Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cherie's been sick

12/30/08 Tuesday
Cherie’s been sick since Friday or so. She’s dog sitting for Janie so spends the nights there. I ran up there and brought her some chicken Alfredo last night. She didn’t eat much but told me that she did finish it off but it took four hours. I visited Chuck and Lillian to take Miracle her Christmas present but Lillian is sick too. I hope I wasn’t rude but decided not to stick around too long.

I don’t seem to get much done lately. Part of that is probably due to the depression I constantly fight. I keep pondering about my call to dad, wondering if anything will come of it. Then I look at all I don’t do and doubt that I will ever accomplish anything. Hard to believe I once preached about the power of a positive attitude as a marketing consultant and while training my employees. I was always a “Can do” guy who took on whatever came my way.

Worked on the shop a little. A little at a time is how it goes around here. I see something to do and start on it. Then I see something else and forget what I was doing, thus getting sidetracked. I’ve been thinking on getting the planer mounted for a week now, figuring out how I want to do it and then figuring it out again because I forgot what I’d figured out before. So finally I focused on just doing it as best I could and got a lot done. I hurt my back when I lifted the planer off it’s stand. It still hurts this morning. Gotta quit doing that.

Cherie saw a doctor this morning. There is a new one at the clinic and she likes him a lot. In a few we will go to the Big Spring VA where I will get the chest x-rays done the doctor ordered when he discovered I’d tested positive for tuberculosis back in the 80’s.

It’s going to be a warm day so I want to get as much done as I can.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

So this is Christmas

12/25/08 Thursday
Well…it’s Christmas. I called my dad. I wasn’t going to call till eleven but after worrying over it all morning I had to get it done. Would he answer the phone? Would mom? And on and on I ruminated so… Mom answered. I couldn’t tell if she was surprised or not but I have a hard time with discerning that kind of thing. After a brief “Merry Christmas” she asked if I want to talk to either Larry or dad. “It’d be nice to talk to dad” I said. Then I listened intently to the phone, to hear what was said, to get an idea of what was felt but couldn’t hear anything. I half expected to hear dad yelling in anger because I called but didn’t. It took a while so I thought my fear that he won’t talk to me was true. Then he came on.

Dad’s voice wasn’t as deep as I thought it would be. But he didn’t sound angry, so that was good. He thanked me for the gift so now I know he got it. Then he commented “I was surprised to see you wrote it yourself. Usually Cherie writes. Are you still together?” That surprised me, as you can imagine, so I was quick to assure him we were. When I told this to Cherie, she reminded me that I wrote a note in every card we sent. As I write, which is a way I think about things, I realize that dad never saw any of them, or at least didn’t open them to read my note. I figured that any mail identified as coming from us was automatically put in the trash. Cherie thinks that they recognize her handwriting as well. That’s why I didn’t put a return address on either the package or the card we mailed separately.

I can’t remember specifically what I said, something like “it’s good to talk to you” or “it’s been a long time” (years) but he said “You understand why, don’t you.” He then let me know it would be a short conversation. I told him that I understood because I screwed up big in the past but that I would like to see if we could fix things. He said he didn’t have my phone number so if I would send it he would call me if he felt like it. He also said that he would have sent me a thank you card but he didn’t have my address.

That’s about it. I’m sure I miss some of it but this is the body of our conversation. Now I wonder what my dad and my brother had to say after we talked. Was I derided? Did they laugh about it? I don’t know but tend to think the worst. We learned a lot about what Larry had to say about me in this area. It was almost like he was running a political campaign bashing an opponent. The principal statement was that I “wasn’t right in the head”. When she was alive Minnie Lee called us when we had been planning on coming from Ohio to visit here and said that Larry told her I was dangerous so she shouldn’t let us come. At the same time he was trying to convince her to leave him all the land and just leave me the house. Actually we have her saying that in the two hours of recordings we made of Minnie Lee. I need to dig that up and go through it. It’s all downloaded on Cherie’s computer. So I wonder, is my brother helping to heal my relationship with dad right now, or is he pushing it apart? It’s so hard being on the outside where you can’t communicate and at least know something.

I talked to Suzie. Calvin sold the truck so the kids could have a Christmas. That’s hard but I have to respect the guy, making that kind of sacrifice when they aren’t all his kids. But the truck was a source of income for them even though it didn’t run half the time. Life is hard in East Toledo right now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


12/24/08 Wednesday
OK…It’s Christmas eve. One day closer to the end of the madness. But then comes the new year and another round of madness but with a different flavor. Every business that sells a product will be trying to sell everything they have, sometimes just to break even. We have a new president. We have financial instability in all segments of society. We have a religious movement spreading over the world like an infectious disease that brings only blackness and death. If you don’t know what that is, your blind. I think my routine will be disturbed next year, things may be hard to rely on.

Here’s some pictures. Puppies, this morning’s sunrise. I’ve got stuff to do so got to go.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Finally, a warm day

12/23/08 Tuesday
This is the first day it will be warm enough for us to feel it’s safe to lift the lid on the doghouse. We read that in the first few days after birth a cold chill can kill a puppy so have been careful. There is no doubt the inside needs serious cleaning. We haven’t been in there since Gretchen gave birth. This morning I saw what may be blood in the kennel and it appears that Gretchen has the runs. She was waiting anxiously for me to bring food this morning. That’s a good sign. Gretchen cleaned the bowl of canned food mixed with dry quickly but hasn’t touched the evaporated milk mixed with egg yolks I fixed for her. She’s pretty much staying inside the doghouse with her pups.
Here it is, the first picture of the puppies. We thought there were six, maybe seven but there are eight.

We are anxious to see what’s in the doghouse, you know, how many puppies there are and what they look like along with checking on their health. I’m not sure what to look for in that regard. Cherie wants so much to be here when I open it up but has to be at work. I told her I’d take pictures. It’s getting dark by the time she gets home now. She loves her job by the way. I don’t remember if I said anything about it but she is working at a church.

Rascal has taken to peeing in the living room. He must have a bladder the size of a basketball. Because of that we lock them in their room at night and whenever we leave. This morning we let them out and were keeping a close eye on them, figuring that as long as they were with us in the bedroom it was safe. When I went to their room to get some food for Gretchen there was a pool of pee running across the floor. Unfortunately this triggered a burst of anger. I hate that, hate it when I’m cussing and screaming at them. At least I don’t beat them, I’m glad I have that much self control. It’s a bitch being fifty two years old with the emotional control of a four year old. Pretty hard on the self esteem.

What am I going to do today? I don’t know and that’s not a good way to start. If I don’t have some kind of a schedule, a list of things to do, not much to nothing gets done. So I must make a list now. That’s all part of what I was taught at the Brain Injury Institute in St. Louis but it doesn’t do any good if I don’t practice it.

Ok, here goes. I have to clean out the doghouse and put fresh blankets in. That will wait till after it warms up pretty good. There is plenty to do in fixing up the garage to be a workshop. I never did sow the rye and winter wheat seed but if I did I haven’t finished hooking up the water system so couldn’t get water to it any way. That’s something I need to work on. A key to that is continuing to dig deep trenches in search of the water line from the well. That’s pretty hard on me physically but has to be done. There are a few warm days predicted so that will help as long as I stay sharp. Christmas is supposed to be seventy degrees.

Christmas will pretty much be just another day for us. I will try to call my dad and wish him a merry Christmas. If he answers and doesn’t hang up it will be the first time I’ve talked to him in years. Hell, I don’t even know if the phone number I have is right. We’ll call Cherie’s family and friends in Toledo but that’s about it. Cherie and I agreed to not get each other gifts. I wonder if I should anyway. But if I do and she didn’t it would make her feel bad. I don’t know but need to get outside and do something instead of laying around worrying about it. Something else I need to do is clean the ashes out of the wood burner. We’ve made a serious dent in the wood so I wonder if I cut enough. It looked like there was plenty before but my ability to judge things like that is poor. We’ve still got January and February to go so I hope it holds out. If we run out it’s going to be electric space heaters to keep warm with and that will jump the electric bill way up there. But with Cherie working money won’t be as tight so that’s good. Time to get to work so bye now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We've got puppies!

Last night's sunset. My camera isn't big enough to catch a west Texas sunset so you can only see this small part. One of these days I'll have a photo shop program where I can put together several pictures to show a panorama

12/21/08 Sunday
Well, we have puppies. It looked like six when I lifted the lid to the doghouse but one or three may have been out of sight under the bedding. Of course Gretchen had to wait till it was well below freezing to have them. When I went to open their kennel only Ben was out so I went to check on Gretchen. When I pulled back the towel I have hanging over the dog house entrance I could hear puppies though I couldn’t see them. It was cold and I had only put on some sweats to quickly let the dogs out so I was freezing in the wind. Didn’t take long for me to decide to come in and dress warmer before I investigated further. Coming in the door I announced “We have puppies”. Of course Cherie wanted to know how many and what they looked like as she put a coat on. When we got out there Gretchen had come out to use the bathroom, which made it easier to look in. I got some fresh water that I put inside the doghouse for all the other water had frozen overnight. We’ll be checking on them a lot today. Probably won’t go to church despite it being so close to Christmas. I always feel bad when we don’t go, not because I missed church but because we didn’t see our friends there
Cherie and I went into Midland to pick up some things for Gretchen. She read about making a concoction with evaporated milk and egg yolks that is a healthy source of protein for a mama dog. Gretchen loved it when we gave it too her. She didn’t stop to take a breath till it was gone. We also got some canned dog food for her. Peeking in I saw that one of the puppies is white with at least one black ear. It will be a while before we can see them. Cold is one of the biggest enemies of puppies and we read a chill can kill one so we are real careful. Their eyes won’t open for ten to fourteen days. It’s going to warm up over the next few days so when it’s nice I’ll raise the hinged roof so we can clean the inside of the doghouse/nursery. Maybe then we will have pictures.

Just thinking. It was roughly this time of year, seven years ago, that I woke from the coma. Just before Christmas 2001. I don’t know exactly when because waking up was a slow process that took…weeks? The medical records I have are rudimentary and don’t give a lot of details. I can remember when I tried to talk to a nurse and it brought a rush of people into the room. That was a week or two before Christmas. It was a lonely confusing time but I still have the teddy bear thing the staff bought me for Christmas. There were no cards or anything from anyone. It was the strangers who nursed me back to help that I shared Christmas with. By the time Christmas arrived I was able to talk, though it was rough. My mind was confused as it tried to sort the fragments of memories that remained but the loneliness was real. Did I understand at the time how much I’d done, how responsible I was for the place I was, for the condition I was in? I don’t know. It was a dismal start for a new life but after a couple of hard years things have worked out miraculously. Through it all I was reunited with Cherie. I’d write more but have a headache.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nice warm morning

This morning from our kitchen door.

12/20/08 Saturday
It’s a nice warm morning. I made some good progress on the garage/workshop yesterday. My back is telling me I worked hard, which I think is a better than no pain for no activity. I’d rather hurt and have done something. I made it this far on setting up the chop saw to fold out of the way when not in use. I still need to devise a way to support it when open and lock it in place when folded under the bench. Till then a two by four will do the job. Next I want to do something similar for the planer. I have a fancy way of doing it in my mind but probably should keep it simple. I had hard enough time doing the chop saw and that was a fairly basic set up. I still have lots of the woodworking skills of my past but figuring out how to do things is hard today. I spent days looking and studying how to do it, and tried to draw up a blueprint. I gave up on that in frustration. I’ll have to go back in this journal to see exactly how long I’ve been struggling to do this.

Cherie is fighting something off. She’s had bad bouts of being hot and then freezing and it’s not the hot flashes that come with this time in her life. I gave her the antibiotics the doc ordered for me. This morning I need to run to the Big Spring VA and get more. Then I must run into Midland to poop scoop at Janie’s and get some nuts and bolts for the workbench projects. That’s close to a hundred miles driving right there. I’m not keen on driving that many miles but that’s West Texas. This is the time of month our money gets real tight so I’m glad gas prices are down. Despite being short on cash we gave some more money to Suzie. When I talked to her she was terribly depressed and said “The kids aren’t going to get anything for Christmas”. The money we gave will probably go to getting the truck running. That’s more important than Christmas gifts.

It’s a good cognizant morning so I’m getting out early to take advantage of that. I fixed Cherie breakfast. She sure appreciated the break. Time to get out and doing things so see ya later.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Personality change?

One of the things I’ve been thinking on lately is my personality change. As Cherie and I talk about our pasts I realized that at one time I was quite a social person, very outgoing and fun to be with. When you read about traumatic brain injuries (TBI) you often see references to personality change. Some can be dramatic and some very subtle. What you hear is “He’s just not the same” or “He’s a different person”. Lets see, I was a preacher, salesman, radio disc jockey, and then a business owner where I was the head cheerleader and actively networked in the business community. These were all people skills activities requiring great ability to interact. Now I don’t think I smile that much, tend to not do well at conversation, and am not a real positive outgoing guy. I might be wrong but think it’s that way. So how can I get my old personality back? How do I undo whatever it is that conk on the head did to my brain to cause this?


12/18/08 Thursday
Cherie and I both woke up with headaches. In a way that is good news as we did not have a fire going last night so it rules out fumes from the wood burner. What caused them? Who knows. I have headaches anyway so it’s probably nothing that triggers them in both of us though I’m sure I give Cherie a headache or two. (or ten or twenty of them)

12/19/08 Friday
Hurray!!! Cherie got a job but more importantly she enjoys it and is excited. She works for a church, who’s name I don’t think I should reveal. She worked half a day yesterday and today will be her first full day. What makes her happy makes me happy. So I’m the house husband again, which is fine by me but I’m not too good at it.

We both woke up rested with no headaches. That’s reassuring. It’s going to be a nice warm day and I hope to get much done. I made some progress on the garage yesterday but not much. Right now I can’t remember anything else about the day other than talking to Suzie in Toledo. They got a food basket from a church but she told me that it looks like the kids won’t get anything for Christmas. We got a fifty dollar donation from someone in our Sunday school class that I split, sending twenty five each to Suzie and her brother Bobby. Wish I could send more. Calvin couldn’t get the truck to run so that means he is unable to even go scrapping for a few meager extra dollars. With six inches of snow on the ground and more coming not having a vehicle to drive is real hard. They can get food at a carry out five blocks away but the grocery store is out of reach.
I found a lot of things when I uploaded the discs, including some humorous stuff like this

That’s it for the start of the day. I saw a great sunrise (The one posted here) when I went to let the dogs out of the kennel so I ran back in to get the camera. By the way, I was able to upload the eight CDs that had backed up pictures on them. That means I only lost about a years worth of pictures. Plus there were a lot of legal documents that I had scanned on them so I was happy to see that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To touch the gutter.

12/17/08 Wednesday
I woke up at three and put some more logs on the fire. Just kind of drifted in and out of sleep till I got up to start the day at 6:30. Cherie had set the coffee maker to start up then so it was nice to have a cup to start off with. It’s fairly warm this morning, at least compared to the last few days, about forty degrees, and it’s going up to the mid sixties. God I hope I stay cognizant so I can accomplish something on this nice day. I still have a slight headache, but nothing that will slow me down. These puzzle me. I’m not a worrier (at least I don’t think I am) but there is a concern here.

We always wait till it’s light out before we let the dogs out. I keep close tabs on them after the wandering a mile away events. When I went out to check I saw Gretchen and Ben playing on the other side of the highway so called them back. They came running just as an oil truck was approaching. Traffic is always heavier in the morning so it is a big concern. Ben and Gretchen seem to be oblivious to the danger and don’t seem to look before the cross. I am amazed to see Gretchen running as fat as she is with her babies. When the puppies come the danger of the highway will be accentuated. I’m not sure how to handle that. Perhaps I can fence in the back yard. Another chore to add to the long list of what doesn’t seem to get done.

I am still worried that I offended Mike, who helped dig the trenches and who’s dad bought the pipe for our new water system. I guess I am a worrier, at least when it comes to how I come across to others. But my history of offending others is extensive and has caused many heartaches for us. I keep intending to email my sister and keep forgetting. I guess part of that is my discomfort with social interaction. I’m not sure what to say or how to say it.

I do call Suzie and Calvin on a regular basis. But they are like family to me and are people I have a history with and am comfortable talking to. I would call Bobby, (Suzie’s brother) but his phone has been disconnected for a while. I want to try and advise him or perhaps guide him regarding the impending foreclosure of his house. If I was up there I would be trying to get him to go to AA, to get him free of the alcoholism that strangles his soul.

I turned the TV off at 8:00. All the news we get on ABC and NBC is fluff nowadays. There’s a world of hard times and impending doom out there that they just brush over. That’s America’s way, to keep our heads in the sand and avoid that which makes us uncomfortable. We did that in the years leading up to our finally getting involved in world war II, to our shame. Oh there are always some who keep their eyes open but their voices are ignored by the rest who don’t want to rock their luxury liner.

One of the few shows we watch on TV is a new one called “Secret Millionaire”. In it they take people who are worth millions and have them go to poor sections of society with only the amount of money someone on welfare gets. So far they have all been “self made” millionaires who came up from poor circumstances. Their shock of actually being in this world they have isolated themselves from is something to see. It’s eye opening impact has been something else, leaving many of them in tears as they touch the reality many of us live in.

The reason this is important to me is it’s something I’ve personally experienced. I’ve been poor, I’ve been moderately wealthy and successful, then I’ve wandered homeless with a severely damaged mind struggling to survive and happy to get a dollar hamburger a day. There is so much I’ve seen and so much good that can be done but it requires a wisdom that comes with touching that which many consider to be “unclean” in the biblical sense. Just throwing money at a problem without getting your hands dirty sometimes does more harm than good. Watching these millionaires personal involvement, getting their hands dirty by actually working and interacting with others is gratifying. And by going into these worlds after shedding all the trappings of wealth, by becoming “one of them” is a mirror of what Jesus did. Here was the Son of God coming to earth and hobnobbing not with the rich and successful but with the poor and downtrodden. Those who thought they were important, that they were “somebody” were the ones Jesus had the least respect for. In fact one of Jesus’ goals was to open their eyes to what surrounded them and let them know that riches and success didn’t make them any better than those they held in disdain. One of the things I lost on the old hard drive was the bible study I did on the poor and downtrodden. It would have made a small book. What I experienced with some of the “wealthy” churches I ran into while homeless and recovering was their not wanting to get close to or touch those of us who were down and out, to keep us at an arms length away. One pastor flatly told me that they give to the kitchen for the poor or a street mission so go there, don’t bother him. He said they don’t get directly involved.

I guess my mind is working well and I’m getting all kinds of philosophical or something but there’s things that need doing so I’d best get breakfast and get moving. Cherie found the CD’s I’d backed lots of pictures up on as well as the original journal entries so it will be good to load them onto this new hard drive and then back them up on the external drive we bought for that purpose. Actually Janie, the sweetheart of the world, bought it for us. How blessed we are with the friends God brought into our lives. And how grateful and appreciative we are for all of you who not only help with physical needs but take the time to understand the issues of my TBI and give us the most valuable gift of all, friendship and fellowship.

Got to go.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

With Christmas comes emotion

12/16/08 Tuesday
As Christmas draws closer so do all the emotions that come attached to it. There are good times and sad times I am sure but I can only remember a few, and those dimly. But what comes home at this time of the year is the estrangement from my dad, who has refused to talk with me after the one conversation we had two years after I woke from the coma. That one didn’t go well but I was still a mess from the brain injury so probably didn’t choose my words well. Who knows what stories he’s been told. Actually I know some of the stories my ex told him, stories that justified her actions and that of course put me in as bad a light as possible. What I also know is some of the stories my brother was spreading up here with my relatives on my grandmother’s side. He was vigorous and malicious as he did his best to insure everyone knew I was a drug addict and not in my right mind. Hell, he even told that to the manager of the nursing home Minnie Lee was at till she died. We had to overcome that just to gain access and visit my grandmother. How I want to tell my dad the truth and clear up these lies. But mostly I just to talk with him, get along with him, and help him get over the bitterness that is in his soul. We are sending a card and gift but are unsure if he will even open a letter or package that comes from me. My brother told me that dad instructed him to not talk to me at all. Whether he did or not I can’t say for my brother’s words have proved to be not very true. If they are then I can safely assume that dad gave my sister the same instructions. My request for when dad’s birthday is has gone unanswered.

Cherie had a job interview yesterday and it went very well. She’s excited and I hope she gets the job. She said it was the most unusual job interview she has ever had and they talked about all kinds of things. She interviewed with one of the owners of the business and in the process told her about how Cherie and I got back together after my accident. The lady and her husband had been in a bad car wreck last year and he might have sustained a traumatic brain injury cause she said that he was different afterwards.

That’s all I’m going to write for now. I don’t know what’s going on with this body but the headaches have been coming often along with fatigue. I went to bed early last night because of a headache. Now I’m tired this morning despite having just woken up two hours ago and my eyes are again sensitive to the light. That is often a precursor of a headache.
What a headache that was. I lost a whole day but it wasn’t only because of the headache. Walking has been difficult and I had more than one slow down. Cherie had a really bad headache last night as well. I am wondering if our woodstove might be leaking fumes into the house. It is in no way an airtight wood burner so the possibility exists. My ex in Michigan said I could get the woodstove that’s in what is now her house. It is a sweet airtight unit with built in fan and other stuff. We bought it when we bought the house. Too bad it’s fifteen hundred miles away and weighs a ton. Oh well.

Cherie is house sitting for Janie the next three days so it’s lonely nights for me. That’s ok, we need the money and love having a chance to help them out. It’s nine o’clock now. I’m tired but I’ve been tired all day. Think I’ll try to get some sleep.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cold start

12/15/08 Monday
It’s a cold start to the week. A cold front blew in last night, dropping the temperatures to 18 degrees. Knowing it was coming I brought wood in and had a nice fire going so we were cozy. Rascal and Trixie now spend the night in the puppy room every night. This is because they, probably Rascal, tore the stuffing out of the couch we were given. Cherie restuffed it and sewed it up as best she could and we bought a couch cover to protect it. Between that and their stealing packages of food off the kitchen counter they have pretty much sealed that fate. Nothing like coming home and finding a whole bag of flour spread all over the living room. That was it.

Cherie has been trying to get the rust colored mineral deposits off of our tub for over a year now with no success. She put Lime Away or something similar on this faucet and it dissolved the plastic instead of the mineral deposits. So I had the idea of getting my orbital sander out and sanding these deposits away. Nope, not going to happen. First of all the sandpaper dissolves in water and the faucet leaks so much it stays wet. So I went out and got some of my wet/dry sandpaper and tried doing it by hand. This stuff is tougher than sandpaper. She will try soaking it in CLR again to see if that does any good. Talk about “Hard” water. No wonder the plants don’t thrive on it.

The dogs are all staying close to the house after yesterday’s fiasco. I think they understand it’s not acceptable to go a mile away. We checked on them every two minutes or so when we let them out this morning and always expressed our pleasure when they were near.

With the front came the ache in my bones that comes with every change in the weather. I’ve been so tired lately, more than usual. The earliest I can see the surgeon to look at this lump under my arm is January 3. It’s sure sore to the touch but other than that I don’t know it’s there. The doc said that if it’s a lymph node it can take three weeks to go away.

I started research for the business plan again. Part of me feel guilty because I’m not out doing something physical, you know, real work. But this needs to be done.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Not a good start

12/14/08 Sunday
We didn’t have the best start for the day. Had gotten up and let the dogs out before we got ready for church but when I went to check on them a couple of minutes later they were no where to be found. I called and called and still no sign. We let Ben and Gretchen out of the kennel at the same time we let Rascal and Trixie out so the whole bunch were gone. This has happened before. It’s never good. After a while I got in the truck and went looking for them. At first I thought they might be up by the Mennonites property but they weren’t. After driving around our acres and up the road there was still no sign of them so I went home hoping to find them there. Nope. Cherie was out with the binoculars looking but didn’t see a thing so we both headed out to look, Cherie in her car and me in the truck. Seeing dog tracks in the sand I headed towards the abandoned house they led to and sure enough the whole pack was there. It is unfortunate that these things escalate my anger level. The longer I drove around and looked the angrier I got. I hate that. When I got there I was screaming mad and they knew it. Rascal and Trixie wouldn’t come when I called so that didn’t help. I can’t blame them. There is a hole leading to a crawl space under the house and that was where Trixie was. I had to reach in there and drag her out by the collar. I drug her all the way to the truck and threw her in with Rascal. When found them I called Cherie so she had arrived by now.

Ben and Gretchen I left to make their way home on their own. I’m sure this is a place that Gretchen has checked out to have her puppies in. There is little doubt she will be having puppies soon. In fact, I go out and check to see if she has on a regular basis. After all this anger we decided not to go to church. There is plenty to do around here.

Yesterday we went to the Sunday school Christmas party. We drove around and around but couldn’t find the community center it was held at so when we saw a couple walking their dogs we asked and got directions. The party was a great time but crowds and lots of activity are hard on me. I was fine when we arrived but by the time it was over was doing poorly. Seeing how I was moving one lady asked when I hurt my back. She said “You were walking fine when you got here”. I tried to explain how my brain’s ability to operate my right side can be hampered by stress and too much to process but it’s not easy to convey. Just getting to the truck where I was away from it all helped. Of course, on top of it all I had one of those headaches and that didn’t help.

The best part of the Christmas party is what they call a “white elephant” gift exchange. For this we picked out some of the video tapes we have but when I checked them out on the VCR it died. It’s been going downhill for a while and wouldn’t rewind tapes without some coaxing but now it’s dead all the way. So we have a hundred or more movies that we can no longer watch. I don’t even think you can buy a VCR anymore. What a shame. There are some serious classics in there that we had hoped to watch. Now they are just taking up room.

By the way, I did make it to the VA hospital where I went to the emergency room like they told me. When the doctor looked at the lump he was puzzled but thought it might be an abscess that needed to be drained. They drew blood to see if my white blood cell count was up, which would indicate an infection. Meantime, while waiting for the results he brought another doctor in to look at it. That doctor said it looked like a lymph node and vetoed the thought of draining it, saying that would be a bad idea. So now they will have a surgeon look at it next week sometime. With Christmas so close nothing is definite. When the lab work came back there was no elevation in my white blood cell count and that seemed to confuse the doctor, who was sure it would be. They gave me an antibiotic shot and some Amoxicillon pills to take. I will despite not being keen about it.
I’m having another bad headache. Just regular headaches I don’t even talk about but the ones that bring extreme sensitivity to light and sound I make note of in order to keep track of them. Cherie and I were talking about it so I went back to see how long this last run has been. It looks like about two weeks but this journal only goes back to the last week of November when I got the new hard drive and started over. Fortunately I’ve got the rest posted on the blog with the exception of private notes I didn’t want made public. Those are gone now. I have to wonder if this resurgence of my headaches is related to whatever is going on in this body. I have stuff to do so must force myself on. I did lay down for about a half hour but now will get my sunglasses out of the truck to help make things a bit more bearable. Made a shelf that I put in the closet for Cherie. She’s working on getting things cleaned up and organized, which I greatly appreciate. It’s been a sore point but I won’t go into that here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What am I going to do today?

12/12/08 Friday
Yesterday was a strange day. I had presumed that because of the intense pain I’d incurred the day before I would wake up hurting but happily that wasn’t the case. In fact I felt pretty good. However the paralysis on my right side was pronounced. To see me walk one would think I was hurting bad but that wasn’t the case. You know, I get different kinds of slow downs, or “petite” seizures, that affect different areas of my brain and I think that is what was happening yesterday. My cognizance level wasn’t bad and had only dropped down to a five or six on the bob scale. My equilibrium was way off and I always kept my hand on some surface to keep from falling. It is almost like when, as a kid, we would spin and spin around to get dizzy and laugh if one of us fell over or couldn’t walk a straight line but not quite as bad. As I walked I saw my shadow and noticed how my right arm just hung there, not swinging as arms normally do when we walk. It would work fine when I concentrated on using it but if I didn’t think about using it, it just hung there. Like I said, “it was a strange day”.

But I didn’t hurt and was able to fetch another trailer of horse poop to finish up that chore. I conked out at noon or so and slept for two or three hours. When I woke up the paralysis thing had eased up, so that was good.

I don’t know what I’m fighting off but there is some kind of infection in this body. I’ve had wringing wet night sweats for two or three weeks now and yesterday, or the day before, noticed a big hard lump the size of a half dollar under my right armpit. It is a bit painful to the touch but not too bad. I’m not sure but think it might be a lymph node. When I went online to research it I found over a hundred possible causes of these symptoms so decided I’d better let a doctor figure it out. I’ve been real weak as well and get tired easier than usual. This morning the lump doesn’t seem as bad so perhaps the problem is going away. My mother had cancer of the lymph system but she smoked like a chimney and didn’t take care of herself so I’m not going to worry about it. I guess I’ll call the VA hospital and see what they have to say. If they just want to throw antibiotics at it I probably won’t take them. I believe that our bodies immune systems are powerful and the natural way of fighting off infection and that taking antibiotics can be detrimental, weakening the immune system by not making it work as hard as it should. It’s kind of like going to a gym and working out. Doing so makes your body much stronger.

So what am I going to do today? I don’t know right now but may concentrate on getting the garage cleared out and organized. Still need to finish up the work bench but haven’t figured out how to mount the miter saw and planer I want to put on hinges so I can fold them under when not in use.

It’s 8:00 so I need to get out and get moving. I feel pretty good this morning so should take advantage of that cause I never no how long it will last.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The rest of today (Wednesday)

I hurt myself today. The first manure I went after was from the old man’s bull and bull crap is a lot heavier than horse manure. I totally filled up the trailer, which is one of those made out of an old pick up bed. The first few shovel fulls where with a large scoop shovel and it didn’t take long for me to go down to a much smaller shovel. Despite the pain I pressed on to finish the job but moved slowly and tried not to bend over much. I had planned to go get the horse manure at the other location where his horses are kept but there was no way. I still had to unload the trailer when I got home. That was quite a challenge and I almost didn’t make it. Cherie could tell instantly, when she came home, that I was in bad shape, much worse than normal. I walked in a shuffle carefully moving one foot forward at a time to not jar or stress my back. The muscles in the back of my neck are knotted up. That isn’t something that has happened in a long time. I called Lillian to see if they needed their trailer back tonight cause I really didn’t feel like doing anything else today other than laying down. Fortunately they didn’t and tomorrow is clear as well so that works. It will be interesting to see how I feel in the morning. Hope it clears up.

Goodnight folks. I’m done for the day.

Time to get positive again

This is Monday's sunset featuring the lone pecan tree I like to show.

12/10/08 Wednesday
It’s time to get back to having a positive attitude. I’ve had weeks of frustration and the depression that comes with facing my difficulties. I’m sure the word “disability” applies but I don’t like using that word. I need to remind myself how blessed I am and not focus on the hard things.

It’s so nice to have pictures to look back on again. There are some CD’s I backed up pictures on a year or two ago that I want to load onto this laptop. I’ve yet to get the new external hard drive out of it’s box and back up both mine and Cherie’s computers. Keep intending to do it and, as usual, keep not getting to it. So that’s a goal for today.

Here's another oil well they are drilling near us. I heard that it costs a million dollars to drill one.

Winter is here now. It went down to twenty degrees last night. When I saw that Ben wasn’t going into the nice insulated doghouse I built, perhaps because Gretchen won’t let him, I decided to not lock them in the kennel so they can keep each other warm as they cuddle up and sleep on the love seat we have on the veranda. I had to break the ice on their water this morning.

I don’t know what I did yesterday but I know I didn’t sow the rye seed I talked about yesterday. What should I do today? I need to start over on research for my business plan for one thing. I also need to at least open a folder and start again writing the stories that will make up parts of the books I plan on publishing. There was so much I lost with the computer crash. But, I’ve started life all over again from scratch so can handle starting everything else over as well. Cherie will dig up the back up CD’s I made and I’m anxious to see what’s on them. I can’t remember if I backed up more than just pictures but I know the old journal is there somewhere.

Here's a picture of our house today. It always irritates me to see where my brother ripped off our grandmother by only painting half of the house she paid him to do. He constantly took advantage of her and sucked all the money out of her he could. But he lied and stole from me too so that's his nature I guess. I still have the check my grandmother sent me that he forged my name on the back of and cashed

The back half of the house is staying nice and warm from the fire in our woodstove. (Thanks again to Amy for that blessing) It would warm the rest of the house but we keep the air flow focused on the back room and bedroom where we spend most of our time. It’s good that I cut and stockpiled over a cord of firewood for that. The wood Jeannie turned us onto when her neighbor’s tree got damaged is a big part of that pile. It’s good to have friends who look out for you, keep an eye out for things you can use.

I need to borrow Chuck and Lillian’s trailer and collect more horse manure as I am sure it’s piling up at the old man’s and he would appreciate me keeping up with it as he no longer is spreading it out so I can get it. So that’s something else I need to put on my to do list for today. Hope I actually do it.

Time to get moving.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Not a good start

12/9/08 Tuesday
Not a good start for the morning. Got up and let Rascal and Trixie out and released Ben and Gretchen from the kennel as I do every morning. A couple of days ago all four of them had disappeared so I got in the truck and drove around to find them. Rascal was the only one who had responded to my calling for them so he rode with me. This morning they disappeared again so I once again went looking for them, this time in the rain. The more I called the angrier I got, which is not good. Finally I saw Rascal and Trixie coming from the neighboring farmer’s barn so yelled at them to get home. They knew they were in trouble. I never saw Gretchen or Ben but figure they were over there as well. Ben has gotten in the habit of chasing the neighbor’s worker’s trucks to the barn when they come in the morning. This is something I had stopped Rascal and Trixie from doing when they were still puppies but Ben has gotten them back to doing it. It worries me for there can be anti freeze or other things that can harm them laying around, plus I don’t want my dogs bothering the neighbors. Getting angry is not a good thing for me.

There is a big cold front blowing in this morning and that is what brought the rain. I never did get the rye planted so will miss out on this rain that will germinate the seed. My garage/shop is a mess now. I haven’t finished the work bench or much of anything else connected with that project so the place is now so full of stuff I can’t move around, much less work on the project. Before it was all moved out to make room for me to work but I had to bring it in because of this storm. One of the goals of the project is to make a place to put everything.

I’m not sure what to do today. Perhaps I’ll sow rye seed if it’s not raining too hard. Perhaps not. Mostly I need to settle down.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Start of another week

Another great sunrise this morning. Love to include this flag I put up.

12/8/08 Monday
It’s the start of another week. Christmas isn’t far away now. I really don’t like Christmas much anymore. Christmas is for kids, at least in this society it is. The two I helped raise are adults now and Bruce, the oldest, is married. I always regret the distance we now have, one of the prices I’m paying for mistakes of the past.

I called Suzie a few days ago. For those of you who don’t know, she is the daughter of my former secretary who was murdered four months ago. This will be her first Christmas without her mom so will be hard emotionally. Life is so hard for them now because of the poor economy in Toledo, which is directly connected to the automotive crisis. Calvin can’t find work simply because there is no work to be found. He spends days and nights prowling for scrap metal in the alleys and byways of that decaying city when he can get the truck he bought for $300 to run. Fortunately they get food stamps so they can all eat though it’s a lot of mac and cheese type stuff. She has three kids ranging from thirteen to sixteen in age and their father doesn’t pay child support despite having been arrested and put on probation for it. The oldest boy didn’t have a coat but some friends found one to give him. It was two degrees below zero with wind chill on the day I called her. She wanted to get signed up with one of the churches that “adopts” families for Christmas but without a car couldn’t make the deadline.

Cherie and I talked and agreed to send them some money to help despite how tight our funds are. No matter what we are blessed with a house that is paid for and very low bills. Heating with wood helps and electricity here is way less than half of what it is in Toledo, which has one of the highest electric rates in the country. Suzie finally has a car that runs most of the time though it stalls out at lights a lot and scares her to drive it so they don’t have to walk to get groceries or anything else.

Eileen’s son, Bobby, is going to lose the house he inherited from his mother. Their power is often turned off because the bills aren’t paid and they no longer have a phone. It’s sad to watch because many of his problems are a result of his alcoholism. The mortgage lady said it might take ten months before they get escorted off the property. They also have three kids, who are much younger. I can’t remember for sure but think the youngest is seven or eight years old. It really pisses me off that the government is bailing out the banks who hold these mortgages but nothing is being done for the people, the families who are suffering on the street. So the bank gets billions to cover the bad loans and just put it in their pockets and don’t pass it on to the real victims, whom they still go after for the money owed for loans that shouldn’t have been made. How I wish I could bring them all here where they can find work.

Yesterday was a refreshingly bright day for me, with my level of cognizance very high most of the time along with a good energy level. I didn’t have one of those bad headaches either. I’m not doing too bad this morning either so look forward to getting something done. I got much of the workbench done and hope to finish that job. After studying things for a while I’m going to try to mount the chop saw and planer on it in a way they can fold out of the way. That would free up lots of room. Time to move and take advantage of this time of cognizance.

Friday, December 05, 2008

TBI issues

This morning's sunrise

12/5/08 Friday
I get regular updates on traumatic brain injuries from several sources. Many of them are related to military and veteran’s issues. I got this yesterday so thought I’d post these few sentences. You can download the full report at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12436 It’s a 400 page report so I didn’t read the whole thing. The potential long term problems are of course a concern I have and one of the reasons I take so many pictures. I know they will help me connect with my memories if Alzheimer's type issues come up later in life.

WASHINGTON -- Military personnel who suffer severe or moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) face an increased risk for developing several long-term health problems, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine that evaluates the evidence on long-term consequences of TBI. These conditions include Alzheimer's-like dementia, aggression, memory loss, depression, and symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease. Even mild TBI is associated with some of these adverse consequences, noted the committee that wrote the report.

Although recent clinical findings and military experience have shown that short-term and long-term neurologic deficits may result from exposure to the energy of a blast without a direct blow to the head, the prevailing opinion among neurological professionals had been that blast-related impairments were rare because the skull adequately shields the brain. The report recommends that VA and DOD support research on BINT and the development of a good animal model of BINT, which is currently lacking. Without good research data, neurological and behavioral changes in blast victims may be underestimated and undiagnosed, and these individuals may not get timely needed treatment, the report notes.

TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe. The committee's review of the research on TBI at all levels of severity determined that there is sufficient evidence that brain injuries resulting from severe, skull-piercing wounds can cause unprovoked seizures and premature death. Seizures can also be caused by severe, nonpenetrating TBI as well as more moderate brain injury.

Studies link both moderate and severe TBI with other long-term consequences, including increased risk for Alzheimer's-like dementia, symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease, and diminished abilities to maintain social relationships. Other data links mild TBI to increased risk for PTSD among Gulf War veterans. The evidence in these cases shows an association, but it is not sufficient to conclude that TBI causes these problems. Likewise, TBI at any level of severity -- even mild -- appears to be associated with increased risk for aggressive behavior, depression, and memory and concentration problems.

TBI may be associated with certain other potential consequences, but the evidence is only suggestive of a link. For example, moderate and severe TBI may put individuals at greater risk for developing diabetes insipidus and psychosis, but the evidence is limited. Some data suggest that mild TBI accompanied by loss of consciousness is linked to the development of symptoms similar to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease as well as vision problems and seizures, but the data have significant shortcomings.

The anger I deal with on a regular basis (Like yesterday) is a constant problem for me. I italicized the part that said "diminished abilities to maintain social relationships" because that has been one of the harder issues I face. I suppose that is a big part of the problems I had at the first church of Stanton. There is no doubt that I make others uncomfortable. Maybe not everybody but definitely quite a few. I don't want to be this way and try not to but it happens just the same.
Wow! I can't believe it's almost eleven already. I suppose I should fix breakfast. Here's another picture of this morning's sunrise. It shows the colors better. I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing today. It's cold out so may find something to do inside.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hope today goes better

12/4/08 Thursday
I hope today will go better. I finally figured out how to turn on the wireless. Went online to the Lynksys website because the manual and set up CD have disappeared. Now that the living room has been painted much of what we had shoved into the office we’ve been able to move to the living room, where it was supposed to be. That should help clear the office up. I need to get into our storage trailer to see if there is a credenza or something that we can use. There’s some stuff in there that I had been able to recover from my old warehouse but I don’t remember what it is.

Cherie was able to come home last night and it is good to have her next to me at night but I still didn’t sleep well. I don’t know why but my side of the bed is soaking wet from sweat. I’ve been getting hot and sweating and then freezing cold for a few days now. This morning it was 28 degrees out yet walking out with just a shirt and jeans on felt good.

A guy named Willie stopped by yesterday. He said he had talked to my grandmother when she had the garage sale a couple of years ago. That doesn’t sound right cause we were here a couple of years ago and when Troy, my grandmother’s brother, had his garage sale here (against my grandmother’s wishes) she was in the nursing home. It’s just a little strange. He was pretty inquisitive, asking lots of questions like how much land and what we planned on doing with it. I don’t necessarily mind that but my suspicious and somewhat paranoid mind examines everything. I still can’t find my hoe and pick axe and the first thing I think is that someone snuck in here and stole them. I realize that this is not reasonable but the thought is still there. Paranoia and depression are things I constantly must fight against every day. I try to use reason to overcome them but logic can’t always beat out emotion. It’s just hard to look at everything I haven’t done or started and never finished.

There is no doubt that Gretchen is pregnant so we will most likely have a batch of Christmas or new year’s puppies. Anyone want a puppy? She doesn’t seem to like the nice insulated dog house I built with the idea that she would need a warm place to have them in.

If I can start writing in the morning it would be good for by the end of the day there’s just not much left in me. That mental fatigue, which I have a hard time comprehending, sets in hard if I don’t take a nap or have a busy day. I get so tired of getting so tired.

Enough whining. I need to get out and see if I can accomplish anything.
I found my pick axe. It was out at the far side of the water system we are putting in. Unfortunately I found another uncompleted task with it. In my mind I had completed clearing out dirt from the trenches to allow the pipes to settle at the bottom. I haven’t. Every day I see things like this and it’s demoralizing to say the least. Why try. Why should I aspire when I can’t achieve.

Today my level of anger is high. That is never good and every little thing sets me off right now. I just want to hide. In fact on days like this I try to not go out in public at all. I started to run into Stanton to pick up something to eat for lunch but turned off the truck and came back inside, where I fixed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I don’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone, or do anything. Simple things like opening a stubborn cardboard box results in me tearing it apart in frustration.

Great, now I have one of those debilitating headaches starting up at the back of my eyes.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

12/3/08 Wednesday
I split some wood and got a fire going. It’s the second time I’ve used the woodstove for heat this year. We never did fix the hole in the wall from the fire but everything is safe. I’m having a hard time today. Been drained and feel like going to sleep all the time. Had one of those headaches and just haven’t been thinking clearly. Cherie came over this afternoon and we had lunch together and snuggled some. She was glad to see the dogs and cats. I’m not going to write now. Tired so will go to bed. Sorry folks.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

dead kitten morning

12/2/08 Tuesday
This morning starts with me finding Scamper, the kitten we got when Dusty was run over, dead by the mulberry trees at the front of the house. He didn’t have the damage one would expect if he had been run over so I have to wonder if Ben or Gretchen (our two outside dogs) had killed him. I know that Ben’s greatest sport is chasing and cornering the cats. This has put me in a poor mood. I don’t want the dogs or cats bugging me for hugs and pets so yell at them when they come near to keep them away.

Yesterday Cherie fixed a great dinner with a roast and mashed sweet potatoes over at Janie’s, where she is house/dog sitting. So we had dinner at Janie’s. It was good to spend time with Cherie and we ate and watched some TV. I wanted to spend the night but got to thinking about our animals at home and decided it was best to go home. When Rascal and Trixie are left alone for too long they start tearing things up.

I’ll have to motivate myself this morning. Don’t feel like doing anything.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Friday was a bad one

12/1/08 Monday
Friday was a bad one. The slowdown lasted well into the afternoon so very little got done. We did switch our cell phone service to AT&T and got new phones. I am having a hard time figuring it out. Even dialing a number or answering a call were a challenge. I’ll get used to it.

Reading Friday’s journal entry I see there was much I wanted to say about what I’m thankful for but didn’t. The list of blessings we have had this year is a long one and I hope no one is offended because I didn’t list what they did. There have been a lot of material things we have been blessed with but the most important is friends.

I’m not good at social things like being a friend. I can do it but am uncomfortable, always worried about screwing it up. I commonly ask Cherie “Did I act alright? Did I say anything stupid?” after we do something with others. I do this because of my history of offending others. Right now I am worried that I upset Mike, who has done much to help us. He got me a Ryobi cordless set of tools that included a drill, reciprocating saw, circular saw, and flashlight. It is a small lightweight set of tools designed for small lightweight jobs so what do I do? I told him that. At the time I just didn’t comprehend that you don’t do that. That is all typical for survivors of traumatic brain injuries. The lists of TBI symptoms all have “Social skills” and “inappropriate speech and behavior” towards the top. I figure it out later most of the time. I’m most comfortable by myself unless Cherie is around. She often helps me navigate these situations though my stubbornness gets in the way.
I'm resurfacing the top and have put sides on the workbench. Been planning on doing this for two years.

Among the blessings we have is a table saw, jointer, small bandsaw, and miter saw that a Steve gave me. With that and having lights installed in the garage I am motivated to make it a working shop. I raised the height on the big woodworking table so using will be less painful for my back. I’ve also built a work bench along the wall and put up some of the pegboard I recovered from the landfill. I still need to put support legs under it but it’s usable now. Now comes a hard part, deciding how to arrange all of these tools. Making decisions can be hard for me, especially when I don’t trust my reasoning skills. I want to raise all these pieces of equipment so everything is at the same height as the woodworking table. Not sure how to do that. The tablesaw has wheels so can be moved around a bit. I’ve been studying this for days now and changed my mind a dozen times.

I’m not working for the old man this morning so can perhaps keep working on this. As long as I can stay focused things actually get done. The problem is there are so many things that need to be done but if I focus on one thing the others are neglected. I have five hundred pounds of rye seed that needs to be sown. Last year I did this in January and February while it was snowing. I need to order seed and supplies for the farm. We forgot to order more Afghan pines but the CRP money is gone now.

The two years of research I put in for making the business plan for the farm is all gone now with the crash of my computer. Along with it are all the links to key sites as well as the downloads on how to do things.

I’ve got to get to work now.