Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Unusually busy?

3/31/09 Tuesday
It’s going to be an unusually busy day. Unusual? Nah, not really, every day I’m able I’m busy. There’s just more to do than I can keep up with. Cherie came home with a bunch of plants called “Cannas” or something like that. They were given to her by a lady that thinned out her patch of these flowers. That tells me they are possibly aggressive spreaders. I should go online and look them up to learn more about them. Regardless, they are here now and need to be planted soon so that preempts other plans. In addition to that the cats got into some of the herbs we have ordered and chewed the most expensive one up pretty bad. They had been sitting in a window waiting till I could get the herb garden area prepared for them. That requires moving railroad ties so I must wait till Tommie and Jamie come over to work off the price of the car. He said he might be free tomorrow. Till then I guess I must repot them with the hope they will survive. The only one we’re concerned with is the Stevia plant. It’s a source of natural sweetener that is extensively used in Europe but is banned here in the United States through the bribery of the major corporations that produce artificial sweeteners.

That’s the American way, isn’t it? Big money corporations influence, or more accurately “Buy” our politicians to make laws that inhibit any competition, no matter how small. The Monsanto’s of the agricultural world have been doing this for decades and have been successful in squashing many of the small farmers by piling up laws and fees they can’t handle. Did you know that in several states Monsanto, and now Eli Lilly, who bought the product, are sponsoring legislation that prohibit dairies from labeling milk as “Rbhg free”. Rbhg is a hormone developed by Monsanto to increase milk production in cows. With a growing uproar by consumers who don’t want this hormone, with it’s human side effects like growing boobs and even starting milk production in males. It’s rare but happened. So with dairies advertising they don’t use the hormone on the milk cartons it cuts into the other dairies sales and influences them to stop using, thus stop buying, the product. The audacity of making such a simple label illegal just blows me away. And the fact that politicians are bought to sponsor such an obvious miscarriage of the law, that is there to protect us, is a sad statement of how flawed our system has become, how corrupted it is now by big money in every corner.

Got to go. It’s poop scoop day so I’ll be running to Midland, where I’ll get as much stuff done in town as I can. Then there’s going to the landfill, there’s…lots of stuff. Bye now.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tale of a tractor

3/30/09 Monday
OK…I know y’all want to hear about the tractor. It was more of an adventure than our usual forays are. Of course we don’t “foray” much so it doesn’t take much to be more of an adventure. To cut to the chase “I own a 1959 MF 204 made by Massey Ferguson’s Industrial division”. Getting it wasn’t easy so here’s the tale.

I go pick up the trailer that the old man is letting me use to get the tractor should I choose to buy it. Cherie’s truck came with a trailer hitch installed so I presumed it was wired for a trailer. Nope. Not going to happen. So I can take my truck with all it’s discomforts or wire the trailer lights plug in Cherie’s and we can go with increased comfort and the benefit of a V-8 motor to pull this thing. So I ran to Walmart and bought a plug kit. Believe it or not I remembered wiring my truck for trailer lights as well as the electric brakes I installed as we prepared to leave Toledo so that helped make things move quickly. As soon as I got it hooked up Cherie came out and helped me make sure everything worked. It was fine so we hit the road.

We thought it would be a two or two and a half hour drive but it ended up being something closer to four. But we took the scenic route and stopped to eat so that ate up some time. When we got to the town, who’s name I don’t remember, Cherie called up Tonya. Actually she dialed Tommy’s number by mistake and carried on a conversation with him for quite a while before she figured out it wasn’t Tonya she was talking to. It was funny, had to have been there. So we get ahold of Tonya and she comes to lead us to her place. Good thing she did cause I would have got lost for sure.

Her house was one she bought or was given and had to move it to her new location. I guess it had been a rock house when she got it so she had to break all the rock off. It’s a big house and they cut it in half to move it.

Alright, don’t get off track bob. The tractor was sitting out front so we got out to look at it. My memory plays tricks sometimes, I remember something but don’t attach it to the right spot. I thought it was an Allis Chalmer machine but it was a Massey Fergusson. Then I thought she told me she’d inherited it but that wasn’t the case. As I had searched for a tractor I’m sure I talked to someone who had an Allis Chalmer tractor and someone who inherited one, I just attached those memories to my conversation with Tonya.

It was a beat up looking machine for sure. Tonya wasn’t sure what the year was but she thought the tractor was made in the 70’s. We started it up and I fumbled around till I figured out how to make it move after the older guy with Tonya showed me. It moved. I looked, poked, and prodded like I knew what I was doing and asked Tonya if she’d take $3800 for it. She stuck to her guns at the $4,000 we had talked about on the phone so we settled at $3900. Getting the tractor loaded on the trailer took some teamwork as it pushed the whole truck and trailer when I tried to drive up on it.

Getting it up I see that one of the tires is almost flat so Tonya fired up her air compressor up and we filled the tire. We wrapped chains around whatever we could find to tie the tractor down and I winched it tight (kind of) with the four ton come along. Cherie and Tonya took care of the money, bill of sale stuff while we loaded the tractor.

With all said and done and visiting over we hit the road. After going through the weaving up and down roads on the way up we decided to take a route that would get us to the interstate sooner. On the way there was a long downhill stretch and my speed got up to seventy. Taking my foot off the gas to slow down meant that the now heavy trailer would want to keep going, pushing the truck out of it’s way. The truck and the trailer started wobbling back and forth with an ever increasing rhythm. Pushing on the brakes just made it worse as the trailer continued it’s quest to get past the truck so I just rode it out. Scared the bejeses out of us. I told Cherie that we wouldn’t get on the interstate because it wasn’t safe to drive the speed limit. Things seemed to be fine as we drove along so we decided to take the interstate but keep it at sixty miles per hour or so.

We’d take the camera to take pictures of this whole momentous occasion but forgot to take any, so when we got to the interstate we stopped and took this one. After grabbing some coffee we hit the road, pulling onto I-20 for the first time with the tractor on board.

Maybe five minutes later it happened again. As before I was heading downhill and looking down I saw I was just hitting seventy miles an hour so took my foot off the gas. “Damn, it’s doing it again” I said as Cherie started getting scared. Now it’s not easing up at all and getting downright violent as the rear of the truck skidded back and forth with the tires squealing. Now things just flung out of control. I heard a bang, we were tossed off the interstate, swear we went airborn, all we could see was the ground through the windshield, I saw a sign pole go by, things eased up as the trailer was now dragging behind instead of pushing past. By this time we have gone over the median and are rolling to a stop on the service road. I could have sworn the tractor was flung off as the trailer violently fishtailed back and forth, and it sure felt like we had lost some weight when we flew off the highway, but by golly, it was still there behind us, still on the trailer.

Poor Cherie was a wreck. She was sure we were going to roll over had been praying franticly as she held on for dear life during the hour it seemed to last. I was fine from that regard. I’ve been through so much stuff that this wasn’t a big deal on an emotional level. I got out to survey the damage. All three tires on the drivers side of the trailer were shredded. The other side was fine as far as I could tell. First off we didn’t have a flashlight so I used my cell phone to try and shine some light on things.

So what we do now? Dial 911? Ok. So I get out my cell and dial 911. I’m from Stanton so my cell phone automatically dials their 911 operator. Now how’s that going to help me. If I was in Ohio and dialed 911 I suppose I’d still get Stanton. “BUT WAIT!!! THERE’S MORE” While trying to explain the situation I hear the operator saying “Hello? Sir I can’t hear you” and the connection was gone. Looking at the phone I see NO bars. “Cherie, you got any bars on your phone?” I asked. “No” was her reply. NUTS.

So I put the truck in low gear and start dragging the trailer down the road with the tires squealing. We made it about a half mile when Cherie said “I’ve got bars!”. Good. I pulled up another two hundred feet so we could see what mile marker we were at as Cherie called Janie. By the way, it’s about 10:30 at night when this is happening. Here we are, stuck out in the middle of somewhere with no means of getting ahold of anyone locally. There’s no phone book to look through. So who do you call? Someone with internet savvy and access for one. So we called Steve and Janie. I’m sure they were right in the middle of something when we did but they dropped everything to help. Janie’s online as Steve calls numbers she looks up and relays questions and answers between me and the tire rescue guys.

It was about midnight, give or take an hour, when someone was found who could or at least was willing to come out. By this time I wasn’t keeping time. We had turned the truck off to not have to breath fumes but of course left the hazard lights blinking. I went to start the truck because it was getting cold and it wouldn’t start. Not enough juice left in the battery. I think the word I used was “NUTS” but can’t say for sure. I know I had something to say. So as we waited for another hour or two we watched the hazard lights get dimmer and dimmer, slowly fading away. What’s interesting is that the dimmer they got the faster they would blink.

This is Saturday night, That’s party time folks, at least it is for the drunks (Look, I can talk about drunks because I was one at one time) and here we are on a dark unlit road on a dark night with lights that were growing darker by the minute. Just as they quit the tire guys show. Good timing.

They had a hard time getting the trailer jacked up because most of their jacks wouldn’t go low enough to fit under it. Steve had suggested we get four tires and spread them on both sides to be sure but I’m not too keen on spending any more money than I have to. You can bet that prices on tires after midnight, delivered and put on while you sit alongside the highway, aren’t going to be cheap. Plus we had to get a new rim too. I was going to have them put one of the new ones on the other side but after seeing them struggle to do the tires one the side of the trailer that rested on pavement I decided not to. The other side was on the sloping grass and would have been a bear. Besides it’s late and I’m tired.

Actually I had every intention of driving on to Stanton after they finally got done but that wasn’t until 2:00 so Cherie, at the strong urging of Janie, convinced me to find a hotel. Steve and Janie stayed up until they learned we’d checked into a hotel. Something else.

Sunday morning I woke at 7:30 and shook Cherie, who was fast asleep. “Wake up. We need to get going” I rudely announced. She was all for that. We grabbed the free hotel breakfast stuff that looked palatable and checked out. Now that it’s daylight out I can see so inspected everything carefully, wondering at how we didn’t lose the tractor or flip over. It looked fine.

We don’t have a choice but to get on the interstate so I put on the emergency flashers and we drove the remaining couple hundred miles at about sixty mph, hell sometimes fifty. I’m not in a hurry. When we finally rolled into Stanton I had to get gas so we pulled into the Town and Country. Filling up I headed for home. We were about two miles from the house, just where we could see it from the road, when I felt a rumble. Looking out the mirror I see shreds of tire spewing out from the passenger side of the trailer. It was the tire we had to air up when we got to Tonya’s. So that means we lost a total of four tires on this trip.

It’s Sunday morning and there’s no way we’re going to church but I want to get this trailer back together so I can return it to the old man. Sam’s club wanted a hundred bucks for a tire so I decided to shop. One place was closed on Sunday, Walfart didn’t have the right side and Sears was close to a hundred bucks too, so it wasn’t a good tire day.

I got a used tire from Franklin and returned it. When I told the old man he got three new tires and a new used one he said “How much do I owe you?” When I said “Not a thing” his response was “That ain’t right”. I explained that these tires blew under my watch and that’s the kind of man I am, I fix what I break. When he protested I let him know I wasn’t budging so ended it. Probably a little blunt but that’s me.

I went online to learn what I’ve got. It’s a 1959 industrial tractor with a front end loader that looks like it can bust down walls. Made by Massey Ferguson it was advertised as the “Workbull MF 204”. I got it running this morning and scooped a little dirt just to get an idea of what it can do. This will take some practice and getting used to.

I’m tired. Came in at 1:00 when Cherie called to remind me to eat. I never remembered to fix myself breakfast this morning so it’s a good thing. It’s already after four. I dozed off a few times writing this so I’ll post it and get up so I don’t fall asleep. Too much to do. I really want to drive back to where we went off the road to see it in the daylight. And to take some pictures. But Cherie convinced me that there is too much that I need to do here and it would cost money we don't have much of. That's why I ask her advice, she sees with different eyes than I do.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

House resoulution 178

This House resolution, just made last Monday, March 23, 2009 makes a quick informative study of brain injuries in this country and helps us understand just how prevalent the injury is. In the interest of helping raise awareness, and understanding, of TBI I post it here and humbly ask if you could copy and send it to friends or post it on your blog.

H. Res. 178 --- In the House of Representatives, U. S.

Whereas traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults in the United States;

Whereas at least 1.4 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year;

Whereas each year, more than 125,000 of such Americans sustain permanent life-long disabilities from a traumatic brain injury, resulting in a life-altering experience that can include the most serious physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments;

Whereas every 21 seconds, one person in the United States sustains a traumatic brain injury;

Whereas at least 3.17 million Americans currently live with permanent disabilities resulting from a traumatic brain injury;

Whereas traumatic brain injuries may have a life-altering impact on both Americans living with resultant disabilities and their families;

Whereas concussions are serious injuries to the brain and multiple concussions can lead to lifelong disability and death;

Whereas most cases of traumatic brain injury are preventable;

Whereas traumatic brain injuries cost the nation $60 billion annually;

Whereas the lack of public awareness is so vast that traumatic brain injury is known in the disability community as the Nation's 'silent epidemic';

Whereas traumatic brain injury is the signature wound of the global war on terrorism as a result of roadside bombs and blasts;

Whereas the military personnel who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States in such war and who return to the United States with traumatic brain injuries will require additional Federal, State, and local resources;

Whereas there is a need for enhanced public awareness of traumatic brain injury;

Whereas the designation of a National Brain Injury Awareness Month will work toward enhancing public awareness of traumatic brain injury; and

Whereas the Brain Injury Association of America has recognized March as Brain Injury Awareness Month: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That House of Representatives--

(1) supports the designation of an appropriate month as National Brain Injury Awareness Month; and

(2) urges the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States, Federal departments and agencies, States, localities, organizations, and media to annually observe a National Brain Injury Awareness Month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

March 23, 2009



Saturday, March 28, 2009

Check came

3/28/09 Saturday
Don’t know if it froze or not last night. Will go see in a bit. Regardless it’s cold this morning and we kept a fire going all night. I’m pretty much out of firewood now so need to start collecting already for next winter. Hopefully we’re done with freezes now but you never know.

Tommie and Jamie were supposed to come over and do some work this morning but he was called in to work at his regular job so they won’t make it. We do want to make sure the car title is transferred to their name so hopefully can do that today. Their not coming over changes our plans a bit. Cherie and I may go to Aldredge nursery to check out plants for both the garden and front yard.

I was going to write about not getting the pipeline check but Cherie just checked the account and it’s there. Whoopee!!! Wish we’d known that yesterday because we would have been driving to Brownwood to get the tractor by now. I’ll call the old man and see if I can borrow his trailer to haul it with. Then I need to call Tonya, the lady with the tractor, and let her know along with getting directions to her house. I’m sure she’ll be glad to hear we got the money.

So we’re really not sure what’s going on today now. I’ll start with making calls now to determine if we drive to Brownwood today or later. Be back in a bit.
Cool, talked to Tonya and she said “Come down anytime you want” about getting the tractor. The old man said his trailer would be available at 1:00 so we’ll try to head out about then. This is an exciting forward step for us in building this farm but time will tell whether or not it’s a good decision. You just never know for sure about any used equipment until it’s in your hands. That’s when any problems become apparent, but I’m not really worried. Tonya is aware that we haven’t examined the tractor yet and the possibility exists we won’t buy it but I don’t think that will happen. It's a two and a half hour or so drive so we'll be gone a while.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Timely TBI story

It's going to be a cold windy day and might freeze tonight so I'm going to cut and split some firewood this morning. After that I'm liable to stay inside the rest of the day. I need to finish up some work at Genelle's soon. She's having her knee replaced today and will be in the hospital for several days so it would be nice if I can finish before she comes home. Her adopted daughter came from Dallas, where she now lives, to "Take care of her". I want to avoid being in the house when the daughter's there alone. I feel that's a good principle to practice, just a bit of wisdom learned over the years.

I get lots of information regarding TBI delivered to my email from the various Brain injury organizations and individuals I stay in touch with. This just came in today and makes a compelling argument that we should be aware of the symptoms and potential dangers of traumatic brain injuries, especially for children.

Natasha's lesson helps save Ohio girl

An injured Morgan McCracken has
benefited from awareness after
Natasha Richardson's death.

By Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Senior Medical Correspondent
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Story Highlights:

Richardson's death raises question: When should you go to ER after head injury?

Dizziness, vomiting, headache and confusion are all red flags

Take special care if person is on blood thinners or is elderly

Doc: "Sometimes there's a gray zone, and there's no right answer."

(CNN) -- Connie and Donald McCracken were watching CNN one evening last week when they learned of the tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson from a head injury. Immediately, their minds turned to their 7-year-old daughter, Morgan, who was upstairs getting ready for bed.

Two days earlier, Morgan, her father, and brother had been playing baseball in the yard of their Mentor, Ohio, home when her father hit a line drive that landed just above Morgan's left temple. A lump formed, but the McCrackens iced it down and the swelling subsided within an hour.

"For the next two days, she was perfectly fine," Donald McCracken says. "She had no symptoms. She went to school both days and got an A on her spelling test as usual. There were no issues whatsoever."

But after hearing about Richardson's death, the McCrackens wondered if Morgan was really as OK as she seemed. After all, Richardson had been talking and lucid immediately after her fatal injury.

When they went upstairs to kiss Morgan good night, she complained of a headache. "Because of Natasha, we called the pediatrician immediately. And by the time I got off the phone with him, Morgan was sobbing, her head hurt so much," McCracken says.

The McCrackens took Morgan to the emergency room at LakeWest Hospital in neighboring Willoughby, where doctors ordered a CT scan and immediately put Morgan on a helicopter to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, with her father by her side.

"I knew it was bad when she had to get there by helicopter in six minutes, instead of the 30 minutes it would have taken to get to Cleveland in an ambulance," McCracken said.

When the helicopter arrived at Rainbow, the McCrackens were greeted by Dr. Alan Cohen, the hospital's chief of pediatric neurosurgery. He whisked Morgan into the operating room, pausing for a moment to tell McCracken that his daughter had the same injury as Richardson: an epidural hematoma.

McCracken remembers standing in the emergency room, feeling like the life had just been sucked out of him. "My heart sank," he says. "It just sank."

Unlike Richardson's, Morgan's story has a happy ending. After surgery and five days in the hospital, she's at home and doing fine. "Dr. Cohen told us that if we hadn't brought her in Thursday night, she never would have woken up," McCracken says.

Now the McCrackens sometimes wonder if they waited too long to get Morgan to a doctor. After hearing about Richardson's death, many people are asking themselves the same question: Do all head injuries need attention, even ones that seem minor?

"Sometimes there's a gray zone, and there's no right answer," Cohen says.

In most cases, it's pretty clear when someone needs medical attention after a head injury, says Greg Ayotte, a spokesperson for the Brain Injury Association of America and a cognitive rehabilitation therapist. "They're confused, they're agitated, or they might be dizzy or unresponsive," he says.

But then there's what doctors call the "talk and die" scenario, where someone seems fine, only to die hours, or sometimes even days later.

"Talk and die" can happen with several different kinds of brain injuries. In the case of epidural hematomas, the injury Richardson and Morgan had, blood pools in the area between the lining of the brain and the skull. "Fluid is building up in a contained space, creating pressure. Something's got to give, and that something is the brain," Ayotte says. If you don't get to the hospital to have surgery to drain the fluid, "the deterioration can happen very quickly."

Here, from Ayotte and other experts, is a list of what to do after someone has suffered a head injury.

1. Be vigilant

Keep an eye on someone who has hit his head, even if the person never lost consciousness. "A lot of folks are still under the assumption that as long as you're not knocked out, you're OK, and that's not true," Ayotte says.

2. Look for dizziness, vomiting, headache and confusion

If the injured person has these signs, take him or her to an emergency room, says Dr. Jam Ghajar, clinical professor of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, and president of the Brain Trauma Foundation.

3. Look for changes in symptoms and behavior

Any sudden change, such as Morgan's headache going from mild to severe in minutes, means the person needs medical attention. For example, Ghajar says, if a person gets suddenly sleepy in the first 12 hours after a hit, it may mean the parts of the brain responsible for staying awake are experiencing pressure from a bleed.

4. Be especially wary if someone a) has been drinking alcohol, b) is on blood thinners, c) is elderly or d) is a young athlete

It's tough to distinguish brain-injured behavior from drunken behavior, so when in doubt, take the person to the hospital, Ghajar says. Also, blood thinners can turn a mild bleed into a major bleed, so be especially vigilant if the injured person is taking blood thinners such as warfarin.

He also warns people to be extra vigilant when an elderly person hits his or her head. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on traumatic brain injury and senior citizens. The CDC also has information on concussions in young athletes.

5. Go to a certified trauma center if you can

The American College of Surgeons has a list of certified trauma facilities; a hospital that's not a trauma center may not have a neurosurgeon on call. You can also look on this map from the American Trauma Society. Find your state, select trauma centers, update the map, and you can find information about trauma centers in your area.

The McCrackens say they look back and still can't believe Morgan suffered such a severe injury and didn't show any signs for 48 hours. "She didn't black out, her speech wasn't slurred, she wasn't dizzy, she wasn't any of the things you'd expect," McCracken says. "And you don't want to be one of those panicky parents who takes their child to the emergency room all the time."

Cohen's advice after a head injury: When in doubt, go. "It's always better to err on the side of being conservative," he says.


Morgan McCracken's epidural hematoma
is the lens-shaped white mass at the top
right of the left CT scan.

Video --- Watch for tips on when to go to the ER »


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Staying on track

Another shot of Monday's spectacular sunset.

3/25/09 Wednesday
I’m going to run into town (Midland) this morning because I was supposed to poop scoop and work on fixing Genelle’s sprinkler system yesterday. I was so happy to stay focused on building the fence around our veranda that I didn’t want to quit so didn’t take care of those things. I try to be responsible and keep my promises so will get on it this morning before I get distracted and nothing happens. Called Genelle to let her know I’d be there so I’m good to go.

Working on the fence went well with me making adjustments in the plans as I progressed. That’s normal for me because there are always unforeseen things that come up and I often don’t “foresee” lots of stuff. But it looks good and more importantly, Cherie likes it. There’s only a little left to do so I hope to finish it up today. Once that’s done I can finish sealing the lawn area off so the dogs can’t get in and will plant the buffalo grass. I know that the odds are the dogs will find a way in but we’ll discourage it. I’m excited that we may end up with a front yard that is more than just sand dug up by dogs. We’ll keep it fenced off for the whole year to help the grass get established. Yesterday was a good day and it felt great to be able to stay on task and accomplish something. That means that not much else got done but that’s ok.

It was a pain pill morning. I guess working on the fence strained the back despite not having to pick up something heavy. That’s how it is though. Standing at a kitchen counter to wash dishes hurts more than moving those railroad ties. Well, almost, those railroad ties did let me know I shouldn’t have lifted them. It’s not the weight that gets me, it’s bending over and posture that hits the pain nerves. As long as I can stand tall and straight I’m fine.

Time’s a’waistin so got to go.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The love stays fresh

Here's Cherie clowning around with my cowboy hat as we were preparing to leave Toledo to come build our home and life here in Texas. How good it is.

3/24/09 Tuesday
Every day should be a busy day for me. There’s more than enough to do to keep me moving. Cherie’s ankle is still extremely painful and by the time she gets off work she can barely make it into the house. She is getting better about asking me to do stuff. Actually I’m getting better at detecting things I can do for her. She was worrying about finding time to talk to Paula at the Farm Bureau about switching our car insurance to them when I asked “Can’t I do that?”. Yes I can so that goes on my to do list for today.

I got a lot done on the side yard but still have to put up some more fencing to keep the dogs out of it. We plan on putting permanent fencing around the veranda so I’ll go ahead and make that a priority. Looking at what I’d tilled up and leveled yesterday there is no question this fencing will be required to get some grass growing. The area is a solid mass of paw prints and a few of the cavities they dig to lay in.

It’s a poop scoop day and while I’m in Midland I plan on repairing Genelle’s sprinkler system where her dogs chewed it up. It’s the same kind of stuff that I’ll use to create the drip feed irrigation here at the farm so I’ve been studying and becoming familiar with it. Parts are readily available at Lowe’s so that helps.

We are waiting now for the pipeline check to show up. Someone sent me an email about a tractor on Craig’s list for sale in Odessa. The asking price is only $1750 and it’s an old Ford that the advertisement says is similar to an 8 or 9 N model though he’s not sure. It does have a six cylinder gas engine, which should provide great power. It isn’t as heavy as the one in Brownwood and that one has a front end loader on it, which is really something I need. The Ford comes with a shredder, that’s always useful and I can make some extra money mowing with it but the loader trumps the shredder. Considering that most of the Ford tractors sell for $3,000 or more it would be nice to snap it up and resell it, making a thousand or two in the process. But that would prevent me from buying the other one so that’s not really an option. The tractor in Brownwood is an Allis Chalmers industrial tractor so looks pretty sturdy. Plus a diesel engine is a plus in my mind and could run on the bio-diesel fuel I eventually want to make. That can be produced for about fifty cents a gallon, a real cost saver over time, and the thought of running a machine on vegetable oil appeals to me and fits our overall philosophy on renewable energy.

If anyone wants to go in on the Ford with me we can split the profit when I sell it. Providing of course that it all checks out when I inspect it. Just a thought folks. This takes me back to the days I owned Corporate Liquidation, when I made good money finding deals like that. Of course back then I had 80,000 square feet of warehouse and could buy out whole businesses but even then I wouldn’t pass on small opportunities (Which is how I would have viewed the Ford tractor back then)

How I miss those days. I used to joke that I “Stole legally for a living” because I often could pay a dollar for something that I could sell for one hundred. But that’s all part of a life I destroyed so no sense missing it. I’m building a very different life now, one that is more peaceful and fulfilling. Actually, when I think about it, if I had Cherie in my life back then I would have been more peaceful and fulfilled anyway.

The road of our life has many mysteries in store. But it's an adventure I wouldn't trade anything for.

One of the things I don’t write about as much as I should is how the love between Cherie and I is a continuing and very much a living thing. I am still amazed at seeing her here with me. I still hold her in my arms, look in her beautiful eyes and say “Damn… I can’t believe your here” (That would be saying “damn” in a good incredulous way) I still get teary eyed when I tell others our story. It just isn’t wearing off folks, it stays fresh and exciting and I stay amazed and grateful. When Cherie and I talk about just how bad of shape I was in when we first reunited it’s pretty clear that she was taking on a tremendous load back then. That shows just how much she loved me. A song came on the radio the other day and she told me of how she used to listen to it, think of me, and cry. For seventeen years she hurt and never imagined we would ever see each other again. And I never gave my heart away despite the many women who tried to get it. I flat told one of them that Cherie was my first love and that I’d never love like that again. I didn’t remember doing that but when, for some unexplainable reason, I introduced Cherie to the woman she told Cherie about me saying that.

I am a blessed man. Blessed in many unbelievable ways beyond all men. Even the fact that I’m alive is a miracle but that was just the start. The saga continues every day, the story just keeps getting better. And I am undeserving and remain humbled and grateful for every little thing, for every day I wake up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an easy path paved with gold by any means, but our needs are met one way or another. Our needs, not our wants though they sometimes blend. You ought to see how Cherie loves driving a pickup truck. She’s owned little bitty cars all her life so this is a Big change (pun intended) for her. “I like my truck” she exclaims with a gleeful smile. How I love that smile. When Cherie’s happy I’m happy.

Yesterday we had one of those fantastic West Texas sunsets that I love to record. I took dozens of pictures as I watched it evolve. That’s part of the wonder, to watch how it dramatically changes as the sun sinks lower beyond the horizon. It goes quick but I still have time to move around and frame several scenes with it. Then it’s time to pick out the ones I like the best and delete the others. That’s hard as I want to keep them all but only have so much room on this laptop. Here are some of them.
Click to enlarge. You can do this on all the pictures I put up

I’ve got to motivate and not waste any time as I’m sure to run out of it before I finish what I plan. So see ya!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Start of another week

3/23/09 Monday
Ah…the start of another week. I wonder how it will go but am relieved to find that my sense of optimism, my renewed hope for the future of this farm is still there despite the kick in the teeth of losing Ginger. Of course there are still reminders such as the cinderblocks I put next to the big water bucket that she could stand on to reach the water but I focus on the joys she brought during her short stay and move on.

Well, I just had a moment of panic. As I wrote the above paragraph I remembered that I’ve not called Tonya, the lady with the tractor for sale, like I planned. That’s just another case of forgetting and I’ve learned (actually was taught at the Brain Institute) to “Do it now” while the thought is in my mind. So I went to find her phone number and it was nowhere in sight. Next step was to take everything off the dresser one at a time, examining them in case I wrote it on some corner of paper, but had no luck. Not, not good. If we can’t find her number we can’t buy her tractor for that was the only way we had to get ahold of her. In desperation I started going through all the phone numbers I’ve called before that are stored on the phone. It only stores just so many numbers so I started at the back knowing it’s been a week or two since I called her. The next to the last number was one of the few that had another area code so I called it hoping she would answer. She did. Hallelujah!!! If I’d received two more calls it would not have been there. The tractor is still there and she said she wouldn’t do anything with it till she heard from us. I let her know that “The checks in the mail” and we are still very much interested. If I hadn’t found the number she would have been waiting forever to hear from us and it could have been a dead deal. Fortunately she does visit the blog so I’m sure I could have reached her through that. What a powerful means of communicating the blog is.
Here you can see the rye coming up. It's good to see some fruit from your labors. eventually it should get about waist high.

Yesterday Tommie and Jamie came and picked up Cherie’s car. As they thanked us again and again for making it available without any payment at all I realized how Steve must of felt as I did the same thing with him. It’s hard not to be effusive when you’ve been blessed at a time of need. I told Tommie that we’ve received so much from those who love us that we were passing it on. Actually we would do it anyway, if you read back in the blog you can see our hearts are such that we help anyone we can, but the truck we received made her car much more available. Helping others is what gives life value. Oh don’t get me wrong, other things give life value with raising children at the top of the list in my mind but like it reads on my plaque “Money and things can vanish in a flash. What has real lasting value is the lives we touch”.

Thought y'all from other parts of the world would find it interesting to see how much sand blows in around here. You can see how deep it built up where I removed a pot and around the one next to it. Once a month or so I sweep and scoop up a wheelbarrow full of sand just from the veranda where our kitchen door is.

In our bible life group (Sunday school) yesterday the lesson was on Hezekiah, who had been told he was going to die in just a few days. First Baptist is going to embark on a six week program titled “one month to live” or something like that. In class we discussed how knowing we would die shortly would change how we lived and looked at life. At the end I told the class that I’ve had the “privilege of dieing” and had gone from owning multiple companies to being homeless, and how this had changed my outlook on life and reevaluated what was important and not. This experience is what led me to develop this philosophy or creed that I carved on the plaque. It is the creed I live by now and truly how I view life. And we are the recipients of others who also feel this way and have shown us such mercy and compassion. They honor the God who gave His Son, the ultimate gift, in order to give us life. It’s a hard example to follow regarding the level of sacrifice but such a good way to live. Giving brings great rewards, not monetary ones but deeper more valuable ones that reach the soul.
Yesterday (or a day or so before) I tilled and leveled this area and then planted buffalo grass seed. It didn't take long for the birds to find the seeds.

Today will be busy, as all days are now. I plan on tilling and leveling the other half of what we plan on being a yard so I can plant more buffalo grass. I’ll have to fence it in with the plastic temporary stuff because it’s an area the dogs play and lay on a lot. It’s also where I set up rock lined flower beds but the dogs pretty much trashed all that so with the fencing up I’ll be able to plant there again with a chance of it surviving. I know there’s lots to do with getting the farm producing but I also want to make our home look good. I’ll focus on that today as well but figured taking an hour or so out to prepare the yard won’t hurt. Our church family is planning on having a get together out here early next month where they will once again help us do things around and in the house. We might work on painting the outside as part of that.
It’s almost 1:00 so I suppose I should eat. Maybe I’ll have one of those burrito’s in the freezer that Cherie calls “Junk burritos”. I guess my return of the sense of taste and smell was short lived. Last night I went to get a glass of milk in the kitchen. It was dark but I didn’t turn on the light. I thought it sounded funny when I poured the milk, kind of a kerplunking noise, so I sniffed the glass. Didn’t smell anything bad so I took a big couple of gulps of it. Tastes a little strange, maybe, can’t tell” I thought as I held it up to some light to see. Nuts! Lots of little cottage cheese pieces of milk coated the glass. I had a big bowl of cereal to try and counteract any ill effects. Didn’t seem to bother me at all so that was good.

So the “Junk Burritos” will probably taste just fine no matter what. Speaking of food, I just remembered that Cherie wants me to cook dinner tonight. I showed her the last bag of bean stuff I found that my sister sent us for Christmas or something last year. It’s part of a recipe that has all kinds of stuff in it so I’ll have to run to the store. I don’t want to take the time to go to Midland so I’ll run into Stanton to get it. Maybe I’ll just get something in town to eat.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Love it when things work out

Here you can see the truck we were blessed with after Cherie's car died. It's backed up to where we unloaded the railroad ties from it.

3/22/09 Sunday
Yesterday was a real busy day and I got a lot done. Cherie’s ankle is still pretty bad so I did what I could to keep her off her feet. That’s hard to do. What I heard repeatedly was “But I have so much to do”. “Ask your husband, Cherie. If you need anything call me.” I replied. That didn’t make much of a difference. She did ask me to do a few things but not many. I went and did some needed shopping and she said “I probably should go with you” as I headed out the door. My response was “Sure, and we can get one of those ride around handicap carts for you to drive in” pointing out how much walking is required in a big store like Sam’s and Wallfart. She figured it out.

At 11:00 I met Tommie and Jamie to pick up the railroad ties they had agreed to help me get. Railroad ties are heavy, real heavy. I worked right along side of them and of course am paying the price this morning. Part of the pain is muscle soreness from the workout of loading and unloading some sixty ties, half of which came here to the farm and the other they kept as their payment for the help. The muscle pain I don’t have a problem with as it’s a sign of a good workout and means my muscles will be stronger for it. It’s the back pain that gets me. Finding a position to sleep that didn’t hurt to bad was tough but I managed to doze off about midnight. Cherie was out like a light much earlier in the day and barely moved when I came to bed. She got a good nights rest.

The railroad ties I’ll use to make raised garden beds, particularly along the strawberries to keep the dogs from digging any more tunnels. Raising the garden beds will make it much easier on me to weed and care for plants as I won’t have to bend over as much. Over the course of time I hope to gradually increase the number of raised beds in the garden farm.

At the end of the day I decided to work on Paco, the wood sculpture that the old man asked me to fix. He’s (Paco) in bad shape to say the least. After carefully examining him I saw that I needed to take the guy apart in order to do a good job. I could have just filled in the holes and forced glue into the joints but that wouldn’t stand the test of time. The old man has, and is, being real good to us so I want to do an excellent job to show my appreciation.

I’d forgotten just how good it is to do the work I love in the shop. It’s quiet and peaceful in the garage as I focused on the tasks before me. I had to go real slow as Paco’s wood is so dry rotted that in some places it would just crumble. There’s some stuff I saw at Lowe’s that you soak dry rotted wood in and it helps restore it. It’s not cheap but I’m not interested in doing a cheap job. I’ll try to remember and pick some up after we go to church today. I thought it would be interesting for my readers to see a pictorial record of this restoration project so took these pictures.

Cherie finished doing our income taxes yesterday. She had set up an appointment with our bank to take advantage of their offer to do them for free but the lady they had doing them got lost on a simple question so Cherie did them online with Turbotax. Looks like we’ll owe a little over three hundred dollars. Not bad but we were hoping to get money back. It’s a sure bet that I’ll lose the disability but we’ve been trying to prepare for that contingency by getting this farm going.

I keep meaning to call Tonya, the lady who has the tractor for sale, to assure her we are still interested and see if it’s still available. But I keep forgetting as I’m prone to do. I know she looked at the blog at least once so hopefully she’s aware that the “Check’s in the mail” so to speak and not worried. Being two hundred miles away I haven’t looked at it but if it’s in good shape it looks like a good deal.
It amazed me how Paco was put together. So may pieces and lots of nails, it's apparent that he was mass produced. When I put him back together I'll use wooden dowels in place of the nails and a good waterproof polyurethane glue so he'll be better than when new.

While Tommy and Jamie helped load railroad ties I learned that Jamie’s car is on it’s last legs. I told them about Cherie’s car, that it might be available. That possibility excited them so I called Cherie to see what she thought. We had intended to fix it but the reality is I’ve proven I’m not that good at fixing it and don’t really have the time. Tommy’s a good mechanic so putting in a new steering column would be no problem. With no credit they would have a hard time buying a car so our willingness to work with them on that is a good thing. Tommy asked “How much” and I told him “Cheap, we’ll look up the value and sell it for much less”. “Besides” I said “you can work off the price because I could use some help around here”. I had been intending to pay them for work out of that pipeline check so this works out. We can get rid of the car without fixing it and help someone at the same time. Plus I can get some of the help I badly need to get things planted and going for this year’s crop. Love it when things work out.

We’ve got to get ready for church so that’s it for now. See ya next time.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The wind out of my sails

3/20/09 Friday
The wind has been taken from my sails. Prior to losing Ginger I had been experiencing a renewed enthusiasm and had become more optimistic about our future. It’s been a while since I’d felt that way as the frustration of my limitations made it hard to be positive. Back in the early parts of my journal, much of which was before I started this blog, I talked of my fears that every time something good would happen something bad would follow. That made it hard to embrace the good things. Just as it seems there is an unseen hand putting things together it seems there is another trying to squash everything good.

There was a beautiful sunrise this morning. I hope it indicates a good day is forthcoming. Last night I would hear Ben bark. It wasn’t the bark that indicated coyotes nearby or other trouble, it would be a single woof as he called for his Ginger, and then I’d hear him and Gretchen searching around the house. This morning I saw him listlessly carrying a stick him and Ginger would play with and when he saw me he let it fall and came for comfort. I didn’t cry yesterday but holding back tears is hard now. Cherie’s face was drawn and I could see it’s hitting her hard as well. Cherie said “no more puppies” and I must agree. We lost our kittens to the highway and Ben so decided then not to get any more. Life out here in the country can be dangerous for pets, especially when you live right on a busy highway.

Today I’ll start picking up the evidences of Ginger, the many old leather gloves she loved to play with that are scattered all over. We used to play tug a war with them. It was her favorite game. God I miss her. Then it’s back to building this farm, little by little, step by step. It’s hard to type with tears in my eyes so I’ll quit now.
The day is done. I stayed busy. Got some buffalo grass planted and marked out two garden plots. Other than that I don’t know what else got done around here. Went to Janie’s and poop scooped and then went to Ginell’s and cleaned up some of her back yard. She came home while I was doing it and was surprised. I’m just glad to help someone. Met Cherie for dinner at the Thai place we like and came home. Not real motivated so I just crawled into bed. Turned the tv off cause there’s nothing on and I don’t feel like watching it. Not doing real good. Hope tomorrow is better

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ginger's gone

Ginger is gone.
I was working on the side of the house, leveling out ground in preparation to plant the buffalo grass we think would work well out here, when I heard a Thump-Thump as a white pickup sped past at the seventy or eighty miles per hour they travel out here. It’s a sound I fear hearing out here. Running up front I saw Ben and Gretchen sniffing the middle of the road and yelled to get them off of it, all the while looking desperately for Ginger. I saw her body thirty feet down from where her mom and dad had been investigating. When they heard me scream they knew it was more than my just being angry and hurried to the back of the house. I know that Ginger didn’t feel a thing as her neck was broken. Cherie ran out saying “What’s wrong” so I let her know that we had just lost our puppy. She seemed to take it better than me.

When Joe picked up that contract this morning he noticed Ginger and commented on how beautiful she was. We talked about what a joy she was and as we did Ben and Gretchen came across the highway. He loved how Ginger and Ben played and loved each other. I said that we wanted to get a bright orange collar to make it easier to see and explained that our biggest concern was the danger that road represented.

Goodbye Ginger. At least there's a beautiful sunset to see you go.

We’ve already accepted the fact that Ben and Gretchen stood a high chance of getting run over and because they were strays realize there is little we can do to keep them from wandering. But Ginger…no, that wasn’t acceptable. I’d told Cherie that my biggest worry was that she would follow Ben and Gretchen across the road, that they would teach her this bad habit and it seems that is what happened. If we had the money we would have bought the electronic shock collar and perimeter fence devices to prevent that but there is no sense playing the “what if” or “if only” game. We wanted to get the shock collar thing for Trixie and Rascal back when we got them but couldn’t afford it. They learned that getting close to the road would evoke serious consequences but Ben and Gretchen have lured Trixie across a couple of times.

Tomorrow I will have to take some bleach and clean up the blood that is in the road because the smell is drawing the others out there. I let Ben go look, watching carefully to insure no cars or trucks were coming. He knew. He tucked his tail between his legs and came back to me. I let Gretchen smell Ginger’s body to let her know as well, with the probably vain hope she will realize just how dangerous the road is.

Love always comes with a cost. We loved Ginger, loved to watch her grow, loved to watch her play, loved to see her interact and be accepted with the others, loved to….I could go on forever but I have to let go. I loaded the burn barrel and cremated her remains. The ashes will be incorporated with the compost and thus nourish what we grow. Bye Ginger. You blessed us while you were here.

Lots of good news

This morning's sunrise. Looks like it's time to get a new flag. I'm going to see if I can find one that isn't made in China. It just kinda grates to buy an American flag made somewhere else. With that check coming in I'll see if I can get one that is made a bit heavier to survive this West Texas wind.

3/19/09 Thursday
I did sleep well last night but sure had a hard time waking up this morning. Worked out in the farm/garden till about eight last night. That sure can take a lot out of you when the temperature is in the upper eighty’s. I’ve got to make another gallon of tea as I pretty much drank it all yesterday. This feeling hunger thing is sure inconvenient. I liked it better when I didn’t have that gnawing feeling in my gut. But it’s a good sign as far as this brain continuing to repair itself, even after eight years. It used to be believed that brain damage was permanent and there was little hope of this kind of recovery but we now know that’s not true. I still have the “black holes” in my brain where the tissue was destroyed but other areas of the brain have taken over the functions that had been performed by them. I don’t get as confused as easily as I did before but it still happens. A lot of the reason it’s not such a problem is the life we have here on this farm. Things are familiar here and routines were developed that reduce the stress and help me get things done. Cherie is probably the biggest help as she understands how to work with my issues. My anger is still there along with the paranoia I have, thinking some talk disparagingly about me. I’m real secure about that with our church family and friends in Midland but am pretty sure the first church of Stanton folks have little good to say about me in their conversations with each other. I really need to address that so my soul can rest in that area. Two of our good friends talked to me about forgiving them but that’s hard to do. Part of my reasoning is that I can forgive a murderer but still don’t want him to keep murdering so if I can do something to stop that I should.

This morning a guy from the pipeline company called to see when a good time to pick up the contract would be. He should be here this morning. I suppose I should comb all five of the hairs on top of my head to look good. Best do it now as he’s going to be here soon. Be back in a sec.

There, I look all pretty now. I need a haircut so need to schedule with Cherie for her to do that. She’s gotten quite good at it.

Now that the rye is all in the ground I can get moving on the other tasks that need to get done, like mark out the plots and get seed started and in the ground. Damn, I’m hungry so should fix breakfast. This getting hungry thing might take some getting used to. I suppose it means I’ll start eating more and will be gaining weight. Nah, I’ll work it off.

Joe, the guy who does legwork for Rusty (That’s how he put it) just came by to pick up the contract. What a nice guy. He’s seen the story channel seven ran on us. That really helps others…uhm…how do I put it? I guess it helps others understand us and with Joe it impressed him with who we are and what we’ve been through. And it opens doors to their hearts? I really don’t know how to say it, that might be wrong but don’t know. That is one of the reasons I have Cherie check what I write to insure I don’t say something offensive. Joe said that if we needed anything to give him a call. I told him how we are working on building this farm with not a whole lot of resources and that the pipeline check will enable us to buy a tractor. He knows some old farmers who have lots of stuff sitting around getting rusty that he will check with to see if they want to get rid of it and he will ask a friend in the water well business if he has an old used pressure tank for our well. Joe said something about how God is working in our lives. I can’t argue against that. I told him how things come together in such amazing ways with us and have ever since I woke from the coma. “God’s got something in mind for us. I just don’t know what” I told him. Fact is this pipeline deal and perhaps even meeting him are just the latest examples of that.

Suzie called. For the many new readers we’ve gained, she’s the daughter of my former secretary, who was killed by a heroin addict last year. Things are going much better for them up there in Toledo’s desperate economy. Her two teenage daughters just got kicked out of school again but despite that are doing well. The oldest is involved with community work in the area and has a job. Samantha, the youngest, hasn’t gotten in any fights for a while so that’s an improvement. She’s a tuff little girl but has to be, going to a tough inner city school. Suzie finally has a good vehicle to drive, a mini van they got a steal of a deal on.

I also got ahold of my good friend Allen. He too is doing better. After finally getting accepted by the doctor who specializes in chronic pain management Allen said it’s like he has his life back. He’s able to get out and do things and doesn’t sit isolated and depressed in his basement house like he’d done for several years. It was good to hear him being positive and looking forward to life.

So there’s good news everywhere today. I suppose that I might be more upbeat and positive as well and the depression I fight has faded. Time to get out there and get things done. See ya next time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gotta go, Lots to do

3/18/09 Wednesday
Monday was a frustrating day. I thought for sure that I would finish tilling the last section but I didn’t even make it halfway but I came close as you can see from the picture. I was planning on running to the bank to get the pipeline contract attached to the sight draft but Steve had me hold off till he got ahold or Rusty. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to reach him so I’ll be hitting the bank as soon as they open this morning. That’s in just a few minutes so don’t have time to write much.

I will say this to make sure it’s recorded. For the last four days my sense of taste and hunger have returned. For those of you who don’t know I lost these along with my sense of smell when I got the brain injury. It’s not that I can’t taste at all but flavors were dim to say the least. Hunger I didn’t feel at all so had to make sure I ate by the clock because otherwise I’d simply forget to eat and couldn’t remember if I had that day at all. I’ve had short periods, sometimes just minutes, where these senses would return, sometimes accentuated to an incredible degree that was overwhelming. The other morning Cherie brought me a cup of coffee and I asked if she had gotten a new creamer because this one was incredibly good. Nope, it’s the same creamer we’ve been using. When you suddenly can taste it’s like a bright light shining that’s hard to look into. Feeling hungry isn’t as pleasant for it’s like I haven’t eaten in a week but still it’s a good thing. All this is a good indication that these portions of my brain are continuing to rewire. When I go back and read earlier sections of this journal it helps me realize just how far I’ve come, how I continue to heal.
As far as I got tilling Monday

I finally completed tilling the last section yesterday. There’s still about an acre I haven’t been able to do and won’t mess with for now. Ran out of seed and there are more important things to do. The tiller still gives me fits. Monday it was real cantankerous and that was the main reason I didn’t finish on that day. All it takes is one grain of sand wandering around in the carburetor to mess things up. Monday was rough because the frustration built till I blew up. I was mad at myself, the tiller, and my inability to siphon the gas out of Cherie’s now defunct car was the final straw. I hate it when I lose emotional control. Fortunately it doesn’t last too long and I’ve learned to do something that settles me down. Don’t know what I did, probably turned on the boob tube and watched whatever inane nonsense was on.

Got to go to the bank. I’m wearing nice clothes instead of the work clothes that I turn into rags so quickly, wearing holes in the knees and spilling oil or whatever on them. I wear out lots of pairs of jeans and t-shirts come and go with regularity. One day I went to return a seven dollar item at Lowe’s and despite having the receipt was treated like I was some kind of drug addict trying to hustle the store with the clerk calling management and sending someone back to triple check that what I was returning was indeed the item on the receipt. Now the lack of emotional control I displayed that day was deserved, at least I think. The core of that issue was probably the fact that my jeans had the knees blown out and having spent the day out in the fields bustin my butt meant I was a dirty sweaty smelly mess.

Nuff said, bye now.
Getting that payment may take a while. The bank said they already sent the draft to the oil company and I had no luck finding the guy who’s name is on the envelop we were supposed to put the contract it. I found him in the sense of having a phone number but got no answer. I just hope we are able to get that tractor. Tonya, the lady who has it, came and looked at the blog yesterday according to my Statcounter program. She was amenable to not being in a hurry to sell it before we had a chance to get it but you can’t abuse that kind of generosity.

I don’t remember how it was last year, or the year before, but this heat sucks the energy out of me hard. So I’m in to get a big drink of tea. It’s nice to have my taste buds back cause it sure is some good tea that Cherie made. In fact it tasted so strong I had her dilute it drastically yesterday.
Rusty, the oil pipeline guy, returned my call. I explained our concerns about how long it would take to get the payment and he said “It’s a sight draft. Those don’t take long”. I told him that I’d never seen a sight draft in my life. He never said how long “not long” is, so I’m still not sure but he will send someone by to pick up the contract tomorrow. Keep ya posted.

I’m pleased in that I think I got a lot done today. It seems that my sense of smell is returning too. As I tilled up the soil in preparation for the strawberry plants the odors were wonderful. Just love the smell of freshly turned dirt. Even the compost smelled great despite it being mostly horse poop. Actually it no longer smells like horse manure now that it’s been composting all winter.

Well folks, I’ve finally planted my first thing for the year. That would be fifty strawberry plants. You can’t see them in the picture because they are so small but this whole row is strawberries. I laid out the drip tape in preparation for installing it but have to figure some things out on how to do so.

I’m tired so should sleep well tonight.
Tonight's sunset

Monday, March 16, 2009

Start of a wonderful day

Isn't she just pleased with herself? "But dad, I'm having such a good time"

3/16/09 Monday
It’s the start of a wonderful day, going to be sunny and hit 80 degrees. I ran that tiller till eleven last night, coming in several times to let the back pain relax. Finally I just wore out and came in. I am almost done tilling in all the rye seed. When I finish that I can get on the task of preparing beds for the seeds we ordered. I was to work for the old man but thought that I’d spend the morning chasing down the bank draft problems so called him to let him know I wouldn’t be there. I felt much better when he told me he had other plans before I could let him know. Steve said he would prefer to handle the whole bank draft thing so that frees me up to work around here. Love it when things work out.

I called the lady in Brownsville, who has the tractor we are interested in, to let her know things were delayed. She said not to worry, she wasn’t going to run another Craig’s list ad or put one in the local paper so there was no rush. Another blessing as we don’t have to worry about missing that potential great find.

"Oh man! Another picture? I wanna go play"

Last night I heard Cherie laughing hysterically back in the office so went back to see what was up. She had gone back to April of last year and saw these two pictures of Rascal and Trixie. She reminded me of how they had been running through the wet rye and gotten wet. One of the things I’ve recently discovered is that all the pictures I’ve put on this blog are stored at Picasa Web Albums, under the name “bobcarver”. It was great to find as many, if not most of them were lost on my computer when it crashed. There are over two thousand pictures and it was quite a delight to peruse through them. It’s easy to do quickly because of how they are presented. I hate to say it but I was impressed with myself when I went through them. The nice thing about memory loss is most of them were new to me, or at least fresh. Plus each one is a key that helps unlock those memories. I was thinking the other day that everyone should do this, as in keep a journal with pictures, for we all have memory problems and regardless it’s nice to see these things years later. As we all age these memories become more important and often are things we can pass on to those we love and leave behind when we leave this life and go the next one.

Times a'wastin and I’ve got work to do so bye now.
After learning in our Bible life (Sunday school) class that someone had just thrown out a nearly new pressure tank that we could use I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of the things we could use in case someone has one or more of the items laying around. You know how it is, one mans garbage is another man’s treasure. So here’s a partial list. I’m sure there’s other stuff and that Cherie could add to this but here’s what I can think of off the bat.

A pressure tank (The kind used on water wells)
Cable and wire for use in building trellises
Tall fence posts, also for trellises
Two to five horse electric motor for my compressor
Pulley for the compressor. Someone said they are called a shiv or something like that
A trailer of any kind would be useful around here
Wheelbarrow. The one we have I wore out
I could use a cement mixer
An old chipper/shredder would find lots of use.
I can fix things (sometimes) so it doesn’t have to work necessarily.
That’s a short list for now.

The good people of West Texas

3/15/09 Sunday
We’ve missed church the last two weeks so are making a concerted effort to get there today. Cherie fell yesterday. I came in and found her on the floor working to get up. She fell last month and was just getting over the pain that caused when this happened. She will be going to the Chiropractor at the earliest time she can get in. I’m doing as much as I can to help her out and she’s gotten better at asking me to do things like carrying a basket of laundry. But she hurts pretty bad this morning. Cherie twisted her ankle again when we went to the bank Friday. She’s had painful problems with her ankles for years so this just aggravated matters.

My pain level is high because I was out till after midnight running the tiller last night. Took a pain pill at 10:30 because I knew I would be doing this. I almost never take a pain pill later than 7:00 but made an exception last night. What an irony this is. Pain pills were part of my downfall leading to the accident but now are a blessing that enable me to keep going. I’m real real careful and very aware of the potential for disaster they represent so carefully regulate my intake. They don’t make the pain go away, just make it bearable. The danger is that if I just took a couple more I would feel even better and that’s where feeling better can be a bad thing.

Speaking of the tiller, it fixed itself. Beats me how but yesterday when I went to take the carburetor off to go through it again I decided to start it up first and see how it ran. It sputtered and stopped just like before but when I started it back up it ran just fine. So I ran it till I hurt too much to run it anymore. By the way, I did get the last 150 pounds of seed sowed so there’s still plenty for me to with that tiller. It’s one of the many huge blessings we’ve received from those who have embraced us and I suppose you could say, have become partakers of the miracle of our life. We are designing the logo for Westbrook Farms and it will say “The farm that love is building”. This not just refers to the love Cherie and I have for each other but the love shown by the good people we’ve been blessed to have in our lives.

I talked to our friend, Steve, who has been helping us walk through the whole pipeline thing. When he heard what we had been led to believe at the bank he called to explain that the possible 120 day wait to get the funds was not how it worked. After learning the details it seems that the banker had it wrong and in fact made mistakes in how the paperwork was handled in the first place. The good news is it shouldn’t take nearly as long as we feared to get the money but he will have to work to get things right. When I again thanked him, and thanked him, he said “Don’t thank me, thank God”. I guess that my effusive thanking was a bit much and I can see where it would make someone less than comfortable. So Steve, I thank God for people like you, people who go out of their way and make the sacrifice of time and effort to help others. Here’s a thought folks, God needs people who are willing to make these sacrifices and have the compassion to do what they know God desires. Without them He can’t accomplish these things. Well, that’s probably not quite accurate because God can do anything he wants and there is nothing impossible for Him. But it’s those who show their faith in actions, not just empty words, who truly allow Him to get things done. That’s how He prefers to work I think.

Here in this blog the world can see this as they watch the continuing miracle of our life. What God has in mind I don’t know but there is no question that His hand is on us and I suspect He wants the world to see it, that despite my extreme shortcomings they can see His mercy and grace shown to one who had fallen and rejected God in his life. I am blessed, I’ve been humbled, and I am grateful for it. Some of you may know of the problems I’ve had with my faith. In fact there was a time I didn’t have any at all and what I did have was damaged by the experiences we went through at some of the churches we reached out to in Toledo and here. But that is being restored bit by bit by the good people we have met here in West Texas. I need to work through the bitterness that resides in my soul but that too is being chipped away bit by bit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rain's stopped

3/14/09 Saturday
The rain’s stopped and it’s starting to warm up. I went to dig up some old fence posts thinking that the ground would be softened by the water. I was disappointed to find that only the top five inches was wet and under that the ground was dry and rock hard. No problem, I’ll use the hose to fill the holes I started up. Once that soaks in it will be much easier to do. I finally finished the letter to my dad. I’m going to print up some the old pictures I have of him back when he was training to be a fighter pilot and include them with the letter. Larry said he wanted them back after learning they were in my mother’s possessions. I told Larry I’d be happy to do it if my dad would ask me himself. Hope this will help soften dad up a little.

I still have a hundred and fifty pounds of seed to sow and will rake it in by hand unless I get the tiller running. They are predicting seventy degree sunny weather for the next few days so I certainly want to take advantage of that. Our seeds came in and many of them are the types of plants that can endure a night or two of freezing temperatures so I sure want to get them in the ground. There is so much to do that it would be nice to access the pipeline payment so I could pay for some help. The old man said he had some work he needed help with so that will help. We are going into town in a few minutes to get some things done so see ya later.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Every day is Valentines day

I check my statcounter program regularly because it tells me who visits the blog and what they look at. In fact it tells me a whole lot more than that. There are tons of pictures that folks are downloading. That’s flattering I think, that folks like them enough to download them. I was surprised to see how many people have been visiting the April, 2007 section of the blog so went back there to look. There’s a picture of a thunderhead at the top. It’s fascinating to me to read what I wrote back when. Partly because I don’t remember most of it till I read it again. Not sure what caused such activity in that part of the blog but it’s interesting to see. Then I chased another path where someone visited the December 2005 section. That was when my grandmother died so it told of our hurried trip to Texas for her funeral. Reading that brought up all kinds of stuff in me. Even reading about life in Toledo before her death was something else. It shows how bad a shape I was in and also how much better I am now. I am grateful for the mercies of God that allowed me to recover so well. There is no question I am blessed though I don’t have a clue why. Damn sure don’t deserve it. What I do know is that every day I wake up and see Cherie I am amazed, just blown away. We love each other so much and need each other so much. Every day is valentines day here. It’s late so we are going to crash. Night all.

Don't count your eggs

3/13/09 Friday
It’s another cold wet morning. May not feel to comfortable but we’ll take all the wet we can get right now. I called the old man and asked if he could check around to see if any of the farmers around here might have an old tractor they would want to get rid of. Last night I went online to see what I can find as well. There is a tractor in Abilene that has a front end loader on it that’s in our price range though it’s a little more than we want to spend. We don’t want to spend the whole pipeline check on a tractor as there are some other things we need. I’ve been considering hiring some of the Chuck and Lillian gang to help me get things done around here that are essential to getting the farm going. Plus I may be forced to take the tiller in to get fixed. Hate to do it but may not have a choice. It’s not a huge check so we will try to be wise in how it’s spent. Tractor’s, trellises, hiring some help, are all investments that will produce income down the road. Plus there are probably some things Cherie needs as well.
Well I’m still learning not to count my eggs before they hatch, or as Cherie just said “spending our eggs before they are hatched”. We went to the bank to get the contract notarized and deposit the “Sight Draft” they sent us. Never heard of a sight draft before but I guess it’s a common instrument in the oil business. We had the idea that it could just be deposited and then the funds would be available. NOPE, that’s not how it works. The bank manager looked at it a little puzzled. On the draft it said “Void after 120 days”. She said they usually said ten to thirty days and that she had never seen one for this long. The way it works is the draft is sent to the main bank office, who then sends it to the issuer, who then sends the bank a cashier’s check, which is then deposited, and then a notification of the deposit is sent to us. Plus she was surprised that the draft wasn’t printed on heavier paper and only had one copy where there are usually multiples. On the draft there were instructions to send the yellow page one place, the pink one another and the same for two other color pages. This only had the front page and a green copy. Probably not an issue but I tend to worry about things like that, look for what might go wrong. Anyway, she said that she has seen companies wait till the last minute before they issue a cashier’s check. That would be four months down the road for us if they did.

So now all the plans get put on hold. I found a potential tractor in our price range that is in a town called Brownwood. It’s about two hundred miles away but well worth the drive if it’s as good as it looked on paper. A big attraction of this tractor is it has a nice front end loader on it and is a fairly heavy machine. She had it listed on Craig’s list. The lady said she had inherited the tractor and everything worked but she didn’t really need it. I asked if there had been much interest and she told me she had lots of calls but no one came to look at it yet. When asked if she would negotiate on price she said she would a little. I’ll call her and see if she will hold it…no, that’s not fair to do. If it’s the tractor for us things will work out. I will call and explain the situation and that we won’t make the two and a half hour drive to look at it until we had funds in hand and that she should go ahead and sell it if she can.

So it’s back to working on the tiller. If I have to I’ll take it to a shop but have gone online and learned some things to look at so I’ll do that first to hopefully save some money. The dogs got into the fifty strawberry plants we just got while we were in Big Spring to get my eyes checked this afternoon. Not good. But I haven’t been able to prepare the beds they will go in yet and even if I did I’m not sure if they could handle a freeze. I should buy some hay to cover and protect them and any other plants we put out. Time to get back out into the wet cold and do some work.