Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good pride, bad pride

It’s 7:43. I am still rough, slow and the headache is still there. I laid down for an hour or so but made myself get up because there are things that need doing. Not feeling good is just an inconvenience. I fabricated a cover for the lawnmower Don let us borrow. It covers a hole where he had removed the gears for the self propelled drive. Don said he was going to fix it so I figure he’ll appreciate me doing it. Then I sharpened the mower blade. It didn’t look like it had ever been sharpened, which is not unusual. The blades still cut so most folks don’t even think about it. However, with the big weeds I was cutting it makes a big difference. Besides that it’s the right way to do things, take care of the equipment someone lets you borrow.

So with that done I started mowing. The mower handled the weeds just fine. I went slow and often had to pull the mower backwards over where I had just been to catch the plants that had been pushed down as I went over. Things were going well till I started to hear a loud clicking. I thought I may have run over a rock but pulling the mower back didn’t see anything so I proceeded. BAM !!! It stopped. I tipped it over to discover that the metal blade guard that runs across the front had come loose and hit the blade. Did a number on the freshly sharpened blade. I took it back to the garage to take a closer look. At some point one side of the guard had been unfastened and not reinstalled correctly. Looks like it had been set over the bolt that’s supposed to hold it.

The tension would have held it in place and it probably would have been fine for years but cutting the heavy weeds did it in. It’s pretty chewed up. The mower works fine without it but is more dangerous as rocks and things can get flung out. No danger for the operator cause it’s in the front. I’ll see if I can fix it later. It took a lot to get the mower started after that, probably because I had it on it’s side while I worked on it. I mowed in front of the house but finally had to call it quits. Just hurt too much. I wanted to get this all done today so I could return the mower tomorrow but didn’t make it. I’ll talk to Don at Sunday school. I think his name is Don but am not sure at the moment. That’s the memory thing acting up.

It’s almost nine. I think I will go out to the garage and work on the tiller some. It’s good to have the light bulb hooked up. I look forward to when I get the fluorescent lights I picked up at Habitat For Humanity hooked up. This picture is our burn barrel. I've hooked a shop vac I picked up at the landfill in reverse so it blasts air into the barrel. That sucker incinerates everything, even melting glass. You can see how it glows red.

I’ve missed quite a lot on this journal. Going through some pictures I see a couple I want to post. First are these showing how I covered the holes that the puppies have dug in the walls of their room. I used panels peeled off some doors I scavenged at the landfill. While doing it I remember thinking of the advantages of being poor.

When you don’t have much you appreciate more what you do have. When you don’t have much you learn how to be resourceful and make do with what you have. When you don’t have much pride becomes healthier. Now pride is the root of all evil but not all pride is bad. You can take pride in doing a good job. But those who are well off can be proud they are better than others and proud of silly things like how good of a car they bought or how much stuff they have. When you don’t have much it’s a little different. So I am proud of how I scavenge and make do with what I have. I often say “I do the best I can with what I have”. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. In my mind healthy pride is working to not be ashamed.

It been a harvest moon. I had to take this picture but it doesn't touch the beauty of it.

Last cotton field

9/29/07 Saturday
It was a restless night with lots of not so pleasant dreams. Many of them had the old cast of characters from my life and involved me looking for drugs. There were the flavors of desperation, distrust, and paranoia that had been a part of that lifestyle. Those are days that I am glad are ancient history and no longer play a part of my life though I live daily with the consequences because of the wreck. It was most definitely connected to the drug use.

So we are heading out to do the last cotton field. Yesterday Don and his wife came over with their lawnmower. I had put an email on the Sunday school newsletter asking if I could borrow one to cut down the weeds that are growing back from when they had rented the brush hog and cut them down. I don’t want to let them get seven feet tall again. It’s borderline but I think I can mow them down with a regular mower. Anything too big I’ll chop down. It was a nice visit. They brought the mower out instead of letting me pick it up because they wanted to come see the place. We really appreciate that and enjoyed visiting with them. It’s nice to have folks come over. I wasn’t doing that well, rather slow, but I think I hid it well.

My check came in so that relieves the pressure. It was getting close. Janie paid Cherie for the work she has been doing over there and that supplied the gas we needed to go to the cotton fields. Some of them are sixty miles away making it a hundred and twenty mile round trip. The first thing I’m doing this morning is filling the gas tank on the truck. That will be about seventy five bucks as I have a thirty gallon tank. Gas is always the first thing I get with the check. A hundred and fifty dollars worth of gas a month makes a big dent in a nine hundred dollar veteran’s disability check. Don had asked about that and Cherie’s job, just getting a handle on our situation I guess. I showed him all the things others have blessed us with over the eleven months we have been here. An air conditioner, wood burning stove to heat the house, hot water heater, and a kitchen. How grateful we are and in retrospect how sparse life was when we first arrived. We pretty much were camping out in the house.

Cherie just went out and started the truck so it’s time to go.
We’re back. I forgot to take a hat so probably got a little red on the bald spots. It was windy, which I like. We got the last two fields done so we are finished till next month. On the way home we drove by Luchi’s and saw it was open. Didn’t take much to decide to go there for lunch. When we see their sign saying “Open” and have some money that’s were we go. Good barbeque brisket and everything else. They aren’t open that much so it’s always good when we catch them.

I am pretty tired and have one of those headaches coming up. Haven’t had them as much lately. I tried calling Eileen, my former secretary, again and got the same “All circuits are busy” message I’ve been getting. So I called her daughter, Suzie. Woke her up, which is no surprise. She said that Eileen no longer has a phone at all. Said she was doing fine but I can’t put much stock in what Suzie says. I asked her to have Eileen called me and she said her mom doesn’t return calls. Now I really want to go to Toledo for Eileen is the best friend I’ve had and her health hasn’t been good for years. From what Suzie said I think she’s pretty depressed. Would love to move her down here, as I would Wayne and Allen. That’s me, concerned and wanting to help my friends. I’d move the whole lot down if I could. There is just no place to put them. I’ll have to take a nap. The headache is at the sensitive to light level. Not good.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Been busy, I think.

9/28/07 Friday
I know, haven’t posted in three days. I just found the camera where I had set it down and forgotten about. I’m glad it didn’t rain cause it was outside where I’ve been working on the tiller. There are many pictures on it that will help remind me of the last few days. Actually a lot of them are sunrises and sunsets so that really doesn’t help me remember what I did. So I’ll put this morning’s sunrise on and figure it all out later. This morning we are heading out to the cotton fields for more survey work.
Want to make a few notes here. We just got back from doing the surveys. I had that dizzy feeling that is a precursor of a slow down while we were still out there. It has since gotten worse but isn’t too bad, running a five on the bob scale. This is a physical one effecting my coordination.

Cherie told me that I have been real angry the last few days, that every little thing sets me off. I hate to hear it because this is one of the common issues with TBI. For me these things seem to come in cycles. I dislike it of course. I am much better than before but it reminds me that I still am not “normal”. The doctors say I never will be but I tend to forget that. I like to forget it and want to but can’t quite escape it. It is hard on Cherie, real hard. I love her dearly but can’t always control this anger.

Yesterday I went with Cherie to Steve and Janie’s. In my mind I was going in order to put a new screen in Steve’s laptop. I got honked off when I found he had already done it and went home in a huff. Cherie later reminded me that the main reason I went up there was to remove the morning glory vines that were taking over part of their garden. I felt like a fool. Despite having Steve point out the vines to make sure I didn’t pull up the wrong thing I didn’t remember at all. It just vanished from my mind. What gets me is I remembered the computer screen fine but pulling the vines was not there. It is so strange to remember one thing and forget the other despite having learned them both at the same time. I will be going over to do the vines as soon as I am done posting this.

There was something else I was going to write but it’s gone now. It’ll come back later. Thanks Tricia and Amy for your concern. It’s a little thing but just knowing folks out there care means a whole lot. Especially after…well I need to let go of the hurt of those who talk about love and God but never got off their ass to visit or call. Like Cherie said, I’ve been angry lately. But the simple things like comments from people I never met, showing their connection with us, is a contrast that tells. Thanks Sandy, Tricia, Amy, and the rest of you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Out in the fields again

9/25/07 Tuesday
It’s almost three now. We got out to the cotton fields by nine or so, at least we left the house then. It was a sixty mile drive to our survey spots for today. With the plants bigger there is more work but none of these compare to the cotton we sampled yesterday. This farmer's cotton is way impressive. Joe, Cherie’s boss, said he knew it would be. The guy has a reputation for good farming. One of the things I noticed in his field was the use of winter wheat. At least I think that’s what it is. Anyway, it had been planted solid and left to grow. Now it lays dead in the rows and serves as a mulch, retaining moisture and keeping weeds down. It costs more to do this but the payoff is obvious. There are so many little tricks like this I want to learn. A little extra effort goes a long way.

I’m pretty tired now as I often am at this time of day. Just dozed off as I wrote the previous paragraph, one of those two minute snoozes. We were back out to the field I got stuck in last month. This time it was worse as the farmer had disked up the path so the sand was deep and loose. I kept the pedal down and we flew down the path. That way we didn’t get bogged down. Cherie yelled “There it is, stop” when we went past the red ribbon that marked our sample spot. I told her I couldn’t cause I could feel how deep the sand was and knew that if I did we would be stuck. I kept going till we found some more solid ground and I felt safer stopping. It meant we had to walk farther but that’s ok, better than having to walk home. I somehow got the truck turned around when it was time to go. Learned how to drive in the sand when I got stuck before.

We met Joe at home when we were done. He showed Cherie a piece of cotton and explained how to tell when it is ripe to pick. He also gave her his evaluation, which wasn’t bad at all.

I just snoozed off again. Think I’ll post this and take a nap.

Monday, September 24, 2007

An early start

This morning's sunrise

9/24/07 Monday
This week we start the months end cotton survey. Will get a jump on it this time. Heading out in a few minutes to beat the heat. I opened the calendar I keep on this laptop, something I don’t do much now a days, and found, to my chagrin, that my sister’s birthday was the third of this month. I missed it. Not good. She is the one person in my family that talks, or at least emails me. Of all the people I need to keep up with she is top of the list. I did remember to send Bruce and Adam, my two boys that came with the second marriage, short emails last night. I am so poor at keeping up with these kinds of things. Think of it all the time and forget it all the time. That’s why running a written schedule is so important for me or anyone else with my level of short term memory loss.
Absolute freedom brings slavery. In a society with no rules anarchy reigns and those with evil intent and violent natures impose their will on the rest. So there must be standards, which translates into a form of censorship. Regardless of the standards there will be some who object but the standards need to be that which promote a healthy society and culture, a place we can all live in a degree of peace and harmony. I suppose a speed limit or any law can be considered a form of censorship. Those who desire to be unfettered by moral or ethical strictures will always fight to be "Free" of them. A line must always be drawn but over the eons it is always pushed back a little farther.

Our friend, Amy, at mentioned a paper she was writing for a class on censorship and asked for some input so I wrote this. Thought I’d put it up to see what you think.

We had a great day. I love to work and was able to get lots done. Here is Cherie out at the cotton field we sampled. Yep, we were cotton pickin son of a guns by golly. It’s a lot of work going through these plants one at a time looking for all kinds of details. My back can’t take a lot of bending over so I just sit on the ground and scoot along.

I’ve been wanting to take pictures of some of the old abandoned homesteads you see all over the place out here. There are probably hundreds of them and they all have stories to tell. I’ve been thinking it would be nice to put together a album of these and research some of the backgrounds they have.

I got stuff done here at home too. Managed to make the front door not stick as bad. You can close it with out kicking and pounding now. This way the puppies won’t be able to open it as we can close it far enough to latch.

I’m done for tonight. Ya’ll sleep well. See ya tomorrow God willing.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New day dawning

9/23/07 Sunday
It’s a new day. Caught this sunrise on camera. I love the sunrise and sunsets, still maintaining that childish wonder I’ve had ever since waking from the coma when all things were new to me. The puppies pushed open the door and galloped excitedly in as they often do in the morning. They are getting so big Rascal has no problem licking my face in bed while his hind feet are still on the ground. We gotta do something about his claws though. I haven’t gone out to see if the truck starts yet. Will wait till it’s closer to when we go to church.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Workin on the truck

This one is easy to see, or is it?

9/22/07 Saturday
I’m working on the truck, trying to figure out the electrical problem. I don’t have a clue what I am doing. Might have found a problem but might not. Using the ohmmeter everything on the truck seems to be shorted but that has me confused. It’s hard for me considering I was trained as a crew chief on B-52’s responsible for the whole aircraft including some complex electrical, and then I was chief engineer at a radio station. Granted I wasn’t qualified but I could still do a lot. Now I am unsure of everything as it doesn’t seem to line up with how I think it should. Went online and looked automotive electrical and couldn’t follow everything there written for those who weren’t familiar with the subject. Right now I am tearing the dash off to correct the mistake I made while putting in the CB radio and electric brakes. I drilled a hole through the firewall to run the wires from the engine compartment. I didn’t use a rubber grommet to protect the wires from the sharp edges and they cut through some insulation. But there still seems to be problems. I was hoping to work on the tiller so I could use it to “Mow” the lawn as it’s the best way to deal with the weeds that are our lawn right now. Will work on the truck till it gets fixed, hopefully. It’s already getting hot out.
The type of cactus we dug up on the way home from New Mexico
I’ve spent five hours working on this. Probably an hour or two of that getting the wires threaded through the firewall hole. Filed down the rough edges as best I could and then looked for something I could wrap the wires with to prevent them from getting cut again. Electrical tape didn’t work. It’s a 3/8 inch hole and four wires are snug in it. I found an old pen that was a tight fit in the hole so I cut it off and drilled out the inside as much as I could. Then I worked to get the four wires through it. Sprayed the wires with silicone but the spray’s solvent started to dissolve the plastic pen. That glued the wires in. I finally had to cut the pen tube length wise with my razor knife and open it up to remove the wires. Tried to drill the firewall hole bigger but couldn’t get the drill in there. Don’t have a clue how I drilled it before. Finally got it all done. Just came in, took a pain pill cause this has killed my back. Will lay down till it relaxes. Then I’ll go see if I can hook the wires all up. Wrote down some of where they go because I know I won’t remember.

Hey Janie, if you read this give us a call. Hope you are doing OK.
Well, I may or may not have fixed the truck. The alternator is charging now and the strobe light on the back is now working. However the readings of the ohm meter have me confused. They seem to indicate a short still exists and when I hooked up the positive side of the battery it sparked indicating something somewhere was pulling juice. I ran the truck down the road to charge up the battery. We will know more tomorrow. Hope everything is OK. This was an all day affair. Started on it early this morning and just got done at 8:00. One thing for sure is that I did fix something. It was all from the work I did on the truck in Toledo while preparing it for the journey to Texas. I put in the trailer electric brake controls, a CB radio, and installed the wiring for the trailer lights. That was just as confusing for me as working on it today was but I got it done. Just didn’t protect the wires where they went through the firewall. That’s all it takes, just one little oversight. Maybe I will finally get to the tiller tomorrow. We’ll see. It’s Sunday so we may have a chance to fellowship with folks after church. Won’t pass that up. I think I’ll look over the Sunday school lesson and call it a night

Friday, September 21, 2007

A near miss

This is a picture Sandy was asking about. As far as I can tell there are no hidden images though the arrow the fox is looking at is hard to notice. I find it appropriate for this post considering it looks like we dodged a bullet ourselves.

9/21/07 Friday
It was good to sleep in our bed last night though we were a bit restless. I had planned on putting the sealer on the front porch but predictably decided to go to bed instead. I was up at six and made coffee while I let Cherie sleep. She got up a half hour later because Carman kitty wasn’t as nice about letting her sleep in. After breakfast I put the sealer down and Cherie took care of her morning stuff. We both hurried so we could get the puppies. Missed em just like you would your children. Well they are our kids, ok?

Oh they missed us as much as we missed them. At the kennel I sat on the ground when the lady brought them in. It’s puppy attack time!!!! Lick, Lick, wriggle, climb on my shoulders, and lick some more. Got my face washed good. Done with me they went after Cherie next. Outside they jumped in the car in a flash. No coaxing needed here. Cherie had to work to keep them in the back seat on the drive home. Once here they have settled down a bit but still beg for attention. The kennel lady said they stayed in their cage the first day but after that came out and played with the other dogs. That’s good cause they need to get used to other dogs and people.

So back home I checked the oil, knowing it would need some after the nine hundred and sixty four mile drive to Albuquerque and back. I started it up to check on the transmission fluid and hearing a tapping sound looked closer. Whoa !!! What’s this??? I’ll be damned. You can see the remnants of where a rat started to build a nest and the surprise find is that the rat had chewed all the way through one of the spark plug wires and started on another.

We made that whole trip on three out of four cylinders. It’s amazing we didn’t break down or blow the motor. Where the speed limit was eighty I would set cruise control at eighty five. It’s a testament to the durability of the motor I suppose. Someone was looking out for us. There is no telling how long this has been in that condition. We are heading out to buy new wires and pick up Cherie’s prescription now so I’ll be back later.
That was a fifty dollar rat. Gone are the days you could replace spark plug wires one at a time or even make up your own set. Now the auto makers are custom designing everything so you have to spend the big bucks for your parts.

When I went to start the truck the battery was once again dead. The intermittent short has returned. I jumped it from Cherie’s car and we went to Midland. First stop was Walfart for Cherie’s prescription and some oil. The truck was again dead but fortunately the lady across the space from us was just returning to her car and she agreed to give us a jump. From there we drove to Auto Zone for the plug wires. Cherie sat in the truck with it running while I went in. I wasn’t turning that truck off till we got home.

I just got done replacing the wires. Cherie is cooking something to eat. I heard her exclaim “There’s a bump” and went in to se what was up. Water has gotten under the sink of our new countertops and bubbled it up. The sink was never caulked. I think I was supposed to do that but like everything else it slipped my mind. Fact is it should have been done before the sink was installed and all the plumbing hooked up. I’ll have to unhook it to raise it up and put caulk underneath. I don’t have any of the good silicone stuff right now and the fifty dollar plug wires drained our account so we’ll have to wait for my check at the first of the month. I told Cherie to be real careful till then. The damage has already been done but there is no sense making it worse. We will run to the VA hospital at Big Spring and get the forty dollars I have coming for mileage to Albuquerque. That will come in handy.
Got the travel mileage money and we made sure to deposit it to cover the cost of the spark plug wires. I noticed the air conditioner wasn’t cooling so I went to check on it. The water wasn’t feeding so I got my wrench and loosened it up. Chunks of what looked like thin green paper came out. Not good. This is the same stuff that had plugged up the sprinkler head on the hand unit I watered with. Called Leroy about it and he said it was probably algae and to put a half gallon of bleach down the well.

I planted the cactus we dug up on the way home. It’ll be interesting to see if it makes it. It’s depressing to see how far and fast the weeds are growing. If I had a lawnmower I could at least keep them at bay till I get the tiller running. That’s if I can get it running. The depression I fight all the time is trying to come back again. It’s hard to always be upbeat.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Heading back

Here's another "Whats there?" picture. By the way Sandy, there are two indians riding their horses through the woods in front of the fox in the last one

9/20/07 Thursday
Had a great end to yesterday. We went back to Old Town but most of the shops close at five. It didn’t take us long to get bored with what was open as they all carried the same kind of tourist stuff. New Mexico T shirts and Indian jewelry. When Cherie picked up a pottery piece and saw it was made in China we were done. There were still a few art studios open but we just don’t have the money for that. So it was time to find a place to eat. Everything around there featured Mexican food. We walked around admiring the way this place is put together and the extensive use of stucco with the Pueblo feel. as we did so I looked at Cherie and said “You don’t want to eat Mexican do you? Cause I really don’t”. She didn’t.

I noticed a little hole in the wall place that had menus posted on the wall outside the door. It had an open sign so I moseyed over to check it out. Surprise surprise (said with the Gomer Pile voice) It is a French restaurant. Cool. We went in and it was a small cosey kind of place that didn’t look expensive or exclusive at all. After being asked if we had reservations and seeing the four page wine list I figured that out. It wasn’t cheap but boy was it good. I had to have the waiter interpret the French menu and we settled on fillet mignon for Cherie and I had scallops. We had to have a glass of wine so, not being this incredibly cultured dude with a vast knowledge of wine, I told the waiter to bring out whatever he thought appropriate. It was all just a wonderful to end the day so a hundred dollars later we went back to the hotel room. That pretty much blew the budget but you know my motto, “Love life, live a life you can love”.

So we are going to grab breakfast, pick up a small shovel at Walfart, and hit the road.
8:33 – We’re home. I’m tired. Will tell about it later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

We're here

9/19/07 Wednesday
It was a long drive but we enjoy going down through Pecos as the scenery is great. I don’t have lots of time to write at the moment. We’re in the hotel room at Albuquerque and fixing to head out to grab some breakfast. Here’s some pictures we took on the way. There were lots of others I wanted to take but didn’t feel like stopping. Had to turn around and go back to get the one of the hotel.

I got some seeds off the cactus/Yucca type of plant cause they would look great at the farm. There is another type of cactus we like so will pick up a shovel here and dig a couple up on the way home.

By the way, I didn't get any comments regarding what is hidden in the painting I posted so I presume most of you couldn't fine it. Believe it or not there are two indians riding there horses through the woods right in front.
We just got back from the hospital. There was the usual routine of prodding and poking to see what worked and how well. The doctor was a young guy as were the ones I saw the last time. I think this is part of the training they all go through. He asked the regular questions about headaches, seizures, and the other issues related to traumatic brain injuries. Tested my strength and coordination as well as how well I could sense motion and touch on various surfaces of my skin. When we first started I was running slow, about a five on the bob scale. I explained this to him and also let him know this is mostly due to the stress of unfamiliar circumstances and that I would clear up as I relaxed and became comfortable with where I was. After he went through the examination he left after telling me another intern would be in for more poking. When there was a knock on the door it was him again. “I forgot to ask you a few questions” he said and proceeded to ask if I knew what day it was, what month, what year. When he asked who was president I said “An idiot”. He counted that as a correct answer I suppose.

After confirming I was cognizant enough to know where I was he left again. When he came back it was with an older guy. I knew he wasn’t an intern because he wore some older, comfortable, not fancy clothes, the kind you wear when you don’t have to worry about impressing someone. Yep, he was a head honcho type. His first name was Peter I think. I had Cherie write down his last name so I could remember it but I won’t reveal it here because I didn’t get permission. I like the guy. The first words out of his mouth were “I’m going to be blunt”. That’s the way I like things anyway, no beating around the bush or sugar coating. With a puzzled look he asked “Just what is it you expect us to do for you?”. After thinking for a few, trying to figure out why he asked I said “I know you don’t have a magic wand you can wave and just fix me so I’ll tell you my goals and you let me know if you can help”. I told him of the dream of getting the farm going and getting off disability. We talked then, talked about realities such as some of my problems won’t go away, there are things I can’t and will no longer be able to do, but there are things I can do. I helped him understand that I have a good handle on and have accepted my disabilities but that I am a fighter and will push on after my goals. Peter also had heard of how Cherie and I had gotten back together after seventeen years. “Brain damage tore us apart and brain damage brought us back together” I said. I think that part of what spurred Peters opening question was the thought I was after drugs, or at least some miracle pill that would make everything better. Once he saw that wasn’t’ the case he relaxed and we just enjoyed talking about things such as blogging and learning to not be in a rush with life. I explained that my request to be seen at the Albuquerque neurological department in the first place is just to have access to specialists in case I need them. Anyway we will come back in a year. I’m doing well.

We went to Old Town here in Albuquerque this morning. Quite a place. Fact is we pretty much love this city. There is a feel, a spirit here that is enamoring. The architecture is pleasing to look at and follows the southwest theme well with lots of stucco and arches. At Old Town (The tourist area of shops and art for those of you unfamiliar) we only went into one shop. It featured the artwork of Kathy Morrow. WOW. She just got added to my list of favorite artists. Right on par with Beverly Doolittle. She has a website which you can find by just typing in her name. Some of her pieces are in the thirty thousand dollar range but there are some factors I won’t divulge right now that will make those prices go way up. There were a lot of her works that were much lower in price but still out of our reach. If I had the money I would buy some strictly as an investment. But I wouldn’t want to sell them cause they look so good.

We are going to go back there and catch some more of the shops and attractions there. Lots of native American stuff. There is a big American Indian presence and influence in this city. It’s nice that we can relax and enjoy things here. Not broke and not in a hurry to get home cause we have the hotel room for another night. See ya later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On the road again

Hmmm, a red fox. What's he looking at???

9/18/07 Tuesday
We’re on the road now. About thirty miles till we get to Pecos. It was expectedly hectic this morning as we got the puppies to the kennel and packed to leave. I washed out the puppy room in preparation for putting the sealer down but when I read the directions saw that I must let the concrete dry for three days. Nuts. So we got out the door a little earlier because of that. I have Cherie driving so I could post this and give my back a rest.
We are in Roswell now. Filled up on gas and as we looked for some fast food place to grab a bite for dinner noticed the Red Lobster at the light we were stopped at. “What you think?” I asked the budget keeper and she said “That looks good”. So we splurged, living the high life, at least for us. Cherie had chicken and I went for a shrimp salmon Maui dish with Cajun seasoning and pineapple. Got McD’s beat all to hell. So it’s back on the road. Cherie is driving again cause I’m a bit tired. We are a bit over halfway there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lots to do

Here is another in the series of Beverly Doolittle prints with hidden images in them. So what do you see? As always you can click to enlarge these. Standing back may help you see

9/17/07 Monday
We’ve got lots to do for tomorrow we head out for Albuquerque for my neurology appointment. I am so lucky to be a veteran for otherwise I would be getting no medical attention. It’s a nine hour drive. The last time we hit the road at five in the morning to make the appointment but now that we discovered the VA pays for motel stays we are able to drive up the day before and not rush. Coming back will be more relaxed also for we can spend the night in Albuquerque after the appointment. It will give us a chance to explore the sites in the area. Cherie has cleaned out the fridge to insure nothing rots while we are gone. I’m running our trash to the landfill for similar reasons, don’t want it attracting wild critters. I’m scrubbing the floor of the puppy room and will put the sealer on the floor tomorrow after we take the puppies to the kennel. That way it will have three days to cure. So I best get moving.
Lots ------------------------------
I had one of those loss of emotional control episodes. These don’t happen much anymore but when they do are still disturbing. I know the doctors all say this is a normal part of traumatic brain injuries but I also know there are training programs to help you deal with it. I am able to control it much better. Don’t cry in public much except sometimes when I tell of how Cherie and me got back together. Even that happens less.

So I went to the landfill. As usual I looked around for things I could use and saw an old wood table that looked sturdy. I thought it would be useful in the shop so loaded it in the truck. Then I saw an old Steelcase desk. I’ve needed a sturdy surface to put the big vise I have on and this would be perfect. Unfortunately I was unable to make a decision on it because I would have had to unload the table and the ninety five pound bag of cement was still in the truck. By the time I got home I decided the desk would be good so I hurried up and unloaded the truck and ran back out to the landfill. Just as I got there I saw a guy loading the desk onto his trailer. I asked if he would sell it but he said no. That’s when I started getting angry. I was mostly angry with myself, that I couldn’t make a decision right away and thus robbed myself. By the time I got home I was boiling over. Finding the puppies had returned to tearing the stuffing out of the spare mattress set it off. Now I cussed and kicked the trash cans. It’s embarrassing. Then I sat in the garage and picked dill seed till I settled down.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I woke up so it's a good day

Ok Sandy and Tricia, make sure and read my response on yesterday's comments. Not all of Beverly Doolittle's stuff has something hidden,or maybe I just can't find it. So tell me what you can find in this one. You can click on them to make them larger. I think I'll run all the pictures of hers I have. I can't afford twenty grand to buy one of her signed and numbered prints so I just get her calender every year, which is where these came from.

9/16/07 Sunday
It’s been a good day. In my mind any day I wake up is a good day. Some are just harder than others. I was fairly sharp this morning but had a hard time operating my right leg. The pain level is less than yesterday so that’s good. We returned the microwave that our Sunday school class had loaned us. During class my phone rang. I usually put it on manner mode to prevent this from happening. Seeing it was Janie and also that she was calling repeatedly I walked out to take the call. “What ya doin” she asked when I answered. “I’m in the middle of Sunday school” I said and listened to her “oops”. She wanted to let us know that they had left thirty cleaned dove in a cooler on our back door. They had gone hunting this morning and quickly reached their limit. Janie told me how to cook them. I told Cherie about the dove and got the reaction I expected. For Cherie eating a dove would be like eating her pet dog. She loves the sound of doves out here in the mornings as I do as well. Cherie is a city girl and uncomfortable with the thought of eating any animal that she finds endearing such as “a little lamby” or Bambi. I respect that. So we have thirty dove. After church we went to the grocery store to get jalapeƱo peppers, onions, bacon, and mushrooms to cook the dove with.

We got home and found the dove. Little bitty things. It’s been forty years since I had dove. One of the things my dad did with us that didn’t become terribly unpleasant was take us dove hunting. Some of the rare pleasant memories I have of home involved these times. I’m not sure if I ever got one but I can remember shooting at them. It was my job to clean the birds later. These are dim memories as so many of mine are but any memories that remain in this mind I treasure.

I cooked the dove and they are good. Cherie tried a bite of one at my insistence. She wasn’t thrilled but that’s ok. I had a bad slow down while cooking. As far as the partial seizures go this one affected the physical side of my brain though it had me stuttering also. It tired me out, just sucked away my energy and left me working to keep my eyes open. I finished eating and laid down.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Weather change coming???

9/15/07 Saturday
Yesterday was one of those exceptional ones where I was not only sharp but I was running at a nine on the bob scale. When at this level I am approaching where I was at before the accident. Cherie tells me that she has a hard time keeping up when I’m like this. In my daydreams a day will come when this level of cognizance will be restored and I won’t have to endure the seesaw of mental agility I now suffer. A time when my joke “I am either the smartest dumb person or the dumbest smart person you will ever meet. It just depends on the moment you meet me” will no longer apply.

But yesterday was a great day. I ran to Midland to get the parts needed for the tiller. After that I went to Janie’s to check on Cherie. She had left her phone in the car so I was concerned when I got no answer to my calls. She was fine. She said she was going to go home and cook some chicken for dinner but I talked her into going out to eat. That wasn’t hard to do. We went to Logan’s Roadhouse, a place we have frequented some.

I ordered steak and Cherie had Mesquite grilled chicken with a peppercorn sauce that was really good. (Yeah, I always sneak a bite) Because we have enough cash to treat ourselves a bit we ordered dessert. They had something called “Nutter Butter” or something like that, that looked real good so we both ordered it. When it came it was an a little miniature pail that held maybe two tablespoons of stuff. I looked at it and my first thought was it was an appetizer before the real dessert. “What’s that?” I asked. The waiter said it was the Nutter Butter so I told him “That won’t work. Why don’t you get me the cheesecake” holding my hands out to indicate a larger size. The cheesecake was good.

This morning I woke after a restless night of dreams. My pain level is high and is in the bones so I wonder if there is a change of weather coming. It doesn’t look like it outside. Just a clear blue sky.

I encouraged Cherie to come take a walk with me. That is a routine I am working to establish. I strongly desire for Cherie to get healthy, to exercise so her heart and body are stronger in addition to the benefit of it clearing the mind and increasing the energy level. That will come in time as we develop good habits. Developing the habits is the hard part.

It’s always a fun time for the puppies when we do this. They run and run, back and forth under our feet and out again. Just watching them is a pleasure. I am touched by the loyalty, or whatever you call it, love, attachment? of Rascal. He lays on the floor next to me at night, lays down and snuggles close when I sit on the steps outside, and just lays down on my feet when I am standing still, all the while looking up at me. There is something in this that stirs a chord deep inside. This acceptance is something I have always longed for in life. I have it from Cherie, who puts up with a lot of my crap and loves me anyway. We are both beginning to feel accepted with the friends we have found in Steve and Janie as well as at First Baptist of Midland. Too bad is wasn’t evident closer to home.

So I will head into Midland to buy some necessary items needed around here. I am not as sharp as I was yesterday, running a seven on the bob scale. There is a headache and the pain level that makes walking not too much fun but I push through that till it gets real bad. Thank God for the pain medication. It helps me keep going. So go I will do. See ya next time I get to this laptop.
I suppose that’s the way it goes. I had an exceptional day yesterday but today is pretty tough. The brain is working fine but I just plain hurt. I can’t think of anything physical I did yesterday to cause this. There are a lots of clouds that have rolled in and the wind is blowing pretty good so perhaps a change in the barometric pressure is behind this. I’ll have to catch the weather and check it out.

We went to Walmart where Cherie got make up and I picked up a gas can and some paint for the tiller. After that we went to Lowe’s. I picked up a chainsaw file that wasn’t made in China. It was made in Brazil so who knows what the quality will be. The first file I bought for the chain saw a few months back dulled before I made it halfway around the blade. Took that back right away and got another brand. It lasted a little longer but broke on me. I priced ten gauge Romex I need to run juice to the garage. That’s some expensive stuff. I only need thrity feet. Then we picked up the concrete sealer for the puppy room. I looked at concrete and mortar to get an idea what it cost. Thinking about building a grill with the stones that are all around here. Don’t have a clue what can handle the heat of a fire so carefully read the labels. All the bags of Quickcrete came premixed with sand and sometimes gravel in it. I came to the bags of Portland Cement and saw the suggested mix of sand and gravel. Hell, I’ve got seventy acres of sand out here and can get plenty of gravel so it just makes sense to get the Portland and mix it up myself. I read that Portland cement is what you put in the clay sand mix to make adobe bricks waterproof. So I think I can use this with the sandy soil out here and make a concrete that is similar in color to the ground. Will have to play with that, experiment till I find the right formula.

The bag of cement weighs ninty four pounds so I had to get some help loading it on the shopping cart and then on the truck. I had a hard time loading a case of Gatorade at Sam’s Club so the cement would have killed me. Just walking has been a chore. The bag is still on the truck and will stay there till I feel up to sliding it out onto the wheelbarrow. I’ll have to keep it in the garage so it doesn’t get wet.

We went to Sam’s next where Cherie picked up on the deals on big packages of meat and vegetables. I was about done for. Cherie suggested we grab a bite to eat so I asked her to make a decision on where. Cherie has a hard time making decisions and I wasn’t feeling good so I got pissed when she waffled around. It wasn’t a good scene. I apologized later. We ended up at Chick-Fil-A. The dweebs pack so much ice in a cup you only get a few swallows of pop. Next time I’ll order mine with no ice.

I was glad to get home. Unfortunately the puppies had pushed open the door to their room and had the run of the house while we were gone. Not good. Poop and piss all over the place. I took another pain pill and both Cherie and I are laying down.

Friday, September 14, 2007

It got interesting.

I've been debating if it is better to chop up the day into shorter posts or keep adding to the day as I've been doing. That makes for some long posts. Today I'm chopping a little so what follows is the continuation of the earlier one for today.

It’s been a busy interesting morning. The first thing we did was to stop by Jim McGillivray’s office. He was in and had one of those “oh God, what does he want” kind of looks when I walked in. We explained how the oil company had problems with my name not being accurate (because “Jr.” wasn’t on it) and wouldn’t switch over the mineral rights. Then we went over the other issues connected with my name not being accurate on everything else connected with the estate. I find it curious that Larry’s name was corrected, as in changed from Larry Westbrook to the legal “Thomas Lawrence Westbrook” but mine was not. Jim wasn’t real enthusiastic at first and stated that he didn’t know how to change it. As things progressed he seemed to figure out I wasn’t going to let it slide and finally called Patrick Duffey, our lawyer.

Seeing Jim’s artwork, which had mostly American Indian themes, I mentioned that he would probably like the Beverly Doolittle prints I had. This hit a chord as he was very familiar with her work. You often see me putting one of her paintings on this blog as is the one at the head of this entry. “That’s the lady who hides things in her pictures isn’t it” Jim exclaimed. Yep. If you look real careful at the one above you can find a wolfs head hidden in the arrangement of stones and land. Click on it to enlarge it and maybe take a step back to see.

We all talked for a while and I told him a short version of my life history with the coma and reunion with Cherie. That started when he asked me about my dad because it is technically his name everything is in. I covered how rocky that relationship was and how Minnie Lee (my grandmother who’s farm we now have) raised me from the age of fourteen. When I mentioned prison Jim seemed to feel better that I had gone because of drugs versus something else. I suspect this has to do with the poisonous words of my brother. We already know some of the stories he had told so there is no telling what kind of impression regarding me he left Jim with.

After we talked Jim seemed to be much more comfortable with me and desirous to help fix the problem. He asked me if I was going to preach again and I explained that it would be hard with the brain damage but I might teach again. Things left off on a positive note.

With that done we went over to the clerks office to register Westbrook Farms as our DBA. That didn’t take much, we just had to walk over to the tax office and get the form notarized and then pay the registration fee. So now we have an official business. It’s not doing anything yet but will soon enough.

After that we stopped by the bank to get some cash. I like to carry twenty bucks or so just in case. Then we decided to stop at Carrols for something to eat. That turned into quite a stop. I pulled up and turned off the truck. After we ordered we sat around waiting for the food to be made. A young lady got my attention through the electric window of her car that was just barely rolling down. She asked if I could give her car a jump as the battery was dead. “Sure, I’d be happy to” I replied with confidence, telling her I had jumper cables. Hopping in the truck I went to start it. Wrrrr,,,click click, was the only sound it made. My battery was dead. It was funny in a sad way. We laughed and shrugged our shoulders, seeing the humor, or at least finding it in the situation.

A Stanton cop had pulled up just when I was going to start the truck so I had asked if he could back his patrol car up so I could pull mine to the lady’s car. Now he’s laughing too and offers to jump start both of us. He gets mine running first and then we go to work on the young lady’s car. That didn’t work at all, not even a click. Seeing she had the cheap add on battery cable ends and that they were corroded I got my pliers out of the truck. Removing the wires I cleaned them as best I could. The policeman said that if we had some coke it is good to pour on corroded ends as the acid cleans them up. I never heard that before but it’s one of those cool little things to know. Hope I remember it. The girl bought a coke so we poured it on the ends. I held them with my hands cupped to hold the coke as the policeman poured. Putting it all back together the car started right up. The girl was visiting from a town two hours away and was grateful for the help. She asked “What do I owe you”. That caught me by surprise. “Nothing” I laughed. “Welcome to Stanton” I told her and the policeman added “Just be glad you ran into the friendly ones instead of the few soreheads” referring to Stanton’s motto and billboard approaching town.

I wish I could remember his name. When all was said and done I introduced myself saying “I don’t believe we’ve met”. Come to find out he is our neighbor living a half mile down the road. I’ve seen the patrol car parked there many times so knew a cop lived there. It’s good to meet him. I made it a point to look at his name tag and repeat his name in my head to try and remember but to no avail. His badge identified him as a sergeant, that I remember. It also had the strip of black tape across the face to signify recognition of the three officers who were killed in Odessa just a few days ago. I don’t remember if I mentioned it but the third officer just died in the hospital. Three men dead because of some lunatic tough guy wanna be wife beater with a gun angry cause the wife called the police. He will be lucky if he makes it to trial and then he will be lucky if he gets a life sentence. Personally I think a life sentence is better than death. Death is an easy out. Life in prison is a miserable existence with no hope of an end, except death.

Cherie has gone to Midland to do some more work at Janie’s. I poked around the truck to see if I could find a cause for the battery going dead. Couldn’t find anything. It’s been showing signs of problems as the truck has been slow to start on occasion. But the rest of the time it is just fine. I’ll go to Midland if it starts back up.

Lots to do

9/14/07 Friday
There was a slight haze on the fields when we got up. Don’t see a cloud in the sky so it looks like it will be a warm day. I am pretty sharp this morning which is always a good way to start. The pain level has been pretty high as I did something to my back that makes walking an exercise in avoiding the particular movements that aggravate it.

Cherie and I both went to the composting seminar as it was at Odessa’s recycling facility, which is also where the “Master Gardeners” have plants and flowers growing. I can’t remember the details on who they are connected to or…well they are master gardeners working to help the public grow stuff. The county extension agent works with them so it might be a part of the city or state. Regardless the class was informative. Unfortunately the worm lady didn’t show up. She was to bring composting worms to be passed out to any who wanted them. That was one of the main things I wanted as I plan on setting up a vermiculture (ie. worm bin) operation. I had to go sit down as standing still hurt too much. We got the composting bin they were giving to all who participating in the class. One of the things I will put on my wish list is something to chop up stuff for the compost and mulch. That will make a big difference compared to what I do now. I have to put everything in my compost piles whole. The sometimes seven foot tall weeds are like small trees with the trunks tough and woody. They don’t break down well at all.

Cherie got her check for the cotton survey work. The timing is great as it takes the pressure off regarding the expense of our trip to Albuquerque for my appointment with the neurologist. We will be able to eat at a place like Denny’s instead of taking bread and peanut butter and catching the dollar menu at McDonald’s. We might even go see the sights and do some shopping. That would be nice and I know Cherie would appreciate it a lot.

It also means I can afford to get stuff like a throttle cable and fan belt for the tiller. I was able to get the motor started on it. Had to take the carburetor back apart and put it together again. There is a little valve thing that is sticking. Couldn’t really solve the problem as it needs a piece of plastic replaced but I did polish it up to help a little. I’ll just have to tap the carburetor sharply with a screw driver or something to knock it loose when it sticks. I think that will work but we will have to wait and see. I’m going online to see if I can find some info on this tiller. It’s an old Sears model. Still have to try and tune the carb as all the adjustment screws are not in their original positions due to my taking the whole thing apart. That ought to be fun.

Cherie will go back to Janie’s today to finish up some laundry and stuff for her. I stopped by there yesterday and scrubbed and washed off their back patio while Cherie was doing some cleaning and a load of our laundry. It is nice that Janie lets us use their washer and dryer. Saves us a few bucks and every little bit helps.

I called Wayne yesterday. He got the package I sent and enjoyed the pictures. He isn’t sure about sending us the money to prevent the state from getting it. I can understand the hesitancy as it is a lot of money but the loan agreement is written in his favor to protect him. It seems that the word has gotten out he has this money as an old friend whom Wayne has not seen in sixteen years called and is driving three or four hours to spend the weekend at Wayne’s. When Wayne told the guy that was fine as long as he paid for his own food and expenses the guy said “I thought you would cover that” or something similar. I told Wayne to be careful and not get taken advantage of. As usual the leaches come out when they smell money. I worry because I know how the MS deteriorates the brain and reduces the ability to make sound judgments and makes him susceptible to manipulation. If we hold the money I can protect Wayne from some of that. I invited Wayne once again to come and visit this winter. It will have to be when the weather is cool as heat is devastating to those with MS.

It’s going to be a busy day. We will start with going to the courthouse and registering Westbrook Farms as our DBA. We also need to see McGilvray regarding how my name is wrong on so much of the documentation. We are still doing Virginia’s job as this is her responsibility as executor of the will. It will be two years this has stretched out in December. That doesn’t set well and brings up a lot of questions regarding how the assets were handled. Now that I’ve requested complete records including copies of all checks written she seems to be dragging her feet. Makes you wonder.

Time to get moving.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


9/12/07 Wednesday
I went to work on the tiller right away. Scrubbed the puppy room floor with bleach to get the pee smell out. We will get a concrete sealer when the CRP check comes. That will help.

The tiller is an old Sears model and wasn’t easy to take apart, at least not for me. I dismantled just about everything starting with the carburetor. Took it apart and cleaned everything up, polishing the jets and stuff that had lots of corrosion on it. Putting all that back together was a problem though because I couldn’t remember how it was put together. Short term memory loss can be inconvenient at times like this. I think I figured it out but who knows.

So it is laying in parts all over the place now. I’ll clean it all up as best I can and then start to work on putting this puzzle back together. I’ve always been good at puzzles.

Mount Sinai Hospital in New York called me this afternoon and interviewed me for about an hour regarding the website they developed for people with traumatic brain injuries and MS. It’s a study I’ve been participating in for about three months. Unfortunately I forget about it so haven’t used the website as much as I should. I did suggest to the interviewer that they have the site send reminders in the email once a week or so because people with short term memory loss need that to help them remember. She though that was a great idea and will bring it up with her boss.

I pretty much spent the whole day working on the tiller. It killed my back so I had to take some pain pills. Won’t be much fun tomorrow but I do what I have to do regardless of how much it hurts. Short entry today so night all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cool front rolled in

9/11/07 Tuesday
Yesterday was one of those rough days. Even after the brain cleared up I still wasn’t on top of things, mostly because these seizures suck all the energy out and leave me exhausted.

Last night a cold front moved in. That brought big rain with it falling at a rate of two inches and hour west of us. That leaves everything soaked. I will drop the tomatoes I picked for Janie’s boss off at Halliburton. Cherie will run with me into Midland (That way we conserve on gas). I’ll drop her off at Janie’s where she will do some cleaning and stuff to help Janie out. She has a list of things for me to do such as shopping for food essentials while we are in town. We try to be as efficient as possible and get as much done as we can while in Midland. At forty miles round trip it costs six or so dollars to go there and back.

I’m going to see if I can pick up the tiller I traded with Chuck for. Don’t remember if I wrote about it before, let me go check real quick. Nope. Yesterday Chuck came by to take me up on my offer to give him one of the refrigerated air conditioners Cherie’s nephew had given us when we left Toledo. We never put them in because the cords had been cut off and there is no outlet on the window wall of our bedroom where it would go. Besides that the electric bills would kill us and Steve, Janie, and gang had gifted us with the evaporative air unit. Anyway, one of Chucks air conditioners had been killed by lightning so they were in need. I traded him both units for one of his tillers. It doesn’t run but I am betting on being able to get it started. Then it will get a workout. Janie hasn’t been able to get a hold of the farmer who said he would till around the house. If she can’t I will till the whole acre with the one I get from Chuck. It’s the kind with a lawnmower engine and is two or three feet wide. I don’t know if it is self propelled or not. Never have used or been around one before so this is another learning experience. Hell, even if I had used one in the past (before the accident) I wouldn’t remember anyway. Pretty much everything has been a learning experience since I woke up.

I finally sent my oldest son, Bruce, an email. He’s a sheriff in Toledo and the recent shootings and deaths of two police officers in Odessa have put him more on my mind. Hopefully I will remember to set up an account with Flicker so I can send pictures to him, the youngest son, and anyone else I email.

Time to go.
4:30 – We just got back from Janie’s. Went there about 1:00 but I couldn’t get in. The key worked and turned in the lock and everything but I couldn’t get the door open. I called Janie and she said she had deadbolted the lock so to try the back door. We ran to Rosie’s and got the Taco Tuesday special and then came back. I couldn’t get the back door open either. Got pretty frustrated and told Cherie to get in the car cause we would have to go home. Cherie sat there a second and said “I’m going to try my key” and got out. I let her know that I didn’t think she would be able to, “If I can’t get in I don’t think you will do much better” kind of attitude. She came back in moments to let me know she opened the door no problem. Ok, just set me down a bit. So much for the macho stuff. Still can’t figure why I couldn’t get the door open.

So Cherie started cleaning and doing some of the laundry Janie had out and I ran to the store to buy milk and eggs. When I got back I vacuumed and took out the trash. Then we went home.

We did make it over to Chuck and Lillian’s to pick up the tiller. He had two there that he had picked up from some old guy they did some work for. Neither one of them run so need work. The biggest one was the one I thought would be best but looking at it raised some doubts. There was no oil I could see inside it and there was a plug missing on the side so I decided to look at the other one. It seems to have less potential issues but I really don’t know squat about them so it’s a roll of the dice either way. I took the smaller one.

I went to the composting seminar Eric had told me about this evening. There was lots of information thrown out during the two hour session but it was coming faster than I could absorb it. Can’t remember much of what was taught. I hate that. After it was over I stayed to ask about some kind of Rye grass that helps kill off some kind of nematode. Somewhere in the conversation reading an article in the newspaper came up. I said that I really don’t get to read the paper much except the Sunday edition and that it was ironic cause there had been an article about me. This brought up the story that I love to tell. You know cause I tell it here enough. The accident, the coma, memory loss, wandering homeless, on TV as Toledo’s John Doe, being reunited with my wife after seventeen years of not seeing or hearing from each other. And the best part, the one that makes everyone smile, and the part of the story I like best, how we figured out we still love each other and remarried. It always brings a smile and blesses those who hear and I like doing that.

So that was the day, except all the parts I forget. Night all

Monday, September 10, 2007

hard right now

9/10/07 Monday
Got off to a decent start this morning but I can’t really remember it. It will come back as I work to remember, maybe.

The rain filled up anything it could. The wheelbarrow with it’s small load of pumpkins, the compost bucket, the puppy pool, and who knows what else. I am pretty slow right now, running a three on the bob scale. I was fabricating a thing with window screen to see how well it worked protecting a plant from the bugs. Cherie came out and asked how I was doing. She could tell from my furrowed brow I was slow. I didn’t know it till I started talking to her. She’s good at seeing it. She went into midland. I picked tomatoes. Many are split from the rain. Janie’s boss wants some so that’s why I picked them. They aren’t the best cause I don’t use bug spray. One of the plants has something killing it off. Don’t know if it is a disease or bugs. Whole branches are dying.

I think I need to rest. Hopefully I will clear up. I made a reservation with? For? (Not sure what word to use. That happens when I’m slow) a seminar on composting. I guess it is a two day seminar. Eric emailed to let me know about it. I appreciate when friends do things like that. There was something else I was just going to write but it’s gone now. Brain damage is like being stoned sometimes. Sucks. But I am alive so that’s the blessing. I’m wandering now so will rest. got a headache too. just came up

Sunday, September 09, 2007

9/9/07 Sunday
It is a beautiful morning from the standpoint of the atmosphere outside. It’s nice and cool with some clouds reducing the amount of direct sunlight. Keeps it cooler. The puppies pushed open the door this morning, thus escaping their “prison” of the puppy room, and also “thus” waking us up and demanding we get moving. They ran around full of energy, joyfully expressing how glad they were to see us and confirm we are still here after their nightlong seclusion.

It’s also a beautiful morning from the standpoint of my mental acuity not being slow. I’m running a seven on the bob scale, a level I consider to be average. I was going to bake four dozen cookies last night to take to the Sunday school class as a thank you for what they have done for us but Cherie said that it this might offend whomever was scheduled to bring in the snacks they always have. That upset me a bit. All I wanted to do was show appreciation but Cherie, knowing my lack of social skills decided it would be more politically correct to not do so. So the cookies didn’t get cooked. I had so wanted to make something with the pumpkins we grew.

Speaking of pumpkins, the garden is overrun with beetles. When I went to pick the last of the pumpkins I found many of them covered with hundreds of them. That is probably the reason the vines are all dying off. The squash is in the same condition. These beetles are evidently boring holes into the squash and pumpkins and laying eggs or something inside them. I broke open a pumpkin and found it trashed and yucky inside. There are another eighty to a hundred squash left but I’m not going to bother and harvest them. We can’t get rid of the ones I already picked and I am sure many of them still on the ground have been violated by the beetles. I’ll have to look up how to combat this organically for next year.

I’m going to gather what’s left and compost it. Wish I had the worm bin I plan on getting started. This would be great food for them. Can’t build that yet for the area I will put it is where some of the dead big mulberry limbs will fall when I cut them. I can’t do that till the October CRP check comes in. That money will enable us to buy a new chain for the chainsaw. The mulberry wood is so hard it dulls the chain in a matter of minutes but it’s the best firewood I’ve ever seen. Burns hot and long with almost no smoke and leaving very little ash behind.
We had a big electrical storm roll over. Cap Rock Electric seems to have the area wired pretty good as the lightning knocked the lights off about five times and the power always returned in seconds. My main worry during these is the well. Lightning would fry the pump every two years or so when my grandmother lived here. Hopefully the installation Leroy put in will hold up better. I think it will but time tells all.

I baked the pumpkin cookies I wanted to cook yesterday. Mostly I’m anxious to see how good the pumpkins we grew are. I was disappointed. There wasn’t much pumpkin flavor at all. We will have to play with this to get the maximum flavor out. Maybe we need to cook it down more or just use more than the recipe called for. The recipe was for canned pumpkin, not fresh. I ended up making a lemon glaze to make the cookies worth eating. Not bad but not as good as I expected. It’s late and working over the kitchen counter is what kills my back so I’m gona call it a night. Perhaps I will work on the Balaam’s ass bible study.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Today I started refinishing the headboard I recovered from the landfill. It is all counter high work and thus kills my back. There was lots of leftover pain from yesterday but even though I am not lifting any significant weight this is much harder than cutting the wood. It’s always been that way. Washing dishes kills me but I can split wood with a maul just fine. It’s the slight stoop to work at a countertop level that does it.

Bugs just mauled one of the herbal plants I was hoping would do well. Ate everything down to the stem. I’m going to break down and start using a pesticide. Especially for the apple trees till they get stronger. The amaranth was already demolished by caterpillars. Organic is hard to do when you start up.

I’ve got a problem with my Microsoft Office stuff. Microsoft’s website said part of what I have is not genuine. It’s the One Note part that isn’t working right. I went to bring it up and it said I needed to install it but the number on our CD package isn’t coming up as valid. I looked at the disk and see it is an upgrade. Now I remember, we bought this computer with Office already installed and then purchased the upgrade to the small business edition. I’m going to try to reinstall it and hope I don’t screw everything up.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Have to, not supposed to

9/7/07 Friday
You can tell when it’s been hard by the shortness and lack of journal entries. Didn’t write anything yesterday at all. Don’t know what I did other than a few fragments of memory. I called Janie to see how she was doing. I cut wood yesterday and again this morning. There are things the doctors tell me I’m not supposed to do but things that must be done. Cutting firewood for winter is one of those. It simply has to be done cause it’s needed for us to stay warm in the winter. I’m not supposed to lift heavy weights and even when I cut them small the pieces of tree trunk weigh about seventy five pounds. I backed the truck through the bar ditch to get as close as I could to the wood I cut. That saved me some pain. I took another pain pill after I got done despite it being more than I’m supposed to. Had to strip down and stand in front of the air with a towel to cool down. Swear I could have squeezed two cups of water out of my t shirt. There is still a lot of the tree left at the pond that I will need to remove but I’ll have to finish that later. I’m done for right now, worn and in pain. The poor chain saw isn’t keeping up well. I broke the file used to sharpen the chain but used the pieces as best I could to sharpen it up. I’ll buy a new one when Cherie’s check comes next week.

There are a lot of pictures we took over the last few days. They help me remember some of what happened. There was a pipe pulling rig at the oil well across the highway. They were up and running in a heartbeat and pulled all the pipe from the oil well and put it back. That’s probably a mile or two of pipe. You can see these rigs all over so this must be a regular part of maintaining the wells. Steve was telling me about some of the nasty conditions down deep in the earth, including bacteria that eats metal. Wow.

The puppies are growing so fast. I picked up Rascal the other day and he was a handful to say the least. These guys are such a blessing. I remember when I saw the Steve who is a Sunday school teacher at the first church of Stanton that I told him we got the puppies. His remark was “Good, that should help you not feel so lonely”. I thought it was a callous thing to say. Here they were realizing how lonely we felt but not visiting or even calling and then it’s good we got puppies to help. I suppose that made them feel better about things.

But the puppies are fantastic company and love without conditions. Even when they get in trouble they snuggle up for their pets. Actually, especially when they get in trouble. I love it when Rascal comes up and lays his head on my leg, looking up at me with that expressive face.

I’ve been laying down for two hours now and the pain has subsided, partly from the medication. So it’s time to get up, get dressed, and get something else done.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Another slow start

9/5/07 Wednesday
We got the puppies to the vet for their final shots. They won’t need any more till a year from now. That’s good cause the $120.00 it just cost is a chunk at this juncture in the road. We had to get the shots se we could kennel them when we drive to Albuquerque on the eighteenth for my appointment with the neurologist. The only other expense we have coming up with the puppies is getting them fixed. We’ll do that next month when the yearly CRP check comes in. That check will help us with a lot of things that need to be taken care of.

Right now I am going through a partial seizure. It’s effecting the physical control side of my brain. Lately these come with a strange metallic taste in my mouth. That is particularly strong at the moment. At least I got some weeds hoed down this morning and the dogs to the vet. I never know how long these things take or how bad they will get. It’s steady downhill now and I am struggling to find words as I write. Wasn’t that bad when I started this post. Cherie is heading out to the laundrymat. She will probably be a while because so much laundry has piled up. I think I will just shut this down till I clear up. See ya then.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

9/4/07 Tuesday
It’s already 2:00. Been out working in the yard. Watered and added more goat crap to the compost pile I am building. Tired. Cherie went to Midland. I am slow which is made worse by the fit of anger I had because of the dogs. They dug up one of the apple trees I’ve been nursing so carefully. Dug all around it destroying some of the roots and even broke the stake that held it up. The tree was left setting loose in the whole. I exploded when I saw it. If the dogs had been near I would have beat them. That’s not good. I think I must nap now.

Hasn’t been the best day, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. Can’t remember what I did other than hoeing crabgrass and setting up more compost. Was slow all day. Been fighting a nasty headache on top of a poor attitude. Tomorrow will be better because I will choose so.

Monday, September 03, 2007


9/3/07 Monday
Labor day? Just another day to me. We got out and finished the cotton survey this morning. It’s a lot better in the morning coolness. Got back before 11:00. After Cherie fixed me the peanut butter on toast with honey mixed in I grabbed the chainsaw and headed out to cut firewood. Got to have it to stay warm this winter. I went to the pond, or tank as they call it here, that is a quarter mile down the road. I got permission to do this several months ago as there are a lot of good size trees and many are dead. Somehow my yankee mind thought they were mesquite trees. I don’t know where I got that idea but I walked all around examining the trees before I asked permission. When I got to cutting I noticed the wood was white and that there were no thorns. Getting out my knife I cut the wood and found it isn’t even a hardwood. That sucks. It means it will be crap as far as firewood goes. It’ll burn fast and probably creosote up the chimney. But it will make heat. Fortunately I have plenty of dead wood in the mulberry tree so I’ll get to cutting that.

I need to finish what I started over at the tank just to be responsible and clean up. I cut a huge limb that was hanging over the cotton field and was clearly in the way so at least I helped the guy out.

Janie, you would love this place as there are tons of dove taking shelter here. I could have gotten my quota (if they run quotas for hunting dove here) with a pellet gun. I’d guess there are fifty or more dove on this half acre plot. I can tell dove season started as you can hear shotguns in the distance, especially in the morning. That might be why there are so many here. It’s a safe haven and they’ve been fleeing areas active with hunters.

So I cut wood and carefully stacked the brush where it would be out of the way till the chainsaw wouldn’t start. It jammed up earlier and I couldn’t figure out why the chain was stuck so I loaded it up and came home to take it apart. Just as I started to I noticed the safety bar that is designed to stop the chain in an emergency. Nuts, That’s why. I did this last year also and of course didn’t remember so had to learn all over again. Now I think it’s flooded so came home after trying to start it till I got a blister. Besides I am already worn out. “I can tell you’re pooped” were the first words out of Cherie’s mouth when I came home. It don’t take much anymore. So I took a pain pill, got out of the soaked t shirt, and stood in front of the air conditioner. Now I’m laying down.

I haven’t been wearing the new brace for carpal tunnel I got the last time I was at the VA cause the lady said you’re not supposed to wear them during the day, just at night when you sleep. I don’t know about that cause it sure helps when I’m doing stuff that puts a strain on the wrist. My wrist is pretty painful now so I’m gonna wear that thing no matter what the VA lady said.

There was a news article online about Bob Woodruff, the ABC reporter who sustained a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. He’s back at work though he won’t do live reports. That’s because he has difficulty finding the right words and stuff similar to what I have to work through. It’s good to hear he’s back working. I will be too but it will take a while, mostly due to a lack of resources. He’s got a strong support system with his family and friends and the finances to provide the best care possible. Things are much better now for me in that regard. There is no family here for me but…I guess I should say there is no blood relatives who talk much less help in anyway with the exception of my sister in San Antonio who at least exchanges emails with me. We now have family in a manner of speaking with the friends we have met through this blog. As far as resources to get back to work that regards making this a working farm of some type. We can’t afford to purchase necessary equipment like a tractor or the supplies such as trees, irrigation, fertilizers, or anything else. Hell we can’t afford a lawnmower so it will be a long road for me to get to work. My job now is working to create my job.

This computer is giving me fits. The Microsoft Word program is tying up and bogging things down. I went online to see what I could find and downloaded a program from PC Performance that found 911 errors that did this. Great except I’d have to buy their $29.99 program to fix it. Assholes. Hate when they do that. Obviously I’m a bit frustrated. Time to start a fire to grill hamburgers. By the way there are no bees evident outside. They may just be all trapped under the house. I’ll look tonight.

What a journey to hell this just was. Went to post this on the blog and found the controls wouldn’t let me do certain tasks like click on the “open” button. Then the “system restore” was totally inaccessible. Nothing worked. I fought it for two hours with my temper growing ever shorter. Finally, after lots of effort, I was able to restart this computer. I then accessed “system restore” while the computer was still booting up and was able to do that. It seems to be better now. I think that program that found 911 errors and wanted my money to fix them did this to my laptop because I didn’t buy. The Word program I’m writing this with is still boggy.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


9/2/07 Sunday
We made it to church on time this morning. Always a nice thing to do. The sermon was on the parable of the sower and the seed where the seed fell on different kinds of ground. As the pastor taught I recalled the pictures of the winter wheat we had planted and the task of looking for and harvesting it. I had planned on posting it on the Balaam’s ass blog with a lesson on this parable, but like many things this never happened. In fact I have yet to post one thing on that blog despite getting it started up.

Wally is back from San Antonio. He asked if we would like to go out for lunch after church stating that he craved adult company after watching six year olds for however long it was. Jen will make it back sometime next week.

They started on Mathew at Sunday school and as the teacher taught I again longed to teach as well. But I’ve rolled this through my head for a while now and realize it just wouldn’t be appropriate. Another illustration helping me understand how unfit I am to do so was the conversation I had with Paul at the barbeque. I tell him I’d like to teach and then that when I woke up from the coma I no longer had the conviction that God exists. I’m sure that scared him. These lacks of connection are disturbing for me. At the time I didn’t understand how ludicrous that must have sounded. “Hey, I want to teach about the God I’m not sure is there”. What church in their right mind would approve that. Ok, there are a few but certainly not this one.

There’s a guy in our class that is involved in the prison ministry. He asked if I would like to participate. At first I wanted to like I want to do everything but as we talked I was able to think that through. First of all there are the multiple felonies on my record but beyond that is the fact that I can’t rely on this brain to operate. When there is stress and new surroundings it goes into overload and freezes up, sometimes leaving me pretty much non functional. I explained that and Dave seemed to understand.

Wally took us to Outback Steakhouse. I discussed this issue of teaching with him and as always his advice was sage. My pain level was pretty high this morning. You can tell because I don’t do the stand up, sit down, and stand up again during the church service. It just hurts too much. I sit there and wonder what folks behind me think as I keep my butt planted while everyone else is participating. While at the restaurant one of the headaches started rising up but I think I played through ok. It’s here full force now.

We talked of other things like the garden. Wally said he would be interested in doing something with me on that next season but I’m not sure what he has in mind. We came straight home after that instead of doing some shopping because I’m not feeling great.

Cherie has gone shopping. I’m laying down and not very motivated. Probably should take a nap.