Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saw a movie, First 3-D for me.

5/29/10 Saturday
Yesterday we went to see a movie. Haven’t done that in three or four years now. Keep seeing advertisements and saying “Let’s go see that” but never do. However Cherie has had a rough week so I know she needed some levity in her life to break the stress. Plus the widow has been going through major stresses between losing her job and having her grandson going through a divorce and being suicidal, and that’s just part of it, so we called and asked if she would like to go. “I don’t have any money” she said so I told her it was our treat. We went to see Shrek III. There is so little out there that is acceptable to me, so little that is uplifting and isn’t full of sex, murder, and cussing. So mostly what I care to see is kids movies anymore. We’ve seen the other Shrek movies so this looked like a great choice, and it was. I’ve never seen a 3-D movie in my life so that was a first. It was great. The movie has a good message, a moral theme that really worked and applies to life well. The widow enjoyed it as well but the theme may have hit close to home regarding her grandson as it dealt with dissatisfaction in life and marriage. But it gave her a break. The grandson is back at home and is still going through hell with his soon to be ex and others who don’t say things to help or settle him down.

I’ll be going to the widows today and mowing her lawn. The Kairos prison ministry is back down in Fort Stockton at the prison. I wanted to go but it didn’t work out. I intend to stay involved with that but am fighting my depressions and other things as well. Borrowed a cutting torch to use on taking the barn down in Odessa and got fresh tanks of gas for it. Was able to line up some labor for that job so we’re planning on Wednesday. Hope things work out.

That’s all for now.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Time flies

One of the flowers on the cactus we have out front.

5/27/10 Thursday
Time flies past so quick I wake up surprised at what day it is. Been helping a friend the last couple of days. That means lots hasn’t gotten done around the farm but things seldom seem to get done around here anyway. I can afford to pay for some help now so will call the halfway house to see if Mike or any of the others are available. Actually I think I’ll drive up there this morning and talk to them. The gift we were given won’t last long so we need to be careful and wise regarding it’s use.

Just called Stepping Stone ministries (the halfway house) and talked to Mike. Let him know we now have funds so he can come back to work. Asked if there were any others there who would be able to help tear down the barn and he told me about a guy who was just released from prison yesterday that may be able to help so he will ask him and let me know. I set a tentative date of next Wednesday to take down the barn so he can make sure it’s scheduled with his parole officer. It’s good to be able to help others again, though it won’t last long.

I need to make a list of things to do today. Otherwise not much will happen. There’s a large batch of wood that needs to be cut and stacked, it’s the start of preparing for next winter. I want to install drip irrigation in the plot I plowed last week. I need to replow where the blackeyed peas are to be planted. They should have been planted a month ago. There’s more fence that needs to be put up. Particularly where the watermelons are to be grown. That is also where I want to build the chicken house, another project I want to do. Plus there is the barn I plan on building, I’m thinking of at least setting the telephone poles in place for that. First part of that job will be to draw up a preliminary plan for the building so I have an idea of how wide and long the building will be. I know where I’ll put it, where we had a transformer and electric meter installed when Alan was planning on moving his mobile home here, so I have electricity available for it.

Cherie’s been sick for several days now, fighting something off that sure effected her emotionally. She’s continued to go to work and pushed through but it took a toll. When she gets frustrated I share it so am easily frustrated as well. She’s starting to feel better so that’s good.

Wild sunflowers. Cherie likes them so I didn't till this area in.

Took a pain pill this morning, knowing I’ll need it. There’s so much to do, always so much to do. Mike can’t come work till next Wednesday so it’s just me for now. Our friend is working on an oil well today so I have some time off from helping him. So need to get moving and make the best of the time I have, especially while it’s still cool outside.

I was wanting to note when the truck hit 200,000 miles, just thought it would be cool to watch it roll over. Nope, missed it. Looked at the odometer yesterday and it happened three hundred miles ago. Still running on two gears. If it works out I'll have Nate pick a transmission up in Toledo cause he can get it for a whole lot less than it'd cost me here in Texas. Now I'll work on getting 300,000 miles out of the truck.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Look what God does

5/24/10 Monday
There’s so much going on and part of that is I’m fighting this laptop so it may take a while to write it all. After the laptop crashed a friend offered to fix it. Unfortunately he erased everything so I ended up with a computer with nothing on it but what comes when you buy them new. All the software I’d purchased and put on was gone along with every bit of work I’ve done. That included the spyware program I’d just purchased so the computer isn’t protected. It didn’t take long for someone to invade it cause I already got a spam email sent from myself this morning. So I changed the password but am still unprotected.

We will take Gretchen to the vet this afternoon. Her leg is pretty chewed up and appears to be infected. I suspect this happened as she protected Ben from attack the day they disappeared. Perhaps they will not wander off as much now, at least we hope so. For the moment we have two three legged dogs between Ben and Gretchen.

Saturday we heard the dogs barking, the kind of bark we recognize as saying “someone’s here” so I got up to see. There was a white van in the drive that I didn’t recognize so I called Rascal and Trixie and put them in the house. We have to do this for they are somewhat aggressive with strangers. A woman got out and came up. She said “You’ve taken so many pictures on the blog that I recognized this place”. She is a regular reader who follows our story and has left a few comments. I recognized her name when she told me. She didn’t say a whole lot, just asked “If I gave you something, would you take it no questions asked?”. Cherie and I both said yes and she got her checkbook out and wrote a check. There’s no need to say how much it was, that doesn’t matter, but it was significant. What matters is the heart, the motivation behind any action. She told us that she has been touched by how I keep going despite difficulties. She also had some advice regarding those who think little of us and would rather spend time talking about us, tearing us down, than actually talk to us and get to know who we are. It is evident she has experienced a few difficulties in life too and thus could relate to some of ours. I wanted to give her a tour of the farm and tell of all the dreams and plans we had but she seemed inclined to get moving. After she left Cherie just cried, saying “I can’t believe it”. Thank you friend. I won’t use your name because… Don’t figure you did it for recognition anyway.

So once again our needs are met, miraculously out of the blue. “Use that money wisely” our friend, whom we’d never met before, advised us. That’s not a problem, we are careful about every penny we have. God is good, and takes care of us. We have met so many whom show the love of God and practice what they preach, instead of just talking about it. Our prayer is that they all be blessed and our knowledge is that they will be. Psalm 91 says “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord “My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust” for it is he who delivers from the snare of the trapper”. It goes on to speak of how God protects and cares for those whom love Him. Verse eleven says “He will give his angels charge concerning you, to protect you in all your ways”. Cherie and I had just read psalm 94 the day before this lady showed up at our door and I told her about it as we discussed those who spend time talking about us, how it tells of God’s vengeance against those who wish to harm His children. “They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves. They have said “The Lord does not see, nor does the God of Jacob pay heed” Psalm 94.4. I am far from perfect and have made many mistakes, but tried to reach out and asked for forgiveness. So I leave things in the hands of God, who is the perfect judge and knows men’s hearts. As I struggle to believe and work to be pleasing to God things like this wonderful gift happen that reinforce my faith.

I must leave to take Gretchen to the vet so will finish this later.

Gretchen’s gonna live. She’s got some infection and inflamed ligaments and tendons. The vet said it looks like she “took a slide” on some pavement. Perhaps she got hit by a vehicle. I don’t know but there is no question that she had tangled with some critters, whether dogs, coyotes, or something else I can’t tell. She gave us some medicine and a bill, telling us to let her know if the swelling doesn’t come down.

I’m still fighting to bring this laptop back to speed. Right now the Picasa picture program is trying to absorb the fifteen thousand or so pictures that were on the external hard drive we had backed the laptop up on. Unfortunately every time it runs into one of the many videos we had taken it crashes and loses everything so I must start it over. That’s happened over twenty times so far. I’m sure there’s a way I can program it to not do this but don’t have a clue. Each time it crashes and I restart it shows the particular movie that caused the problem and lets me “Hide” it on the disc.

Yesterday I spent seven hours on the tractor. Man was my butt sore but it’s stuff that has to be done. There’s a hint of rain coming and I desperately need to plant the hay Bermuda seed we bought, along with the regular grass type. Oops! The Picasa program just crashed again so hang on while I start it again.

With the gift our friend gave us I’ll be able to afford to hire some of the guys from the Stepping Stone halfway house to do some of the work that is so hard on me. Part of that is finishing tearing down the barn in Odessa. It will be so nice to be able to keep my word. Plus my hope is to use the material to build a greenhouse along the garage and building a barn where I can work on tractors and equipment is a big part of our vision for the future. Picasa just crashed again so got to fix it.

It’s exciting to be me, sometimes, when it’s not depressing. My life is a wonderful series of things just coming together in spite of the obstacles put in our way. As I struggled with my faith, struggled to believe and reconcile my doubts these events (time for another Picasa fix) show me that there is a God and that He is an active living being who cares and gets involved, who really does things. I’ll be telling my story, or at least part of it, this Wednesday morning at the First Christian Church that is on Louisiana Avenue (or street, not sure) for their prayer group who meet at 7:00 am. You are welcome to come.(Cherie called me after reading this. It's a mens only prayer group) I’ve got about a half hour to speak so that isn’t enough to cover the whole wonder my life is. (Crap, there goes Picasa again) So I’ll probably focus on what I consider the greatest part, how the marriage between Cherie and I was restored after 20 years, but I’ll certainly touch on the rest of it.

This Picasa thing is driving me nuts but it’s the way it is. I’ll keep plugging along till I get things restored. I heard thunder outside so that may mean rain is near. Here I am working on getting this laptop up and also to finish writing for the blog when I’ve got lots of work to do outside as well. It’s always that way, a balance of what is the most important thing to do versus what can I put off and for how long.

In the realm of our life is the lives of others we help. Cherie went with me Saturday to visit with the widow. Her grandson was put in a mental health evaluation facility where he is only allowed short visits. It’s kind of like jail. So she was headed out to see him for the first time and was glad to see us. I talked with her for a short time as other family members were there getting his clothes and things together to take to the facility. This family has seen so much difficulty and much of it is the result of previous problems. The widow had been molested as a child and was later married to an alcoholic so she had overcome much in her life but then saw the pattern repeat with her daughter. I’ve seen this so many times in so many lives that it’s a familiar story to me now. I offered again to speak with the young man and the widow said she’d convey that to him. Part of his problem is the abuse he received from his dad, who was sexually abusing the daughter and despising him at the same time. So the pattern repeats and that cycle must be broken. The young man is physically and mentally abusive to his wife, who is divorcing him now, and controlling and possessive. Pray for him, that his eyes open up and he can see himself. That’s the hardest person to see, you know, yourself. He treats his daughter like gold but his son gets little love or compassion from him. The little boy is only about three years old or so. What I know is that most of us learn our parenting skills and how to love our mate from our parents.

Enough writing. I’ve got work to do. God bless you all. The Picasa program finally was able to accumulate all the pictures so that’s done.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I will succeed.

Hi folks, I'm doing better. These bouts with depression happen all the time, especially when I am slapped in the face by my failure to achieve basic goals. It's hard sometimes. I am struggling to find words to use here, words that don't seem vindictive or whiny but express the truth. So I just won't. My words have been taken the wrong way and honesty doesn't seem to be appreciated so I'll just say that this is a new day and I will get out and struggle to move forward despite the difficulties. There are some who express delight in my failure and they spur me to succeed in my defiance.

Today I must disc under all the plowing I did yesterday. There is a lot of sticker grass that has come up in between the rows. I thought all night on it and decided that it would be easier to disc it all in and start over rather than spend days with a hoe going after the weeds by hand. It's so nice to have a tractor that works. Eventually I'll be able to add to the implements I can use with it but for now the disc and two blade plow I made by putting together two blades I'd gotten separately do a lot of work. They don't match but they do the job.

The laptop is in the hands of a friend, who said he can fix it. I like the Picassa program on it because it lets me reduce the quality of pictures I post online and thus they take up less space and load much faster. Right now all we have is the Mac and I don't know what it's capable of and can't see a way to reduce the pixels.

Here's a picture of our lawn on the south side of the house. It's the only spot that came up out of the ones I had sowed. Must have been a timing thing. It took several days over the course of weeks for me to sow the seeds. My guess is that much of the rest washed and blew away and rain came just right for this spot. I'm afraid to water the areas I've resowed but will do a small spot to see if that helps or hurts.

Gotta keep my head up and work on a positive attitude. It's not easy when you are alone all day. I miss having Alan here every day. He was great help and good company. The other guy helped out well too, but we can't afford that now. I will succeed, despite the difficulties. God is with me because the bible says He is. It says "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I must refuse

What can I do? When I went out to work depression, or hopelessness, or something hard to define, hit me like a brick wall. Thoughts and suspicions of other's betrayal and deception fill my mind as I struggle to accomplish something, anything. I plunked around with my tools, pulling weeds and raking, but finally gave up. Came in to pray and try to refocus. This is overwhelming. Cherie's been going through stuff also. But with me it's physically palpable, my ears are ringing so perhaps it's a slowdown? There's so much going on, so many hopes and future dreams were dashed to pieces. Plans for the farm were thwarted, and it appears someone's words did that. Then there is my doubting my ability to accomplish much of anything, evidenced by the vast array of unfinished projects. Why keep trying when my efforts are doomed to fail? I must overcome this, I must keep fighting to move forward. Even if I fail at least I tried. The urge to crawl into the safety of the bed, where I can waste time watching TV is strong, but that I will refuse to do. Must keep pushing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Integrity is inconvenient, but I'll practice it anyway

5/19/10 Wednesday
My laptop just crashed. I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened but it never fails to be frustrating. It had come to mind that I should back it up a few times recently but, as is so often the case, I would forget. I’ve been out shoveling dirt all morning, repairing the damage the dogs have done in their enthusiastic digging. It’s amazing how much dirt they can move. If only I could harness that energy and make use of it around the farm. I wouldn’t need a tractor. I had fired up the Massey Ferguson to takle this job when it decided to strip the gears and die. Could have done this work in just a few minutes. I started on it right away when Cherie left for work, about 8:00, and shoveled dirt till 9:45. I was done for by then. Unfortunately I couldn’t take a pain pill till 11:00 so had to wait. Got the laptop out and quickly figured out that the pain level was too high to work on it sitting in a chair so turned it off so I could transfer it to the bed, where I could work with it laying down. That’s when the operating config system, or whatever it is, disappeared. It’s going to be a long day. Cherie was not feeling real positive this morning either, she had to make a decision not to do something she really wanted to because we don’t have the funds anymore. I feel bad about it as well. It seems like we are under attack with so many things going wrong. I’m still reeling from the old man’s sudden change of attitude and so many other things. Losing the tractor is just a material thing but it sure makes life harder. I just got an email from the lady with the barn I’m obligated to tear down, asking when I was going to finish the job. I’ll borrow a friends torch and head out there by myself if I must, in order to keep my word. Perhaps there’s enough money left to pay Mike for one more day of labor. I had wanted to have two able bodied men there but he wasn’t able to find anyone else at the halfway house who was available to work. I need to do what I need to do, no matter how inconvenient it is. This honor and integrity thing is sure inconvenient but I suppose that’s why so few people can wear that badge. I will be the kind of person I can be proud of and choose to do what I know is right despite the hardship.

Meantime, there are so many things around this farm that are being neglected. I work till I can’t, rest, and then work some more but still can’t keep up. The alternative, sitting on my ass and doing nothing, is not remotely acceptable to me. But I’m sure that those who like to talk and judge assume that’s what I do from seeing so much stuff laying around this farm not finished. That feeling of isolation and lonliness has been coming around again lately. Going to the Kairos so helped me in that area. It was good to feel that I not only belonged but was welcomed and appreciated. It was good to have people around me. The one friend I had in Stanton suddenly thought I was taking advantage of him and pushed me away in no uncertain terms. That still hurts and puzzles me. As I work out near the road I wave at cars as they drive by and on occasion someone will honk their horn so I have that and the dogs to keep me company. I’ll take what I can get. Just read a medical study on traumatic brain injury and depression that told me what I already knew. Those who have TBI are eight times more likely to suffer from chronic depression. It’s a battle I have been fighting for years, most of my life, but it’s harder when you don’t have a good support group around you. We found a great deal of love and support with our church family in Midland but it’s not like they are next door and I’m not one to call out for help much.

Enough whining. The pain pill is helping make things tolerable and there is work to do. I must do my laundry soon so will be going to Midland for that. Cherie had taken that chore from me because I do my laundry like a guy, throw it in and guess at how much detergent to put in, turn the knobs, press the buttons, and hope it turns out ok. But Cherie’s work has been tiring her out so she will let me do my own laundry to help her out. That I am glad to do.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's official, the Massey died

It’s official, the Massey Ferguson tractor has died. It appears that one of the gears in the rear end has stripped out. Despite it’s many shortcomings (Not going into reverse when warmed up) it was a valuable tool. The front end loader did much more than move dirt. I use it to lift and move heavy objects, like the disk I’m working on, and the telephone poles I get for free and plan on using to build my barn, chicken coop, as well as fencing. Right now I have the disk I bought from Skyler flipped over to work on it and have no idea how I will be able to put it right side up again. The front end loader and hydraulics, along with the PTO still all work on it but the tractor won’t roll forwards or backwards now so it’s stuck right where it stopped. Not a very convenient spot at all. I suppose I could winch it onto the trailer and take it someplace to get worked on but odds are you can’t get parts for a 1959 Massey anyway. Besides that we’re back to being broke so even if I could there’s no money for it. So it’s another set back for Westbrook Farms. No big deal, just makes life a little harder. We are blessed and grateful to have the John Deere tractor and that has been running great, other than half the bolts on one wheel mysteriously disappearing one night. All the rest of the bolts were loose. It made me wonder. Did they all just work loose? Or was there some vindictive tampering going on. I don’t know but am learning to keep an eye out. Bolts do loosen and I suppose that with farm equipment that is worked hard you must check on them.

A nice cool morning

5/18/10 Tuesday
It’s a nice cool morning but the humidity is high, probably in the nineties range. It won’t take long to warm up to the predicted 87 degrees and the rest of the week will be in the mid 90’s. I’ve been out with the roller pressing the Bermuda seed I sowed till it was to dark to see last night into the ground. You can regulate the weight of the roller by how much water you put in it. I put plenty of water in so pushing and pulling that thing already has be soaking wet from sweat despite how cool it is. Part of that may be residuals left from the fever I had.

There is still lots of areas I wish to sow Bermuda on. Here’s a picture to show how I prepared it to spread with the fertilizer broadcast type spreader. The Bermuda seed is small, about the size of a grain of sand so in order to help spread it more evenly I mixed it with sand in the cement mixer. I had this in mind when I bought the mixer though mixing cement is in the plans somewhere in the future. I read something about “inoculating” seed with a cement mixer. I know I read all about what inoculating seed entails but can’t remember any of it. That’s unfortunately the way it is and has been since I woke up from the coma. I research and learn and then must go and learn it all over again because it all vanished from my mind.

So there’s work to do and hot weather on the way. We’ll pray for a gentle rain to help all this seed germinate because there is so much salt and chlorides in the well water we dare not water it. That would essentially kill the seed and waste all the work I’ve done.
10:40 – I finished rolling where the apple orchard once was. That was a short lived venture as all but one of the trees were killed by gophers and whatever other elements were at work. That lone tree still clings to life so we will do what we can for it. I went to start preparing the next area I wish to have grass on, the ridge along which the wind break trees are planted, but found myself weak and light headed. Walking is a chore at the moment, something I must do with care as I seem to be unsteady on my feet. Nothing new there, just one of the continuous inconveniences that come with a brain injury. I hate taking a break as every minute the temperatures climb but I do what I must. Looking at the ridge I wish to plant I ponder how to go about preparing the area. Underneath the soil now resides drip irrigation tape on the outside and the drip system for the trees on the other so I can’t till it for fear of tearing that up. I did that a few weeks ago and spent hours repairing the damage. So it’s all going to be hand work. How I miss the time I could work hard for ten or fifteen hours in a day and not miss a beat. But that’s the price of being alive and I’m blessed no matter how hard it is.

I don’t know where Ben and Gretchen have been disappearing to lately. They weren’t there in the morning yesterday or today and I haven’t seen them yet. Ben had gotten too close to a skunk a few days ago and you can still smell it on him. We pray that God keep them both safe. Our dogs are so much of a blessing to us and enrich our lives. But with that comes worrying, or at least concern.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fever broke

Making a yard, in process as I till it all up.

5/17/10 Monday
Evidently my fever broke last night. It’s a shame that Cherie had just put fresh sheets on the bed as they were soaking wet by this morning. I don’t feel any better but at least know I’m on the mend. There’s plenty of work to do, as there always is. I’ve been working hard to prepare areas for Bermuda grass. We’ve lived here for five years now and it would be nice to have a lawn. Little by little we’re building a home, and a farm. I’d sown grass seed before but we had some severe rains and it washed all the seed away. What the rain didn’t wash away I think the wind blew away. I pushed through yesterday despite feeling pretty crappy. Must work hard today to finish the job. First is to finish raking the ground level and then I will sow the Bermuda seed. After that I will pull the steel roller I bought at auction in Ohio over it all to press the seed in the ground. It’s going to be warm and humid, with the possibility of thunderstorms later so the earlier I get out there the better.
Making a yard, after tilling and raking level

It looks like the Massey Ferguson tractor might be dying. When I went to use it to load dirt into the raised beds I am making it made lots of clanking noise and jerked real bad as I drove it. Not good. It was a bad purchase on my part because I didn’t have a clue about tractors and trusted the lady who sold it but I figured that at least I can use the front end loader to move the tons of dirt I need to redistribute. Oh well, just another obstacle.

I’m still sweaty and feel feverish this morning. Hope whatever this is goes away soon. Real tired and just want to go to bed but can’t let myself do that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Been sick and didn't know it

5/16/10 Sunday
For two days, Friday and Saturday, I’ve struggled to get motivated. Talked about a melancholy heaviness and figured I was fighting off another batch of depression. Yesterday I walked outside six times, intent on doing something, anything, but with one exception I would come back inside. I did manage to hoe and pull weeds on the front yard. After spending all night wide awake or having some unpleasant dreams, and burning up under the covers or freezing when I got out I had to make a quick trip to the bathroom. Come to find out I’m running a fever so I now understand that I’m fighting off some kind of bug and have been for days now. With it my back pain is pronounced. I heard about aches and pains with flues and other ailments so guess that’s to be expected. So it’s time to drink plenty of liquids, take some vitamins, and help my body overcome this. We were planning on visiting a different church that we’ve been invited to today but might not go anywhere. It’s not nice to share your illness and a heck of a way to introduce yourself.
Moving these railroad ties by myself will come with a price. But as always I do the best I can with what I've got.

This adds to the frustration of having so much to do and not doing it. This inability to complete tasks has cost me dear in the past and will continue to do so. Regardless of how I feel I must take advantage of the wet soil. That requires raking areas tilled flat, tilling more areas while the dirt is soft, and spreading Bermuda seed on all the areas I want grass to grow. Plus I need to plant blackeyed peas and other crops. I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time now but never did. Looks like I need to visit the bathroom again. It’s going to be so much fun today. Ha Ha Ha. (Sardonic laugh)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wrestling with theology

5/15/10 Saturday
We are starting to work on observing the Sabbath, to make it a day dedicated to God. This is hard for several reasons. Saturday is a day off of work and that means it’s a time we can catch up on stuff around the house. For me there is a never ending list of things that need to be done when it comes to farming. I suspect that the live asparagus and sweet potato plants I got almost two weeks ago are dead by now. Haven’t even looked in the fridge we have in the garage, where I stored them. The whole thing with the old man and railroad ties really set that back as I was not about to plant anything there if I was going to return them. Now the rains have delayed things there as well. The thing about keeping a Sabbath is that it’s to be a day of rest, where you don’t work on things. I’m wrestling with that theology right now for Jesus made it a point to go against the Jewish traditions and said some pointed things. So what’s right and what’s not? I’m thinking that if I keep my heart and mind on things of God during the day that qualifies…but I’m still wrestling with that. Whatever I do will be an improvement over doing nothing. So step by step we will work towards getting closer to God.

I went out and took more pictures of the rain damages. The hail pounded our plants pretty good but for the most part they are still in good shape. I can see several areas that are low and where the rain settles to. One of the concepts I have is to dig and build a cistern to capture rain water and another is to perhaps create a pond type area lined with the stuff I got from the landfill that seals it. So many ideas but so little in resources and ability to follow through on them.

Here’s a picture of our onions. We had covered them all back up when the wind blew all the dirt away and with this rain they are all exposed again. If I could I’d buy a hundred or two railroad ties to make raised beds and prevent this from happening. Meantime I’ll do the best I can. I can see that making tall furrows doesn’t work out well. Did I see that last year as well? Don’t know and can’t remember so I’m doomed to repeat the same mistakes till I can. But making raised, lined beds is certainly a way to go long term. That just requires the time and money I seem to be often short of.

Today I will focus on doing some writing though some things outside are pressing needs. Weeds always need pulling, especially the sticker grass.

Friday, May 14, 2010

And the Rain came

And the rains came and rain it did. I got most of the rain catching buckets filled. Some didn’t do as well as others due to poor placement under the roof or something. This blew in fairly fast but with plenty of warning. There was some hail and that greatly affects the outside dogs. There is little question that both Ben and Gretchen have been exposed to some nasty hail during their life as strays for when you hear the first “Bang” as hail stones hit there is instant panic. Yesterday, I think, there was some hail dropping and when I opened the door to go in the house both Ben and Gretchen rushed in between my legs. That caught us by surprise for both of them know they don’t come in the house but their fear of the hail was palpable and…well, you should have seen the looks they gave us, with those big eyes saying “You’re not going to throw us out are you? Please, please, don’t throw us out in that storm!”. So they stayed till the hail stopped. I had a hard time coaxing them outside and they only did to follow Rascal and Trixie out.

With this storm I went out to comfort them. They wanted in the house again but I didn’t allow it. They huddled together at the office door, the farthest point from anywhere the hail could be, so I gave them lots of pets and hugs. Oh, they loved it and clung to me, whining when I left them to come in.

There wasn’t much hail, mostly rain, but that came down plenty fast. There was a lot of close lightening so I turned the power off to the Mac and our new printer. Would hate to lose either one of them, but especially the Mac. I really had a hard time making use of the inside time, couldn’t quite come to a decision on what to tackle. I sure could use a secretary. Spent over a decade with that kind of assistance and sure got a lot accomplished. I’ve always had a brain injury, in fact I have had multiple injuries dating all the way back to when I was a baby. There are seven separate events I can identify in my life that had high likelihoods of or absolutely did cause traumatic brain injuries. So I built my companies twice (That’s another story. I lost both of them due to being jailed and then started them up from scratch again three years later) despite a damaged mind. A big help was having a secretary, whose job was to remind me what I was supposed to be doing and when, along with being my memory, telling me who it was that walked in the office because I couldn’t recognize them.

One of the reasons I feel pressed to get things done is the sticker grass. I was going to write about it earlier but just found the pictures. The reason for the urgency is that each one of these stickers is a seed and they are all making stickers at once as quick as they can. So the battle is on. This is a war I bought the tractor for so now have resources to battle with. I know I’ll always have sticker grass but this year I want to get ahead of it. So I’m disking EVERYTHING the tractor will reach and have sharpened the hoe for all the places I can’t get to. Plus I must run the tiller extensively to catch the back yard and other areas the tractor isn’t good for. The problem is I’m already late so any stickers that get tilled under are essentially planted and will come up. I must now wait till the ground dries out some but perhaps the hoe work can be done, now that it’s stopped raining.

Here's cilantro in our herb garden that's blown over.

It’s a good thing I didn’t get the Bermuda seed out because this would have washed it all away, just like last time. So being behind was a blessing. It’s still raining and lightening out. There was a short break where I could go out and take pictures. I was all set to head out there and get to work after writing in the blog when the rain started back up. I’ll go online and look at the radar.

Yep, there’s lots more weather coming. I can see the line of storms coming on News West 9’s weather website. That’s technology for you, live weather radar on screen at your house. I need to buy a rain coat. Been wanting to for months but forgot as always.

The Wonder of it all

5/14/10 Friday
Hard to believe it’s Friday, feels like it should only be Tuesday. I ran the tractor till it suddenly stopped at about sundown. I think it ran out of diesel, at least I hope it did. That could be a problem in itself as I’ve heard you really don’t want to do that. Something about air getting in the fuel system. First thing this morning is to go fill up the five gallon container with diesel. I had hoped to find something that I could use to store diesel, a tank on a trailer that I could take into town and fill up, but that hasn’t happened and now the funds are gone. Went and knocked on a farmer’s door that I was told had one for sale and left messages on his phone a month or three ago but never heard from him. This is all part of slowly building the farm, acquiring the things like that, which make life easier. Meantime I suppose I should go online and see about what to do when you run out of fuel on your tractor.

So there’s more rain on the way and I’m pressed to get stuff done. If it starts raining I will probably stay out in it because…I need to. Nothing easy or convenient about farming, especially when your resources are low and it’s just you. Yesterday I went to Midland with the expressed purpose of buying what’s called “Tall Bermuda” but after exchanging an auger bit and buying a new flag to replace the one that’s shredded in the wind I totally forgot. That, unfortunately, is not unusual for me. I need to get the seed in order to sow it when the ground is wet from rain.

Here’s a picture of a new flower. At least it’s new to me but I could well have seen it before and simply not remember. I saw it as I was running the tractor so went and got Cherie and the camera. I love to share things like this with Cherie. It’s a wonder to watch her face brighten up as she sees something beautiful. Perhaps my face brightens up when I see Cherie and wonder at the marvel she is, at the miracle of how our marriage was restored. I can’t see my face but sure can sense my heart at these times. Anyway, I wonder if this flower is related to the giant dandelion like plant I took a picture of the other day for the geometric pattern is similar. Hopefully I will remember to go check on it as these flowers mature but odds are it will vanish from my mind. That’s why I take pictures and keep this journal.

There’s work to do and rain on the way, possibly. You never know about the rain.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Self fulfilling prophesy

(click to enlarge) Yesterday's sunset

5/13/10 Thursday
We had rain last night, rain that came with some quarter sized hail. It was a quick intense storm as the “dry line” rolled over us. Wasn’t as much volume as I would have liked for it only added a few inches in the many buckets and barrels I have situated under roof eaves. We’ve had some rainstorms that fill them up in moments. There’s a chance of more rain over the next few days so I must focus on getting areas prepared and seeded. I need to prepare at least one of the raised beds with the hope that the asparagus and sweet potatoes are still alive. So much to do and so little time. Sure wish I could afford to pay Mike to help. Through his help we made huge strides forward with this farm but there is still an overwhelming amount of stuff to do. I’ve been fighting off a lot of depression, forcing myself to keep going despite feeling like there is no point. The dogs are a big source of comfort for me as they come to give and get loving with no strings attached. Helps me not focus on the obstacles I face. As has been the case for years my biggest problem is being able to focus and choose the tasks that are most important to do. I end each day realizing what I forgot to do. Need to get back to carrying the notebook so I can write down things as I remember or think of them.

I bought an auger drill bit that is over a foot long. Cost nearly twenty bucks but I need it to drill holes through the railroad ties in order to drive stakes through them and thus keep the ties in place once I fill the beds with dirt. I’ll have to change how I was making them because I may be unable to get more from the old man. I plan on writing to him and ask if he would be willing to sell some. I walk on eggshells with so many people because I seem to cause so many problems or at least am unable to connect with them. This is not unusual with TBI survivors but that doesn’t make me feel any better. What throws many off, perhaps, is the evidence that I am still smart. The other day someone said that if they didn’t know I’d had a brain injury they wouldn’t be able to tell. He said that his first impression was that I was like a professor, someone highly educated. I remember the conversation but don’t remember who I had it with. Typical for me. So when people see that you’re not a total idiot they don’t understand when you say or do things that aren’t very nice or correct. I spend a lot of time worrying about what I said or did, and don’t remember clearly, and think that the very fact I’m so self conscious about it possibly causes the problems I worry about. Kind of a self fulfilling prophesy kind of thing.

I’ve got work to do and it’s only me so odds are the pain level will be an issue today. Moving those railroad ties by myself will certainly hurt but must be done. That won’t hurt as much as bending down to put tiny seeds in the ground will. Regardless, times a wastin so I must get to work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pressing on

Rows I created yesterday for planting.

5/12/10 Wednesday
Got a reply to my letter back from the old man yesterday. It was a break in the tension, at least that’s what I believe. I have hope that we can eventually renew our friendship. His last sentence summed things up well when he said “better communication on both sides probably would have helped”. That holds true for almost every problem I have with others. I certainly write better than I talk but my level of blunt honesty surely causes a great deal of stress in others.

All of this has upset Cherie as well. My lack of smooth social behavior has been a problem for as long as she has known me. Actually it’s been a problem ever since I woke from the coma. Even in the hospital I caused problems despite the fact that they were teaching me to talk. The social worker expressed her desire that I leave the state of Oklahoma at one point. This is a common issue with brain injury survivors as we often have drastically altered perceptions of the world around and interpret what we hear and see differently. That comes back to the need to communicate well. Communication is a two way street with the other parties needing to give us feedback on what we are saying and doing. With me that is hard because I have a hard time accepting or recognizing errors in my thought processes and, convinced I’m right, would argue till I was blue in the face. With time I would understand I was wrong but it required a patience on the part of others, a patience that was seldom there.

There is a possibility of rain starting tomorrow so I must focus on getting seed in the ground. Plus I have boxes of asparagus and sweet potatoes that we ordered online a week ago that should have been planted when they arrived. The plan was to plant them in the raised beds I was making with the railroad ties but I with the dust up with the old man I was unsure if we would be keeping them so never finished putting them together. I am so behind now and the funds to pay for help are greatly diminished, so it’s back to being behind the 8-ball again. I still have an obligation to finish tearing down the barn in Crane county but have been unable to find another person at the halfway house to help. That job requires two other individuals because we must tear down the heavy steel frame. I’m trying to reserve some funds for that job but time is eating away at them. Nothing out here comes easy and keeping my word to the barn owner will require sacrifice for sure.

Yesterday my youngest son, whom I raised with the second wife, posted a video on U-tube. It broke my heart for so many different reasons, many of which I won’t go into here. How I miss him and his older brother and how I regret the many mistakes I made during that segment of my life. One of the hopes I have for the vision I have with this farm is to provide for him in some way, to help improve his life. Adam is learning disabled, probably from being dropped on his head while a baby long before his mother and I got together. I so recognize his issues.

Meantime I must march on. There are so many things I haven’t followed through on regarding the business plan that it is depressing. I wonder at times if I should keep striving and think “What’s the use”. But I won’t give up, I’ll keep struggling forward no matter how much I fail and how many obstacles are put in my way. God will provide. He always has and the many small miracles of provision help me continue on. So I press on and refuse to give up.
1:57- I just got back from mowing the old store. This is day four or five of mowing, I’ll have to look back in this journal to see but it’s not that important to me. It sure is hot and has been for a few days. The old store hasn’t been mowed yet this year and we’ve had some rain so the weeds are up there. Don’t know if the old man knows I’m mowing it so will need to let him know. It’s been a tough job on me, in general I get about two hours in before I am done for and hurt too much to continue. I scared up a four foot rattlesnake and ran to get the camera but it disappeared. Without a stick or something like that I wasn’t going to tackle it so continued mowing very carefully, hoping to at least get a picture. Didn’t happen.

So I’m home and will fix something to eat. Probably peanut butter and jelly as that’s always handy. Then there is an urgency to get seed planted and prepare for the hoped for rain. Lots to do there. Started preparing to plant corn and blackeyed peas. I might not be able to get compost mixed in like I want. I’m already beat and it’s only 1:50. One more day of mowing and I’ll be done but getting stuff done here is more important. I have live plants, asparagus and sweet potato we ordered online, that are over a week old and not put in the ground yet. They may be all dead by now. So mowing must wait.
Here's a cool weed that was growing at the old store. Kinda looks like a dandelion but I don't think it is. Real pretty to me. Would like to see the flower, or is it the flower?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another day

5/11/10 Tuesday
Another day and always more to do than I can get to. I managed to give Rascal and Trixie their tick bath yesterday. Still depressed about the sudden change in the old man and his suspicion of me and my motives. Hope and pray for resolution or restoration or whatever you call it. I like the guy. It just hurt. Not much to write cause there’s so much to do.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Snakes, they are everywhere

(click to enlarge)

5/10/10 Monday
Snakes, they are everywhere, both reptilian and human. We killed our first rattlesnake for the year yesterday. I really hated to do it because snakes help keep the rat and mouse population in check. In fact we could see the swollen spot in the snakes belly where it had eaten such a rodent. But this snake was at the base of the house and because they are poisonous and will kill our dogs, much less possibly even us, I had to get rid of it. Then this morning we found a baby mouse trapped in a bucket and in the last few weeks the cats have killed, or at least found, a few more.

The one that was found still alive we noticed through the commotion of Gracie cat and both Rascal and Trixie as they chased it from cover to cover in the house. So I joined the chase with a broom as Cherie watched from safe distances. It was nuts because the mouse would end up underneath Gracie and Gracie didn’t seem to have a clue what to do with it so would sit there with a mouse hiding between her paws. That’s the one I talked about flushing down the toilet.
This picture shows the fence we put up and you can see on the far side where I'll be building a double door gate.
Now to the human snakes. Someone has been planting poisonous words in the old man’s ears, indicating that I’ve been taking advantage of him and perhaps even stealing. So last week he blew up at me when I went to get the railroad ties he told me I could have. I don’t lose sleep over much and work hard to live a life that I am proud for the whole world to see, but this hurt. There’s a lot of people who have never talked to me but talk about me. I don’t know who all of them are (oh, I know a few by name) but I see the results of their words in the attitudes of people we meet. The old man has been my hope at acceptance for he’s the only one who has spent any time with me and thus should have an idea of the level of my character. Evidently that led those, who’s desire is to tear down, not to build up, to seek him out and tell him what a bad person I am, I’m sure with the veneer of looking out for his own good and protecting his interests.

This hurt deeply. I enjoyed the friendship and company of the old man and would drop everything anytime he called for help. Wrote him a long letter and dropped it off at his house yesterday. Cherie and I have prayed about it and must leave it in the hands of God, in whom we trust. In the meantime I will do my best to fulfill what I consider to be my obligations to the old man and perform the tasks I told him I would do. To me that’s part of being a man and the creed I live by. I will say what I mean and to the best of my ability do what I say. The last part has become hard for me because I find myself making promises that end up being difficult to keep. My world is full of unfinished projects, things I started but seem to never finish.

The scripture I read with Cherie this morning for the start of our day relates to this. Most of us have heard John 3:16 hundreds of times, you know “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” but I like to read all of a verse and not just pick out part. It amazes me that Jesus told this to the disciples early in his ministry and it’s clear that Jesus always knew He would be killed, but they couldn’t quite grasp it till after His death. Down in verse 19 it says, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

I live my life as an open book, exposing myself through this blog and working to live a life that there is no shame in. But it seems that very openness is one of the main reasons some of the church people reject and shun me. I was told clearly that they didn’t appreciate me keeping this journal, and I guess I understand that but at the same time find it sad that they should be ashamed and in their shame act in ways that are clearly contradictory to their stated beliefs. My desire is that all would come together in the Love of Christ and for their forgiveness for what I saw as honesty. Like it says in 1 Corinthians 13 “Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, things no evil; love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

So there are snakes, and they cause pain, but I choose to love them despite that. I’ve reached out to those I’ve offended but even that was not received. That’s ok, God judges and takes care of things.

I went back to the prison Saturday. It was great to see the guys we met last week and see how they are doing. Here, in prison with all kinds of evil and hate around, we found love and even joy. What a wonder it is to see these men, who live with so much pain and the results of bad decision making, caring for each other and coming to deeper walks with God. Unfortunately there was a fight in a cell block and an inmate was killed so we were “Locked down” for a bit, but that’s ok. It just illustrates the difficulties these men must face every day. I was asked to give a talk on loving those whom are hard to love. Not sure how well it went for I didn’t have any time to prepare, but it’s a subject I know well.

Building the farm moves on, little by little, with constant setbacks. Mike and I were able to stretch fencing last week and got one plot done. I still must build gates and fence in two more plots, especially in order to grow melons. I fear that this year will be like last year was for much of what I planted did not come up and I am so behind on things. We no longer have funds to pay for the help I was so grateful for. They say it might rain Thursday or Friday so I must rush to get some seeds in the ground. It’s a shame that the well water is so bad for I must depend on the rare West Texas rains now. But I’ll keep plugging along.

The railroad ties I got from the old man would have helped greatly but that resource is apparently gone. Here’s some pictures of the damage the wind causes. One shows how it exposed my onions and left them bare. We covered them back with dirt and the wind promptly exposed them again. The next picture shows two rows. One I had just built back up and the other had at one time looked just like it but is now flat with the drip tape exposed. That tape had at one time been buried deep in the ground.

I’ve got work to do and it’s going to be close to a hundred degrees so I must get out there while it’s still cool. The wind will be back today, predicted to hit forty miles per hour at points. Be blessed my friends and have a good day. Remember, God loves you.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Kairos weekend, God is good

5/4/10 Tuesday
Wow, hard to believe we’re already four days into May already. I have much to write about and told Mike to take the day off in order to free up time to write. This morning started out rough, with Cherie experiencing intense pain on her right side, so I took her to the emergency room. Finding where to go at the Midland hospital was tough because of all the construction and poor or unclear signage. When we finally made our way in it was noisy and chaotic because of the construction. Cherie was back and forth about whether to go or not, even after we got there, but the pain was pretty bad. She decided that this is caused by a kidney stone, a problem she has had several times now so is familiar with. The final straw came when, after being told Cherie was experiencing severe pain, the nurse exclaims “Jesus Christ” in disgust as if Cherie was just someone using the facility without a real need. With that Cherie decided to leave, go home, and tough it out. So I brought her home. Cherie will take the day off work and keep moving till this thing passes. I’m mixed on that, having great concern for her and understanding the potential for this pain to be something serious, but on the other hand trusting her past experience and not desiring to run up another hospital bill.

I need to write about the Kairos experience, not just to record the event for my memory but also for the families of some of the inmates. When the word got out that I would be writing about it on the blog several inmates came to me and got the address so that they could have friends and family out in the free world go online and read about it. Too bad I can’t post pictures, camera’s are a big no no there. In fact we can’t take cell phones or much of anything else inside the prison.

So now I must strive to remember the events of those four days. That will take some effort and unfortunately much of what happened I will be unable to remember, but much of it I will never forget. The difficulty will be in trying to convey the depth of feeling that was there, of the Spirit that permeated the event. It’s one of those “You had to be there” kind of things.

I rode down to Fort Stockton with Ron, a character in his own right. Ron has an IQ equal to what mine used to be before the brain injury and has a good understanding of the effects and consequences of TBI. It was a pleasure to talk with him. I can’t recall if we went to the church everyone met at and was the central headquarters and kitchen for the event, or if we went to the prison first. That’s how it works with my memories; my mind doesn’t put time stamps on them so it’s hard to figure out what happened when.

The church is a store front church in downtown Fort Stockton. It has a large commercial kitchen in it so might have at one time been a restaurant. In it is where the “outside angels” worked hard at preparing the foods along with printing materials and performing a world of other tasks, not the least of which is praying for us while in the prison. We would all meet there every morning to have breakfast along with discussing and planning each day. When we would head out to the prison the angels would send us out with song and clapping hands and when we came back at the end of the day we were received the same way.

Everyone was concerned about me and kept asking “Are you ok?”. I presumed their concern was based on the fact that I’d been in prison before so they were worried about how I would handle it, but in retrospect I realize that might not have been the case. My worry was about the effects of the brain injury, if the stress of being there would trigger the petite seizures that hound me, and I had shared that concern with some. I did very well, no slowdowns though I did have a few moments where that feeling of being overwhelmed and I could sense the precursors of a slowdown, but nothing came of it. Being in the prison itself didn’t bother me, it’s an arena I am deeply familiar with and there is a security that exists with familiar surroundings. It did bring back lots of memories, memories long since buried in the recesses of my mind. For me, it’s good to remember. These memories make it clear again the results of bad decisions, the wages of sin, if you will. They remind me of how blessed I am to be alive and free, of how close I came to being neither one of those.

The first day was a learning experience for both us and the guards. Many of them had not seen a Kairos weekend and it’s quite outside the realm of normal activity within a prison. For me it was all new anyway and I was careful to observe and do what I was told. I just remembered that Ron and I had driven down early to participate in a training session at the prison, where we met the chaplain and assistant warden.

Anyway, the way it was set up is that there seven large round tables that each would seat seven inmates and two or three of us “volunteers” (that’s what we’re referred to as). Each table was named after a disciple of Jesus. My table was the “James” table. There were name tags at the tables, each one with a string of yarn so they could be hung around our necks. My memory isn’t clear but I don’t think they set up the tables till later in the day, or perhaps even the second day. There were chairs set up facing each other all around the room. This was all in the gym, by the way. As the guys were called out of their cells and arrived in the gym, their name was announced. Each of us had a list of guys we were “sponsoring” and had that person’s name tag with us. I only had one name on my list and some others had up to three. This being my first ever Kairos I was happy to only have one name. In prison things always change so the guy who’s name I had never showed up. Whether he had gotten in trouble so lost the privilege or perhaps been transferred to another prison I don’t know. There were alternate names just for this contingency and I went through three of those before I was matched up with someone. I’m not at liberty to say the full name but I can tell you I called him Charlie.

Charlie and I hit it off at once. There was an instant bond between us as we talked. I never asked any of the guys we met what crime they had committed to be there and really don’t care. Charlie and I have similar backgrounds and drug use is a central source of our problems. When he learned I had been in prison before it helped greatly with his ability to feel free to talk.

Because my ability to remember is jumbled I am unable to go through the events on a day by day basis, other than the last day. That one was unique so easily distinguishable from the others. Besides that, by the time we got to the last day I was much more relaxed and able to take in what was happening. So I’ll cover the whole thing in rather general terms.

There was a huge cloth banner put up that stretched clear across the gym and served as a wall, behind which was an area referred to as the chapel. We all would go back there on a regular basis and there would be some songs sung, prayers read, and talks or devotionals given. Then we would return to the tables and discuss the subject talked on. During the day there were three (or maybe four, I’m not totally clear) major talks given in the main area where our tables were.
Me with my grandmother when she came to visit me in prison. This is 1975 or so.

All in all it was a moving experience. You know, good people do bad things and bad people can choose to become good. I heard so many stories of destroyed lives and poor decisions. All of them were familiar stories that I’ve heard before, even the one about having a mother who was a prostitute and growing up in that environment. Sin is sin and the results are always the same, especially in the long run. What I know is that each one of these men desire to be good and to repair the damages they’ve done. What I also know is that without help, and especially without God, they have drastically reduced chances of overcoming the demons of their past. Jesus said “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothing and cloth you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?” The Lord will reply “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me”.

When they heard my old prison number several sought me out to talk. Having “Been there and done that” helped them to confide in me and gave me a credibility that enhanced things.

I wanted to write more about this but got some bad news and am having a hard time focusing. God is good and I’ll trust in that.