With a little help from my Zen

Have you ever had a day when things just don’t go right? I had four days in a row when things just kept piling up. If it weren’t for Ma and Zen Mountain ……………………


I wont go into great detail of the “Seriously?!?” things that happened at work because that’d just be whining..

From a back injury on Tuesday , people in a hurry while others created a wall of “Mooo” I had to go through over and over and over again and again trying to keep a third problem from getting any worse than it was….Old equipment messed up my back as I tried to make as many happy as I could without pissing off any more than I needed to…

Did I file? Seriously? After a year and a half battling Workman’s comp only to be beat up by them , no. No I didn’t. What would be the point?

My back got worse as the week went as we are swamped ,.. Multiple added side effects came in there… Back swollen enough that first the left hip went out , then the right and of course neck was torched as well … For who knows why; my chest started hurting and I started gagging through work the next day… My balance crashed on top of all of that.. Thought we were done with all of that…. Individual dumb things happened as they do with a couple thousand people in a single building , adults, students, construction and others sticking their noses in to the mix.

The thing, I think, that was most ” REALLY!?! ” was that mice got into my locker and ate up some of my work clothes…that we bought, not work…” SERIOUSLY?!?”

All of the above had me to the point that I am holding onto tools or walls to get around at work. A cane to get from my truck to the building… With all of that, a little more than the norm we have been dealing with for the last couple months, my body was simply crashing. With no where to turn I simply just gave up…

Ma jumps in to save the days spending all of Friday on the phone trying to come up with a plan. Though she had potential good news when I got home, I am not holding my breath. We will see in the next several months if there is a plan ” B” and what happens then and now…..Ok… So let’s move along.

Zenning Up

Back to two day weekends, dealing with this old man body, I have been running……………..hobbling around trying to get the chores done while Ma does the same.

A bad day on Zen with Ma is still far better than the best day away …. Hanging with the guys in Tryx is a close second though.

I am still working on Ma’s new spinning wheel… It is slow going with the finish when I can only work on it two days a week though it’ll get some great curing time.

Working in the gardens takes a lot of time this part of the season.  Even though Zen doesn’t put out the veggies like the flatlands do, we usually get at least one crop that goes nuts. Last year we had tons of hot peppers and zucchini. This year almost no peppers yet and hardly any zukes.  Last year we didn’t get much for eggplants and no apples. This year the apple trees were full . The Golden Delicious has tons…unfortunately, all tiny so hand peeling or pressing. I vote press and use the Winesap for sauce.

Ma had a few eggplants that she needed to make into Parm on Saturday morning.

” I’ll just go out and see if there is another one out there for you. “

I looked at the plants for the first time in a few days…. Took off my jacket and used it as a bundle………..I got armloads of eggplants and the plants are still full today.


While Ma worked on pans and pans …and pans and pans of Parm, I had the job to make room in the freezers. I groaned, my back already toast, I knew hanging into chest freezers wouldn’t be good times. Digging into the main freezer, I finally decided to just clean it out. The thing is a monster. Pre Ma glacial …Possibly meats? lay entombed in ice of generations …Ok..Fine.. Decades most likely.

The chest is big enough that years ago now, I had gotten down to only pulling venison when it was a special occasion, as I thought I was wiped out…. I had gotten into the freezer to find the mythical venison sausages I had half remembered sticking in a corner of the “Beast “ Lifting a turkey I found not the sausage but two deer packaged up…and some elk meats… D-amn! So.. finding what you don’t expect or losing the occasional penguin is expected.

Now, I KNEW there were a couple turkeys in the freezer, besides the wild turkey.. We always pick up a couple organic turkeys during season, as that is the ONLY time we can find them… I continued to pull unknown ice sculptures from around the nethers of the Freezer of No Return when I stumbled onto the two turkeys….. Snugging with four others..Most likely for warmth ….A frozen Flock of Turkeys

“Well Alrighty Then … “

We had planned to cook up a turkey as well as some chicken pieces I bag for Stock…We are now going to put up two. We roast up the two, pull the meat then continue cooking up stock until the next day. We will can up the turkey meat separate from the Stock…Yes.. I know It would probably be better to come up with a better way for the meat so that it won’t cook as long but it works fine. It’ll all be chunked for pies and the like anyway.

There were, as I knew, three pork butts, two to grind and one for steaks as well as a full sirloin for chops. We will work on that as well as making and canning pasta sauce …LOTS.. and canning Apple cider and hopefully sauce.. We are still a couple weeks out so we shall see how we do.

No Way! Ain’t doing it !

When I came in to tell Ma about the turkeys… I still had frozen food as a floor covering n the shop..

“Why don’t you toss the English Muffins to the kids too. “

” They are not in that freezer. I am NOT doing another freezer!”

……………As I was cleaning out the second freezer, I started finding shredded zucchini ….LOTS… Once the freezer was empty, another chest though only half the size of the Behemoth  I now had the entry carpeted with frozen goods. I had to try to figure out how to put all of the stuff on top that Ma digs through the freezer…like a deranged pack of coyotes… leaving everything I had so carefully packed so that I can just pull what we need …… I grabbed a shopping bag and filled it with her goodies ..some twelve hundred pounds of eggplant parm… and two bags of shrimp.

Preparing Eggplant

Now it’s not that I don’t like eggplant… It’s just that Ma and I handle them differently.

Ma skins them each, slices them uniformly, oils a cooking pan, places each,  side by side until they get all roasted uniformly . She then lovingly soups on our home made pasta sauce layering Italian cheeses until everything is just perfectly fitted into a pan ..technically four of them… She then covers each cooking two on the lower rack and two on the top, carefully switching the pans around half way through.. Finally, she uncovers them to lightly brown as she hovers over them waiting on the perfect tint. Finally she pulls them to cool before she cuts them carefully into perfect tenths ….

I , have a different approach that gives me a perfect dinner every time. I never have any problems with bitterness or that off putting green taste that happens every so often… I grasp the eggplant on the plant its self. I carefully cut it away so I don’t get stabbed by the prickles . Next, and this is the important part..Might want to write this down… I dig a hole a foot or so away from the plant and bury that bitch as quickly as I can … Look over my shoulder and quietly walk away.

Final Thoughts

The day is burning up and my back is torturing me So I’ll finish this up.

I am absolutely not looking forward to this week. Getting up at 3:30am sucks. I’ll get through it as I know Ma and Zen Mountain will be waiting for me at the end of the day…Even if I fall into my chair and sleep before Ma even gets off work.

The days are beautiful up here right now as are the nights with Fall sliding in. If it weren’t for already stressing about dealing with getting to and from work in snow and ice all too soon, I’d be loving it…. Most of the time I don’t think too much about it.. Then I see the tractor and groan.

” Oh yeah… Crap.. I still have some work to do on her. “

Harvest is building steam each week . We should have a good month or so of it to come not counting the Brussel Sprouts which are way out yet. The hot peppers we have are all still green but they wont be much longer and then the drying grinding sneezing fits will come.

Holiday will have us back into canning mode again. We’ll grab up everything we can to err Can . After that we’ll be primed and ready for the next few months.

Dealing with this crap body is really getting frustrating. It’s a friggin battle just picking tomatoes let alone then driving and work.. Not a new story for any of us I am afraid. There are getting to be more and more days that I honestly am not sure how I get to work..as in I don’t remember how I got there…..

Zen pick yourself up and start all over again

Mornings are still black when we get up now with the days getting ever shorter. I found myself waking around 4:30am . I decided to just get up, the bed was killing my back. Walking in to brush my teeth, I could hear Limpy Singing just off to the East of the house again. From the den came the voices of one of the adults and a cup followed by Mama and another of the kids. It is beginning to be the morning ritual.

Walking through the house, I look out the windows to see if anything is in the yard before I hit the lights. Even now, I turn the dimmer all the way back. I don’t want to disturb anyone visiting nor do I want to blow out my eye just yet. Grabbing a half cup of coffee, I walk out to the deck to listen to the chatter around the neighborhood.

I can hear an owl just to the North of the house as it ends its evening hunting, settling in, calling out to any others that are close. An answering call makes me smile.

The Northern pack starts howling which sets off Limpy who is now joined with Mama and one of the kids. They begin to sing which sets off the rest that are at the den to our South East. The Northern pack answers back and the West pack, farther off sounds followed by the East pack and another far to the South. Limpy, satisfied that everyone is in their own territory, takes Mama and the kid around the perimeter of their home heading North to just a ways above the homestead.

I can hear something walking around to the North West but the house is in the way. It sounds like one of the deer coming in. Stepping back to the porch, I sit in the rocker waiting.

Our doe slips around the side of the house, looking up to see me. She watches me as I bid her ” good morning” then she browses her way down to the water.

In moments four more deer come in from the South side of the house including one fawn. It seems to be our same kids as normal this time of year hanging around where there is food and water and reasonably safe other than the coyote kids. The bear and cougar hang more into the woods to the North and it is way too early for Wolffie to come through.

The night begins to fade to greys as “Hummie” flits in, first to say good morning. In moments the feeders, flowers and fences are covered in hummingbirds flitting about and buzzing me. Though there are many more feeders on the other side of the house, they tend to all come in to visit before they hit the other areas. Ma and I are always out there and we always chat to them. In turn, they hover about us, play around us and chat back.

The colors of the dawn fill the Eastern skies as I watch lonely clouds slip quietly across the horizon looking for the Sun to warm their bellies…. It looks like it’s going to be

Just another day on Zen Mountain.


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