

How it's going.

5/20/07 Sunday
I went to church today. Cherie didn’t go because she is pretty depressed about things with her family back in Toledo. Add to that her loneliness here and it’s hard to overcome the depression. I asked Darrel point blank if he knew anything about any of the property that was removed from this place either before or after my grandmother’s death. He said he didn’t. Not much I can say about that. I have my doubts and suspicions but nothing to back them up.

There were a few who asked about Cherie so I explained how she wasn’t feeling much like coming to church. We are both done with it here. One of the ladies in Sunday school, when I brought up our loneliness and feelings of not being really welcomed into the church family, suggested that Cherie volunteer at the nursing home or other places. I thought about that so when class ended caught her ear and said “We are strangers here. We don’t even know where the nursing home is. Can’t you see how strange and hard it would be to walk into the nursing home and say “I volunteer” when we don’t know anyone?. I was asked if Cherie knew how to sing or had any other gifts or skills and all I could think was that if she only took the time to get to know us she would already know the answer to that. Why must acceptance be based on what you can do or give? The lady said that the way she got accepted was by getting involved when she was asked to teach Sunday school. Then she was asked to do so many things she couldn’t keep up. “That’s good” I replied “But we haven’t been asked to do anything”.

Before class started Kevin talked about a new couple that had just moved in not far from his place and ran off how they were raising miniature goats, just brought in a pot bellied pig, and a whole lot of other things. Again I wonder why doesn’t he, or anyone else for that matter, know any details about our lives? When Cherie saw that I was wearing my work jeans and just a T shirt to church she said “Are you wearing that to church?”. I told her that I was tired of trying to look nice to be accepted and would just be who I am. Dressing up doesn’t seem to make a difference at all.

We are tired, we have tried and hoped to become a part of this church, to find friends and acceptance. Sure folks have been friendly but from a distance, no closeness at all. We’ve been invited to three churches by folks we met through the blog and the coin dealer we sold the collection to. After six months and even my publicly begging in Sunday school class I give up. You can talk about the love of Jesus all you want but actions or the lack of action speaks louder than anything you can say. Words without action are empty and worthless. What did Paul say? “Show me your faith without works and I’ll show you my faith by my works” or something like that. I just feel sad for this church. I must imagine that Jesus would be ashamed. There are good people there for sure but…I don’t know, this is all so perplexing for me.

Speaking of good people, I talked with Steve and his wife after the service. They are the ones who brought us food when we first got here and it was his Sunday school class we first attended. We switched over to Kevin’s class later because it was the one for our age but mostly because Darrel, my cousin, attended it and I hoped it would open a door for us with my kin. That hasn’t worked. So Steve and his wife talked for a few minutes about Cherie and things. I am grateful for any time I can have a conversation beyond “how are you doing?”. Unfortunately I had a slowdown in the middle of the service so wasn’t able to speak terribly well, but I did ok. I did get to ask Steve about something that had been bothering me. When I brought up how we felt so alone in Sunday school class several weeks ago I said that I would gladly go hungry and cold in order to have folks to fellowship with, pastor Dave sent me an E mail that said I essentially spit on those who had brought us food. I am unsure if I interpret that right but Steve was the one who brought us some food so I wanted to ask him if I had offended him and apologize if I did. He said he took no offense in the matter which made me feel much better. It is time for us to look for a different church. Hope even that isn’t taken as an affront but won’t keep my fingers crossed.

So back to the farm. The bees are back damn it. I went out to the garage to transplant some of the plants I had successfully started into larger pots when I heard a sound that was all to familiar. At first I thought it was the buzzing of one or two bees in the garage but it kept up and was too much to be only one or two. Getting up I saw a cloud of bees outside. Not good. There were bees trying to get to where one of the hives had been under the house. These guys were crawling into every nook and cranny they could find as they sought a path in. I got the broom out and killed maybe thirty of the suckers as they were easy targets on the side of the house but that wasn’t going to be any kind of solution. Got the hornet spray out and sprayed it all around hoping the smell would deter the bees but to no avail. Going around the house I found bees seeking access all around the back to the other side where the killer bee hive had been. I think they can smell the old honey or something. Don’t know. I got the can of “Great Stuff” foam I had from last year and sprayed it on all the joints the bees were trying to get into. That seems to have worked a little. The cloud of bees is gone. Hope they went far away though there are still some bees trying to get under the house.

OK, this just came to memory. Yesterday Cherie and I went to look at the adobe brick maker. The guy who has it is named John Woodward. Great guy. I think he’s a sheriff cause there was a pick up that had “Sheriff” in big letters on the back. He showed us the brick maker and demonstrated how it worked. Real friendly and open sort of guy. Has a few dogs and Cherie recognized the greyhound traits in two of them. They were affectionate as all get out. John and us talked about lots of stuff and had a great visit. He has some “Beefalo” which are a result of his buffalo mating with some of his cattle. John invited us to come over anytime and suggested I bring some dirt to see how well it makes bricks.

The brick maker costs a grand but my dirt is free. John may consider a payment arrangement so it’s an attractive possibility. Would be a great long term solution to our rotting siding issue. Actually it would greatly enhance the value and livability of this house and I had been planning on adobe back when we thought there would be twenty grand from the inheritance.

The headache and slowdown have subsided now so I’ll post this and get to doing some of the many chores that I don’t keep up with very well.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another Saturday morning

5/19/07 Saturday
It’s another Saturday morning on the old family homestead. It’s been pretty cool for West Texas lately and this morning is no exception. The temperature gauge outside the window says it’s 57 degrees out. I went outside and washed my hair because Cherie is going to cut it this morning. It is much easier for me to do it outside with the garden hose than standing over the tub. Bending over it as I pour pitcher after pitcher of water on my head just kills my back. Besides that, reaching blindly as the soap gathers over my eyes to find the pitcher, find the pot of heated water, guessing where to pour it, and guessing when the pitcher is full, is a challenge I really would prefer to avoid. So going out front and taking my shirt off in the cold is much easier and less painful. I do hide behind the truck because I don’t want to be responsible for someone running off the road as they watch this half naked white boy taking a shower with the garden hose. At least I only wash the hair outside.

With that done Cherie cut my hair and did a great job despite her fears. Then I helped her wash her hair by pouring the heated water as she leaned over the tub. I went out and spread the Dipple dust on the plants and pulled a few weeds. It didn’t take me long to figure out I will need to take a pain pill. Always hold out on that till the last minute.

So that’s the start of the day. Cherie has a list of stuff she needs to do in Midland so will be gone for a while. I’ll continue in the living room. Decided to only do two walls at a time so we can move the furniture to one side for that and
push it over for the other two walls.
Didn’t quite do the living room like I had planned. Planted herbs and things in the garden and unloaded the rocks I had picked up a day or two ago. Then I went into town and got the mail, a Martin county newspaper, and fifteen gallons of water. When I checked the price of gas it was $3.24 at Town and Country but only (only?) $3.05 at the shell station. So I called Cherie, who was in Midland and asked her what gas was in that part of the country. $3.09 was the best price she had seen. I wasn’t going to get gas as I still had almost a half a tank left but figured I better get it while the getting was good. Stopped pumping when I hit fifty bucks despite it not being full yet.

I noticed Luchi’s was open on the way home so made sure to let Cherie know when I got home. Actually she called me as I was heading in because it seems I had forgotten to close the door. I had locked it but by the time I carried the three empty water bottles to the truck forgot all about closing the door. My hands had been full so I planned on running back to close the door after I set the bottles in the back. Short term memory thing.

There was a notice on the Stanton sign about someone who has an adobe brick maker for sale. That’s something I had considered while we were still in Toledo knowing the benefits of adobe regarding not just insulation but passive solar. The listed price is a thousand bucks, which is way out of our reach, but I called anyway. With the wood siding literally rotting off the house we need to do something. Turning dirt into bricks sounds like a concept to pursue cause I’ve got lots of dirt. The machine requires an air compressor. Nate gave me one but it needs an electric motor and probably a few other things to work. If any of y’all got about a two horse motor let me know.

That’s all I can think of right now and am tired so will take a nap like the doctors said I should. We did go eat at Luchi’s by the way. They’ve got great barbecue brisket and the cheesecake was about five inches tall. Caught us by surprise. We don’t eat out very much at all so it is always a treat. See ya next time I post.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Old lessons learned

What path do you choose?

5/18/07 Friday
It’s a gray overcast day. I can hear the doves cooing their gentle songs as they do every morning. It takes me back to the small mansion my grandmother (on my father’s side) kept my brother and I after purchasing us from our mother. It is a sound that is indelibly fixed in my memory. I clearly remember asking and being told it was a mourning dove. Of course I took that as “morning”. Most of these old memories are intact and untouched by the brain injury. So strange.

Cherie showed me the comments on yesterday’s post. I am debating whether or not I should elucidate on them, on what Nate’s response reveals. Cherie has made a written list of the tasks she would like to accomplish today. That is a good habit she will need to develop because this job will require this type of organization.

I will work on the living room today though I plan on spending some time everyday pulling weeds, or as I call it “mowing the lawn”. My hands are tired and sore from the two hours I spent on that yesterday. So is the back despite my sitting in a chair and scooting it forward as I clear a path. All that leaning down and forward takes a toll. Plus, despite the chair I still had to stand up to pull some of the bigger weeds that require two hands to uproot despite the soil being wet. Roots go deep out here in the West Texas desert.

There was a poem I read when doing hard prison time here in Texas at the age of nineteen that impacted me then. I of course can’t remember it word for word after thirty seven years but the message is still relevant. It comes to mind as I ponder how to help Nate understand some of the basics of living a life that brings rewards. So here is the best I can do with it.

As I was driving the other day I passed a wrecking crew tearing a building down. As I pondered what I saw I heard a voice in my head say, “Just look at that wrecking crew, it only takes them a day or two to tear down what it took others years to do”. Am I building with thought and care, creating what I can look back and say “This has been done the right way”. Or am I like this wrecking crew, content to destroy what others do. Instead of building with thought and care living a path that brings despair.

I am sure this only barely resembles the original but the concept it there. All I can say to those who read this is “Look around you. What do you see? Is it growing and getting better or are things tearing apart and deteriorating? Sure you can clean up a mess to make it look better but that’s not the concept here. It is how you live, how you think and approach life. Much deeper than the things others see for we can all put out a false face, a good looking front. It is what’s inside, how you approach life. Despite what we want others to see we can’t always hide the debris, the results of what’s inside. The bible puts it well when it talks about the fruit of ones life. A good vine bears good fruit but one that bears bad fruit is torn down and destroyed. So what is the fruit of your life? You can always change that by changing what is inside. It’s not an easy thing to do but must start by recognizing, by opening your eyes and seeing what has been there all the time. You can’t change what you refuse to acknowledge.

Nuff preaching. I’ve got things to do.
2:00 - I’m moving pretty slow right now. Down to a four on the bob scale. Getting a bad headache on top of that. Cherie went to…someplace and is going to look up some of places she will need to gather information on for her job after that. I am just barely plugging along. Been worrying that James from the Baptist camp will think bad of me cause I never showed up to help. There is too much I don’t get done here at home so running out there with the hope it will gain me some kind of acceptance is irresponsible. I give up. I am at a loss regarding the whole thing. The thought “They should accept me for who I am” comes to mind but no one has taken the time to truly know who I am.

Got to take something for this headache. Yesterday’s slowdown came at the end of the day but this is right in the middle of it. Timing sucks. Think I will need to lay down.
4:00 – Still slow. It’s a close the curtains and crawl under the covers headache. Cherie came home from her travels and was excited about how beautiful parts of Martin county is. She got out of the car and walked a hundred yards or so to look at where water was rushing through drainage pipes under the road. On her return she saw a whole family of deer crossing the road near her car. My ears are ringing pretty loudly now. Not getting anything done today.
I’m doing much better. Cleared up close to 6:00. Cherie has gone back out to locate more of the places she will need to be gathering information from and, knowing how much I enjoy the beauties of nature, asked if I would like to go with her. I really wanted to but need to make use of this time of lucidity and get to work on the living room. That’s how it must be for I can never predict or count on when I am able to work. This is our house and there is much that needs to get done. Just took a quick break to get this jotted down and posted. It’s what I call prime time folks and it’s not to be wasted.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gonna rain

5/17/07 Thursday
It is raining and predicted to do so for several days ahead. The mosquitoes that you rarely see here in the desert are out in force. Yesterday I had placed sand carefully around Skittles old food dish to see what sort of creatures had cleaned it out the night before. Was hoping to find cat tracks but alas it is rats. They are back quickly after Skittles disappeared. I suppose the rat telegraph put the news out. Found rat tracks in the bus also. As much as I hate poison because it will kill a hawk or anything that feeds on the rat carcass I cant allow what we found when we first came here.

Here is a question I would like some input on. One of the things thrown up because of my speaking out in favor of getting “mom and dad” into a nice safe place where they could enjoy the last years of their lives in relative peace was that I am not family and had no right to meddle. For some reason I have the concept that when you marry you marry into the family. If there is a child you raise her as your own and the child usually will call you mom or dad, whichever the case may be. There were two boys that came with my second wife and I raised them as my own, proud to participate in the events of their lives and proud to say “This is my son”. Now there are many things I have and still am learning because so much was lost with the brain damage but I don’t think I am wrong here. Aren’t you supposed to care about your new family? Fact is, even if mom and dad were total strangers I would still work to insure their best interest was looked after. So leave a comment if you would.

Here are some pictures of the garden. This first one is the melon patch, which is doing so so.

This second picture is the pumpkins and squash.

The third picture is one of the spaghetti squash hills. It has three or four plants on it. Doing real good.

And the final one is the corn patch. That has been a fight to keep going between the early freeze and the storm last week or two that flattened most of the corn. I gently pushed them upright and they all survived. Everyone I talk to tell me you can't grow corn out here because of the worms. Come to find out these are the same worms that trash cotton so, being surrounded by cotton fields you can bet there's allot of worms. They can be combated but it requires applying dust directly on the silks right when they appear. There is other stuff you can do. One of the most interesting I read was to put some mineral oil on the corn silks as that suffocates the larvae when they hatch. There are parasitic nematodes and a wasp that preys on them you can order through some of the organic garden supply places, but that costs money and money is tight.

I have worn out the boots I had but fortunately Cherie, always the wise shopper, had purchased some maybe a year ago when she saw them on sale so I am set. Time to get back to working on the living room.
9:15 – It’s the end of the day for me. Didn’t get much done in the living room but did a lot outside. I weeded a driveway. Suppose that requires an explanation. My sentences may be simple because just had a serious slowdown start at nine or so. Comes with that dizziness and loss of coordination you have after a few drinks. Don’t mind slowdowns too much when they come at the end of a day cause that way they don’t prevent me from getting stuff done.

Back to weeding a driveway. I pulled weeds to make a path where I’ve been driving the truck. Then I started weeding to make a path from there to the corn patch. The weeds are getting pretty high now. Not much I can do except pull them. The new Craftsman lawnmower my grandmother had bought is one of the things that was stolen from here. Would love to know which relative got that. Still have the grass catching bag that went with it. Whoever stole the mower must not have wanted it. So I do the best I can with what I’ve got. Two hands and a hoe. Not up to writing any more. Night all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nice outside, foggy in.

5/16/07 Wednesday
Groggy this morning and didn’t fully wake up till after 8:00 despite Carman kitty’s trying to let me know it was time to feed him. Running a bit slow, a five on the bob scale, but I’m still working on getting my blood flowing through these veins. Got a pot of Bob coffee made. Wish I had a bunch of straws I could connect together so I could suck in my coffee that is on the dresser as I lay in bed watching the news. Jerry Falwell died yesterday. It will be interesting to see the reactions of the many different groups he has impacted. Some love him and some hate him.

Damn cup of coffee is four feet away so excuse me while I get out from under these covers to get some more of that legal drug (caffeine) that hopefully will give my ass a kick and gets me moving. This is so different from the last few mornings when I was up and moving at six and dived right into things with enthusiasm. I remember when almost every day was like that before the accident.

The muscles in my body attest to the fact I’ve been working hard for two days. Actually I like to feel this soreness because, just like lifting weights in the gym, it is a sign that these muscles got the exercise they need and will be getting stronger. The deeper pain in the bones of my back and joints of my fingers are another thing. Went ahead and took half of a pain pill. I’m pretty sure Cherie will come home today so want to wash the dishes and clean up a bit. I think she will be happy to see the flower bed I made under the window. I had her draw a map of what flowers she wants planted where. I got most of that done though I did put the wrong seeds in one spot yesterday when I was a bit slow.

Not sure what I will do today but will figure that out when this brain starts clearing up. It’s already 9:00 so I need to force myself up, fix breakfast, and get to work. I think it’s pretty much a fact that Skittles is no longer as there has been no sign of him for going on two weeks. This can be hard country on pets or anything small. When we eventually get chickens there is no doubt that there must be a strong secure henhouse and run for them. Even when we let them free range during the day we must worry about the hawks that constantly patrol this area. I would like to get a dog with a Sheppard blood line that has natural instincts to protect and herd animals but even it would need a secure area to bed down in at night.

Time to motivate myself.

Something I did yesterday as I removed a comment I found improper took the whole comment thing off so no one could place a comment. Worked to fix it a long time last night and never could. I think I did this before but don’t remember how I fixed it.

I may be a bit foggy but still much sharper than last night. Only took a few minutes to fix yesterday's comment thing
It’s been raining for a couple of hours now. I was able to go pick up some more rocks at Bud Glassman’s property. Was able to get more than last time cause I took a five gallon bucket which I was able to partly fill (Full was too heavy) and carry to the truck saving me the time it took to toss rocks into the truck one or three at a time. Sure I back the truck to within five feet of the pile but bending over for each rock was murder.

Getting home I backed the truck to where I am going to use some of the rocks and it started raining. Came in and fixed a couple of fried egg sandwiches so I at least ate something today. I checked the bowl we kept Skittle’s food in outside in the garage and it is empty. Either he is back and keeping out of sight or some other creature discovered it. Haven’t heard from Cherie so will give her a call. Didn’t call earlier cause I know she has class. It’s after 2:00 now so I’ll risk it. Yep, she answered and is on the way home. Said she should be here in an hour and a half. I told her it is raining but not real bad. Also let her know she has a big hug and kiss waiting and that I will fix dinner tonight.
My baby’s back. She is tired and excited but mostly glad to be home. There is much she must do to prepare to go to work. I think she starts tomorrow. I’ll help where I can but am limited because of the confidentiality agreement that is a part of her job. That’s fine cause I’ve got plenty to do around here.

Am running sharper by the way. Speaking of that, in a roundabout way, I have been asked to participate in a study by Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. It is a study for those with traumatic brain injuries and multiple sclerosis who have cognitive impairments. Part of cognitive impairments involve how the brain interprets words by the way. So it’s a three month study and I am happy to have been chosen or asked, whichever it is. Glad to do anything that will help anyone.

When Cherie came home she said “Something smells in here” from the bathroom. I hadn’t noticed it before but now that she mentioned it I can. I think that because of all the rain we have been having the cesspool/septic whatever we have is backing or filling up and the odor is coming from the bathtub drain. That’s the only drain that doesn’t have a gas trap (The U shaped pipe you see under the sink drain) on it. I put a plug on the drain and that seems to have helped. This whole part of the country is not at all used to this much rain.