Saturday, June 30, 2007

The usual start

6/30/07 Saturday
As always our morning starts with the puppies. It was the usual routine of waking to the noise of their yelps and scratching on the door from what we now call the puppy room. Cherie nudges me and I start awake as she says “Do you hear the puppies”. I do now. So I painfully struggle out of bed, rocking my legs as I must to set up. Then it’s get the sweats on to take them out. As soon as I open the door they are bouncing like little beach balls with joy and energy all around my feet making it difficult to walk with out tripping. Then they see Carman kitty and the instinct to herd kicks in. After guiding the not happy kitty to the back room where he takes refuge out of their reach it’s time to go outside.

I stumble out with them and watch their disappointment that I am not running and playing with them. I find a ball and throw it with the hope it will supply the need for my involvement. Not quite. They rush after the ball, pick it up, look at me, drop it and come running back. Oh well, I tried. Grabbing the cup of coffee Cherie prepared I sit in the chair on the veranda and watch as they continue expelling the pent up morning zeal. I throw the ball a few more times and walk out to check on the corn. Both puppies are right with me, loving their daddy so to speak, wanting and happy to be near, to be a part of whatever I am doing. I look at the not too healthy corn so they examine it too, sniffing and scratching at everything around.

I want to come in so that means they do also. Tough. I let them scratch and beg at the door trying to ignore the racket. Eventually they quit and go exploring. I open this laptop and start writing when I hear Cherie’s “NO, Get OUT OF MY BUSHES” and the door open as she rushes out. I knew instantly what the little buggers had done. They wormed their way through the wire fencing I had put up to keep them out of the bushes we had just planted and were destroying them. I run out let them know this was unacceptable with a few smacks on the butt and plenty of loud “BAD DOG”. It’s not new so I hope they figure it out. They did obey “stay” when I went to water the ivy I had transplanted from Janie’s. That surprised and impressed me. Smart puppies except where bushes are concerned.

Janie is bringing the electrician over this morning to see what needs to be done to get the stove and hot water heater hooked up. Cherie is baking some blueberry muffins for them. The puppies have crashed out as they do every morning after expending their energy. I want to join them but have things to do.
Janie came over with the electrician. He looked the place over and made suggestions on how to take care of our needs. He won’t be able to get to it till three weeks from now but I’m not in a hurry. Would rather go slow and get things done right. Cherie made blueberry corn muffins that are really good. Joe Fussell, the electrician, wasn’t able to stay and visit so Cherie wrapped his muffins in aluminum foil so he could take them with him. I ran out to the garden and cut him some of the spaghetti squash that I give away at every opportunity.

After he left Janie stayed and visited with us for a while. I had gotten the camera out to take a picture of Joe after telling him I would write about him on the blog and just had to snap a picture of Janie. That was hard to do as she, not wanting her picture taken, ran for the door. Cherie said I shouldn’t post the picture and if Janie doesn’t want it I won’t. Need to call her right now and ask. Nope, no picture. That’s too bad cause it’s one of those cute action pics that’s a great “I gotcha” moment. Oh well.

We talked about God and religion, what problems I have in that arena, and my delusions of grandeur. Lots of good basic stuff. Poor Janie’s been running so hard she’s about worn out. She needs to go home and relax but she has to go to work. Come to find out she was going to Big Spring high school at the same time I did. We couldn’t identify any common acquaintances but my damaged memory doesn’t help in that regard.

It’s 11:33 and I need to go water the squash and melons. Then I’m gonna run into Midland to finally get the grass seed I’ve been talking about for days now. I will also dig up some more of the plants at Steve and Janie’s.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Puppy wake up

6/29/07 Friday
We didn’t close the door to the puppy room well so they pushed it open and came happily in to wake us up. I walked through my fog to let them outside then came back to put some clothes on. Cherie got up as well and cooked some pancakes to start the day off.

Went online to check the mail and Sharon instant messaged me. We talked about Wayne so, upon learning how down he is, I gave him a call. When I figure out the label thing you can link on these names but until then let me explain a little who Wayne and Sharon are.

Wayne is the veteran with MS I found in the homeless shelter. I got him in the VA’s homeless program, foodstamps, approved and in public housing, fought Social Security for three years to get his disability, enrolled at the Zeph Center where he has a case manager to help him out, and involved with the MS society. This plus just being there to be a friend and someone he could talk to. Now he is fighting to get his lump sum payment that Social Security awarded released from the Ohio welfare system which has held his check for ten months now without releasing a dime to him. I called him and explained he needs to do everything in writing cause he could call till he was blue in the face and absolutely nothing will happen. I wish I was still up there.

Sharon is another survivor of traumatic brain injury. Hers’ was sustained when her husband (ex husband now) beat her with a pipe. I met her at the public housing projects Wayne was originally placed in. We helped her out anyway we could. Gave her rides to the store and even gave her driving lessons in our car so she could get her license. When she was beat and hospitalized by one of the crackheads at the apartment complex we moved her to a new place. I also had pushed Wayne through Welfare bureaucracy to get him moved to a safer place.

So that is our start.

Been outside working. Got the fence poles unloaded. Was very careful as the last thing I need is to get hurt. One of the fence posts punched a hole through the side of the wheelbarrow. It’s a cheap wheelbarrow so the metal is thin. I’ll hammer it flat so there won’t be sharp edges to cut myself on.

I had to motivate Cherie to work around the house. She’s gotten to where she stays on the internet for hours, not getting much done. She will be upset I wrote of this but I trust that I will be able to say she has disciplined herself to keep this under control. The internet is a lure to us all including me, going a step beyond television, which I refer to as Zombievision. There is a lure there that captures many. The lure is you can find anything at all that interests and thus captures you. Self discipline is a hard thing to develop and it must be used constantly to keep it sharp.

Here is a picture of some weeds I needed to chop down just to access the trailer we now use as storage. I had to start using the wrist brace on the left hand as well. Now that the carpal tunnel pain is up there on the right I use the left much more. That aggravates the carpal tunnel syndrome the doc said I had on that side as well. The back pain level is high as well, especially after lifting those fence posts.

I will be going into town today to pick up some grass seed. It is my hope to get a lawn going and thus reduce the weeds and burrs that get tangled in the puppies fur.

Janie just stopped by with Jab (the other Steve) and a feller by the name of R.L.. I had met him before when we went to the charity skeet shoot at Windwalker. Jamie goes “You remember R.L. don’t you? He was at the shoot”. I don’t remember him or anyone else specifically with the exception of Steve, and that is because he has been out here since. I remember going to the shoot and meeting lots of people but specific names and faces were lost the moment I left. But I shook my head yes on the basis of remembering being there. That’s the way I have to play it all the time. Don’t want to offend anyone.

So we gave R.L. the tour and I cut off some spaghetti squash to give him. Showed them the corn that’s layin down, taking a nap from the storm. Then Janie urged me to show them my woodcarvings, which I was happy to do. The plaque was the first thing I showed along with the pictures of the wreck. Then I showed some of the other stuff that is not yet finished.

From there Janie wanted me to show them what we are doing with the house so I took them to the living room where they could see half done and half not yet touched. That really brings home the difference a coat of paint makes. Jab has a dog house that he says is insulated and called a dog apartment so I think it may be more than one unit though I am not sure. Anyway, he is replacing it so asked if we could use it. I am sure it will be a good thing to have, especially as the puppies grow so I said I would be glad to accept it.

Nuts! I forgot to ask Steve when I could come and help him figure out his E mail and stuff. I’ll call him later but I’ve been meaning to call him for weeks now. R.L. knows someone with a tractor who can come and cut these weeds down. That would be great.

Cherie has gone to the chiropractor now so I need to get moving as well. I want to run into Midland and pick up some grass seed as well as dig up some of the monkey grass at Steve and Janie’s along with that ground cover vine they have.

Jan and Wally (If I remember the names right) from the Sunday school department are coming to visit at six tonight so I’m clearing out some space in the living room. They are bringing a pizza so it would be nice to have a place to eat it. We’ve been just eating on the bed till now but ya can’t do that with guests, or at least shouldn’t

If I keep writing I’ll never get there so that’s it for now.
Tricia, one of my regular readers, let me know in the comments that there had been a story on NBC Nightly News about a national guard soldier who suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. I had missed the program because we are unable to get NBC out here except on rare occasions so I just went online to see it. This soldier didn’t get his injury in an explosive blast like most do over there but when his vehicle overturned. His problems are pretty much like mine though I don’t fly off in fits of rage like I used to. It renews my desire, no it enforces my desire to bring understanding and awareness of brain injuries. When I went to look for the story I saw that ABC had run a story on a teenager who suffered a rare level of amnesia after falling on the soccer field. Another brain injury.

The visit with Wally and Jen went well. I only had one quick slowdown but other than that I was sharp. They brought some pizza, banana nut bread, and one serving of tiramisu they ordered with the pizza. We sat and got to know each other as we ate. They heard an earful as I recounted some of the unusual life I have experienced. It started when Wally asked when we found the Lord. That was in prison in 1975. We told of how we had fallen in love in bible college, moved to Toledo, gotten divorced because of the drastic personality change when I fell out of a tree breaking my back and neck, and got back together seventeen years later.

There were lots of other things we talked about including how the Sunday school group could help us out. That was a little bit harder question to answer. I jokingly said they could buy me a tractor. That set them back a second or two but it was fun, at least for me. We gave them a tour of the place including a trek out to the garden. I opened up about my doubts and questions concerning God as I don’t hide much of anything. It was a good visit and mostly was nice to see Christians actually reach out and go out of their way to talk with us. A marked contrast to what we didn’t experience with a church much closer to home.

I’m tired so will call it a night.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cherie got soaked.

I got really soaked the other day……………cherie.
Well, in a nice way I got soaked. One of the most difficult trials of this whole homesteading experience for me is that we don’t have hot water let alone the proper hook ups, for this former daily showerholic to partake in the luxury of a personal inside waterfall.
When I do have the opportunity to indulge in a hot bath and/or shower, I am not too hesitant. This is my time to soak in the ambience of a mini spa and relax. Now don’t misunderstand and think I’m a stinky gal – I am not! There are many products available to assist those living on the edge of somewhere (i.e. people fighting in Iraq , people in nursing homes, etc.) and for the not so typical everyday homesteader. But it is a rare and thoughtful gift when someone invites you into their home to spend an hour or so in their bathroom (or restroom) to enjoy a restful bath!!
I am very blessed. And grateful.
(and really truly squeaky clean!)

Not keeping up well

6/28/07 Thursday
I haven’t been keeping up with this journal very well lately. Used to write a lot of it in the morning when I was fresh but lately I’ve been getting out and busy early and by the time the day’s ended don’t have a lot of steam left.

One of the things I wanted to mention is from watching the news the other day. They had a story about NFL players and the brain injuries they accumulate in the course of their careers. One of the motivations I have for this journal is knowing that the odds of developing Alzheimer’s is statistically much higher for those who have sustained a traumatic brain injury. When multiple injuries are involved that likelihood is multiplied several fold. Understanding this and realizing that memories are one of the big areas hit this journal and the pictures attached will serve me well should such a thing happen. But what really bothered me from the story was the word “Dementia” coming up often. That is scary and not really something you can prepare for. What happens happens so I will love the life I have now and not worry about what I cannot control.

I finished up mulching the front flower gardens at Steve and Janie’s today. After I got done Jay, the neighbor next door, and his son helped me load the metal fence posts he is giving me along with the cedar fencing I got from him. They still have the concrete on them so it was a chore. I’ll be unloading them later today. I guess that will have to be quick cause it’s already 7:30 and it gets dark at 9:00.

Jimmy Patterson E mailed me that he would have a photographer come over around 1:00 to take our picture for the article he’s doing on us. Learning that I called Janie to see if we could use their shower to clean up for it. I already knew it would be ok but asked because it’s the right way to do things. Cherie came over around 10:30 so I let her in. After she was done I got under the shower myself. When you don’t get to take a hot shower for months it sure feels good. I scrubbed everything real good and then scrubbed again. Washed my hair twice and even scrubbed between my toes. Then we rushed home to insure we were there when the photographer arrived.

Rushing home however was delayed a little. Heading out the door I looked for the key they left in a super secret place for us and it wasn’t there. Oh No!!! Where did I leave it??? I looked and Cherie looked as well saying “This is not good”. Couldn’t find it anywhere. I looked all through the grass in case I had put it in my pocket and it fell out. Finally, knowing it was Janie’s key and she had no other and not wanting to lock her out of her own house, I called her at work. Caused a little concern so she was going to call her lawn guy, who had been there today, to see if he found it and picked it up. I hung up the phone and started looking again when I heard Cherie laughing. “What’s so funny” I said not at all in a jovial mood. “The key’s right here in the door” she said as she cracked up even more. Damn, there it is in the lock, right where I left it when I opened the door to let Cherie in. I was standing next to it the whole time I was on the phone with Janie. I called her to let her know it was found and we really rushed home this time.

The photographer got lost due to my not so clear directions. He doggedly stopped at farms asking if they knew where the place with an old school bus was. That is our landmark and the bus has been out here for twenty five years so it didn’t take long for him to find someone who could point him in the right direction.

He was a nice guy. I think his name is Alec but I am seldom sure about the accuracy of my memory. Had a nice fancy Nikon camera that I would love to have and snapped about a hundred pictures. Some on the veranda and some out front. Then I had him take a picture of the plaque as that is, in my mind at least, an important aspect of my life. I told him the story of how Cherie and I got back together and he was off.

Cherie and I had talked about running into Midland and taking care of a lot of things but I started having a seizure so she went into town by herself. I went to bed and didn’t wake up till five when the puppies came in to see how I was doing. I was still pretty groggy but cleared up by six when Cherie came home. She brought a rotisserie chicken that she picked up at the grocery store so that’s what we had for dinner.

I need to get outside and work on unloading the fence posts and the garden before it gets dark. I’ll have to be careful on the fence posts to make sure I don’t hurt myself. Jay offered to come and help but I don’t like inconveniencing them and think I can do it myself. That’s it for now.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The winds blew

6/27/07 Wednesday
The storms came and the winds blew, thus this place was tested anew. How firm a foundation are we building on? The test of time will tell. Much of the garden has been hit hard. I’m not sure what to do with the corn. When they were younger many of them had blown over like this and I pushed them upright and they did ok. I am not sure how that will work now that they are much bigger and have ears of corn growing. A good part of the corn is in bad shape anyway from my soap insecticide attack. Perhaps I should chop it all down and replant. I plan on planting a new batch anyway and that will save me digging up new beds. Will think on this for a while.

The beans look hit. I had picked up some scrap plywood when I was helping Steve clean out his garage that I planned on burying along the bean rows to serve as wind breaks. Too late for that now unless some of this revives. Don’t know how hardy these plants are just as I don’t really know much about gardening in general. It’s all part of my education. One of the things we plan on doing is planting trees around the place to serve as wind breaks. You can see this done on many of the homes out here in the country. The storm last night had winds in the seventy and eighty miles per hour range.

I’m gonna get moving early again today. When I do this I am often worn by the end of the day, which for me comes earlier than it does for most of you. I just don’t have the stamina I once did. But it feels good to get out and do something. I am going to run out to Steve and Janie’s to mulch their front flower beds and weed. Will probably pick up the fence posts at their neighbor, Jay’s, that he is giving me along with the cedar fencing. First I’ve gotta refill the five gallon water bottles we use for our drinking, cooking, and bathing. (Except when I wash outside with the garden hose.

Cherie goes to see the chiropractor again today at three. Janie had set up an appointment with her chiropractor for Cherie on Monday and paid for the first visit. Steve and Janie are incredible in their compassion and generosity towards us and shining examples of what Christianity should be. What is more valuable to us is the friendship, having people to fellowship with and share time together. That, to plagiarize a well known commercial, is priceless.

Time to roll folks.
I’m worn out. Wish I had the stamina I once did but that’s the way it is so get over it. Worked hard on Steve and Janie’s flower beds but had to quit when I ran out of mulch. Thought seven bags would be more than enough but that only did two thirds of the job. I have some more in the storage shed so will take that in tomorrow morning to finish up the job. I’m glad I can do this for them. Not thinking things through or for that matter not being familiar with lawns I backed the truck over their front lawn. It left marks where the tires compressed the dirt. Don’t know how to fix it.

Found out on the weather that the winds were clocked at ninety three miles per hour. That’s hurricane strength. Seminole, a town near by, had ninety eight mile per hour winds. Set a record.

Cherie went to the chiropractor again today and he told her that she would need a lot of help. Part of the problem is she is overweight and out of shape. I have tried to get her to exercise over the three years we have been together but nothing really gelled. Perhaps now she will find something that works. I suggested buying bicycles. Cherie wants an old fashioned one where you brake by turning the pedal backwards. I don’t know if those are easy to find or what.

I’m gonna hit the sack and plan on getting out early tomorrow to finish up working on their flower beds. Night.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I'm OK

Didn't realize how much some of y'all keep up with this blog in order to see how I'm doing and worry when I don't post. Got a phone call and some E mails to see if I was ok. I'm ok. Just tired right now and a little sore. Got busy early getting the registration updated on the truck and went straight to work on the garden and some other things I don't remember. Had to take a nap as usual and only had some minor short slowdowns. That's about it. I'll try to do some writing tomorrow. Night all and thanks for caring.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A better start than yesterday's end

6/25/07 Monday
That was a rough way to end a great day. This morning I feel beat up. Got a headache and shuffling my feet as I carefully walk. The brain fortunately is operating well, running at the average level of a seven on the bob scale though I’m a bit cranky. Pain can do that. Took a pain pill and aspirin along with the seizure and blood pressure medicine.

I had forgotten to get a piece of plywood to put under the mattress last night and didn’t figure that out till we went to bed and I had to help Cherie get back up. I found a shelf we had taken out of the closet and put that under the mattress. That helped a lot and Cherie got the first decent nights sleep she has had since this started.

Let me recount a little of yesterday. It probably won’t be in chronological order but that’s ok. We went shopping and I called Steve and Janie because we were heading to Home Depot and Steve had mentioned he could use some mulch. I wanted to find out what kind he was interested in as I planned on seeing if they had any broke open bags like we got a deal on before. They did. We got about ten bags for a little over four bucks. SCORE. Took that over to them and enjoyed visiting. It is so good to have found friends. Steve and I went next door to pick up some more of the used fencing. I learned that the guy’s name is Jay. Really felt embarrassed I didn’t remember before but that’s all part of the short term memory loss. Hope I got it right.

The metal fence posts we weren’t able to get because they had been promised to someone else. That’s ok cause we are grateful for what we got. So what else happened? Give me a moment as I gather my thoughts on this.

Steve asked if I would remulch their garden beds. He wanted to pay me for it but I insisted he let me do it as a gift. I just feel better that way. Don’t want to always receive without giving something back. Had to talk him into that. I’m planning on going out there this morning to do it. They have some kind of ground cover vine they want to get rid of along with something called Monkey Grass. I’ll dig that up and bring it back here. The vine is aggressive and hopefully will cover some of the weed areas and choke the weeds off. The Monkey Grass makes a good border so will find a place here without a problem.

As I was writing this my cell phone rang. It was Steve and he asked if I could help him do some stuff around the house. He wants to pay me and this time I will let him. They also invited Cherie to come up and just hang out, take a shower (a luxuriant blessing for her), and even do some laundry. We can bring the puppies as well, which I think will be good for them. I have to unload the truck and water the garden, then we will head out.

The digital camera is messing up. Don’t know what happened but looking through the view finder (if that’s what it’s called) it is blurry and out of focus. The last time we had a problem with the camera we had to mail it to Kodak’s repair facility in Chicago and it cost $180 bucks. Right now the pictures seem ok. Only one of them was out of focus so if we are lucky it will stay that way.

So that’s the start of this day.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another day, another blessing

6/24/07 Sunday
Cherie woke up with a painful Charlie horse at four this morning. I did my best to massage it out. These are sometimes a sign of a lack of certain vitamins I think. We really need to work on getting in shape and eating healthy. The garden is a start for eating healthy but the only thing I’ve managed to grow to fruition so far is squash.

As I was writing that it dawned on me that I had forgotten to turn off the drip feed irrigation on the beans. It has run all night long. I grabbed a flashlight and ran out to turn it off. It’s 5:32 this morning. The puppies got us up a half hour ago. When it gets daylight out I’ll go see just how flooded it is. It’s a typical short term memory issue. There were times in Toledo I would run dishwater and forget. Coming back in the kitchen I would find that the water had long since filled the sink and flooded the kitchen. We bought a plastic bin after that so when I forgot it would just spill over and go down the drain. Not sure how I can compensate for doing things like remembering to turn off the water here.

I went out with the puppies and, grabbing the hoe, went to work. Chopped lots of weeds in the front including this area where the weeds were waist high to the road. This way Cherie can get in the truck without me having to pull up. It also makes the landscaping I did around the mailbox visible. I think you call it landscaping. It’s red mulch and a rock border.

After that I decided it was time to wash my hair so I grabbed a towel and washcloth, along with the shampoo and set up where I usually do behind the truck with the water hose. If I lay the hose in the sun I have hot water. It is too early in the morning for it to get hot but that’s no big deal as it’s nice out. I’m going to shave now and finish taking the bath inside. It’ll be the standard alcohol on a wash cloth stand uppy we always take. This might sound rustic to many of you but we’ve been doing this for nine months. It was a lot harder on Cherie than me. We will be getting hot water soon thanks to Steve and Janie.

It’s time to go to get ready for church.
It’s been a great day. A productive day. I had lots to write but am having a doozy of a partial seizure. Down to a three or worse on the bob scale. Probably worse. Here’s some pictures. I’ll write later. At this level walking is hard and I stare at the wall while I figure out what to do. No sense trying to write now. I’ll ask Cherie if she will write something.

Two butts

First sunflower

Saturday, June 23, 2007

When puppies attack

6/23/07 Saturday
It’s a typical morning in that the puppies had us up as soon as the horizon started to brighten up. We both struggled out of bed and Cherie made coffee as I went out with the critters. Leaps and bounds would be an accurate description. The picture I’m putting on is from yesterday when I put the little poopers on the bed to help motivate Cherie.

Cherie’s back is in pretty bad shape. She had a hard time just getting comfortable last night and this morning was like the last. She was able to go to the bathroom by herself. There was a small scorpion in there so she recounted how she killed it. First she plastered it to the floor with hairspray. Next she beat it repeatedly with an Oil of Olay box. After nudging it repeatedly to make sure it was dead she wrapped it in toilette paper and sent it swimming to the septic system. Seems that when she lived in Phoenix her roommate told her that scorpions could sting through sneakers. I cleared that concept up after I asked why she didn’t just step on it.

After that I helped Cherie wash her hair. I poured the water she had heated for this slowly as she shampooed and then rinsed. Then I had to help her stand up. Getting a new mattress will be our next major investment. The one we have now is the one that came with the house. No telling how old it is but it is for sure not in good shape.

I let Cherie have one of my pain pills to help and needed to take one for myself. Because I am so careful with them there are plenty left. From now on Cherie will take me anytime she buys something that has weight to it, like the big bags of puppy chow.

Today I plan on digging new beds to plant more corn in. Doesn’t look like I will get much if any out of the hundred and fifty or so that are already there. All part of the learning how to garden.

So that’s the start of our day.
It’s 10:15 PM now. Turned into a busy day so I will try to reconstruct it. I don’t know if I called Janie or she called me but she let me know that their neighbor was taking down a cedar fence and asked if they knew anyone who could use the wood. I quickly volunteered to take it off their hands. Wood of any kind I can find a use for on this old farm and I wanted to build a fence to keep the dogs secure.

Cherie was planning on going in to Midland to do some shopping so I suggested she follow me to Steve and Janie’s to say hi and then go shopping. We were warmly greeted and enjoyed an hour or three of fellowship where we talked of guitars, music, dogs, and fixing up houses. Then Steve walked me over to the neighbors and introduced me. They were an older couple and their kids and grandkids were visiting I think. I apologize for not remembering their names. Always feel bad about being unable to do that but they understand. He has a relative or someone they know who was also in a coma and is a traumatic brain injury survivor so understands well my problems.

So he showed me the fencing they are removing along with metal posts that are at least seven feet tall. There is plenty there and, while the bottom inch or two may be a bit rotted, it’s good cedar and will be a blessing to have. Because Steve and Janie had someone coming over or something I planned on loading the wood by myself. It wouldn’t have been hard to do taking just a couple or three boards at a time but…(I wish I could remember his name) wouldn’t have it and called his whole family in. Next thing I know there is Mike, his son I think, and maybe his wife, a young lady, and a kid who looked about thirteen all there helping along with the owner.

The wife asked if I could get some help unloading the wood in Stanton and I had to tell her I really didn’t. “Do you attend a church there?” she asked in response so I sadly told her that we had for six months but never got a visitor. We had pastor come by and talk for a while when we first arrived but the two others who came by dropped stuff off and left without really talking. “That’s not right” she said and invited us to her church. I told her we were going to First Baptist of Midland and she said “That’s our church”. Finding out they do computer I gave her my card with the blog address on it. Then Mike and the nice old guy who’s name I can’t recall (this is beginning to irk me) offered to follow me back to the farm and help me unload. I’m just some stranger picking up their old wood and here they are not just willing but wanting to go out of their way to help. Steve and Janie had their son go help unload also so I just had Mike join us instead of the whole clan. They followed me back to the farm and had the truck emptied out in no time at all.

Somewhere in all this Steve, Janie, their son Tyrell (I think that’s his name) took Cherie and I to Fudruckers. Never been there before. Now this is a hamburger joint deluxe. Haven’t seen anything like it in Toledo or all of Ohio and Michigan. Still not used to seeing beer sold at this kind of establishment but that’s part of the Texas culture I suppose. I am sure that if I took them to Toledo where you have a small bar on every other block in the old neighborhoods they would find that unusual.

So after all was said and done I was worn out, as I often am, and crawled into bed, taking a two or three hour nap. I woke up close to five and called Cherie, who had gone back to shopping. She was just getting on the highway heading home. Her back is still messed up pretty bad. She found a used mattress set for a hundred bucks but Steve let us know that it’s against the law to sell used mattresses. We’ll figure something out and whenever we have a need it seems to get met, either we run into a deal or something.

It’s after eleven now so I’m gonna call it a night. See y’all tomorrow. I never did dig those beds for the corn.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Gathering

6/22/07 Friday
It’s four in the morning. Cherie’s back is a mess. She doesn’t remember doing anything to cause it but simply sitting up is a difficult painful trial. I’ll do what I can to help her out.

The Gathering
Throughout the history of man there has always been those who were the communicators. In ancient times they were often wanderers, or travelers recognized by the cloak and staff that were the trademarks of their trade. In every society you find names for them. They were known as “Bards” in the ancient Celtic culture. The Greeks called them Rhapsodians, in Europe they were Minstrels, in the Scandinavian realm they were Skalds, go to ancient India and Iran and you will find them called udgātṛ, and in the Africa of times gone by they were the Griots. The prophets and sages also can be included in this caste.

For all of them words were their tools. Often they would use music and poems to carry their words to the ears of the listeners, enhancing the delivery of their message. These wanderers of old did much more than just recite the histories and genealogies or their people. In addition to being the “newspapers” of the day, spreading news of what was going on in the realm, they inspired their listeners to live by moral codes and emulate the deeds and ethics told of.

Not only did they recount the legends and tales of old but they would, through the use of satire among other things, reveal the faults and deprivations of the time. So these wanderers with their cloaks and staffs were guardians and guides. Often unseen or unnoticed as they performed these duties they had, and have, a powerful influence on their world.

So a call has been put out, a trumpet blown for a gathering of some of these bards. In this day and age they wander through the internet where their words travel the world at the click of a button but their words still have power and entertain. Their mediums are the blogs and we now call them “Bloggers”. So today there will be a “Gathering” of some of the bloggers of the area. I have been asked to attend this momentous event. It will be a huge crowd of luminaries numbering perhaps seven or eight. Or maybe three, I don’t know but it will be great fun to meet some of my fellow bloggers and I look forward to it. I just hope Cherie is up to going.
We made it to the big shebang just fine. At first we just got a cup of coffee and sat down looking at different people wondering “Is he one of the blogger people?” because we don’t know any of them. Then Janie showed up and we relaxed cause she knows everybody. It wasn’t long till the rest of the crowd trickled in, with the exception of Eric who had already said he would be coming in on his bike after some kind of ride.

It wasn’t long before he showed. He saunters in after riding his bike fifty miles or something and just sits down cool as can be. No shortness of breath and not soaking with sweat. My puppies take me out and run me twenty feet and I’m a ball of sweat and have to sit down. The way Eric talks you’d think he was sixty five years old, chuckling about how someone fifty is still a youngster. It’s not fair (said with teenage whiney exasperation) Anyway it’s my fault for being out of shape.

So we started with introductions with everyone explaining who they were. Some got out business cards and I gave out a few with our blog address on it. Unfortunately I can’t remember any of the names except the two who were sitting to my left. That is only because they both gave me business cards. My apologies to the rest of you but that’s part of the short term memory loss. Darrel Ward, the guy who does morning news and weather on channel nine was next to me and J.P. Hearn, who has a website called was next to him. Then there was Eric and Janie whom we already know and two other guys. I’ll have to get Janie to tell me who they are. One has a photography blog I believe and while I can’t recall what the other gentleman was involved in I know he is well traveled and knowledgeable of the television media realm. As was the photography guy.

So there was lots of intelligent conversation and I was grateful to be sharp, running a good nine on the bob scale. It was hard for me to keep up with everything and some of the conversation revolved around the oil industry so I was clueless there. Darrel and I talked a bit. I told him a little about what I’d been through and we talked about God and related matters. I am never sure how I am coming across but think I did ok.

JP is a chef and would like to open a restaurant sometime. His wife runs a business that does something with buying and selling homes I believe. JP specializes in chocolate. I like chocolate so perhaps he can trade me some for squash? Hey, use what you got ya know. Speaking of squash we brought a bunch to give to Eric and Janie. They both were grateful and I was glad to be able to give it. Eric’s wife, Debbie, came in towards the end. She is always careful to let me know who she is, conscious of my short term memory loss and difficulty recognizing faces. This thoughtfulness and consideration is always appreciated.

So we discussed the worlds ills and how to solve them. Then it was time for many to get going so we broke up. Cherie and I ordered some food after seeing Eric and Debbie did. After I had to get one of their deserts that the sneaky devils put on display as soon as you walk in. Got the turtle cheesecake. Good stuff made the right way.

I started to slowdown about two thirds of the way through the afternoon, with the voices and sounds all around starting to overwhelm me but by focusing on just one conversation did well controlling it. I made sure Janie and Eric got their squash and will be getting some for Darrel when the next batch comes due. That won’t be long.

When I came back in from handing out the squash I found Cherie talking with two blond women. I couldn’t place them so thought she had made some friends. Walking up she, understanding I wouldn’t know who they were introduced them and let me know they were from the Stanton Church. One is the wife of the Sunday school teacher who’s class we first attended. It was good to see them.

After all this Cherie had a list of estate sales she wanted to look for a dresser or something to store linins in so we went to two of them. She found something at the second one so loading it up we headed home.

The luncheon took a lot of me. Not only being out in public but mostly interacting and keeping up with the whole bunch. I had to work to stay awake on the fifteen minute drive home. When we got here I just went straight to bed and didn’t wake up till six o’clock. Like I said it took a lot out of me.

So that’s a summary of today. I’m gonna call it a night folks so till next time…

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's always good to wake up

6/21/07 Thursday
It’s a good morning, as are all mornings I am privileged to wake up. Again I tell of how my life is a gift and how I am grateful for every day I have but add to that the blessings of being reunited with my wife after twenty years and all that has happened since and I am humbled. Why me? What could I have done to deserve this? I know the answer to that last question. I have done nothing to deserve these blessings. Well, I have done many good things in my life and from what I learned as I researched my past always had a heart for those in poor circumstances but the bad outweighed the good. And still I wonder if there is a God, and if His hand is in the many marvelous things that have happened as if orchestrated by that unseen hand. I understand that my honesty in revealing these doubts or questions may disturb some but being honest is one of the promises I made to myself after I woke from the coma. I search for answers and in that search find more questions as I see contradictions in the lives of some I meet. Then there are the few who have come into our lives out of the blue that shine in contrast. Here I see a glimmer of what I seek. A glimpse of truth. People who practice what they profess.

Mama isn’t feeling good this morning. She’s fighting some kind of intestinal thing and has been since yesterday. She bravely endured as we celebrated our anniversary despite feeling so poorly. This morning she asked if oatmeal would be ok for breakfast cause she didn’t feel up to doing more. I told her to go to bed and that I would cook breakfast. I had her give me a list of what she had planned on doing and will be running to town where I will drop off checks to pay bills and picking up the mail. Her check comes direct deposit at midnight so that should be safe. I’m also going to get a two liter of ginger ale that should help settle her stomach.

That’s the start of our day folks. Be back whenever.
It’s 9:30 at night now. Just came in from working in the garden. My trip into Stanton to take care of the chores went ok. I didn’t have a list other than the note Cherie made to get the ginger ale. The envelops with the checks and papers I needed to drop off served as the list. After doing it all and picking up the mail I headed home. Looking over I saw two more envelops sitting on the seat. Nuts. I forgot to put them in the mailbox. Typical kind of thing for me.

When I dropped the check off at the electric company I asked if someone could explain the bill. A lady came out and took me to her office. She went through the bills point by point explaining everything. When I got home Cherie asked what she said and I tried to answer but couldn’t remember a thing. Lot of good that did.

There was a lot I was going to write but am pretty tired. Besides that the back pain is up there from working in the garden. I know it sounds strange but lately, as I work out there, I have scriptures come to mind and formulate bible studies. Beats me where that comes from but this has been happening for some time now. I need to start writing them down. Problem is I forget what I think by the time I make it inside.

Ill call it a night.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The garden

On this post I'll just put pictures on I took with comments. I try to make the comments line up with the pictures but it doesn't always come out right but you can figure it out.

This first picture shows the difference in where we painted half the living room and the other half.

Many people said "You can't grow sweetcorn out here" referring to the corn worms and other major obstacles. Well, it wasn't the corn worms, the heat, or the West Texas wind that did this corn in, it was bob. I would guess that about half of my corn is in pretty bad shape from the soap insecticide mixture I sprayed on it. Some may make it but we will see. I'm gonna plant a bunch more in a few days.

This is the melon patch. Seems that the vine type of plants, squash and melons, do well under my hands.

If you look close you can see two little watermelons.

This is some of the squash plants. Cherie cooked up our first spaghetti squash last night. It was good stuff man. There's gonna be plenty so if any of you locals want some let me know.

This is gooseneck squash. It freezes well. This is the very first food we ate out of the garden.

Pumpkins. These are the type you make pies out of, not the Halloween type. Can't wait to make a pie out of this instead of out of a can.

This is the tomato and pepper patch. You can see the wind breaks and trellises I made out of the wire fencing I scavenged from the landfill.

Unfortunately many of the tomatoes and peppers aren't doing too well. They got sprayed with the soap mix as well but weren't in good shape anyway. All part of the gardening education.

The beans aren't doing too bad though the wind is beating them up as well.

That's all folks.

Shock and surprise

6/20/07 Wednesday
The morning started as it always does now, with the joyful greeting of the puppies when we release them from their room in response to their cries for freedom. It is so great to start out the day this way, to laugh and love with these two bundles of joy. It makes up for the children we will never be able to have. Starting the day with a smile and laughter is as good as it gets. A few puppy kisses all over the face is just an added bonus.

I have been out working on the garden as I like to do in the morning coolness. Watered, hoed, weeded and then took pictures. Remember, this is bob’s school on how to grow and I’ll tell you bob is learning a lot. I’ll get to that in a bit but first lets talk about the most important thing of the day.

I came to the veranda and called Cherie, asking her to get me a glass of tea. I would do it myself but when I am in the back lot, where I had spent so much time chopping down weeds yesterday, my boots get coated with those stickers from the crabgrass and I don’t want to track them in. So Cherie puts ice in the cup and pours the tea, bringing it out to me. I am hot and sweaty and sit down to rest and enjoy this cup of cold wetness. Oh it is so good in the growing heat of the day.

As I am savoring the tea Cherie comes to the door. “Happy anniversary honey” she says with a smile. The cup I had just raised to my lips stays there, frozen in position as my mind races to comprehend what it just heard. “Anniversary? From our first marriage? No, that can’t be it. What day is it? OHHH!!!” the light blinked on. “Today’s the twentieth?...Happy anniversary honey” I said as I watched her smiling face. Today we have been married three years. Yeah, I wasn’t cognizant of it but Cherie understands these things escape me and that’s just the way it is because of the brain damage. I am so blessed to have someone who understands.

So I told her we will go out to eat but she let me know that there is only six dollars in the bank account so we can’t. Well I have twenty six bucks in my wallet so we are going somewhere. I don’t care if it’s Sonic we’re going out.

I’ll do a whole post on the garden later. Right now the fatigue thing that plagues me is setting in so I should take a nap. Almost fell asleep writing this. Here's a picture from our first wedding. Ain't she pretty? And she's just as beautiful today as she was twenty seven years ago when this was taken.
I called Eric and asked him where a decent low cost place to take Cherie out to was. He ran off a list of places and Jason’s Deli sounded like it fit the bill best. So that is where we went for our anniversary. It was a great choice. When we first came to Midland I remember writing how poorly it compared to Toledo when it came to eating establishments. Now, through Eric and Janie we are discovering more of what this city offers. The places have been here, we just didn’t know where. Of course the fact that our budget doesn’t allow much dining out is a factor in this also.

So we had a great time and will go back on later dates. Great food and healthy as well. Love the organic items offered and no transfats being used. Complimentary low fat ice cream was a nice cap to the evening.

This is tonights sunset. A nice end for a nice day. Night all

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Keeping my eyes on the gift

6/19/07 Tuesday
The puppies were moving much faster than I this morning. (Duh, No surprise, get used to it you old fart) They were out the door before I could get my cloudy minded butt dressed. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I was moving much slower this morning though their energy level leaps forward everyday. I coaxed them into the back yard as I do every morning in order to make that a place they go instead of towards the highway out front. They discovered that the pool is a cool place to be and that getting in the water won’t hurt them yesterday. Got one bad side effect from that. Trixie pawed and played in their drinking water feeder, splashing water all over the place. Not a big deal, just means I’ll have to fill it more often.

They are exploring their domain more each day, ranging out farther all the time. Unfortunately that means they are getting into the crabgrass and picking up those nasty stickers more. When one gets on their paw we hear them yelp and they come limping to the door. Both of them are starting to get better at laying on their back on our laps as we work to remove them. It’s can still turn into a fight but not as often. I so look forward to getting rid of these weeds and planting some kind of grass. That will make a big difference in so many ways. It will take a lot of work and probably a long time before these parts of our vision for the farm to come to pass. But it’s our home and dream, we plan to live out our lives here.

It’s going to hit a hundred plus degrees today so I need to get the outside work done now before things get too bad. I had some serious chest pains last night which were probably due to the heat and dehydration. Came with a pounding head also. It all subsided when I came in, took two aspirin, drank two glasses of tea, and laid down. But Cherie made me call it a day so the painting didn’t get done. It’s all ready to go now with the masking work done so it won’t take long to put the second coat on. This is a primer, stain blocker, covering paint, and thick as pudding but still needs a second coat. At this rate the five gallon pail may not be enough to do the living room.

It looks like our Direct Buy membership will go to collection. That’s a shame as we never got to use it at all. There goes a thousand dollars and it will be our first mark on our credit since the bankruptcy. It was a great idea when we thought we would have $20,000.00 from the inheritance to fix the house up. We could have gotten everything from replacement windows to appliances, and thousands of other products at half the price you pay in a store. How quickly things can vanish into the wind. Puff…it’s gone.

Ah quit whining bob. You’re blessed and one of the richest men in the world for you have what money can’t buy. A miraculous new and restored life where everything has gone a full circle and returned to where it was over twenty years ago. Where that which was destroyed has been brought back. Remember, every day you wake up is a gift.

It is good to keep my eyes on that and not forget. Gotta get out there before it gets too hot. Time to wrap my head with the T shirt I use to soak up the sweat and keep the sun off.
I came in at 2:00. Been out busting my butt with the hoe, trying to get all the weeds in the back patch chopped down. As I worked the hoe up and down, feeling the blisters start and changing my grip to ease that, I remembered and thought. I first learned to work in a Texas prison and it was with a hoe. Up until then I never really held a job. The closest I came was military service, other than that there were only occasional jobs that would last a few weeks.

My grandmother, who left us this house and farm, visiting me in prison. 1976

Texas prison, what a shock that was for a nineteen year old kid who weighed maybe a hundred and forty pounds after living on the street and drugs. I remember that first day we were sent out into the fields. We were called out of the cells and lined up. Then we were marched outside and saw the “Bosses”. They sat on their tall horses without a smile and all of them wore mirrored sunglasses. In Texas prison you said “Yes sir Boss. No sir Boss.” Either that it was “Sergeant lieutenant” or whatever rank they held with a “Sir” attached. It was like something straight out of the movies, only it was real now.

So we were divided up into squads and marched to whatever area they would have us work in. The guards rode behind us on their horses close, barking commands to the squad leader, the inmate they put in charge who was invariably the biggest meanest guy on the lot. When we arrived we were handed our hoes. They weren’t at all like the hoe I bought at Home Depot. This one had a handle made from some kind of tree branch that grew in the low lying river banks and had the bark shaved off. The head was a piece of steel plate welded on a short piece of pipe where the handle attached. And it was heavy.

We were lined up tightly, chest to back and commenced to chopping the ground in front of us at a steady rhythmic rate. Being the new guy I was placed in the middle and quickly learned to keep up. With each chop of the hoe everyone would slide their left foot forward maybe four inches. The guys on either end were called “Lead row” and “Tail row”. Their job was to keep everyone squeezed in tight. As we worked I could feel the blisters grow on my soft virgin hands but there was no stopping. Oh no, not at all. You kept going, up and down, up and down, chop, chop, shuffle forward, chop, chop. “Take a break Boss?” I hear asked. “You better keep your ass working if you know what’s good for you” was the stern reply. Me, I don’t want to be noticed and keep going, pushing hard to maintain my grip as these unused muscles began to lose their strength. The blisters on my hands pop open but I grit my teeth and take the pain. Soon the blisters are replace with open sores where the skin was worn all the way through. They start bleeding. This just makes it harder to keep your grip as the hands begin to slide on the blood. But I keep going, chop, chop, up down, shuffle forward, keep going. There are breaks for water which are welcome for sure.

My squad is one with the new and also smaller inmates who, like me, are in poor physical shape. When it’s time to go in we are “run in”. All the squads are “run in” so it’s maybe a hundred inmates running with the guards behind on their horses breathing down our necks. If you stumble you get run over.

So I learned to work in Texas prison. I learned to work hard and fact is I like to work hard. One of the frustrations I have now with this disability thing is the limits I must face. Gone are the days I regularly put in fourteen hour days. I still push but it comes with a price. My tolerance for pain is much higher than the average guy but it has limits. Between that and the heat I came in. I’m a bit unsteady on my feet and took another pain pill. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t get as much done. I’ll rest for a couple of hours and then think we will tackle the painting in the living room. Pretty much done outside as the temperatures are hitting a hundred now. It’s the heat that saps my strength. But I like to work.
It’s 8:00. That took a lot out of me, working out in the sun that is. Been sharp all day as far as the brain goes but the body is dragging. I can deal with that just fine. There have been many times that Cherie has heard me say that I would gladly spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair in exchange for my mind staying sharp. Physical stuff I can push through but it’s the forgetting and confusion that drives me nuts. Earlier today I had taken one glove off to do something. Later I was out hoeing weeds when I looked at my hand and realized it was missing. So I began looking all over for it. I looked in the wheelbarrow, under the leaves of the pumpkin plants where I was working, and in the pile of weeds I had made but there was no glove in sight. I thought and thought again trying to recall what I might have done with it but there was nothing there. So I looked all around the area again and finding nothing decided to look in the garage. There it was. When it got there and why I took it off is gone from this mind. So here’s a paradox. I clearly remember all this happening but can’t remember taking only one glove off or how long I worked with only one on before I noticed. It’s not the forgetting but the unpredictability that drives me nuts. I never know when something will just blank out. Kind of like the times, rare though they are, when I am driving and suddenly nothing is familiar and I don’t know where I am or where I was going. Scary stuff. Then it comes back to me, usually.

So we are going to get moving on the painting. Got to put the puppies in their room. Otherwise we are liable to have white puppy tracks all over. They are starting to bark now. That surprised Cherie. I heard her calling “Rob, come here” with a panicky sense of urgency. “Trixie is getting all kinds of aggressive. She was barking and growling at me” she said as I watched Trixie bouncing around in her joyous “Lets play” fit of energy. It was the first time Cherie had heard Trixie bark and, having only owned cats and never dogs before, was a bit taken aback. My lovely wife can be a worrier at times so didn’t know what was wrong. Was it rabies, was it…? Who knows what went through her head but I reassured her that Trixie just was saying “Play with me” with her new found voice. Kids. Whatcha goin to do??? They are tearing up the living room and being very vocal as I write. Boy are we in for it as the get bigger.

So it’s time to paint. Be back later. If I feel like it.