Zen’s Twas the Night Before Christmas 2018

Tis the season to be snarky Falalalala…la lala..la

Welcome to the 4th annual Zen’s Eve post..Yes.. I know it isn’t actually Christmas Eve as I post this , but I am hoping to beat the Christmas rush…and Yes; they are a new twist each year.

That Jolly Old Elf and myself have something in common; that chunk of coal for the naughty.

Our method of delivery is just a little different . He shoves it , I chuck it… and with that , let’s move on to our story:

Twas the Night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Fells
Not a creature was stirring, cept those dang elves.
Ma’s newly knitted stockings were hung by the wood stove to dry,
Knowing that St Nicholas soon would be stopping by

The hummies were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-water danced in their heads.
And Ma bundled her shawl, and I in my robe,
Had just settled our bones ignoring some movie involving a snow globe.

When once again on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair tripping and falling, tangled in yarn once again. face planting in a bowl of cheese dip with a splatter.
Away to the porch I flew like the Flash,
Only to slam into the door frame, the storm door and and wreath with a resounding crash

The moon glisten across the blanket of the new-fallen snow
sent me flying across the deck to objects below.
When, what to my spinning eyes should appear,
But that same sleigh, and those eight freezer-worthy reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it once again friggin’ St Nick.
More piles of deer poo lay about our deck, his coursers to blame,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! onto the roof and all cross the top the red truck!
Now dash away! Splash away! mash away that yuck!”

As sheets of plywood that before the wild South Winter Winds fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my breath, and was beginning to curse,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came and I prepared for the worst.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
Brushing snow and deer poo from my back
I glared at the old Gnome while he shook off his coat, his trousers and pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! I stood there watching becoming quite wary!
His grin becoming a bit evil, he pulled out a bottle of brandy, possibly blackberry!
His droll little mouth began to form a grin that made me reach for a stick,
This guy , though a good friend was some times a ****.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
He walked into my office and grabbed up my old Tele.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye as he flipped on the Champ,
It looked like he wanted me to do the same as he began to vamp.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled the house with a slow Blues in ” A”, then nodded to me as I finally began to play.
A short time later, we lay things back down,
Ma brought over some beers and passed them around.

Our old friend stopping by was always a hoot I never knew what would come next , then he  pulled out a lute. He , once again began to play as we sat quietly chatting,

I watched as he eyes the new socks by the fire popping and cracking. Ma spinning her fiber into the finest of yarn , Zak spun as thin as spider silk much stronger by far.

So begins a new shawl to keep Ma warm as she would sit on the porch , watching our own deer , coyotes, hummies and elk.

Giving in to his questioning look , Ma finally gestures to the socks while she preps a new bobbin, , threading the leader with her trusty orifice hook. Santa smiles at her , giving a wink as he slides his hand under the sturdy yet soft wool and silk stocking , admiring the colors, knots and patterns while I sit there rocking.

She smiles and says; “Yes, they’re for you, you silly ole elf and I have a matching lap blanket somewhere here too.

With a grin and a sigh , St Nick slips on the new socks, wriggling his toes by the fire as he talks.  Of mountains and cities, countries from afar, the old elf tells us his stories some mundane some bizarre.

His mug almost empty and mine pert near there too, I rise to the entry to grab some more brews. The Port thick and creamy the Stout has a bite , I decide on the former, for Santa’s long night. I fill both our mugs with some care, ya just don’t want too much foam clinging to Santa’s white hair.

His stay growing shorter as he looks to the time , this post gets longer and harder to rhyme . The old elf , quite spry for his age , leaps to his feet with strumming air guitar move like a rocker on stage .

Let’s one more song before I must totter on most stops yet ahead but I believe I have time yet before the evening is gone.

I laughed to myself, the Boy has Blues in his soul , Zen Mountain has its own fantasy realm  not unlike the North Pole . Where else can The Jolly old elf sit and relax ,no pressure , no stress no questions are asked. He sits in my office , strumming  a haunting tune lightly , I  sit down by him , pick up the tune my grin curling up brightly.


The torment we usually save for each other , is put aside this year..What the Hell? Whats the matter? We normally pick at each other other till Ma intervenes teasing and poking its just in our genes . Maybe it is simply I like the old boy , we have a lot in common from wearing Ma’s woolen socks to our “Oh Jolly!” and “Awesome!” 

How many more years will we set sit by the fire watching Ma while she spins ? When will be the day I must pay for old sins?

Santa looks to me seeing my thoughts darken . He reaches over , clasps my shoulder then smacks the back of my head. We’ve plenty a year to squabble yet ahead, maybe we all just need just one year, just one , to relax , to enjoy , to simply be one at the Zen Homestead.

It is finally time to head back to work , there are stockings to fill, some with sweet candies and a couple with aged brandies .

Too many have forgotten to live , love and enjoy the season, citiots staring at smart phones without any good reason.The days fall away , reality misbegotten.

And yet, there still are many who remember a reason for this holiday season, it has nothing to do with your religion or lack there of,  it is more about love and friendship , and even some huggin’ and squeezin’

Remember to be happy in the darkness and gloom it wont be all that long before trees, bushes and flowers begin to bloom.

Take just a moment away from your screen and say ” Hi” to the people around you , smile and be “Jolly” It aint going to kill ya don’t be such a Molly.

Santa knows when you’re good and you’re bad, Don’t be a total jerk cause that’s just SAD

If ya don’t want lump of coal , just don’t be an a**h*l* It ain’t rocket science ‘pretty sure all of you reading actually have a soul though many show a lack of compliance

Once again the jolly old fella grins to me seeing my mind whir , he gives Ma a hug , and me? Yes even I got a face full of fur.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Yule Weekend


Ma and I had Winter Solstice as well as Saturday off together..Obviously planned ahead..

Hmmm what sounds like fun…… “Oh Let’s go Shopping !”….Yeh.. not even close to our fun list of things to do..and Yet… We had to run to town for some groceries..Crap…

Even in Gotham’s smaller population , the town was relatively packed. Bumper to bumper… Oh wait..let us back up just a smidge here….

Ma  got up fairly early..before the dawn .. and we sat out on the porch to wait for the kids to come in and visit. Ma had wanted a white Yule and she got it. We had a covering of snow here on Zen and in the clouds enough , you couldn’t really tell how low it went though the temp at 33F said it was probably just here.

MA doesn’t like to drive in winter conditions so it was me and Red taking us down the hill. Fortunately , Red’s brakes taken care of the morning before , we were fine for the trip..  Sadly , I suppose, as I was truck-less for the day , she also didn’t get petrol … By the time I saw, we were most of the way home and the gauge was touching empty..Brilliant..Well , I knew I had just enough to get back to Hooterville if no more….Now, heading into Gotham , I sighed…We were going to have to get gas as well… Crap.. The last Christmas season I had gotten gas down there, some Jerkhole citiot from some other state was giving me major crap for not pumping my own gas…You are not allowed to in our state Dumbass , or I would , happily… I wished the asshole Happy holidays ..in AS many words , smiled and showed him my back while he sputtered.. I mean what exactly could he retort , standing next to the sign that says You are not allowed..His citiot family making hand puppet gestures..We drove off and I did not look forward to dealing with the same rush and pleasant people like him sharing their holiday spirit…

Welllll… here we go again…

Although there was a lineup..go figure…Other than Igor finishing the fill without a look or word..which I don’t have a problem with that , I imagine his day was going swell..It was much better this time around.. We pulled into the parking lot to circle around with the other twenty some cars as there were no stalls left..SWEET!

Back into traffic and on to the next grocery store.. Fortunately , they weren’t as packed.

None of this would have irritated me as much if it weren’t for my crap right eye … Traffic brings on a whole new meaning when EVERYTHING off to the right  is tracers , colors and shadows of movement …Everything looks like they are going to pull out in front of you or run into you….Even more fun when they actually ARE doing that as well .. I can’t ignore my mind tricks because these morons are doing that as well as my brain …In less than a block my ever present migraine was getting to overload status …especially when Thursday it had gotten bad enough I could taste sickup all day and knew if I turned my head instead of my body to look , I would be enjoying another fun filled trip to the hospital..Excellent…

We got to the next store , picking up just what we would need for the next couple weeks and headed back up to Zen’s summit . In record time, some couple hours , we had five bags of groceries … Not bad considering the traffic.

Next on the list was the actual part of Yule , getting our bough . The snow had melted while we were in town so the trek was easy though we had to make it relatively quick as Ma has trouble with the steep brush clad walk. Like every year , Mother Tree gave us a bough and a new baby tree from her nursery . Tree and bough in hand , we made  our way home.

Ma and I swapped out boughs then Ma put the baby into soil to sit with the babies from the last few years as they get sturdier before they go into the ground and rougher climate that makes the homestead. In the hidden meadow that is Mother Tree’s home and grove , it is somewhat damper as well as the older siblings breaking the wind . Rescuing the baby trees once a year , we give them a better chance rather than trying to compete with the rest who are taking up sun and nutrients ….These will eventually go into the ground around the homestead , generally into the , still fairly new grove I have been putting together from those babies for the last few decades.

The bulk of the rest of Yule found me in the studio and Ma by the fire spinning.

In the studio

I am working on ..as in going back and forth while I write ; ” Donnybrook ” The Lightning Storm music video I have the Aug 2017 version up here on site I believe .

It is the beginning version .Quiet , the music is the base for the song and the storm , from the actual footage of the 2011 Lightning storm here on Zen that was so impressive she got a name..err.. and song.. We have had two very impressive lightning storms actually on Zen ” Donnybrook” and back in 1993 a storm that was hitting on either side of the house. That was so close and so strong that my hair was standing out and the phone cut off while I was talking as it came in. One strike hit on one side of the house , blinding me as I happened to be looking directly at the spot it hit at a point less than 70 yards away.. I know this because it is right at the deer trail head at our tree line. The next strike hit just past my shop on the other side of the house , close enough to a feral cat that it took it out. Donnybrook wasn’t as close , being some two hundred and change to the point where it was striking . I had my then best camera, though not really all that great for video , let alone night recording..let alone in strong winds… I strapped it down and went inside to watch…If it got hit , I didn’t want to get taken out too… It was on a metal catwalk..Oopsie..

The song just unfolded some five years later as I was playing around trying to relearn playing again using footage from up here for inspiration . A year after that I had the basics and threw them up. For the next year, and up to present, I have been learning the instruments I wanted in it and bringing out the parts I could hear in my head. I finally finished the music tracks and mix December 22 2018 .

22 music tracks ( plus sub tracks in the case of the drum sets ) :

9 guitars, electric and box 6 and 12

two bass guitars one with silk and nylon strings , one with flat-wound strings

A standard drum kit.. using my electric drum pads instead of  acoustic as they are easier to store and quieter.

a Latin kit; same pads

2 conga

1 chimes

a few other percussion

originally another couple kits that I took back out Saturday

Two synth guitar tracks: the Alpenhorn at beginning and end and the Wales legato

Again , I had other synth tracks that I removed.

I also pulled two mando tracks as they just didn’t quite do what I was hoping for.

3 weather tracks : The thunder and rain ..actual thunder and actual rain tracks , not synth.

This has definitely been by far the biggest mix I have put together ..No idea what will come up.

Learning more about mixing as I went..though I still have ton to learn…All brought me to Saturday when I just finally decided that , Yes , I could keep going but it actually had the bound chaos I was looking for , for a storm sound track.

Ma and I listened to the original published and this finished version over and over again before I did the transport to the video software ….

The video is only as good as footage described above. I wish I could clean it up better but it was pixelated to begin with so , I can only do just so much .

The fact that pretty much it’ll be me watching it is fine. The work was simply me learning the instruments and mixing techniques for whatever comes next.  It’s all about the road traveled..It is my hobby

I am still going through the video trying to sync best I can then watch it and start over again… There is only so much I can do so I hope to get it online this season

Sitting and Spinning

Ma has been spinning for a couple years now , getting ever better . As she says ;” It was more like remembering rather than learning.”


The work she has been doing lately is getting very close to “Spider web” .. a spin roughly about a as big around as heavy thread.

From the Spider silk then it is plied ; reversing the spin with two or more of the spun “yarn” . Two- three ply would be roughly Fingering weight, two to three of those plied would be close to DK weight and finally two to three of those into Worsted weight.. The average store bought sweater weight..though , of course , like folding during blacksmithing, it is very much stronger , not to mention softer , no static shocking from her fibers and so on…

There is no way to actually see what she is doing from any distance , you would think she is just practicing the motions until you can catch the light from the spin up close and very personal … It’s no wonder Santa is always coming around during his trek to pick up something new from Ma.

Once again , I will have a ” Sit and Spin” post on all about that fun stuff coming up which I am sure everyone will want to read… um.. yup…Only if I were to really push the snark on the intro .

Ma has been finishing projects at almost an alarming rate keeping in mind the quality that she puts into the effort. She is always being asked to do ” Test Knits” because of precise and speedy work. Unlike the size 14 “drumsticks” we are use to seeing on TV and around , Ma uses , generally , around a 3 for average work going up to 5 maybe 6 for large work and minus 1s for socks and such…Again.. More on all of that in her own post.

Sweaters socks, wraps of several types and blankets are all on ma’s needles during the season while she is also designing and still has time for all of our chores up here and a full time job….. I always feel lazy around Ma .

Another small storm

Again Ma was wanting snow for Christmas , so , of course, Santa sent a small one ahead of him for Ma. Saturday evening , as predicted; the snow began to fall. Saturday day was dark all day long with the clouds building . Temps in the upper thirties plummeted around 4 pm heralding the storm’s entry . The snow falling as we headed to bed , I was awaken by the sound of frickin pitter pattering freezing rain.. Jolly….

We got up late, 5 some damn thang .. I raced out the door ahead of Ma to make sure the porch wasn’t covered in ice. Fortunately , only the deck itself was covered with snow and ice. No breeze made the 30 F temp not so bad and yes, what we could see was pretty enough..as I didn’t have to drive today. Temps rising to a whopping 31-32 f means that the ice is melting into the snow..Hopefully it wont just make compact ice for my morning commute .

Final Thoughts

I would be amazed if anyone besides Ma and I make this far into this week’s post.  Grocery shopping , studio and knitting posts are a little dryer than me going off  about citots or how I did something dorfussy around the shop so let’s round this one off.

Kids are out for the week and hopefully more people stay home * snort* yeah well.. a guy can dream… So long as the freeways aren’t too crazy and the roads aren’t too slick and citiots don’t drive like it’s high summer…hmmm… never mind… Working Christmas eve , the trip both ways will be interesting I am sure. At least , Red has new brakes…well having brakes at all is pretty awesome. She goes in again right after the new year to see how bad the transmission work will be… Our mechanic thinks it will be slick and easy. She has a gasket to replace and the gear oil to be drained and new in. He is hopeful that that will do it. I am , perpetually and eternally pessimistic … can’t imagine why…

Home for the holidays

I have yet to finish decorating around the tree… I just..forget… Maybe today…snort… Back to work early for Christmas eve shift , off Christmas and back to work the day after…We grab our jollies as we can. Not being social butterflies , at least when we have a little time off , it is spent together…even when it is me in the studio and Ma at the wheel.. we are still talking distance apart unless I am doing acoustic work, then I just close the door.


Hummie and his Mrs. are still around though she wants to head to the town house , constantly scolding him , but our little hummingbird refuses to leave just yet. It is only a short flight for them when it is relatively warm. Some eight to ten miles as the Hummie flies. He still ..as always.. refuses to let me take pics… I pull out the camera and off he goes… That is no accident .

and Zen the snow flew


The snow made the early morning reasonably light out. A full moon made it even lighter as Ma and I sat on the porch. Even though it wasn’t light out yet , you could hear birds waking around the homestead. Chirping , complaining about snow covering the area below the ” Fly-n- Go” where they knew good and well that there was seed, the early birds hopped and complained.

Rain pattered onto the snow  even as the moon would peek out for moments here and there. On the West side of the house , we couldn’t see her but as with the sun ,shadows hit the ground when she would look out between the coverings.

From down in the Fells we heard our coyote pack singing at the den. The whole family , including the twins carried the tune. Dennis doing his best to be heard over the adults , his sister trying to sing harmonies…I am more than sure that Dennis was doing his own version of a Bart Simpson to their caroling.. I could hear Limpy’s deep song and Mama singing , Red and Legs putting in their bit all trying to keep their song going while the twins sang at their own key and timing.

While Ma and I listen to the kids singing , Hummie up earlier than normal came buzzing in for breakfast. Most likely getting to the feeder while his Mrs. was doing her feathers before calling. The morning still fairly dark , our little hummer was chattering away to Ma and I as the coyote kids finished up. Lately the little guy had been sleeping in let alone dealing with the lessening freezing rain , but it seem he wanted to make sure and get a full belly before his mate came in to start again about the ever closer town run. Their kids had left long ago and the two of them had made more than one trip down to check the winter digs out. Hummie would make a break for it and be found up here by his Mrs. and it would start all over again.

Sure enough , I could hear the chattering coming from the north as Hummie’s lady started in. He flew to the fence for the Test garden and started right back at her, the two of them discussing the trip to town. Finally having enough , Hummie actually flew into the porch, hovering around the corner..seemingly thinking that if she couldn’t see him , maybe she’d get something to eat and go off someplace looking for him.

Now , it MAY have worked if he wouldn’t have gotten too anxious….. Mrs came flying in right at the time Hummie peeked around the corner which pissed her off to no ends. He had all but run into her at the feeder as they both hit the corner at the same time..and it was on.. Hummie flew back into the porch around and behind me chattering

” SAVE ME !!”

Sorry little dude, she scares me too. ” as Mrs flew around me after him and out the entry way they went…

Ma and I chuckled at the two as they flew around the porch , deck and gardens Mrs in hot pursuit of our Hummie giving him a tongue lashing as they went.

I smiled thinking that , yes…. this is

Just another day on Zen Mountain.


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