After the thrill is gone..Holiday rush over and back to Abby Normal

After the thrill is gone

The holidays are over for most folks by now. Tinsel down, tree at the road side or burn pile. Present wrappings long gone and those wonderful TV inspired gifts from friends and relatives in a closet , returned to the store or found a home at Goodwill

Old acquaintances forgotten , along with a fair share of last Sunday’s eve have people making resolutions and deleting snaps from smart phones of adventures with new friends they have no memory of meeting and what the hell were you thinking anyway? Did you REALLY do that ? I mean , there are pictures but..Really?

The Holiday breakdown on Zen

It is all relative. Ma and I enjoyed what time we had together as that will be in very short supply coming Monday. We got each other gifts, not a one exchanged or in a closet .There weren’t any TV or video creatively- created commercials that inspired our gifts. No jewelry stores hovered in. No animals harmed nor tweeted over.

Yule was fun though we did very few of the activities. We got our bough , not a tree as that is simply too much for my allergies, go me. We got it from the “Mother Tree” who brings forth new saplings forth most years since long before I made my way up here. We started our Yule Log with the bough from the year before.

Venison stew was our breakfast on Christmas day , the last hold out from the Christmas breakfasts I used to make for the smaller crowd that would filter through up here at Zen to get a taste of a White Christmas . I use to get up in the wee hours to put out table loads of foods for folks. Those days long gone , it is Ma and myself quietly enjoying a bit of time together with the quite rare for Ma holiday, er , day , off.

New Year’s eve was about as crazy as every other day up here especially with Ma Working the eve as well as New Year’s day. We worked around the place during the day and fell quietly asleep early in the evening.

Post Holiday time

Monday puts me back on the early shift again. This time round , however, it is in Winter. Our cloud denses into fog at Zen level a lot during this time of year. Fog on snow and ice slows down the trip to work so we are keeping an eye on several weather sites to  do our best to plan this time coming. The change from simple driving in the dark to work , the norm this time of year in one direction or the other is fun with the tracers from my eye making traffic look like it is swerving towards me from the right…Which keeps me in the slow lane as much as possible. Tack on fog which is fun for all. Snow which any and all bright light tosses my headache into over drive but other than slowing down for conditions , it is really just the ice and others on the road that really makes the big change in travel time…

Two hours. Two hours is the amount of time it takes from the time the alarm goes off until I can , safely or otherwise walk through the door at work..in good weather.

Friday we woke to freezing rain. The alarm went off at 4am , dragging us out of a warm bed to start the last day of the holiday break for the bulk of the people at my work. Ma running around the house getting things ready for me as I tried to get some food in me and what prep work I had to do. I looked out the window to see ice covering the truck..awesome. I stepped out of the door to see that the cover was deeper than I had thought..Excellent.

Years of being up here have taught me one small trick that though I mention it to people complaining about ice, not a one has said that they were going to try it…* chuckle* whatever… I have a ceramic heater in the truck, extension cord hooked up and a remote to turn the whole mess on. The truck has wrap around doors… Probably a great idea for Cali , not so much in the Pacific NorthWest Cascades. Ice gets into the seal making the door all but impossible to get into. Can’t use it anywhere but up here so trying to get back home at times can be frustrating. It usually takes a good forty five minutes to warm it enough to get in on ice ridden mornings. We were lucky that I didn’t have to get in as early as the coming time.

Slippery when wet

The roads were solid ice up here , of course. I got onto them before the roads were sanded and will until I go back to normal shift again. The truck with studs and in 4 low slid to the side on our roads digging in enough to get to the peak of the second incline. I could see at the main road from there red lights. It seem odd at that time of the morning. Slipping down the road as gravity drug the truck’s weight down to the main road. The truck stalled once trying to correct a slide as I went sideways down a road only slightly wider than the truck is long.

The red lights , now gone, were being replaced by a flare as I got closer. A truck coming off the road’s summit got to the accident before I could. With the conditions, It had stopped and left before I got there leading me to believe any calls had been made and only the one person in a one car accident. I didn’t want to try to add to the problems as I slid. I was heading for the same cliff they had gone over. I couldn’t see in the dark other than the car was gone. It must have wedged before going all the way down, lucky for them.

The person added a second flare and moved off the side of the road safely . I was now finally stopped before I went across the intersection as well. The weight , studs and 4X got the truck going again , if slowly up the road. 25mph was the best I could pull off without breaking loose . Coming around one of our blind corners, I saw yet another accident , still less than a mile from our road as the crow flies. Another car, the third so far was wrecked in the very next blind corner only yards from the last, this one taking up a fair share of the road. It had happened long enough that the person had left though the car obviously hadn’t been touched. I made my way around that accident heading down the mountain road.

Slip sliding Away

The one place that really makes me nervous is one of the longer and steeper section , with , of course, a curve in it on the upper half. I had been putting a long without worrying about 4X4 during the trip since the last accident as the roadway is relatively straight-ish and flat-ish for up here. I put the truck back in again at this point in the event I had to try to get myself out of trouble quickly. A rig came out of nowhere from behind me, not much faster than myself but faster…Behind me… coming up on an ice laden road with a steep incline and a curve…. I have been in this situation before when a rig broke free in front of me coming up the hill and a rig behind as I tried not to hit the car. Trying to stop , at the last moment, once again gravity took over, broke the truck free sending me down the hill towards the rig that , instead of pulling off as they had no chance of getting any higher, kept gunning the minivan bringing the passenger side , broadside to me in a truck without any control , a young kid in the seat watching me slide to her. I stood out of the door yelling at the adult to stop trying to get up the hill and just go to the side as the rig behind me also broke loose sliding towards me sliding towards the kid. The adult finally got smart , heard me , must have stopped panicking and easily pulled straight as she pulled into the gravel at the side. I tapped the gas , now having a way to get around them..which beats the whole having to bury the nose into the dirt or a tree if she hadn’t pulled off. I straightened back out and on my way, both child and adult wild-eyed as I passed. The truck behind me finally straightened out shortly after I did…..

Soooo a rig coming up on my tail on this section of road under the same road conditions was a little irritating. They hadn’t come from the top so hadn’t seen the accidents and may or may not have dealt with slipping yet.  They finally slowed enough to not get any closer as we made our way around the curved decline. Getting into the lower section of that hill , they passed me, broke free going around me and slowed. Now I got to follow them…oh well.

We pulled down into our little village before hitting the freeway and the roads were now simply wet with good ole Non freezing type rain.

My trip had already been increased a half hour, just with Zen-only ice. I hope that we will be lucky enough to not have that or worse over the next few weeks when I have to start even earlier.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white

This time of year that is a wonderful world. Ok fine.. fatty grey clouds of rain and snow..whatever…

The temps are suppose to stay in the just above freezing up here and well above in the valley for the next week . Rain is coming , again , which is just fine so long as it stays liquid. That shaves that half hour to, all time longest drive..well other than the stuck at work for 5 days .. at nine hours to get there and find out that they are sending me back home after telling me I HAD to be there , as a storm was closing everything down…You know.. The storm I told them was here at Zen that morning as I was trying to get out…. The return trip was shorter as I wasn’t actually In the storm this time.. It had more or less been overhead the entire morning, by the trip home it had settled in comfotably at Hooterville..where I had gone. A quick three hours got me back home before the roads were closed….Well.. actually the freeway was closed but one of the cops knew me and let me through .. Only rig going either way for the seven miles cutting the path was cool in a way….a very long slow way…..

Let us hope to avoid one of those this winter eh? Last winter will hold me over for a bit yet I think.

Abby Normal

Zen is in what may not be classified as a normal winter to the weather counters but is still pretty close to our actual norm. We are told that it is much colder and either much wetter or much drier depending on which site you check..

We still have a good month and a half before we can call it Springlike , but so far so good.

In the old norm , Zen would have a storm around Christmas…We got a fair snow shortly before. Another storm around New Years..We got freezing rain… We would have one last pucker around Valentines day.. We will see how it proceeds . From the year I moved up here on , that happened often enough for me to be the norm. Even in harder winters those were the times of the big storms. Last year it would have been hard to tell, it frickin snowed every dang day and night through all of winter piling up in yards , let alone feet up here and about as bad all around us.

Short but seemingly long as hell

Keeping the Post shorter as there wasn’t too much going on up here after the ice and as our numbers dropped by half again…. Seems I must be droning on enough to scare off those that do read this… I’ll make it a wee less of an effort if only by length.

Sunday Sunday Sunday

After a couple long weekends the normal two day weekend for me, and one day with Ma along with the beginning of short nights , I’ll sum this up for us all.

I’ll have only minutes to get ready , eat and out the door for awhile , weather holding so I still have to come up with a couple things to choke down as I try to pry my eye open and thaw the truck enough to get into the door.

We will have to run the soup differently than the norm to have even warm soup for my lunch with the lack of time to get the slow cooker, well ..cookin…

Ma has a bundle up her sleeves so that isn’t so much the trouble as Ma waking up when I do.. She actually is at work, programs loaded, ready to go but just hitting the pay period at 1pm. I get off work at 2pm  though I still have the home trip ahead. People ask if I enjoy just getting work over with….No..no I don’t , I like seeing Ma, I enjoy sleeping more than a few hours and I like hot soup at lunch… I prefer my own job and shift. I do this for my Super, not for any other reason , I like him well enough..his job hours ? not so much.

Today I’ll put together another bean and veggie soup as they are easier to run warmer at night if needed without over cooking the meats…

There will be meatballs for the week, quick to reheat and easier to eat first thing.. I’ll have to think of something else quick.. Just haven’t yet. Evening meals I can pull off well enough as I’ll have LOTS of prep time before Ma gets off work.

It’ll only be a matter of weeks before we get to go back to our norm of a mostly swing shift lifestyle where we sleep closer to six hours at night and the roads are sanded and or plowed..Where I can plow our road when needed and soup can warm slowly to keep it from getting over cooked.

I should bring in more wood today, once again it’ll take longer to talk Lil Red into doing her part than the actual job.  Warm her up , get the dang blade to lift, run two loads and cover her back up with promises of lots of TLC in the Spring.

Final Thoughts

We still have lots of mini holidays through out the winter which helps the dark and drearys … We also still have up the decos and will have at least parts of them up throughout winter . Slowly pieces will come down instead of the big jerk the day after Christmas as many do.

Ma getting to town this time of year is a bit of a pain when storms happily lay waste to Zen the night before her day off… The winter version of wind storms or broiling weather of the other seasons as our days off come up * chuckle* Such is Zen. Until we retire , we simply do what we can on our days off adding to the list what we couldn’t until a decent day comes around that we aren’t working as do everyone else.

The roads did suck on Friday morning up here, funnily to drive into upper 30s when I reached Hooterville. The upper areas shared our “good fortune” but at work level it was just a heavy rain… If nothing else, I’ll take that… If we have ice and snow , so long as I can get out, if the freeway is clear and even better if work is clear, it wont be bad.

The twitch in my eye over winter is slowing a bit while we settle into our norm. We have snow patches today but we have lots of green out there too. The day after Ma could have hit town everything started to thaw…Yup sounds like the norm to me.

Zen is beautiful when there is snow. If ice weren’t such a total pain , it is actually really pretty too.. I’m a tellin ya, Hallmark weather would rock.

The chores are reasonably light today getting me finished up early , then make dinner and off to try to get a little sleep before the change.

Weather holding , we at least can sleep in until 3:30am , though with lot of waking to look at the clock. I do not trust alarms…. East winds are keeping us chilly but doable up here only in the twenties and some thirties , any time above freezing is awesome. The kids are still coming through though Hummie is still hunkered in town where it is a good ten degrees warmer and more.

Zen has a charm in winter with the snow covered trees, hoarfrost filling fences and the change of animals coming through. We have so many less this year than before the big snow. We lost a lot of everyone in that. Even the ravens and eagles are few up here this year though the weather is much better so far than last.

Winter’s chill about the place, wood stove burning wood slowly keeping the chill off. Ma sits on the porch watching everything on her short periods before she works on something for the house or heads in to work. My days off , I catch up on the “this and that ” that needs to be done when it is possible and add to the list when it isn’t. We enjoy the outdoors up here during this little break , even seeing some sun yesterday for a bit. This time of year Ma’s spinning wheel is by the fire as she gets her yarn ready for a new sweater . She has just finished a nice light one for me that I got to wear around yesterday. Nope , no reindeer or Christmas trees on it. Straight functional sweater to keep me warm as I work on things adding a great soft layer that is also breathable when I don’t cover it.

Watching Ma work is always interesting to me as she makes the fiber into yarn or yarn into complicated patterns for sock to sweaters. All get used , we have enough to have a rotation , remember they are wool so no tossing in the washer and dryer. Yet not too many that they end up in a tote in Innie. These are working clothes not Cow Cozies.

The switch coming for the now , Zen seems completely fine with it. The kids come through . The weather does what it does when I work later. The birds stare at me when they run out of food. The coyote kids and other hit the pit, just as if they are unaffected by my little dramas..oh wait….. Maybe….this is

Just another day on Zen Mountain

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