When the mice hit the fan

It all sounded too good when I asked Ma what our plans were for the day :

” We just need to hit two places in town then we will do a little canning and relax. “

Nothing ….ever.. is just that cut and dry..EVER….on Zen Mountain.

We try to keep things simple on Zen for the most part…but don’t confuse simple with easy. Laid back with lazy…..and finally…Never discount the curve ball that is Zen it’s self..

Ma and Pa go to town

Given my choice , I would leave town to the townies and citiots… Unfortunately , we need to make runs to town at least a couple times a month . ( besides me going to work of course. Got to pay those work injury doctor bills ya know . )

A quick run is hitting the few grocery stores and running back up to Zen before the “Blah Blah Blah” idiots hit the stores. You know the ones : They pull their carts up , side by side and generally in the most congested areas to chat while the rest of us try to get around them to , you know, shop…

I always enjoy when the same citiot seems to know every mother with eighteen kids who HAS to use the over sized car shaped cart , kids hanging from all sides, grabbing crap off the shelves , screaming at the top of their lungs while she chats with whomever…You know at any given time there will be at least three of these hordes in the store…Some how the same guy knows them all and catches them at every item you need…JUST to the far side of the isle they block. Some how , they seem not to notice the forty some people that have to wait on either side of them to try to finish their shopping.

Finishing shopping , now you hit the self checkout …Well.. MA does, I refuse to , in part because I wouldn’t be able to see well enough to do it but more importantly ; I would throw a fit when the computer tells me to do things I have already done then precedes to call for help  simply because I pummel it with a loaf of french bread…..err…I mean ,there is no proof of that ever happening…

The day was chilly and both Ma and myself were cold. Ma decided to turn on the heater to ” Little Blue” , her truck.

When the mice hit the fan

*Whirrrthumpthump whirrrrrr*

” What the? “

“GAwwwhhh..mice in your system.”

We only had the one last stop.

While we finished up shopping , I mentally prepared myself for working on ” Blue”

“Blue” and I get along fine for the most part…However… There is one universal fact:

“BLUE” does not like cold weather… If the weather is chill , she finds something to go wrong….pretty much every year since she moved up here. Late Winter or Late Fall … It always means one thing to me…I am gonna bleed…She bites.


We drove back up the mountain to Zen while I thought through all of the steps I may have to take to fix the problem.

In my jeep , I have to pull the tank for the window washing fluid , then it’s three screws and I am done…even less with the Sami… I hope I never have to do my truck as it is a total PIA to simply change the oil let alone plugs and those are a bloody battle.

Blue being older , I hoped for a break.

We unloaded the truck quickly then I popped the hood to find no access to the fan. I had Ma look through the book as my eyes no longer can do that…

scarring isn’t helped with cheaters..and yes , I do write, Ma fixes my mistakes and translates the Post into English from whatever the hell language I seem to type..a form of WingDings I imagine…

ANYWAY….MA says the access is from inside. I knew the fan would be on passenger side so at least that would be helpful.

MEANWHILE…. I am opening the air filter box to find it filled , as in FILLED with some type of wild seed …and three friggin mice!


We have two problems now..BOTH mice related. Mice are NOT cute…ever…Food for coyote kids, hawks , falcons and snakes.

I parked the truck in front of the shop so we could get to work.


I knew I would need the shop vac…which , of course , is NOT in the shop. I have it in “OUTIE” one of our two containers…AT the back…….AND.. I had just put all of the outdoor gear in there this last weekend…  Perfect….

Mower, weedeaters ,all types of fertilizer and more all lay through the walkway with the vac at the far end… I could see it..Only because it is orange…

“CRAP! REALLY!?!?! REALLY!?! “ … I got really inventive-creative after that as I pulled everything back out into the drive..

Shop vac in hand as well as the shop compressor ready , I started cleaning out the filter box. I had already pulled out hand fulls….literally hand fulls of seed.. Ma thinks it is Milk Weed seed…So…We should have a nice crop this coming spring from my broadcasting ….

I turned on the vac and started sucking out the rest when I heard a *WHUMP!* Yes..Yes I did grin… I knew I had gotten a mouse..It didn’t seem to appreciate the sky diving lesson  shortly there after. Not a good day to be a mouse I suppose.

CRAP crap crap crap crap!

I had the filter box cleaned out , but I was not happy , they were still in the area that is open to the air.. I would have to dismantle more of ” Blue” to remedy that.

I’ll get back to that.. On to the Fan…

Ma showed me the pages on the fan….

” Very nice…You know I can’t see a thing right? “

I crawled under the dash and saw the fan.. Ma had plans to pull things apart..In retrospect ; though her plan involved more removal , it probably would have used less blood…But there ya go…It all ” looked” simple to me…

I could feel three screws.. Ma said “Yes, there are three.”

It looked like I could pull the fan straight down and we’d be good……

What the HELL was I thinking?? It’s “Blue”. “Blue” bites.

The first two screws came out easily…Considering that I couldn’t see well enough to find out if they were phillips , star, standard..etc.. and I sure can’t feel what they are…

We started with phillips . Ma handed me a variety… None worked… We guessed Star… Yup.. a hand full later we found the size..

The worst of it was that I could not see to do the job.. Not only my vision but where it was and my body wouldn’t get bendy enough..or small enough for that matter. I couldn’t use my right side. It was more of a hindrance as my shoulder pressed against the dash…

I got the first two out only to find that now the fan tipped enough I had no chance at the third. Replacing the front screw I could ALMOST get my hand in the area between wall and fan to work..

A driver was too long, no ratchet would work as a socket was too short and any extension was too long banging into the curve of the floor board .A wrench wouldn’t work due to the angle and inset of the screw..I finally had to use the star with a small socket to make that a driver of sorts…which , of course, constantly fell apart .

There was swearing…and I constantly hit my head on …. well.. every friggin thing…so..ergo… swearing…

I finally got the back screw out and the fan dropped…

You have got to be kidding me ?!?!!!!

Oh yes.. The fan dropped ..three quarters of the way down .. the curve of the floor stopped it…..

RELEASE THE HOUNDS!…yes……more swearing…more creative ..up to the point I started simply drooling and shaking….

I pulled back the carpeting.. I managed to not even destroy it….A close thing .. JUST enough that I was able to finally work the fan out….a nest from hell clogged it…Duh…Not only was the face full but the nest was up into the vents….


Alternately using the vac to push and pull, we got the material all out and vents worked once again..It took some time but we got it.

It looked like a murder scene

Working on “Blue” is never easy. Yes..Yes there was blood..LOTS of blood…

I knew I was cut but I was busy and only had time to bitch about being cut in between swearing…I can only divide my mind ssoooo many ways after all….

It started to get sloppy wet when I finally looked . I had two scores across the back of my left hand on either side of the knuckles all the way across .. Those I knew about.. It was the right side making the mess. My wrist and up my arm were covered in blood as was the work area…Awesome…Now I have to clean THAT up too. Cables and the fan and so on were dripping… Nice….bleh…

The flow was already slowing so I grabbed some shop toweling and cleaned up the area and my arm.. I’d worry about that later..

GAWWHHH!!! …Take Two !

Everything cleaned up , I just had to put it back together…

” WHAT THE HELL!?!?! “

Fan wouldn’t go back in.. The angle and some rubber some damn thing that looked like it was going to end up on the shop floor in thirty seconds! Oh..GREAT! wires are now falling down , getting in the way and adding to the problem trying to get the fan in..Did I mention that I can only get my left side in?

I took a swear break….Once I let off some steam I went back in..Finally getting around the obstacles , I managed to squeeze the fan back in….I took a breath..and didn’t swear…

The first two screws went in easily… I had coated them with white grease .. I know this isn’t the last time…

We started the truck ..and fan… more crap from the system came out but all in all , it was flushed.. I hand put in the back screw and whew… Done…

Back to the front

Now I glared at the filter box again… Three screws all easy to get to.. Could it really be that easy? Yup!

I pulled the box then looked at all our fencing options… Where it fits to the intake , it looked like I could make a screen .. Wont be mouse proof , but mouse resistant I can live with. Getting out the anvil , ball peen hammer , cutters and tight fencing , I went about making it so..

Ma vacced the interior while I worked on the screen making it contour  to the facing…Done and done..Now “Blue” was our one and only mouse resistant rig…

The bleeding down to an ooze , Blue back together and running no less…It was on to our original relaxing  Harvest day.

Apples , Cranberries and pickles Oh My!

The crate of apples I mentioned last week still sat in the entry.

We COULD make more sauce I suppose..We had enough for the year however….

We could make more cider…We have cider from two years ago still…as well as more this year…hmmm

We COULD make apple slices for crisp….We already have a fair amount of that ..considering we almost never eat sweets……Sweets…..Now there’s an idea.

What if we made Apple Cider syrup? I am sure there is such a thing… Concentrated cider I suppose…..So….

I jumped on the press making up cider….Hours later we had cider ready…Now to make a simple syrup basically… Much sweeter than we normally do..as we don’t add sugar at all… I thought..:

” Ya know…. With sweet, there should be spicy to balance it..”

Ma agreed so we added Red Habanero Pepper to the mix…

So now we have Cinnamon Habanero Apple cider syrup canned for flapjacks …Probably for a long time as well as for home made ice cream when we make it..which is also seldom..


We have many pounds of fresh cranberries that we wanted to make into sauce to can as well as fresh juice..

The juice we made up yesterday and it is cooling in the fridge at the moment for our first round… The left overs from that will go towards the beginnings of the sauce which we will make the first run of as well today… We have four pounds of berries run through so far and a long ways to go but that’s for another day.


Our Zuke harvest sucked this year , mostly to winds and moles.

We did have what is probably our last harvest this last week , enough for four more pints of Bread and Butter pickles… While we were already canning it was the perfect time..

Final thoughts

It has been calm up here this week and Washington decided to do some controlled burning so once again we are buried in smoke…for the entire season we have had far more days in the gloom of smoke than clear skies. Right now I can not even see Gotham again…

The smoke throws my migraines into overdrive . Heading into work on Monday I was hit hard… it has been building ever since making a lot of what I do more work than it should be but I imagine it is smarter to burn before some dumbass sets fires simply to be an asshat…

Ma always gets a kick out of me when we can.. I get a grin that wont stop .. I , for some reason , have fun doing that kind of work , but more so because we get to have these summer goodies all winter and spring as well..

Everyone is all excited about Fall… I just see Fall as the door to winter. I try not to. To enjoy the colors of Fall…Then our world is filled with smoke and we lose that so I am back to thinking about winter.. ” Little Red” our tractor and moving snow..driving on ice in the fog when I am already barely making it back and forth in good weather… Meh… What are the choices right? This is Zen , It wont be the first winter nor hopefully my last…

Take it a Zen….

Mornings are dark these days, even when it is clear.

It doesn’t take much to wake up before the Sun. HE is getting tired of early mornings and has decided to snuggle under the cloud covers for just a few more minutes each day.

We wake up to stars now. Getting up and heading to the porch/ deck area , we listen as much and more than normal.

Coyote packs through not only Zen’s Fells but from areas far and beyond call out in the quiet stillness of Fall.

The air is crisp now. Any breeze can bite as you wake. Leaving the warmth of the bed to sit out under a starry night come morning with only the warmth of the cup in your hand to enjoy the birth of a new day isn’t for everyone.

Another pack calls from far to the North. One of our packs of Zen. Limpy’s tribe answers back. They are always close to home.

Another pack that is obviously from across the river in the next state calls in and is rewarded with an answer from the other side of Gotham.

The light breeze from the East brings sounds from tens of miles to us as if  we were there.

The booming rumble of the train starts in , taking over Zen… Morning trains last forever. You can hear as they clack over the trestles some ten miles and more beyond and more than two thousand feet below us , following the Columbia River heading East. The train whistle might as well be at our gates from as close as it sounds though we can see the engine winding through the North edge of Gotham.

As the silence starts to spread over us again , the train far far away… Coyote kids start singing once again. Ma makes a comment about one of the kids having sung with me as I played the night before, coming in to sit at the fence line, making his own lyrics to the songs I play… We both smile as we think about it only to have one of the kids pat along side the fence line some 15 yards from us as I sit in plain sight on the deck , Ma on the porch.

One of “Limpy’s pack” though not “Limpy” himself.. Not “Legs” so either “Red”or “Mama” We know it is one of “Limpy’s pack” she stops as I talk to her. Cocking her head to listen while I wish her a good morning.. She watches for a bit then pats off to stop again , looking once more…Probably astounded that I had already shut the hell up .

Ma and I smile at each other.

” I love it up here on Zen”

” I wouldn’t be anywhere else. “

The sun peeking through the clouds on the Eastern ridge of the next state over , winking in agreement.

and so starts…..

Just another day on Zen Mountain




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