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Happy 43rd wedding anniversary, honey! After my two strokes, my brain surgeries, our 35+ moves to different homes, several loved one’s deaths or suicides, several major surgeries, and everything else that we’ve been through together over the years, it should all be smooth sailing from now on! After all, you know what they say about marriage — the first 43 years are the toughest. Let’s see, 43 years times 365 days per year, plus 10 leap-year days, plus all of those leap seconds, adds up to… a whole lot of days! I thank God that, since you only go around once in life, I’ve had the joy and privilege of making that trip with you! You’re the very best! I love you!
“You are nothing less to me than a bilgistic pile of love meat.”
Update, Thursday, 2:51 PM: Today, I picked up Chris’s last prescription and took it to him. Went to the homeless church and talked with many people. Took 2 women to deliver copies of one of their prescriptions to a drug rehab office. Took another woman home from the homeless church. Dropped off a guy near the soup kitchen. Drove a total of 27 miles, safely.
Update, Thursday, 5:53 PM: I drove my wife to a restaurant, for our 43rd wedding anniversary dinner. Drove us both home afterward. A total of 20 more miles of safe driving.
Update, Friday, May 4, 10:41 AM: It’s been sitting in my garage, unused, since Decenber of last year, but, this morning, my Echo string trimmer started right up. I’ve seen professionals using a string trimmer, edging as they walk along, as fast as they can walk. So, that’s what I did today — but it took me several times longer than it used to take me, and many, many times longer than a professional would have taken. Still, I was able to edge our enire yard, house, air conditioner, trees, telephone pole, etc., by carefully hobbling along, all by myself.
Update, Friday, 6:24 PM: Drove to the church, picked up a woman at work and took her home, picked up Melissa, took a bunch of food to a needy family across town, then took Melissa to her house, before returning to mine. 28 more safe-driving miles.
Update, Saturday, May 5, 1:49 PM: Picked up Melissa early this morning, and took her to a local food bank, where we worked all morning. Then, went to the homeless church, where we waited for and finally got Mr. Peanut back. As soon as he saw me, he gave me his biggest, squinty-eyed grin, as though he were silently laughing. Stopped to let a friend see him, at her work, stopped at a carry-out store, then took Melissa and Mr. Peanut to their house, before coming home myself. A total of 23 more miles of safe driving.
Update, Saturday, 7:14 PM: After supper, Mike called, so I leisurely walked around the block once (11x, total) with him and his dogs. My walking is slowly getting smoother, thanks, in part, to my wife pointing out that I had been bringing my left foot forward at the right time, but that I hadn’t been “pushing off” of that foot, first. Now, I try to remember to do that all of the time.
Update, Sunday, May 6, 9:56 AM: The temperature is nice, but it’s very coudy, with thunderstorms on the way, later. I quickly learned, on my walk around the block (12x, total) that it’s very misty outside, with a contant, almost invisible cloud of tiny droplets, falling at all times. I’m kind of wet from that, now, but I managed to walk all the way around at my metronome’s 108 steps per minute, avoiding a rotary sprinkler that was in someone’s fron yard, spraying out across the sidewalk. By waiting until just immediately after it circled past the sidewalk, I was able to scoot past it as quickly as I could, and not get hit by its spray of water.
Update, Sunday, 11:43 AM: I just got home, after driving to a restaurant, to pick up some lunch for my wife and me, and then driving back, all by myself. All together: 10 more miles of safe driving.
Update, Monday, May 7, 3:47 PM: This morning, I took a laptop computer to a friend’s house, and helped him write an apology letter to his school, for his misbehavior earlier. Then I drove to the homeless church, took care of Mr. Peanut for awhile, drove 2 women to McDonald’s for lunch, then to one woman’s landlord’s office, then to a candy store that has many kinds of vintage candy, then drove them both home, before returning home myself. Drove a total of 43 miles, safely.
Update, Tuesday, May 8, 2:06 PM: Drove to the homeless church, to give something to Melissa, and to help take care of Mr. Peanut. He and Melissa weren’t there. She texted me, saying that she’d be back soon. I waited for 90 minutes, and talked with several people, but Melissa and Mr. Peanut never arrived. So I drove home. Ten more miles of safe driving.
Update, Wednesday, May 9, 11:38 AM: Drove to the homeless church, to give Melissa the thing that I had tried to give her yesterday. She needed a ride. I waited for her for 75 minutes, but she never came out, so I left and drove to Walmart, to buy a week’s worth of groceries for my wife and me. Then drove home and brought all of the groceries into the house. Total safe driving: 12 miles.
Update, Wednesday, 1:46 PM: Drove back to the homeless church. Waited for an hour, for the church to close. Talked to several people. Gave Melissa the thing that I had tried to give her yesterday. Drove her to a couple of stores, then to her house. Drove myself home. Total safe driving: 12 miles.
Update, Wednesday, 7:39 PM: Took a woman to one of her last weekly drug rehab counseling meetings. Waited for her in the car, listening to the radio. Took her home afterward. Drove home myself. Total safe driving: 26 miles.
Update, Thursday, May 10, 3:01 PM Picked up Melissa and Mr. Peanut at their house and took them to the homeless church. Helped take care of Mr. Peanut. Talked with several people. Mr. Peanut, usually a joyful guy, stoicly and carefully studied me, as I played one of the church’s 6-string guitars and sang for him, then decided that he really liked when I held the guitar close enough to him that he could “play” it by repeatedly banging one of his palms against its body’s large, flat wooden top. Then I took Melissa and Mr. Peanut to several thrift stores, looking for a foldable playpen for Mr. Peanut. Filled up with gas. Took them back to the homeless church, to drop off some food that they had received from one of the charities. Then took them home to their house and drove myself home. Total safe driving: 27 miles.
Update, Thursday, 7:10 PM After supper, Melissa called, using her son, Josh’s phone, to ask if she had accidently left her smartphone charging in my car. I checked — she had. I took her phone to her at her house, and returned home, for another 6 safe miles of driving.
Update, Friday, May 11, 11:19 AM: This morning, I drove to the homeless church and spoke with several people. Then I went to Melissa’s house and took her back to the church, as well as to Salvation Army, where she got a folding playpen, booster seat, and a couple of pieces of baby and children’s clothing, for a total of only $20. Then I drove home, for a total of 17 safe miles of driving.
Update, Friday, May 11, 5:37 PM: Took a nap, then stopped at someone’s house, to get their signature on a typed letter. Went to the post office and mailed that letter. Went back to the homeless church. Waited 90 minutes, then drove Melissa across town to deliver food to a needy family. Stopped and bought a pizza. Ate one piece, and gave the rest to Melissa, to take home and share with Joshua. Took Melissa home. Drove myself home. Total safe driving: 27 miles.
Update, Saturday, May 12, 1:54 PM: Picked up Melissa at her house around 7:30 AM. Took her to the food bank, where we worked until the afternoon. Went to the homeless church, to pick up and drop off food. Took some food to a needy family. Took her home. Went home myself. A total of 37 more safe driving miles.
Update, Saturday, 7:58 PM: Mike called, so I walked around the block (13x, total) with him walking one dog and carrying another, at a pretty quick pace. No pain. No tiredness. No problems. All of my “normal” walking, all day, every day, has made walking around the block an “easy” task for me, nowadays.
Update, Sunday, May 13, 11:28 AM: I am thoroughly disgusted. I just spent a couple of frustrating hours, trying to figure out why my rider mower won’t start. The one area where I wanted to see all of the wiring is completely packed full with leaves, dirt, seeds, sand, mud, and all kinds of other filthy junk that I thought that I had finally gotten rid of, after a couple of days of working on it, a couple of weeks ago. But, no. Then, it turns out that ALL of the mower’s wiring is JUST long enough to barely reach where it has to reach — and not even a few inches longer. So, the only way to study it is to carry a small stool out to the garage, sit down on it, and try to get close enough to SEE every wire, right where it is, in the middle of sharp, metal part, and hundreds of other wires and other parts. Even though it’s dark and cloudy outside, that’s still brighter than the inside of my garage, making it nearly impossible to see anything, against the brightness of outside. And my wire clippers/strippers — the real nice, easy-to-use ones that I’ve had and used FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS, are GONE. I have no idea where they went, so I was forced to try to use a razor blade, in the relative darkness, to strip the short, brittle wires that I wanted to splice together. And, all the while, a neighbor was loudly edging their entire lawn, a few feet at a time; stopping and leaving for a few minutes, over and over, and then returning, with that loud revving, whining sound, every time I was really trying to concentrate on what I was doing.
Despite all of my thought, effort, and time, my rider mower still turns over without starting. Sheesh, the one thing that’s EVEN MORE disgusting to me than all of that, is the thought of NOT being able to fix it myself — of having to take it, on a trailer, to the shop, where they would probably find the problem in 10 seconds, but then charge me the price of a new mower, for parts and labor.
Update, Sunday, 4:19 PM: Melissa called, and was stuck at church, so I picked up Joshua, Kaiden, Mr. Peanut, and her there, and took Joshua and Kaiden home, then took Melissa and Mr. Peanut to visit an older friend of hers who is comatose in the hospital, having suffered two heart attacks yesterday. The doctors don’t know if she will survive or not. She was like a mother to Melissa during hard times in the past, so Melissa needed to go and see her. Each time I would lean in close to him, Mr. Peanut would pat the top of my head and feel my hair. Afterward, we drove to her son’s apartment, so that Melissa (and Mr. Peanut) could meet with the woman’s son. Then, I took the two of them home, and drove myself home. A total of 23 more safe-driving miles.
Update, Monday, May 14, 10:25 AM: This morning, I spent two more hours, working on my comatose rider mower. First, I strained and lifted the entire 780 pound mower, up into a vertical position, resting on its back rails, so that I could get to its underside wiring. Then, the quickly spreading puddle of black oil on the floor made me quickly realizd that the reason that the rider mower’s back end wouldn’t sit straight and flat was because I had just set it down right onto the plastic pan, full of old engine oil, that I had drained all of the mower’s oil into several days agom when I had changed tho oil. Then, I painfully lowered the entire rider mower back to the ground, spread clean cloths all over the area, to try to soak up the large puddle of dirty oil on the foor, quickly moved the oil pan off to the side, then, huffing and puffing, and even more painfully, strained to lift the entire rider mower, up into a vertical position a second time. After that, I slowly and carefully figured out how to wire around every safety switch, to bypass each of them and enable the engine to finally start up again. After that, my screamingly aching muscles once again lowered the entire mower back to its normal, horizontal position on the garage floor.
However, despite all of my time and filthy, back-breaking work, it still won’t start. I’m wondering if maybe a hidden wire has come loose, or the entire ignition switch itself has gone bad, due to internal rust, corrosion, or wear. For the past few days, I’ve sprayed electrical contwact cleaning spray into it, through its keyhole, as well as through a hole that I carefully drilled in its flat back plate, but, electrically, it’s still the same. So, I ordered a new one from the dealer, for about $20. It will arrive in a few days. I hope that’s what’s causing all of the problems that I’ve seen. Either that, or a solenoid or security module that I can easily bypass if I need to. If replacing that switch or bypassing that solenoid or security module doesn’t fix the problems, I’m finally stumped, and I’ll have to ask Mike next door to help me take the whole thing, on his trailer, to the dealer, to have them work on it, no matter how much they charge me. Even though I’ve made a lot of miraculous stroke-healing progress in the past few months — as I’ve documented in these many Stroke Updates — this whole rider-mower experience has always been very physically exhausting, mentally draining and psychologically discouraging — repeatedly and constantly reminding me that, unfortunately, in many ways, I’m still a mentally and physically disabled person.
Update, Tuesday, May 15, 5:35 PM: All day, today, many of my muscles were sore, especially my shoulders and knees, as they kept telling me, “Hey, remember when you made us lift that entire rider mower onto its end, and back to the ground, twice yesterday? Well, we certainly remember that, and we’re not going to let you forget it, either.” Today, I drove to the homeless church, talked with several people, went to Home Depot, to get a few things, took Melissa to a hospital, to visit her older friend who is still unconscious, after suffering two heart attacks the other day, then took another man and woman to apply for jobs at a local restaurant, took them home, and picked up Melissa again, to deliver some food to a hungry family across town, then took her home, and came home myself. A total of 51 more safe miles of driving.
Update, Tuesday, 6:54 PM: I drove to Walmart, to get milk, bread, and several other staples. Three more miles of safe driving.
Update, Wednesday, May 16, 12:44 PM: Went to the rider mower dealter, to pick up the ignition switch that I had ordered, and to the homeless church, where I spoke with several people. If the ignition swich doesn’t fix my rider mower, I think I’ll try cleaning the carburetor and installing some new gasoline in the gas tank. I took Melissa to the post office, a few stores, and home. Total of 19 miles.
Update, Wednesday, 8:16 PM: Took Melissa and Mr. Peanut to the homeless church’s monthly evening feed. Took Melissa, Mr. Peanut, and Samra, to Samra’s weekly counseling class. Took Melissa and Mr. Peanut to Walmart, took medicine and food to a needy family, picked up Samra after her class. Took them all to their homes. A total of 38 more miles of safe driving.
Update, Thursday, May 17, 12:32 PM: Drove to the homeless church. Spoke with several people. Helped take care of Mr. Peanut. Took Melissa and Mr. Peanut to deliver food to a needy family. Took Melissa and Mr. Peanut back to the church. Took them to their house. Drove myself home. Total safe driving: 29 miles.
Update, Friday, May 18, 4:57 PM: Woke up and got ready very early, so that I could pick up a man at the homeless church, and take him to a doctor’s appointment, which ended up taking 3 hours. Took him back to the homeless church. Helped take care of Mr. Peanut for several hours. Talked with several people. Drove Melissa and Mr. Peanut to the food bank, to pick up hams and large cans of soup. Took it all back to the homeless church. Waited 45 minutes for a needy couple to arrive, so that they could pick up a box of food. Took Melissa and Mr. Peanut home. Total of 57 miles of safe driving.
Update, Saturday, May 19, 1:5 PM: Woke up early, got ready, picked up Melissa and Mr. Peanut, and took them both to the food bank, where Melissa and I worked until the afternoon, and Mr. Peanut got lots of love and attention, from folks who hadn’t seen him since last fall, before my stroke, when he was only 2-3 months old. Delivered some food to the homeless church. Took Melissa and Mr. Peanut to their house. Drove myself home. All together, 24 more safe miles of driving.
Update, Sunday, May 20, 7:49 PM: Drove to a pizza place, to buy us an excellent carry out pizza. Total: 17 miles. Took several naps during the day. Drove to pick up Melissa, take her across town, to take something to a needy family. Took her home. Drove myself home. Total: 21 miles.
Update, Monday, May 21, 2:41 PM: Took woman #1 and her son to homeless church. Spoke with several people. Took man to get Rxs. Took woman #2 to job training. Took woman #1 and her son to thrift shop. Picked up woman #2 at job training, took her to new job location. Took woman #2 home. Took woman #1 and her son home. Drove myself home. Total of 45 miles of safe driving.
Update, Monday, 4:26 PM: Took a box of food to a needy family. Total of 6 miles.
Update, Monday, 7:35 PM: Mike called tonight. We walked around the block (13x, total) with his dogs. It was the first time I had seen him in about a week or so. He’s been real busy since he started his job as an assistant bus driver for the school district a few weeks ago.
Update, Tuesday, May 22, 11:48 PM: Three… whole… hours. That’s how much time I spent this morning, working on my rider mower. I went to Walmart and bought a new electric meter, and a 25 lb. bag of cheap kitty litter, to absorb the oil that I earlier spilled on my garage floor. I also bought 4 new batteries, to install into our 2 intermittent garage remote control openers. The batteries were packed, individually, in a hermetically sealed packages that were impossible to open without scissors, and almost impossible to open, even after I carefully cut around each battery with a pair of scissors. Same with the 9-volt battery that came with the new electric meter. There’s just no excuse for that kind of blatant overpackaging. Plus, I had to remove 3 tiny little phillips screws from the back of the meter, just to install the 9-volt battery into it, before it would even work. I sealed it up with clear packing tape afterward, to make it easier to open in the future, and I’m going to throw away the 3 ridiculously tiny, nobody-has-a-screwdriver-that-small screws that normally hold the meter together.
I give up on fixing my rider mower myself. This is ridiculour. I’m not a mower repair guy. After several weeks of working on it, over several weeks, and after spending hours and hours thinking about it, I’m no closer to getting it to start than I was before. Even though I hardly ever even see my excellent next-door neighbor, Mike, any more, I’m going to have to see if I can call him, to see if he can use his trailer to help me take the mower to the dealer for repair, I hope, some time this week.
Update, Tuesday, 5:43 PM: Drove two women to the store, to get free, government food for their children. Took one of them home, then to deliver food to a needy family, then home herself. Advocated for my homeless friend, Chris, because, 5 days after he had run out of it, and 28-1/2 hours after his doctor had electronically sent his prescription for anti-seizure medicine to the pharmacy, they still hadn’t filled it, and they couldn’t tell me why. After my phone call, they filled Chris’s prescription within 15 minutes, and we went in and picked it up. Total of 24 miles of safe driving, in the rain.
Update, Tuesday, 7:21 PM: Texted excellent next door neighbor, Mike, tonight. Tomorrow morning, he’d going to help me take my rider mower, on his trailer, to the mower dealer, to have them work on it. After we drop it off, I’ll offer to buy him one of his favorite take-out pizzas.
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