Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not the best start

9/30/08 Tuesday
It’s not the best start for a day. My mind is operating at the stupid level, that would be a three on the bob scale thing I use. Judging from the amount of time I’ve spent on the toilet the last two days I may be fighting off some kind of stomach illness on top of being slow. Whether one affects the other I don’t know.

I called the VA number but had a hard time talking with them. They asked for my discharge date and I don’t have a clue when that was and guessed at what year it was. After explaining the brain damage she asked to talk to Cherie. I told her Cherie was at work. The lady gave me an address and said to have Cherie mail a pay check stub. I’m sure that the disability check we get tomorrow will have to be repaid so will be careful not to spend it.

There is lots to do and I hope I do well at doing it. With Cherie working I have duties around the house now. The outside dogs barked all night long. I got up at 3:30 to see if there was something out there. Not that I could tell. Putting them in the kennel still isn’t working. They started digging out from the small area in the middle that was not covered with the plywood. The plywood I had recovered from the landfill to use in the “seed shack” I was insulating and wiring up to use for starting seeds. Just another unfinished project. I’m so tired of not accomplishing goals.

I’ve been mowing weeds so much I’ve neglected the hand watering I need to do. The pumpkins and melons are all suffering. Everything else has soaker hoses and I’ve been able to do that. It’s just turning on the hose and setting the alarm on my phone so is much easier. Except when I forget to turn it off.

I’m just exhausted from no sleep but don’t have time to sleep so got to go. We still have lots of fleas despite bombing the entire house and treating every animal.
My frustration level is high as well as my anger. Went out to water the pumpkins and was shocked at what I saw. In my mind I haven’t watered in two weeks because of the rain we had but the reality is it has almost been a month. I’ve been focused on mowing weeds and because of that other things escaped my mind, things like the rest of the garden. The once proud pumpkin plants have been decimated by squash bugs. Before I went to Toledo to bury my friend I had been out watering and going through them plant by plant killing the squash bugs and scraping off their eggs. Now they are there by the thousands. I was hoping to make about a thousand dollars off of the nearly two hundred plants but will be lucky to make anything. My timing was wrong when I planted them anyway.

I work as hard as I can every day but it isn’t enough. The three days I work for the old man are cutting into my farm time heavily. I just feel like more of a man when I can do some work for someone and the few bucks I make are good to have. Then I try to do things for others we know. But I can’t keep up at home. With Cherie working the okra and peppers are not getting picked. That was something she was doing. Now there’s a ton of okra that is too old and thus no good. I’ve done some of the house work Cherie asked but have yet to clean the cat litter. I don’t want to accept that I can’t do what I used to. I don’t.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Friday was a really hard day

9/29/08 Monday
Friday was a really hard day. I don’t remember all that happened but know it was a bad day because I didn’t make it to the farmer’s market. Part of what I can remember is that I discovered that some idiot at the post office sent my medication back to the VA labeled “Not deliverable as addressed”. The VA has been sending my medication to the same address, in the same manner, for almost two years now. We’ve been having problems with the Stanton post office ever since we moved down here and the paranoid part of me wonders if someone is doing it on purpose. There are six items of mail we have documented as sent and never arrived. Two of them are letters our lawyer sent and one of them he had to resend twice before it found its’ way to our mail box. When I went to the post office to inquire about the medication, after going on line and seeing the VA sent it out on the tenth, the lady I talked to asked my name. Upon hearing it she immediately said “That’s box 1176” being completely familiar with it. So, what’s the problem? What’s going on here? It just doesn’t sound right. The VA is overnighting the medication.

I can’t remember much of Saturday either though that might come later. We went to Odessa to buy tickets to the “Huey Lewis and the News” concert sometime and that may have been Saturday.

Sunday we didn’t make it to church. The reason was our frantic preparations to bug bomb this house. One of the strays brought fleas with it and it didn’t take long for them to infest five dogs and five cats. Finally getting the bombs set up and going we headed out. Seeing we would be late we decided to head to Janie’s early to help her clean out and semi organize her garage. When we got there I informed Janie that she had us till two o’clock after which we had to go. I figured we would be there longer and we were but we needed to clean up after bug bombing and get ready for the concert.

The concert was great. The greatest part was seeing Cherie smile, the goal of my life, or at least one of my top priorities. This is the first concert I can remember sitting through. All the rest I remember I was standing and jamming. When I stood up I was asked to sit down by folks an isle over. Resisting the urge to tell them to get off their ass and have a good time I sat down. The only time everyone stood was when Huey said “Stand up and dance”.

After the concert I tried to recall all the concerts I’ve seen over my life. It’s hard not only because of the memory losses but because I was so high and drunk for most of them they were a blur. Let’s see, Jethro Tull, Steppenwolf a couple of times, BTO, Ted Nugent, James Gang, ZZ Top twice, Kansas, Sammy Hagar, Blue Oyster Cult, Fleetwood Mac, and … I’ll add to this list later if I remember more. There are twice this many. Oh yeah, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, Boston, Morris Day and the Time. That’s it for now.
I went to do some work for the old man but only lasted an hour. He wasn’t there, having a doctor’s appointment, so isn’t aware I left earlier than the twelve o’clock I usually work to. I’ll have to write this down or I won’t remember to tell him. Last week, when he paid me, I said he paid me too much because I had what day it was mixed up. I seem to be having more bad spells lately so the slow down part of the cycle has returned. Right now my ears are ringing, I’m dizzy, and have a metallic taste in my mouth so another seizure is on it’s way. Sucks as always.
I pretty much lost the whole day. Haven’t had it that bad in a while. Cherie took half a day off and took me to the VA hospital in Big Spring so we could tell them she has a full time job now. They gave us a phone number to call. John Woodward, the guy we know who’s running for sheriff, stopped by. I was wakened by the dogs barking and probably looked quite a sight staggering out in my socks. We talked a short time and he gave me an election sign to put up in front of the house. I wish I was in better shape cause I would have liked to talk some but headed straight back to bed when he left.

Jamie and Tommy came by to pick up the air conditioners the old man asked me to find a home for so I got back up. I was surprised to see it was after six. I went down to the store and helped them get the air conditioners and again headed home and went to bed. Had a headache on top of everything else. The paralysis on my right side is pronounced as it often is during these times. I suppose the part of my brain they taught to operate the right leg has a hard time when I’m like this.

I hope tomorrow will be better.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jail break

9/25/08 Thursday
I just got back from helping the old guy. It’s a shame I can’t feel comfortable using his name. As I looked over my writing I realized that many in Stanton could interpret it as a condemnation of the entire community and that would be inaccurate. I think that there is only a small number of people who are a problem. In fact it only takes one in a close knit community to stir things up, like the bible says “See how great a fire a small spark causes” referring directly to gossip. So I’ve done an injustice to the rest. Sorry.

Our Morning Glories that are growing so well
I’m pretty tired as I often am by this time of the day (it’s noon) so I’m laying down and will probably take a nap. Yesterday I cleaned out a lot of stuff for the old guy and we took it to the dump. Some of it was heavy and by the time I got home I was hurting pretty bad so didn’t get much done around the farm. Hopefully I can make up for that today.

John and Wally stopped by yesterday to get an idea of what we need help with. Our church family is planning on coming out as a group and do a bunch of stuff, like fix the chimney and do some painting indoors. It will be a good time of fellowship and we will probably have a barbeque and food. I look forward to that. This is the kind of thing we hoped would happen with the Stanton church but instead never got one visitor or even a phone call for over a year. But when some closed their door God opened another and we are blessed.

Unfortunately, when I looked at the chimney elbows we had ordered in May to correctly install the chimney I discovered they were the wrong type and won’t fit at all. Nuts. I probably can’t return or exchange them now so must hurry up and order the correct ones. Fortunately our finances are in much better shape so we can afford to do so.

The dogs broke out of the kennel again. The first night they tunneled out and the second they found a weak spot in the fencing and forced their way out leaving a hole they then used as a door. I repaired that so hope it will hold them.

I’m struggling to stay awake so will nap now. Yesterday, after working for the old guy I conked out for over three hours.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What a wonder she is!!!

9/23/08 Tuesday
Well I’m up and moving and had my breakfast so I’m ready to go. One of the first things I want to tackle is putting some old plywood down in the kennel. The dogs tunneled out last night. Yesterday I picked up an old refrigerator at the landfill that I will use as my vermicomposting (worms) bin. I’ll drill holes in the bottom, or technically the back, for drainage. It will lay on it’s back and I’ll keep the doors propped open to provide air. Refrigerator’s are good because of their insulation which helps keep temperatures in a healthy range for the worms. These little guys can make some of the best fertilizer you can find. I got some worms at the composting seminar, just hope they are still alive.

Then it’s back to mowing. And mowing. I ran over a brick yesterday and broke the lawnmower blade so we ran to Sears and got a new one last night. Then we went to the mall because I was hungry for something sweet after the chicken dinner that Cherie made. There wasn’t anything that looked good (I really wanted some apple pie) so we walked around the mall. Going into a jewelry store that is closing, so everything is on sale, we looked at wedding rings and Cherie checked out earrings. We’ve been married four years but never could afford wedding rings so don’t have any. We didn’t get any but a ring caught Cherie’s eye. Seeing how her eyes brightened up when she tried it on I encouraged her to buy it. She did.

It is so nice to be able to do simple things like that, to be able to afford little things. We had a great time just spending time together and again marveled that God had brought us back together and restored our marriage, and for that matter our lives. Even after four years it still boggles my mind when I look at Cherie’s beautiful face next to me. I mean, she’s here, really here with me after a seventeen year absence that left me empty. I hope that wonder will never cease, actually I’m pretty sure it never will. It is so good to be whole again, to be complete with my mate for life. Oh, things were hard at first as we both had to learn and adapt to each other and because things were financially on an edge (to put it mildly). But these hardships just brought us closer and cemented our relationship as we learned to hold each other up, learned to depend on each other. It was real hard on Cherie as she had, uhmm, still has to deal with the effects of my brain injury. Part of that is the anger issues that come up so easily. And there is the fact that I need to be…taken care of? guided? That’s not quite right so how do I describe it? I guess you would say that I am a child in some ways who needs to be reminded of what I need to do and sometimes told that I’m not behaving right. It is so exciting to be building this life together and a wonder to me how things are looking up for our future. God how I look forward to the years ahead.

Got to go to work now so see ya whenever I’m back.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Start of another week

9/22/08 Monday
It’s the start of another week. We put the three outside dogs in the kennel for the first time last night. That seemed to work well and they didn’t bark late into the night as they sometimes do. Of course they were whining to get out before the sun came up. The kennel is outside our bedroom window so they can hear when we get up. When it started getting light I let Rascal and Trixie out of the house and then released the others. They were happy to see me as they are every morning, jumping on me and craving pets. So I started the day with mud on my t-shirt. After letting them out I went back inside and watched some news for perhaps ten minutes. Then I went back out to replenish their food. Damn, Gretchen was in the process of eating a watermelon she had just broken open. I was hoping the kennel would stop that but it’s not to be. I guess I can’t blame her cause watermelon must taste just as good to a dog as it does to us.

John, a friend from church, called last night to ask if I could make a list of things we need done around here. I asked Cherie to look up his email address and she informed that they had sent me an email a week ago requesting the same thing. I had forgotten and never followed up on that, just another example of the problems short term memory loss causes. Everyone I talk to has this kind of thing happen and the older they get the more of a problem it becomes, with some exceptions of course. It’s just a bit worse with me, quite a bit. So, now that it’s on my mind, I need to make the list right away for with any distraction I will forget again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Always catch up time

9/21/08 Sunday
It’s always catch-up time with this journal lately. I’m not sure what that means. Is it because I’m working more? Right now I can’t put my finger on it but I’m not too sharp at the moment. We took a bunch of bell peppers and stuff that didn’t sell at the farmer’s market to church. I told everyone in our Sunday school that we didn’t want any money for the vegetables, just want to give it to them. That worked, it all disappeared and that’s a lot better than having it spoil. Besides they have been so good to us it’s nice to do anything, no matter how small, in return.

After church we went to the Cotton Patch for lunch. It’s so nice to be able to afford to do that now. When we first got to Texas we lived on mostly peanut butter and jelly along with beans and cornbread. Buying a hamburger was a luxury then. Things have improved greatly since then and continue to look up. We are blessed.

While at the restaurant I began to fade. Cherie looked at me and said “You’re wearing out fast”. I guess it was pretty easy to see. It’s so strange to me. I can have a great energy level and then in a matter of minutes drop to where I just want to lay my head on the table and go to sleep. I almost had Cherie drive me home but don’t make a good passenger. When we got here I took a pain pill, all that sitting and standing in church can bring out the pain, and went to bed. After two hours I got up and am writing this now. I’m a little slow, running a six on the bob scale.

Yesterday Don called to ask if he could come over and help with things. He reads the blog regular so knows some of the challenges I have. He asked what I wanted his help with and I wasn’t sure what to answer. Don has spent a year trying to recover from an infection in his foot and leg along with a lot of complications. He’s diabetic and on dialysis so that makes any kind of infection a serious matter. So after a year of being on crutches and for a period confined to using a wheelchair he is finally able to get out and about. As you might expect, this freedom, this release from being constrained to home unless accompanied is like being released from prison so Don is getting busy. He helped me put up the kennel, pick up fence panels out of the weeds, and mowed some. He outworked me or at least outlasted me. It’s frustrating to not be able to keep going for me. I had to come in the house, take a pain pill, and lay down for a second. Out the window I could see Don pushing the lawn mower through the heavy weeds and just couldn’t stay in. It doesn’t feel right to have someone helping me without me being there. He worked a little longer and had to head home. Rascal and Trixie were both aggressive towards Don, barking and barking despite me yelling “NO”. We really need to work on them about that.

So now that I’m up I need to get to work. It’s 4:43 and I’ve not done much other than go to church and lunch though I did pick up the garbage the dogs got into last night. I think I’ll put the sunscreen cloth on top of the kennel and get back to mowing weeds. I was showing the garden to Don and was surprised to see some melons that weren’t broken open though they all show scars from where the dogs (Probably Gretchen) pawed at them in an attempt to break them open. Hopefully putting them in the kennel will stop or reduce that. Regardless I’ll need to put fences up for there are coyotes and lots of other creatures out in this desert to keep out of the garden. Gophers are a little harder because they tunnel at around eighteen inches deep and are small enough to slip through most wire fencing.
I wrote all of that and went online to post it, but forgot to. Typical.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Helping say goodbye

9/17/08 Wednesday
It’s been real busy and today will be no different. Need to go work for the old guy this morning but the dogs need to be at the vet by 11:30.

9/18/08 Thursday
Sorry I haven’t been writing. Have been busy, busy, for days now. Mowing has been a big part of that but I’ve been helping two people let go of memories. Both of them have lost a loved one. One lost his son after the son’s thirty of forty years of fighting one of those debilitating diseases that leave you unable to walk or do much at all. As I cleaned and organized a building for this person I pulled together all the wheelchairs and wheel chair parts. Once it was all in one placed I looked at it and realized…This is a memorial, just a faint glimpse into a lifetime with a disability that robbed so much. I see all the worn out wheel chairs, including three powered ones, and the broken and worn parts in boxes. These are like old cars driven till they won’t drive anymore and replaced. How hard this was, hard to be the son but equally hard on the father who obviously cared so deeply. There is a sadness in the old man’s soul. The kind of sadness that comes with a lifetime of watching your child face the effects of this implacable disease for thirty of forty years. I never asked him about it so don’t really know how long it was but somewhere in that range.

The other person is a widow Cherie and I know. Her husband died a year or five ago. Again I didn’t feel comfortable asking about it but she has a house full of memories that have turned into clutter. So many things that were gathered over the decades of a long marriage but now it’s time to clean up. She would pick up something and tell me the story connected to it and then make a decision whether or not to keep it. Each decision came with pain and a little guilt as she felt giving something up was a violation of some type. I was there to help and began to see my job as helping her say goodbye and encouraging her to let go of these items. I’ll be helping her several days over the next few weeks and will take much of the stuff to Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity so it will help someone else. This sombrero was included so I gave it to Miracle. You regular readers know who Miracle is as I’ve written about her and her family. Just type “Miracle” into the search engine at the top and it will take you there.

Weeds growing around and through some fencing sections I was unable to put up

As usual when I haven’t written for a while it’s the pictures that remind me of where I’ve been and what’s been going on. Lots of stuff still gets lost in this mind but that’s ok. I’ve been bustin my butt to catch up on the weeds and garden but it doesn’t seem like I’ve done much at all. Working for the old guy and helping our other friend cut into my time here at the farm but helping others is my heart and what gives value to life so I don’t regret it at all.

So I’ve been mowing and mowing. I’m only about halfway through despite being on it for a week and the weeds keep growing so it’s getting hard for the mower to handle. I’ll get on it again this morning while it’s still cool out. The temperatures are cooling down, a sign that winter is on its way.

This brings up another problem I must deal with. We still haven’t repaired the hole in the wall from the fire we had last winter. I’ve gotten materials and ordered the final piece I need for the chimney but just don’t have the ability or know how to finish the job. I can’t remember if someone was going to help or not, I just know it’s not done and winter is on the way. Because we don’t have a furnace and heat the house with the woodstove getting this done is vital. I just can’t do it by myself. On top of that rain and sand are getting into the wall and this can cause some permanent damage. Till I can get it fixed we’ll just put extra blankets on the bed on the cold nights. At least I have lots of wood already cut for this winter. Hopefully there is enough.

I picked up this tank at the landfill. I had been hoping to get a roll of fencing but it was gone. I sure needed it but there was no way I could lift it by myself. We’ve noticed the difference in how well the plants do when it rains versus using the well water. It’s a dramatic one. I’ve always wanted to “harvest” rainwater but having a tank or cistern to hold it is a vital part of that. It’s my hope that I can repair the damage and use this for that purpose.

We also bought a 10’x 10’ foot kennel. This is to keep the outside dogs contained at night and provide protection from the coyotes. I also hope it will reduce the damage they are wreaking on the garden, mostly in the melon patches. I’ve lost hundreds of dollars now because they break open every melon when it’s starting to get ripe. Take thirty or forty watermelons that I can sell for seven bucks apiece and it adds up pretty quick. Building fences is becoming a badly needed thing but once again it’s not something I can do by myself. I was going to ask our Sunday school friends for help when they approached us to see what we needed most. That can be a long list.Click to enlarge, lots of broken melons here and it's just part of five melon patches

Now that Cherie has a full time job I’ll be losing my disability check. It won’t hurt too much as Cherie will bring home more than the check was but I think the VA will start charging me for medicine and stuff. I’m not sure but it’s likely. It’s been my goal to get off disability anyway.

There is so much to do that I don’t have time to write anymore so got to go.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Riches you can't buy

9/12/08 Friday
I woke up feeling like I had a hangover. Problem is I don’t drink unless it’s a glass of wine with a nice dinner and even then I draw the line at two. This is not unusual and perhaps indicates I had a seizure during the night as I am tired, like physically worn out tired. Add to that the headache and sensitivity to light and sound and you have a miserable morning. No big deal really as this happens all the time so I get up and get going anyway.

Cherie got her tooth pulled yesterday and that went well. The dentist had it out in minutes. He gave Cherie the tooth and I was going to take a picture of it and post it on the blog but she vetoed that idea in no uncertain terms. Oh well, I guess that’s the child in me that is fascinated by things like the long roots of a molar and want to frame it and put it on display. That’s why I’m glad to have Cherie around to check these inclinations and guide me on how to act.

It’s muggy out, another 93% humidity day. It’s only seventy or so and I’m already soaking wet with sweat. I made it to the composting seminar yesterday and got another composting bin. I was able to pick up a second one for Mark and Pam, who were unable to go. I worked all day yesterday and can’t really tell I did much of anything. Catching up on these weeds will be a contest for sure. Right now I’m running the lawnmower and then will break out the weed eater. Both of these items were gifts from our friends at the Simon department. There is no way I could do much at all without them. Them being the tools and the fellowship and encouragement they give us. Their love is more valuable than anything else someone could give us. Someone could give me a million dollars but without love I’d just be an empty millionaire. A poor man with good friends is a man with riches you can't buy.
12:20 – I’ve been working steadily, running the mower all morning. I had to stop because I’m getting so weak walking has become difficult. In my mind I thought it was ten thirty or eleven but was quite surprised to see how late it is. Perhaps part of the weakness is because I need to eat. I don’t know. My mental acuity is slow because it’s a struggle to find the words to write so that doesn’t help. This is all not unusual, just another day in the life of bob, another struggle to get things done. It is depressing to find myself picking up the debris of projects started and never finished, or in some cases never started. There is the attic pull down stair that I got from Steve and Janie but never put up. It’s now rotting wood that’s falling apart. Fact is I couldn’t have done it by myself anyway. There’s just no way I could hold it up in the rafters of the garage and nail it in at the same time. The pieces of the fence I had cut out still lie around the fence posts I put in for them but now have weeds growing between the boards. Mowing the weeds puts me face to face with these reminders of my inability to follow through. I don’t want to be tired, I don’t want to get weak, I don’t want to not get done what I aim for, I don’t want to have to take a nap, I don’t seem to have a choice. I’m tired now, in more ways than one. Perhaps a nap will refresh me. I suppose I should eat something too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Animal farm?

9/11/08 Thursday
Just writing this date evokes memories and the emotions attached. The 9-11 terrorist attacks came during the last phase of my fall, my deterioration where everything I had worked for and achieved broke into pieces and blew away. It was just a few days before what would be my last auction, a selling off of assets I hoped would allow me to rebuild what I had destroyed. The auction was a disaster because instead of a hundred plus bidders there was only about ten. The 9-11 attack thus hit me as well. The auctioneer had advised that I put off the auction but in my desperation to survive I pressed ahead. It was an absolute auction, which means that everything sold regardless of price but even then only ten percent of what I had sold. I couldn’t give it away.
My old offices at the warehouse.

The auctioneer felt so bad after the auction he wrote off the $2000 spent on advertising that was to come out of the proceeds. I ended up using the meager amount of money left to pay for multiple roll-off dumpsters and the labor to throw everything left out. It was the final death knell of my fall. Despite that my heart was with the victims of 9-11 and in my delusion I was thinking of ways to raise money to help them, devising non profit organizations in my mind to disburse the funds raised. Two months later I packed everything I could into a car with no brakes and headed to Texas. That was when I fell asleep at the wheel and had the accident that put me in a coma. I still feel that was the best thing that happened to me, that by dying (I was declared dead at the scene) my life was saved.

How I found things when I finally got back after the coma. Pretty much a picture of what my life had become.

Yesterday I tried to do as much as I could but mowing the weeds in the rain was an exercise in futility as the clippings just clumped up and clogged the grass catcher. So I pulled weeds in the garden instead. There is no end to the weeds with this rain so I’m behind the gun on this one. But that’s the way it is in the desert. Seeds lay dormant waiting for that rare rain, and when it comes they race to grow and make seeds like a sprinter in the Olympic games. I kept at it till two when one of those headaches reared it’s ugly head and forced me to quite. I came in, took off my soaked clothes, and went to bed, or at least tried to.

I suppose you could call us the Westbrook kennels instead of Westbrook farms because we now have five cats and five dogs. First we added Ben, the golden retriever rescued from the interstate. The one that was with him and had been hit by a car died overnight. She was such a beautiful dog. I petted her as we drove to the vets and despite broken bones and internal damage she never whimpered once though she would move her head to get more pets. So Ben is now a part of the family. If we find the owners we of course will return her but I doubt that will happen.

Ben is clingy, afraid to be alone and stays by my side constantly. He doesn’t seem to have much energy and that worries me. Whenever I go out he’ll be right there but doesn’t run with the others much. Ben will beg for pets and whimpers as I do as if he hurts somewhere, but still snuggles up for them, not wanting me to quit. Wherever I am he is close and likes physical contact. If I’m standing he will lay down and rest his head on my foot. We let him inside the house for fear of him wandering off or getting run over.

He isn’t as housebroken as I hoped but is smart so I’ll be able to train him. Fact is Ben needs lots of training with the first thing being able to understand the command “NO”. Ben shows no sign of abuse, at least from humans. He doesn’t flinch at all when my hand is raised. I’ve noticed that poor Gretchen will get up from where she’s laying down and race away when she hears me yell at the dogs while inside the house. They were barking and I yelled “Be quiet, NO” and looking out the window saw Gretchen fleeing. Yesterday, with the headache I did that a lot. This morning Gretchen has returned to her former level of fear, craving pets and creeping close as I pet the others, but rushing away when I carefully hold out my hand. Ben displays nothing like that though he has numerous scars on his body. They all look like puncture marks so I suspect they are from run ins with coyotes. Despite that he has an extremely gentle spirit, even with the other animals, cats included.

So that’s one of the additions. Here’s the other. Scooter has been taking shelter in our garage at night lately, though he runs out at the first sign of Cherie or I in the morning and stays away. He has made friends with Gretchen and they spend a lot of time together. Gretchen is protective of him when Rascal and Trixie come to them, but they all are getting along.

With the rain yesterday Ben went into the garage and laid down. I went to pet him and noticed Scooter hiding a few feet away. As I petted Ben Scooter watched and I could see the longing in his face so I held out my other hand and gently spoke to him. He tentatively scooted close on his belly till he could sniff my finger. Then I carefully scratched his head and that was like unlocking a door. Scooter jumped into my arms, wagging his tail ferociously and licking my hand, all the while emitting whelps of joy. Wow! He had a flea collar on so there is no question he belonged to someone but he’s been wandering our stretch of highway for a month now. I took him in and gave him a bath in the kitchen sink. He was a mess with matted fur filled with mud and stickers that I tried to comb out as best I could. With the ice broken Scooter instantly lost his fear and gladly became a part of the pack and runs to me or Cherie instead of running away. How lonely he must have been. Poor Gretchen no longer has him for company at night so is lonely too. We really need to build a kennel now. I’ll add that to my long list of things to do.
Click to enlarge

It’s not raining right now but is supposed to later today so I must get out and mow as much as I can while it’s relatively dry. The humidity is something like 93% so there is a dew on everything but it’s mowable. When I get it all mowed I want to till the soil in preparation of planting a cover crop. At least we can afford to buy seeds this time. Things are slowly and steadily improving for us and it’s exciting to see our life growing and things coming together. How blessed I am, how gracious is the God behind all this. The first paragraph of this entry gives you just a glimpse of where I was a few years ago. I am amazed and humbled for of all people I deserve it the least. What a wonder to have such a restoration of life. The biggest wonder of all is the restoration of my marriage to Cherie after twenty years of separation. It all just blows me away, just boggles my mind.

Got to go now. There’s work to be done and I must take advantage of these periods of cognizance and low pain levels, especially no headache. It’s frustrating to have so much to do and lose half a day, or sometimes a whole day, because of pain or seizures so I got to get while the getting is good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The adventure continues

9/10/08 Wednesday
The adventure continues. Yesterday we were looking forward to attending the composting seminar with Mark and Pam, the folks we met at the farmer’s market. They picked me up at the house and Cherie was going to head up there as soon as she got off work. As we traveled down interstate 20 we passed a dog that had been run over. It was laying on the center stripe, obviously alert with it’s head up watching as cars and trucks zoomed by just inches away. Mark and Pam are dog lovers having ten that have all been rescued. We turned around, driving across the median, and went back. I stood in the passing lane and waved the oncoming traffic over as mark picked up the dog. It didn’t seem to have use of it’s back legs.

There was another dog watching from the rest area across from where this happened. It was clear, at least to me, that this dog was a companion of the one we rescued. Both of them look like Golden Labradors so could have been brother and sister. They are absolutely beautiful. I called Cherie as we drove to an animal hospital to let her know what was going on. By this time going to the composting seminar was out. Mark and Pam wanted to go late but the seminar wasn’t as important to me as these animals are. They were of like mind so, after getting the dog to the vet, we decided to go rescue the other one. The one that was run over has a broken leg at the least, and some hemorrhaging. The vet gave it something for pain and will hold it overnight for observation.

Meanwhile we headed back to the rest stop, followed by a lady we met at the vet’s who works with the animal shelter and SPCA (I think I got the initials right). She will help us get help for the dog.

The dog (We’ve named it Ben) was there loyally waiting for his companion and confused about what happened. The animal shelter lady had a dog that looked just like the one that got hit with her so she put it on a leash and got it out, hoping this would help Ben be more comfortable and easier to catch. Ben was skittish and kept away, running to the other side of the fence. I noticed Ben responded to Cherie’s voice much better than mine and Mark’s so I encouraged her to get close and calm him down. Slowly I approached from the back, constantly talking and turning my back a little when he looked at me to not be threatening. The lady with her dog also worked closer and Ben allowed that. Cherie petted Ben through the fence as we carefully got a leash on him. He wasn’t inclined to walk and I wasn’t inclined to drag him by the leash so I reached out and picked him up. Ben was amazingly calm and has a real gentle spirit so wasn’t adverse to my picking him up at all. In fact he kind of snuggled up against me. We got him in the car and Cherie and I decided to take him home with us. The dog shelter lady offered to help us get him neutered and shots through her contacts.

Ben is fitting in real good, amazingly well all things considered. It appears he is used to being inside and is house broken. He also doesn’t display the traits of a dog that has been abused. That is so nice to see after getting Gretchen and Scooter who are both filled with fear. He sticks close by and isn’t very secure at the moment. When I pet him he whines a little, I suspect because he misses his sister and whoever he lived with before. We will try to find the owners and I will put an ad in the paper about them both. It is quite possible that someone had stopped at the rest area to let them go potty and they ran off. Ben was hungry but not gaunt from being on the street an extended time so only recently got separated from his owner.

This morning he’s out with our dogs and doing well all things considered. Today it’s raining again and looks like it will rain all week. There is so much to do that I will be working out in it all day just like I did yesterday. That’s just the way it is, nature doesn’t wait and the plants must be cared for. Mostly I’ll be mowing the weeds and preparing them for compost. Then I hope to till up just about everything. I need to research what I can plant to help keep the weeds down. It will probably be more of the Rye. I found out that the buffalo grass I want to establish needs to be planted in the spring so that will have to wait. Time to get out and get wet folks so bye for now.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Cold and wet

9/9/08 Tuesday
When we moved here from Ohio it seemed like we brought the rain with us. Now that I’ve returned it’s been steady raining. Perhaps the next time there is a drought I should run to Toledo and bring some rain back? Anyway, it’s wet and cool today. When I talked to Mark about going to the composting seminar this evening he asked if we got any rain yesterday. I couldn’t answer because I couldn’t remember if we did or not. Cherie let me know that not only did we have rain but it was a good strong rain that left a lake at the end of our drive.

I actually have put on a long sleeve t-shirt for today. The high is only going up to seventy two degrees. I guess I’m getting acclimated to West Texas heat because the sixty or so degrees it is right now feels cold to me. A couple of years ago I would wear a t-shirt outside when it was forty. There is a light mist coming down so everything is wet. This won’t help me when it comes to mowing the weeds but the wet ground makes pulling them much easier. I am so grateful that we now have the equipment and tools needed to deal with these weeds, thanks to our friends in church.

So there is much to do. The animals have been a problem the last couple of days. Our kittens kept going out to the middle of the highway to play. I chased them off a few times but they seemed to think it was a game and stubbornly run right back out. This morning one of them knocked over a big container I had carefully put sunflower seeds harvested from our flowers in to dry. Of course Rascal and Trixie keep stealing things off the kitchen counter and chewing them up. Scooter, the little white dog that showed up a few weeks ago, still walks down the middle of 829 (the road that runs in front of our house). I keep hearing cars and trucks honking their horns at it as they go by. This has been influencing our two. Rascal and Trixie have been forgetting the lessons I ingrained and have been wandering out to the road. Gretchen commonly crosses the highway as well so that doesn’t help. I can’t do much with the strays when it comes to training them. If they get run over they get run over. I just hope they don’t cause a wreck and hurt someone. Rascal and Trixie are the ones we are attached to so if anything happened to them it would break our hearts. I think Scooter introduced fleas to the other pets because they all have them. I may have to trap Scooter. This way we can clean him up (Yep, it’s a he) and perhaps even get him to trust us so we can come close. It’s fear of humans leads me to believe it was abused. Someone took down the poster I put up with Scooter’s picture at the post office. I’ll check IGA to see if that one is still there.

Monday, September 08, 2008

It's good to be home

This morning's sunrise. You can see Cherie heading out to her job.

9/8/08 Monday
I’m back. I know I arrived Friday but I think Saturday was mostly spent catching up on some badly needed rest. Sunday we went to church, where I was able to thank everyone for their precious gifts and the love they poured out for people who are strangers to them, people they never met and didn’t know. What an example of Christ’s love they showed.

Here is the letter I wrote and posted on the bulletin board. I’m sure many didn’t have a chance to read it so I will send it out on our class’s email network. I’ll post it here as well. At the end I put an accounting of the disbursement of these funds because I believe that’s the way it should be done in any ministry, and this was ministry. It’s just a matter of being responsible and careful with the moneys others donated. I suppose that because of my somewhat “colorful” past it’s a way of insuring there will be no misgivings regarding how I handled these funds. There is a fear I have, because of my past, that I will be distrusted. This is part of the paranoia that came with the brain injury. For me, the most valuable thing a man has is his reputation. Honesty, integrity, and a sense of honor are the hallmarks of my definition of being a real “Man”.

Suzie (Eileen's daughter)with her son and one of her two daughters. The girl in the middle is the son's girlfriend

Thank You
I can’t put into words the impact your gifts and love has made in the lives of Eileen’s family. Theirs was a tough time that was compounded by the poverty that traps them. It is hard when you can’t afford to bury your mother. But with just a few words from me your hearts reached out to touch a family fifteen hundred miles away, and what a touch that was. Not only was a significant portion of the funeral expenses paid but other needs were met as well. By the way, when I sat with the funeral home director with the immediate family and went through the expenses I told him about your donations. He was touched and wrote off the remaining five hundred dollars that was due. So one blessing spawned another. The funeral has been totally paid for.

I hope this doesn’t sound egotistical but another blessing that came from you was giving me the ability to go there. I was able to give the eulogy for my best friend. At the end of that I told of how Cherie and I both knew that Eileen was a Christian and knew the Lord. I talked about how she no longer suffered the pain she constantly lived with and finally has peace, having escaped this world, mostly the east side of Toledo with it’s rampant crime and misery. Then I said I looked forward to giving her a hug when I got there and spending eternity with a good friend. “If any of you would like to see her, all you have to do is make your peace with God. It’s easy to do and if you don’t know how come see me after this and I’ll be happy to show you, or you can find a pastor who can do so”.

I helped Suzie, who’s the executor of the estate, understand what that entails. Having just gone through it with my grandmother’s estate I have an understanding of that. There is hardly anything left except the house and that’s in bad shape. I encouraged her to find an attorney and offered to help with that expense as well. It looks like there may be one who will handle probate for no charge, paid for by a friend of the daughter.

I took them all out to eat at Red Lobster, partly because that is the place we had taken Eileen before we left to come to Texas. They have never been exposed to this level of dining at all so it was a shock, culturally speaking. Actually they may have never been to a restaurant at all so I carefully guided them through it.

I hope I was able to guide the aggression many of them feel about the heroin addict who is responsible for Eileen’s death to healthier avenues but only time will tell. At least I was able to calm tensions for a little bit. But I was able to hug and comfort and that was a big help.

So thank you on behalf of the Carder family and from me as well. Yours’ was a powerful witness to the love of Christ. (But you guys have been doing that since we met you)

Here’s an accounting of the funds donated.
The collection made in class came to $850.00, the remainder was supplied by a member of the class.
$217-hotel stay
$158-car rental
$450-cash to Suzie (The daughter) for expenses
$2000-funeral home
$800-airline tickets

Cherie and I were able to contribute $500 in addition to this because we received a surprise check a few days before Eileen’s death. Just another “Godcidence”, another example of the amazing timing, of how things come together. There was another check for $50 that came in after I left so that will be sent to the Carder family.

So this is the first full day I have since coming home. Sunday after church I had a seizure, one of those slowdowns that drain me and reduce my ability to get things done. I don’t get them often but am grateful I didn’t have one while in Toledo. These are often triggered by stressful situations so it’s amazing I stayed sharp the whole time. I have to think the prayers of our church family helped in this.

These weeds weren't here when I left for Toledo a week ago

I have a tremendous amount of work to do around here. Unfortunately a storm just rolled in so that will slow things down. The good side is the rain will soften the soil making digging post holes much easier. If I have time I’ll get the tiller out too. But first is to attack the weeds. I won’t be able to finish that in a day, it looks like a full week’s worth of work. I need to call the old guy to let him know I’m back but I need to take care of things around here before I go do some work for him.

It’s raining now so I’ll be able to do some writing. See ya next time.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I'm home

9/1/08 Monday
Well, I made it. That was eight hours of traveling with me leaving at 9:20 and getting to Wayne’s at 5:30. Boy I’m beat. The rental car place insisted on my credit card despite the fact that Dean had paid for it so that placed a $400.00 hold on our account leaving Cherie only fifty two bucks available. Tomorrow that should be fine when Cherie deposits the checks we have but it’s not convenient for the moment. I love Wayne and he was anxious to offer me a place to stay but it really won’t work. The bed is maybe six foot four inches long and I’m a full six foot tall. That’s a tight fit. Then there’s the pillow. It’s a pillow case stuffed with clothes. I’ve had worse but really need the rest. Wayne is wide awake and has the big spring tv that’s against this bedroom wall blasting. I’ll tough through till tomorrow and then I’m springing for a hotel room. It’s just that tomorrow is the big day and that’s when I want to be sharp.
9/5/08 Friday
There is so much to write it will take days. Some of it I can’t exactly reveal on this blog but the stories are such a window into that different world that is found on the east side that I must record them. Much of that will have the names, dates, and other circumstances changed so as to not make the characters involved unidentifiable. I already know where I can publish this on the web so as to remain anonymous. There are so many stories to tell just from this trip that I hope I can remember them. As I would sit, listen, and watch the people at the funeral and following activities I would note “You ought to write about that, describe it in clear color” to myself. Much of it is already gone. Not having this laptop working really hurt. I just picked it up from Virtual PC’s this morning on the way to the airport. It had what they called a “Root kit” kind of virus installed. In addition to that the Microsoft Internet Explorer was screwed up since I upgraded to it last week so I couldn’t go online at all. At least I got some pictures but I don’t remember what pictures I took so will have to wait till I get home to download them.
Part of the Carder family.

9/06/08 Saturday
I’m home now. Boy does it feel good. There is so much to write that I’ll have to make sure I don’t go out and work till I’m exhausted, like I’m prone to do,(it doesn’t take much) so I have some energy left to write with.

The flight back was uneventful other than almost missing the flight in Detroit. There was so much to do that morning, including picking up this laptop from Virtual PC. Then it was ninety miles per hour to Detroit. Finding Budget Rent a Car’s drop off lot was hard. I ended up going to the terminal and following one of their shuttle busses to the lot. Then it was “I’m going to miss my flight” to get things going. They did a good job of getting me out the door and to the airport. Then I had to find an American Airlines desk where I learned I need to go to another area upstairs. At that one I was told that I probably missed the flight but learning I only had carry on luggage she went ahead and printed my ticket, telling me that if I hurried I just might make it. So hurry I did. Getting to gate B-11 I saw that it was empty and there was no plane in the slot. “Damn” I said to myself with a sinking feeling. I went to another boarding area where I saw an attendant working and asked “I missed my flight, can I get another flight here?”. She asked what flight I’d missed and when I told her she asked if I had checked luggage. When I said no she pointed to a line of people getting on board a plane and said “That’s your flight loading right now. Hurry up”. Cool, they were loading out of another gate so I didn’t miss it. I was the last person on board but I was on board.

After that things went smoothly. Getting into Midland’s airport I naturally was anxious to see Cherie’s wonderful face. It was good to see, hold, and hear Cherie’s voice. She was just as happy to see me, or, who knows, maybe even happier. Regardless, it’s good to be home.
If you look carefully you can see a bicycle

Cherie told me that since there was a huge rain Tuesday the weeds have really grown. Really? That’s an understatement. We have a jungle out there now. Man did those weeds grow. Going out to the garden I was pleased to see the plants have been blessed by the rains as well. There is a LOT of work I need to do out there. The melons continue to be destroyed by dogs and apparently some smaller creatures by the teeth marks on them. I must finish putting up the fences despite how hard it will be to do by myself. That’s just the way it is and that’s all part of building a farm.

Right now I want to write something for the folks who pitched in and helped so much with getting me to the funeral and mostly with helping the family out financially. I’ll pick out some pictures to print with it as well.

Monday, September 01, 2008


9/1/08 Monday
I was going to write this last night but when all was said and done was too worn out. My last words on Saturday’s entry were “If God wanted me to do the funeral He would make a way”. Boy did He. At Sunday school I got up and let everyone know about the whole situation, how the family wished I could be there to speak of Eileen at the funeral. I also let them know about the financial hardships that Suzie and the family faced with the funeral expenses. They took up a love offering that ended up being a substantial amount of money, about eight hundred dollars. But that was just the start. One of the couples we know in the class approached us with the offer of paying the way for both Cherie and I to fly to Toledo. Cherie isn’t able to go, not only because she just started her new job but because of the animals. There just isn’t time to find a kennel and make arrangements for three dogs and five cats.

After Sunday school (They call it “Bible Life Group”) was over John and Cindy invited us out to lunch, which we were glad to accept. It was nice, enjoyable even, to spend time with them and just fellowship. That’s a good word for it and describes this time well. We talked about lots of things but much of the conversation revolved around Eileen and the circumstances of her death as well as my telling them of the culture and life on the East side of Toledo. That can be a shocking glimpse into an unfamiliar world for some. But it’s the world I come from and a familiar place I called home.

After lunch we went to Dean and Cindy, the two who are helping me go to Toledo, in order to schedule and purchase the plane tickets. Dean also decided to rent a car. This will allow me greater freedom and mobility, thus allowing me to be of greater service to Eileen’s family and less of a burden. I called up Wayne, my friend with MS, and before I could ask he invited me to stay with him while there. The lower I can keep my expenses the more money I will be able to donate to the family. Dean also wrote a sizeable check for that purpose and encouraged me to call if I needed any more.

You know, I’ve talked of “Godcidences” before. So many times things just miraculously line up that a need is met that I can no longer call it a coincidence so I invented that word. Dean revealed that they had recently received a sum of money and were praying about finding a place to put it, considering it God’s money and wanting to honor Him. This and the check we received all came just at the time it was needed.

So I’m heading to Toledo this morning. Fact is I have to leave in about ten minutes so need to cut this short. I’ll write from Toledo if time and circumstances allow. Thank you so much, all of you who helped make this possible. When I called Suzie and told her I would be coming she was so relieved and happy that I could. Then I told her how much money I was bringing and where it came from. “How much did you say?” she incredulously asked. When I told her she said “How Much? What did you say?” as she did a double take. Then she cried. How good it is to be able to help and even more so when it is people I know and love. Got to go folks.