Recent Entries to this Blog Thanksgiving Memories
Posted: 23 Nov 2020
A True Story
Posted: 16 Nov 2020
One Angry Bull
Posted: 12 Oct 2020
Monday Musing 9/7/20
Posted: 07 Sep 2020
Another Garden Lesson
Posted: 15 Dec 2019

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The Eclectic Garden

Making a little bit of everything look just right.


Thanksgiving Memories

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:16 am

MONDAY MUSING 11/23/20

The air was cold and crisp on that December morning. The teenager stood on the old dirt road at the edge of the woods and strained to listen for the dogs. They should have been released by now, but why couldn't he hear them? He lifted up his Marlin 30-30 rifle, placed the cold stock next to his cheek and aimed at a pine tree. As he touched the trigger he whispered, "Pow," and jerked back on the rifle as if it had kicked. He continued whispering to himself, "You got him! You got him! That's the biggest deer I've ever seen. I'll bet it's the biggest deer in Florida."

He ran through the kill in his mind. He could almost see his grandfather's smile and hear his prideful voice, "Nice shot boy. I always knew you'd get a big one."

He was grinning widely, lost in his daydream when he heard the sound of something walking in the woods. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and his senses became acutely aware of everything around him. He felt the adrenaline kick in and his heart began to beat wildly. For a moment he stood there frozen, just listening. The sound stopped. Then, it started again. It was definitely coming from behind him. He turned around slowly. On one side of the road were open woods, but on the other side was a fence that marked some posted property. The sound was coming from the posted property.

He made his way up to the fence quietly, hoping to sneak up on whatever was making the noise. It seemed to be coming from behind a large palmetto bush and it was getting louder. Maybe it was a big buck, marking his territory. With his gun up to his shoulder and his heart beating out of his chest he crept along the road to the right of the palmetto bush. The 30-30 felt heavy and his hands were cold, but he pushed on silently, stalking the big game. Seconds seemed like hours as he moved at a painstakingly slow pace. Finally, he caught some movement and pulled the rifle close to his shoulder, bracing for the shot... but it wasn't a deer. It was an armadillo!

He was disappointed and embarrassed at the same time. How could he have mistaken an armadillo for a deer? He thanked God that his grandfather hadn't been there to witness everything. He watched with amusement as the creature moved along, stopping every once in a while to dig something up out of the ground. It was interesting for a while, but it soon became downright aggravating. He picked up a stick and threw it at him, but the armadillo wouldn't move. Then, he found a rock and threw it, but once again it ignored him.

Then, a warm smile came across his cold face. He hadn't heard the dogs in a while. They must have run the deer the other way. That meant everyone else was in a different part of the woods by now. He was sure he could squeeze off a shot without anyone ever knowing about it. His smile broadened as he once again brought the rifle up to his shoulder and pointed it at the armadillo. He placed the sights on the armored, gray back of the pesky animal and moved the safety. Gently, just like his grandfather had taught him, he squeezed the trigger.

The roar of the shot echoed through the woods. The boy looked and saw the armadillo bounding off. He was scared to death, but totally untouched by the bullet. Then, he heard something that completely erased the smile from his face. A truck started up and he recognized it right away. It was his grandfather. He would be coming to see what he had shot at. How was he ever going to explain this?

That boy was me over forty years ago. I could never lie to my grandfather so when he got there I did the only thing that I could do, I told him the truth. I'll never forget the look on his face when I told him that I shot at an armadillo. He chewed me up one side and down the other and then, after a moment of silence, he said, "Well, I hope you at least killed it."

When he found out that I missed he chewed me out again.

Thanksgiving always reminds me of going hunting with my grandfather. As a kid I can’t think of anything that I looked forward to more than spending the night with him the night before a big hunt. I'd wake up to the sound of the hot water pot whistling and then he'd make me a cup of Folgers instant coffee. That's the only time that I ever got coffee and it always made me feel so grown up to sit there and drink a cup with him. Then, we'd get into the truck, turn on the CB radio to find out what the other hunters were up to and head out to start looking for deer tracks. I can still hear him humming as we go down the road and I can see him rolling down the window a little to let the cigarette smoke out. He had told my grandmother that he stopped smoking, but she never believed him. So, he would sneak cigarettes whenever she wasn’t around. It was a silly little game they played, but it makes for great memories.

Yes, Thanksgiving holds many fond memories for me. Now, I hear that some states are trying to cancel Thanksgiving altogether because of Covid-19. How is that good for anyone? How do you cancel Thanksgiving?

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A True Story

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2020 10:37 am

Over the years I've heard many amusing stories at my work place. The following is one such story that was told to me by an older man named Mac. It's short, but it always brings me a chuckle. I hope it brightens your day.

Mac pulled up to the stop sign intending to turn left onto the two lane highway. The traffic was extremely heavy and he sat there waiting for the opportunity to make his move, but every time he thought there might be enough room to turn an oncoming car would prevent him from pulling out. Finally, after five frustrating minutes he saw a small opening and decided go for it. He shot onto the road and into the traffic, forcing a large pickup truck to slow down behind him. He watched in the rearview mirror as the driver of the truck, a woman who seemed to be in her late fifties, threw her hands in the air and started yelling, clearly upset that he had pulled out in front of her.

Her ranting and raving grew even more intense as he once again turned on his left blinker. He didn't like pulling out in front of someone only to immediately turn again, but the heavy flow of traffic made it almost necessary.

Mac stopped in the road to turn, holding up a long line of cars behind him. As he waited for the ever elusive opening the woman in the truck continued to yell, scream and pound on the steering wheel. Finally, he was able to turn and as he did he noticed the woman furiously rolling down her window so she could yell at him when she went by. She stuck the upper portion of her body out the window. With her face hot with fury she opened her mouth to say something… but when she did her false teeth flew out of her mouth and landed right in the middle of the highway.

Mac almost passed out from laughing and drove home with a huge smile on his face.

Last edited: Mon Nov 16, 2020 10:46 am

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One Angry Bull

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 9:37 am

Shortly after my oldest son got married his wife began to tell us about a young bull that lived in the field right behind their rented house. We heard stories about how he would charge them when they were outside and how he always tried to go after their dog through the fence. To hear her tell it he was one big, mean bull.

On one particularly hot day my wife and I were visiting with her and the three of us went into the back yard to see this infamous, raging bull. To our surprise, we found him behind the gate that leads into an adjoining field. Somehow, the gate had opened inward and pushed him into the corner, trapping him so that he could barely move. If he would have simply backed up the gate would have pushed away, but he didn’t know that and was rocking back and forth, obviously irritated at his predicament. Always oblivious to the plight of animals I viewed the spectacle with slight amusement. The ladies, however, both extreme, bleeding heart animal lovers, immediately started lamenting how the poor thing was going to die from dehydration because he was trapped and could not get any water.

Little by little it started to sink in that someone was expected to go out in the field and swing the gate away from the rear end of this ticked off bull. It didn’t take a lot of insight to surmise that I was to be that someone. Remember, this wasn’t just any bull, but a bull that I had been told on multiple occasions was blessed with an exceedingly bad disposition.

After failing to make my case as to why we should leave the thousand pound hunk of raw muscle to fend for himself (I honestly don’t know if he was a thousand pounds or not, but for the sake of my ego just go with it) I mustered up all of the manly bravado that I could find, swallowed my fears and pushed into the field with the courage of a prisoner being led to the guillotine.

I crept up behind him slowly, thankful that he had been facing the opposite direction when the gate mysteriously decided to spring its trap. He was still irritated and I could sense it in his body movements. With a shaky, outstretched hand I reached out, heaved the gate open and took off running. In a moment of fear I heard a loud snort, which was immediately followed by the unmistakable sound of thundering hoof beats. I knew he was directly behind me. My thoughts raced to the videos I have seen of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain and how, on multiple occasions, hapless individuals were trampled or heedlessly thrown aside as they tried to get out of the way of the angry bovines. Fueled by an unforeseen shot of adrenaline my legs began to move like I was the bionic man. I could feel his hot breath on my neck. I knew there was no way that I could make it back to the gate that led into the yard so, in a desperate attempt to save my life, I made a beeline for the fence and dove over the top of it head first. I landed on the ground with a thud, fully expecting to hear the sound of chain link being ripped to shreds as my angry adversary crashed through the fence in a fit of fury.

When nothing happened I looked from my balled up, fetal position on the ground and found my wife and daughter-in-law staring at me in awestruck wonder, obviously impressed by my valiant, heroic efforts to outrun the bull.

I managed to stand up with far less bionic assistance than I had been blessed with just moments earlier and looked back to the fence where I made my harrowing escape from death. The bull wasn’t there! My eyes moved out into the field and locked onto a sight that just couldn’t seem to register with my brain. There, standing exactly where he was before I swung the gate open was my Pamplonian foe. He didn’t even realize that the gate had been moved and that he was free to move around. No doubt, he didn’t even know that I had ventured my very life to release him from his bondage.

I looked back at my two, adoring fans and quickly realized that I had been mistaken by their reactions. They weren’t staring at me in awestruck wonder; rather, they had been shaking their heads in disbelief, wondering exactly what kind of ludicrous spectacle had just transpired in front of them.

My son and his wife moved out of that house a few years ago. I don’t know if the bull still resides in the field or not. One thing is certain though; if you walk into that back yard and stand where I “valiantly and heroically” dove over the fence you can still hear my wife and daughter-in-law’s laughter resounding in the heavens.


Last edited: Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:50 pm

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Monday Musing 9/7/20

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:36 pm

MONDAY MUSING 9/7/20

My grandfather passed away on this day twenty-eight years ago. We all called him Papa. When I was a kid one of my favorite things to do was spend the night with him. My grandmother worked as a telephone operator on the graveyard shift, so I would get to sleep in their bed with him. Even though he snored terribly, I still looked forward to spending the night with him. They had a tiny little television that sat on top of the dresser and most of the time it was a Friday night so we would watch “The Love Boat" and then “Fantasy Island” together. Early the next morning, I would be awakened by the whistling of the water pot. For some reason, he loved instant coffee and he always let me have a cup. Drinking coffee with my grandfather always made me feel like I was someone special.

When I spent the night during hunting season we would leave the house on Saturday morning while it was still dark. Everyone had a CB radio at that time and I can still remember the excitement in the air as all of the hunters told what area of the woods they would be scouting, searching for a fresh set of deer tracks. I spent many cold mornings waiting for a deer to come out of the woods after the dogs had been put out. I never once killed a deer or even so much as saw one, but that was fine with me. I didn’t really want to kill a deer. My reason for going wasn’t to bag a trophy, but so that I could spend time with my grandfather.

He was a vegetable farmer, mostly growing tomatoes, watermelons and cantaloupes. I spent many hot days working out in a field for him with my brothers and cousins earning $2 an hour, or less. He always tried to pay us. He had a strong work ethic and did his best to pass that along to his seven grandkids.

One time he took me and my three brothers fishing on his fourteen foot bass boat. I remember a lot of arguing and someone getting their line all tangled up in the anchor rope. I also remember that it ended up being a very short trip. After that, he would only take two of us at the time. However, he still took us. It would have been much easier and certainly less stressful to go without grandkids, but he took us anyway.

When I was around twelve years old he told me that if I got all A’s on my report card he would take me with him on his annual hunting trip to Gunnison, Colorado. I still remember the surprised look on his face when I excitedly showed him my report card. He kept his word, though, and not too long after that we were pulling out of his driveway headed for Colorado. That was one of the best trips of my life, not because of the hunting, but because I got to spend quality time with him.

There are many more things I could write, but some memories are just worth treasuring.

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Another Garden Lesson

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:07 pm

I planted two rows of onioins in my garden yesterday. This is a big deal to me for two reasons:
1) It's the first garden that I've started since the hurricane forced us off of our property in 2017.
2) It's the first time that I've actually felt excited about starting a garden since probably 2015.

I always used to love working in the garden, but somewhere along the line it lost its lustre and I simply started going through the motions. It became more of a chore than a leisure activity and I got to where I was doing it because that was what I had always done, not because I really wanted to. It wasn't until I lost the opportunity to garden that I actually started to appreciate it again.

Hmm... I feel a life lesson coming on here.

We do the very same thing throughout our time on this earth. We fail to appreciate something that is right in front of us because we allow our senses to be dulled by the routines of life. Ask yourself these questions, "Is there something, or someone, that you are taking for granted? How would you feel if that something, or someone, were taken away? Has your daily routine become so mundane that you are failing to recognize the beauty around you?"

Those are piercing questions, but ones that I think we should contemplate. It's funny to me that sometimes, no most times, my deepest life lessons have come from gardening. There's just something about digging around in the dirt that brings about an appreciation of life and all that it has to offer.

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Pixie

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:23 pm

A few months ago one of my co-workers came across a stray dog on the side of the road. She has a heart for dogs and couldn’t just leave him there, so she brought him home with the intention of finding his owners. Unfortunately, no one came forward so she set out to find him a good home. Marion County was absolutely no help at all because the dog wasn’t chipped. Her problems were compounded by the fact that she had found the dog and couldn’t claim ownership. Needless to say, three months later, despite not being the owner, she still has him.

Her ordeal was still fresh in my mind when my wife showed up the other day with a little Jack Russell that she had found on the roadside. Now, I don’t want any dog to go without a home, but we already have two of our own and we are currently living in an RV. It’s not like we have a lot of extra room. The dog was dirty, seemed to be injured and was definitely old. Where my wife saw a poor, helpless animal that was hurt and needed attention, my mind immediately went to the worst case scenario. Dollar signs flashed in front of my eyes like mini strobe lights and, I hate to admit it, but I got angry that she had picked this hapless creature up. To make matters worse, she had a class that she was running late for so she said, “Can you take care of her for a couple of hours until I get back?”

Suddenly, I was at home by myself, taking care of a dog that I didn’t want, wondering how it all happened.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my stories that I am more of an animal tolerater than I am an animal lover. The last thing I wanted to do on a beautiful Sunday afternoon was take care of a dirty, stray dog. For all of you animal lovers out there let me reassure you that I could never hurt an animal so she wasn’t mistreated in any way. In fact, inside the RV I did my best to make her comfortable. She drank some water and looked up at me with big dog eyes as if to say, “Thanks.” She was a gentle, loveable dog, but the dollar signs were still strobing in my peripherals in anticipation of the vet bills that were sure come and I still wasn’t sure what to do about putting her with our other two dogs.

I looked on Facebook and found the LOST AND FOUND PETS OF OCALA/MARION COUNTY FLORIDA page. Once I was granted privileges I posted a picture, a description of the dog and where we found her.

The very first response I got was an introduction to a world that is waaay outside of my comfort zone. It read:
“SWP and HOPE for this precious little furbaby so heartbreaking”.

First, I’m not even sure what SWP means. Second, I had no idea that adults, or anyone for that matter, referred to dogs as furbabies. My mind was still trying to comprehend this when my phone rang. It was my wife and she was having a bad case of vertigo. It was so bad that she couldn’t drive back home, so I had to put the little dog in our spare kennel and go pick her up. She went into the kennel without a fuss and once again pierced my soul with those big, thankful eyes.

When I finally got the chance to look at Facebook again the excited owner of the dog had reached out to me. The dog’s name was Pixie and the owner’s husband had been riding up and down the highway trying to find her. So, shortly thereafter a grateful husband and his son came to our home to pick her up. We didn’t have a chance to be with her for long, but little Pixie made a lasting impression on me.

A funny result of all this is the response that has been given on the Facebook post. For a person who simply tolerates animals for the sake of his family I was suddenly made to look like a hero. Since I posted that Pixie found her way home over 90 people have either responded with comments or likes. One person wrote:
“…thank you to the finder for getting her to safety, posting and reuniting!”

My wife rolled her eyes at that one because she knows the truth of the situation. Honestly, she is the one who was the hero in all of this, not me. She saved her from the dangers of the highway while I reluctantly took little Pixie inside and then posted for purely selfish reasons because I didn’t want to be stuck with another animal and the costs associated with it.

Looking back, I’m finding that I was wrong about that. There’s something to be said about a heart that beats for animals. Perhaps I have kept my heart a little too shielded from the love and joy that can come from loving a dog. Maybe I should lighten up and start really accepting the unconditional love that our pets give us every single day. Who knows, maybe one day soon I’ll start referring to our dogs as “furbabies”.

Somehow though, I’m drawn back to the words of that great philosopher and theologian Mr. Grinch, “Too much, too fast.”



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For The Love of Cows

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:55 am

I can't believe some of the things that I have done for my children. This is not a complaint, or an expression of regret; it is more a statement of wonder than anything else. Let me give you an example:

When my daughter was probably ten or so, we had an incident where my cousin's pregnant cow became sick. The vet was called out and they did what they could, but the next morning when we looked out in the field the poor thing was dead. My daughter, who has a heart for animals, ran out to check on the cow and came back excitedly, " I saw the baby kick Daddy, you gotta do something to help it!"

Now, I seriously doubted that the baby had actually kicked, but she kept pleading and begging with me until I made my way out into the field with her.

When we got there it was obvious that rigormortis had set in. The legs were stiff and the eyes were nothing but glassy orbs staring blankly off into space. I tried to explain to her that she could not have seen the baby move, that the cow had died in the night and the baby with it, but she could not bring herself to believe it and insisted that she saw movement in the dead cow's stomach area. There was no consoling her. In her mind the baby was in danger and we were in a race against time to save it. She pleaded through teary eyes, "You gotta do something Daddy!"

A decision had to me made. Should I walk away, knowing that I was right? Or should I do something to prove it to my daughter? It was an easy decision.

I ran back to the house and came back with the sharpest knife that I could find. Then, I knelt down by the stiff and lifeless cow, placed the knife against it's hide and proceeded to do my first, and last, cow Cesarean section.

I wish that I could say that it was an easy operation, but you have to know that I am not a cow expert. In fact, if there were a cow hater's club then I would belong to it. In addition, to be perfectly honest, I had no clue what I was doing and, to make matters worse, the knife was not as sharp as I had hoped.

The hot morning sun started to bear down and a bead of salty sweat found its way over my eyebrows and into my eyes. I wiped it away and began to cut at the place I thought the baby should be. After a few minutes it was clear that I had managed to locate the stomach.

I tried again in a different area, cutting the tough hide away, all the while listening to my daughters pleas of, "Please hurry Daddy, please hurry."

After about fifteen minutes, I finally found what I thought was the right place, but then the blade of the knife hit the bladder, and a flow of urine flooded over my knife and hand. My stomach heaved and I had to stand up to get away from from the disgusting smell. Let me add that this was not the first smell that had sent my stomach into convulsions.

I was ready to give up, but I somehow managed to press on. I got back to work, and eventually found the right place. I peeled the hide back to the point where I could see the calf inside through the sheer wall of the birth sack. I actually found myself hoping beyond hopes that it was alive, but it was not to be.

I cut the sack open and pulled out the baby, a stream of fluids and smells coming along with it. My daughter saw the lifeless calf and was finally convinced that it was dead. She cried even harder.

I look back on that situation and, even though it was gross and disgusting, I believe that I did the right thing. A father needs to be a hero in his children's eyes, and that day, despite the queasy stomach and the fact that I couldn't eat for the rest of the week, I felt like a hero to my daughter.

But, if the situation arises again... she's going to have to do it herself.

Last edited: Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:11 pm

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A Family Adventure

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:22 am

Despite the fact that I am not an animal lover, it seems my life is forever intertwined with them. Here is something I wrote a number of years ago about one colorful animal adventure:

It was a nice day and we decided to take a family walk down our dirt lane. The lane runs beside a 30 acre tract of land where a local farmer keeps his cows. We were walking beside the cattle field when we noticed a cow on the verge of giving birth. She was standing up and we watched as the delivery took place. Like a sack of potatoes, the calf came out and plopped to the ground. After that, the mother walked away as if nothing had happened and just left it there. Normally, the mother cow cleans the calf off and then gently urges it to stand up, but this one didn't. Left where it was, on the ground and still in the birth sac, the calf would soon die.

My wife, knowledgeable in animal birth from our own experiences with goats, saw the calf was in danger right away. On the other hand, I was standing there dumb and happy, totally oblivious when she startled me with, "We've got to get it out of the sac!"

From the panic in her voice I knew something was wrong and I listened as she quickly explained the danger. She wanted to go out into the field, but there were a few obstacles in our path and, as often seems to be the case in times of animal emergencies, the job fell on me.

I climbed the cattle fence, crawled through the barbed wire fence and gently stepped through the underbrush and briars until finally making it to the fallen calf. The fact that I was wearing shorts and was barefooted made it just a tad difficult (and painful). After finally getting there, she yelled instructions to me from the fence line.

First, I had to break the sac open and clean around its mouth and nose. I swept my fingers inside of the mouth to clean out anything that might be blocking the airway. I won't go into detail other than to say it was slimy and disgusting. After that, the calf still was not breathing.

Next, I picked it up by the legs and swung it back and forth, trying to clear out its lungs and force it to start breathing. That didn't work either.

Finally, my wife yelled out, "You have to give it mouth to mouth!"

To which I responded, "What??!!"

"You have to get some air into its lungs!"

It was at this point that I regretted suggesting a walk down the lane. I really had no desire to put my mouth on the mouth of a calf that still had fresh afterbirth all over it.

I yelled back, "And how am I supposed to do that?"

"Cup your hands together, put them over its nose and blow."

That didn't sound quite so disgusting, but it still wasn't something that I wanted to do. Hesitantly, and with increasing anxiety, I got on my knees and took the calf's wet head into my lap. Then, I cupped my hands, placed them into position and started blowing. To my great
surprise, it worked and it wasn't long before the calf was breathing and moving around. About this time the mother strolled over as if to say, "Thanks for doing the dirty work, but I'll take it from here." I backed away and she started taking care of her baby.

I tip-toed back through the briars, crawled through the barbed wire fence and over the cattle fence to my excited family where I received a hero's welcome (just call me Mouth to Mouth Calf Resuscitation Man).

After basking in my fifteen minutes of fame, however, I went home, brushed my teeth for about ten minutes and took a long, hot shower.

Last edited: Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:46 pm

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RV Living

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 9:55 am

I mentioned in the previous post that we are currently living in an 36 foot fifth-wheel RV. This is totally by choice for two reasons:

1) My parents purchased a manufactured home and moved back onto the property and since we help take care of them we wanted to be close.

2) It's paid for. No rent!

Number 2 definitely helps us try a little harder. It certainly isn't a utopia and we are having to adjust in many ways, but it's just the two of us and we are trying to make it work.

My daughter came to visit for Mother's Day this past weekend and brought her two oldest boys, ages 4 & 5. The boys could hardly contain their excitement about "camping" at Mia and Opa's house. Actually, they didn't call it a house. They called it a "camping car". It's funny how their little minds think. They had a good time and the youngest cried when it was time to leave. Hopefully they can come back soon.

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Time For Healing

Category: Life As I Know It | Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 4:10 pm

I have been away from this site for quite a while. Hurricane Irma destroyed our home on September 11, 2017. I thought we were going through a disaster then, but in December of the same year we lost my wife's dad in the most tragic, senseless way imaginable. A prank phone call sent the police to his home in the early hours of the morning. All of the details aren't clear, but before it was over he was lying on his front porch with multiple gunshot wounds from an AR-15. He did not survive.

So, after that, the destroyed house didn't seem nearly as important. It has been a long 20 months and we are still in the process of healing in many ways. Just this week we moved back onto our property and are living in a 36 foot RV. I'm not entirely sure what is going to happen next, but we are taking it one day at a time. Maybe I can get back to gardening soon. Lord knows I could use its therapeutic effects.

Last edited: Tue May 07, 2019 4:21 pm

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