Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ada compliant

"Just me" - who filled in some of the blanks in the comments section when I dropped off the map, offered to build me a ramp while I was still in the hospital.  I had been thinking one would really make rolling life easier so I "jumped" at the offer knowing she could get the job done right and on time.  Stilt House Ben added the 2x4 railing.  In and out was good to go by the time I got home.  23,33,24,0,W

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Follow up in Odessa today.  
7 hour round trip drive for a couple of x rays and a new shoe.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Doing something smart for those times when you do something stupid.  Thankfully I was current on my air medical transport insurance.  Well worth $65 per year.  50,64,34,0,C

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The First Blog

Habakkuk2 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

Luke47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

Deuteronomy8 And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.

Revelation27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

29 staples

For about a week after the surgeries, the pain I was feeling was rather generalized.  The couple of times my dressing got changed and I saw the staples just below my knee - I assumed that was just another gouge I got in the crash.  It wasn't until they gave me a print out of my xrays that the pain became more site specific and I knew what the incisions by my knee were for.  I reckon that is where they shoved that titanium rod through to get it in place.  I insisted that I needed a digital version of all the imagining they did and the hospital came through with a disk for me to take home.

The night before I left the hospital they told me they would be removing the staples in the morning.  The thought of that didn't help me rest very easy for my last night at the spa.  The next morning I asked the nurse what time the doctor would be coming in to remove them.  She said she would be doing it and I would barely feel anything.  She was wrong - I felt absolutely nothing as she tweaked them out.  Of course I saved them in a little jar to put into the Field Lab Archives.

Special thanks to the visitors I had during my stay:  David and Heidi Holloway, Wayne Maas, Diana and 3 other south county friends who just happened to be in town for a Red Cross meeting, Carl and Melinda, Nancy Burton (who also brought me some civilian clothes), and Pam and Ken Clause who brought me some banana bread (that was my favorite snack I managed to make last 3 days to go with the 5AM coffee breaks I got.)

Extra special thanks to Ronald Nelson and Nancy Rooney for tending to my critters and to Rick McDowell who came from Alpine to fetch me, help me stock up on groceries, and get me settled in back home (he also did a bunch of laundry and made my bed for me).  There are lots of other people to thank but I will save that for a future update.

I was really sorry to leave my blog readers hanging for a couple of days.  It was very comforting to know so many people were concerned about my welfare.

Since this is the final installment in the hospital saga, I have to add one last amusing anecdote.  When Rick got me home, I noticed that my truck was locked and I assumed the keys were inside.  I managed to find my spare but it didn't have the alarm fob.  Rick opened up the truck which set off the alarm but couldn't find the other keys inside.  (It turned out that Ronald had them safely in his possession.)  So we gave up on the key search and the alarm stopped when he closed the door.  At 3AM my first night back in my own bed the alarm went off again.  I had to roll out to the truck in the middle of the night and pull the wires to the horns to shut it up.  

FYI...I got some Tshirt orders just before my accident and a couple while I was in the hospital.  They will all ship next week.


Friday, December 26, 2014


Not exactly sure but from what I understand, the first surgery they cleaned everything up and put in the hardware for my tibia break and got the fibula back in place.  The second surgery was to check for infection and bolt a small fracture in an ankle bone.

The next debate began on when to send me home.  The "healthcare professional" in charge of my case suggested that I could go home Friday or spend some time in rehab.  My rehab options were another floor in this hospital or 2 other clinics in Odessa.  I figured my best bet was to stay in the same building so they shifted me to room 320 on Tuesday morning.  That afternoon I had appointments with the physical therapists to go over my dilemma and set up my schedule.

From then on I settled into the new routine of physical therapy (sitting and standing exercises and crutch walking) from 10 - 11:30 then occupational therapy (upper body exercises) from 1 - 2:30.  This fit in quite well with the meal plan - breakfast at 6:45, lunch at 11:45, and supper at 4:45.  Some of the others in PT included 2 guys who got really busted up in motorcycle accidents, and overweight guy who broke his hip falling off a ladder putting up Christmas decorations,  some elderly that had various fall injuries, and a couple of knee replacements.  What really struck me about the knee replacement folks is that they were the only ones that were there intentionally.

The daily rounds were governed by constantly changing nurse shifts.  I must have had about 20 different nurses.  It just so happened that I had a bunch of the Ben and John postcards in my camera bag so every different nurse or attendant got one as the shifts changed. At one point I had lagged on the gift and a new nurse asked where her postcard was.

To be continued...


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas to the Field Lab Family.  
May God's gift to the world continue to bless us all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2 operations

For me...the 4 hour surgery went by in a flash.  One second I am breathing something funny and the next - I'm waking up with my teeth chattering in recovery.  I was alive and cold with beard intact - and a bit of a sore throat from a breathing tube.

They rolled me into room 640 for my first night in the hospital.  First time I had a chance to call and let someone know my critters were home alone.  Got a hold of Ronald Nelson and put him in charge of TFL.  Slept pretty good with a squirt of morphine into my IV every 4 hours - even though it seemed like every five minutes someone was coming in to check my vitals or take blood. Time went by incredibly slowly.  That first night I remember thinking at one point it had to be about 4 in the morning when in fact it was only 9:30PM.  I had all day Sunday to get accustomed to my new accommodations and try to get a handle on how time passes.  Didn't get my first taste of hospital food till Sunday night - turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, zucchini, pudding and iced tea.

Monday was a waiting game.  No food and just some tiny sips of water while I waited for my next surgery.  At 2PM they rolled me back to the OR.  I was in a room with 2 other patients also waiting to go under the knife.  A nurse came around to double check everyone by asking names and birth dates and what kind of operation we were about to get.  I told her "vasectomy" and she followed my lead by saying no - I was scheduled for a hysterectomy.  We all made sure we knew what I was there for in the end.

A very nice female anesthesiologist came to talk to me.  She explained that the way they were dosing me this time, there wouldn't be a hard tube shoved down my throat.  As I came into the OR, she slipped a little something into my IV and I was out like a light for round 2.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

off to the spa

So the teams all converged onto the middle of 118 at the prearranged swap spot.  As they wheeled me out of the ambulance, there was a helicopter parked in the middle of the highway with an emergeny crew from Alpine there to block traffic.  Note: If you are taller than I am (6' 1"), they will have a bit of trouble fitting you into the helicopter while on a gurney.  My biggest regret was not taking any pictures from the flight - but the crew was all business at that point.  Apparently, their biggest concern is keeping patients alive and not allowing them to throw up in the tight confines of the cab of a helicopter. They gave me a shot for that and I never was nauseous.

Once up in the air, the medic told me if I needed anything for pain to let them know right away because it is easier to keep ahead of it than trying to catch up.  Midway to Odessa I asked for a little "bump" and was all warm and fuzzy for the rest of the smooth flight.  We arrived at the hospital in one hour.

I got quite a reception when they rolled me into ER.  I seem to remember about 15 people there to watch as they unceremoniously cut all my clothes off.  I have to say that the worst part of the ordeal up to that point was when the doctor informed me that bones outside the body was not a good thing and they would have to rectify that.  The pain wasn't really that bad comparatively, but the thought of what they were doing was not pleasant.  My main concern at that point was no one knew where my camera bag was - although they made a point of having security bag and secure the $31 I had in my pocket.  I told one of the nurses I hoped that would be enough to cover everything they were doing for me.

They x-rayed me right there in the ER then took me to another room for a cat scan.  Another lucky break - no unlucky breaks anywhere other than my leg.  The orthopedic surgeon came in to talk to me briefly to say that I would be having 2 operations - one to clean everything up and set the tibia...then a second to check for infection and set a small break in an ankle bone.  He told me he was like a very well paid professional carpenter hired to do a renovation - that does the job right so it only has to be done once.

The funny part right before the surgery was the anesthesiologist who introduced himself.  He was wearing a big black cowboy hat.  He informed me that since it was his responsibility to breath for me while I was under - if my beard got in the way it would have to come off.  My last worry before I went "night-night" was the thought of waking up without my beard...

To be continued...

Monday, December 22, 2014


One might have expected that an injury such as mine would most probably been caused by my powered paraglider.  The great irony is that while I have not had the confidence to fly again since my training in April, I have on numerous occasions driven the ATV without the slightest thought of safety while statistically it is far more dangerous than my PPG.

So 2 weeks ago I take a regular ride to the mailboxes and turn around for the simple trip home.  About 1/2 mile from TFL, my road has a series of left/right turns before the last straight stretch home.  In all of about 10 seconds I got "out of sync" on the turns while only going about 20 mph.  One quick lapse in judgement and a very brief bit of confusion, and next thing I know is that I'm upside down watching the ATV pass above me (in slow motion).  I knew right away my leg was broken because I saw my foot was looking a little looser than normal.  I was on my back looking at a turned over vehicle next to me.  I got right up and turned it over and tried the start button and nothing happened.  Brief panic set it as I contemplated how to get home without wheels and only one leg.  While deciding that crawling home was not a pleasant option, I remembered that I had to get it back into neutral in order for it to start.  A couple clicks on the clutch - the green light came on and presto!

Was home in minutes -hopped in and sat down in my hut to call 911.  Didn't seem to take very long for them to arrive while they kept me on the line. I almost passed out but managed to stay alert.  There wasn't much pain but I was pretty freaked out by then.  The operator asked if I could lift my pant leg to describe the injury.  I told him I would rather not but that I could see there was some bleeding.  The EMTs started me on a morphine drip and proceeded to cut my boot off.  Didn't take too long to get some bandages and a splint on.

On the ambulance ride out to the highway, the driver spotted my cap and glasses where I had crashed and picked them up for me.  Smooth sailing on the highway as they drove me about 25 miles north to the spot where the Med-Trans helicopter took me from there to Odessa.   Garbage can hill was the hand off location (called double barrel in 911 language because there is a garbage barrel on each side of the road there).

To be continued...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

in a desert land

A message from my friend Adrienne upon my return home this week...

Deuteronomy 32:10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

new parts...

Going home tomorrow with some new parts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Plenty of spots to heal.  On track to come home Saturday.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

yeah...that hurt!

It has been a busy week.  Simple rollover atv accident - nasty compound fracture in my lower right leg - helicoptor ride to Odessa - two surgeries - ten days of PT - restricted to wheelchair or crutches for at least 4 months.

Friday, December 5, 2014

DIY wood stove 7

Painted and prepping for the install.  Going with a "through the wall" instead of straight up and out.  It just pains me too much to cut a hole in my roof.  62,75,45,0,B

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Ben's December tip to tip... 58 3/4"  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

DIY wood stove 6

Turns out one of those mini propane bottles is the perfect size for 4" flue pipe to fit over.  Notched out a plug for my front vent, welded on the hot plate, and added the chunk I cut out of the front of my stove to the back side for an extra heat shield.  52,67,30,0,C

Monday, December 1, 2014

The price of cheese...

My main barometer on the economy and indicator of inflation is the price of cheese.  I realize that is probably a little too simplistic, but it is an easy price to keep an eye on since I buy a lot of cheese.  A couple of months ago the price jumped from $7.99 for 2 pounds to $8.16 - the first time I had ever seen the price go over eight dollars since I have been out here.  Did a supply run today and found that the price of TFL's leading indicator had jumped to $9.98!  Perhaps it is just a glitch...  38,60,38,0,W

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Acts1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Witness (from the Greek) - martus:  1 one who is a spectator of anything.  2 to give testimony of an observance or faith. 3  those who after his example have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death (martyr).

Believers are all obligated to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.  Most of us will probably never experience intense persecution let alone martyrdom because of our faith yet martyrdom is anything but extinct. Estimates are that more people died for the cause of Christ in the last century then in the preceding nineteen centuries combined. One reliable estimate indicates that currently a minimum of one thousand Christians lose their lives in martyrdom each day. Some estimates are considerably higher. However, without a powerful spiritual awakening it is clear that should persecution break out in North America (such as being experienced by our brothers and sisters in ChinaSudan or Iran) the majority of Christians here would never dare witness to anyone again. How can I be so sure? The fact is that the number one reason that Christians in the west do not witness to the lost today is that we are concerned about our social standing and how others will view us if we tell them about Jesus! Do you think we’d stand up for Christ if prison or a guillotine might be the end result?  The obligation is not excused because of a mortal threat. - Eric Barger

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

DIY wood stove 5

As per the Silvius suggestion...I revised my "hot plate".  For those not welder savvy - the red arrows on top are welding magnets.  55,70,32,0,B

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

DIY wood stove 2

Scavenged another tank for a wrap around door.  Leg parts ready for cutting and welding.  45,58,33,0,B

Monday, November 24, 2014

DIY wood stove 1

Popped the valve off an old 30 gallon propane tank and flushed it with water to make it fire safe and started taking the paint off.  It was a lot of work using my grinder for half of it so I used my torch on the other half.  Comes off easy now with just my random orbital sander.  53,67,35,0,B

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Only Work Required

Gospel: Good news of victory from battle which brings about reward.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.  It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes...

1 Corinthians 15:21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

Ephesians 1:14 The Spirit is God's guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised...

Ephesians 3:17 Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him.  Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though is is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

John 6:29 Jesus told them, "This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

barn day...

Ben "helping" me clean out the barn today...  57,70,51,0,W

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

a ton of food...

The boys love to see a trailer load of hay and alfalfa.  54,74,34,0,C

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ya get what ya pay for...

Well...the little Chinese wood stove is officially a piece of crap - even worse than all YouTube reviews I watched.  It seemed like a good deal at $99 including shipping only because other retailers sell it for as much as $260 including shipping.  Although it functions correctly, the craftsmanship is embarrassingly pathetic and not worthy of TFL.  Been burning off the bad paint on it all day.  Going to go with my intuition of a DIY model along the lines of the suggestion of M. Silvius who was first to comment on my post about buying this stove.  Will clean up this one and offer it for sale locally for fifty bucks.  That's what I get for breaking the cardinal rule of Abe Connally who ultimately led me to this area..."Don't buy it if you can make it and don't make it if you can find it."  48,67,29,0,B

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Red Zone

Success!  Finally passed the 400° mark with a solar oven.  Outside temperature in the shade rose from 40° to 52° while I preheated the oven for 2 1/2 hours.  When I loaded the pot with 2 cornish game hens and 2 sweet potatoes the temperature dropped from 405° to 325°.  Cooked the meal for 2 hours mostly at about 350°.  44,57,37,0,C

Monday, November 17, 2014


Just posted today by my friend Kirsten Dirksen - the queen of viral videos about sustainable culture.  39,48,27,0,C

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What's love got to do with it...

Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē[1]) brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.
1 Corinthians 13:4Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. 5  It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8  Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

painting gig

A friend out here got tired of looking at his old tin quonset hut garage and asked me if I would like the job of painting it.  Just happened to have a brand new Wagner Paint Crew sprayer that I bought before I moved here and has never even been taken out of the box.  Easy to use and works like a charm.  Four hours and five gallons later - over half of the original job is done.  He likes it so much, he wants me to do the inside as well.  I don't remember why I bought it in the first place, but it finally came in handy.  55,72,34,0,B

Friday, November 14, 2014

someday soon?

My friend Brandon came out just before the cold snap and got another flight in.  This was his 4th flight at TFL and his 30th flight since training.  I better get up in the air soon if I ever hope to catch up.  45,55,36,0,B

Thursday, November 13, 2014

more free energy

Thoughts of free refrigeration and the vacancy inside the hut with the fridge on the porch for the winter got me to thinking about the heating season.  The idea of a wood stove really never caught my attention due to the fact that there aren't any trees on my property.  I happened to notice recently that my scrap wood and pallet pile has grown over the years.  The past two winters I have kept track of my propane usage for my Mr. Heater Big Buddy.  In 2012-13 I used 8 tanks @ $18/tank...2013-14 I used 6 tanks.  I thought about building a wood stove but did some digging online and found a reasonable altenative to a DIY model.  For less than what I usually pay for propane for one heating season I ordered this little stove to try out.  I reckon I have enough fuel on hand to last at least 3 winters and there are plenty of free pallets at McCoy's.  I just hope that keeping a wood fire burning won't loose its' charm.  35,43,31,0,W

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Desert Refrigeration

FYI for those new to off grid living in SW Texas.  Refrigeration is accomplished energy free for about the next 4 months.  Overnight temperatures will keep your food cold in an insulated box.  Just moved my chest freezer (used only as a refrigerator) out to my front porch today.  37,48,35,0,W

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Now that it is finally getting cold...I am more inclined to experiment with things that involve heat.  Since I have been back on the solar oven project, I have been doing new research on solar ovens.  I came across this one 2 weeks ago.  They had a kickstarter campaign back in 2013 that ended up raising far beyond their initial goal.  I really like the simplicity and size of their little oven so I found and ordered the main ingredient pretty cheap on Ebay for a little DIY.  45,63,50,0,B

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Road Rage

One of the main reasons I moved out here was to reduce stress in my life.  Overcoming obstacles daily on my own terms builds upon that goal.  Each new thing I figure out or prepare for is one less thing to worry about.  I rarely beat myself up over an unforeseen circumstance because it is a rarity.  All of that is precisely why the road issue tends to catch me off guard.  Someone rutting up my road after a storm produces more frustration and sadness than anger...but it is that smidgen of anger that really gets my attention.  It is very easy to just go with the anger.  Watching someone do something that adversely effects others seemingly without regard for anyone other than themselves drives me crazy.  It really makes that "love thy neighbor" rule hard to swallow.

Today I took a step back to look at the big picture - because anger is only fun for a little while.  There are over 7 billion people on earth right now.  Every second of every day - somewhere someone is doing something that is pissing someone else off.  The problem with the world today is that the emphasis of every "consequence of action" is more about the deed done and less about the reaction to it.  The Bible teaches that love conquers all - but it can't unless we give it a shot at every opportunity.

Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with the might by his Spirit in the inner man;  17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints that is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fog bow

Fog bow is a similar phenomenon to a rainbow; however, as its name suggests, it appears as a bow in fog rather than rain. Because of the very small size of water droplets that cause fog—smaller than 0.05 millimeters (0.0020 in)—the fog bow has only very weak colors, with a red outer edge and bluish inner edge.  54,67,59,0,W