Changing of Seasons and “Abby” Normal

Weather and animal movements herald the coming of Fall on Zen

After months and months, we had one full day of light rain. Nothing that folks to the West of us would consider anything to brag about, let alone the folks to the East, but when you have had nothing but sun and wind for six months, it was a relief.

Did it make any difference? Unlikely. But again, maybe it did. Making up water takes far longer than any single rain could possibly hope to fix, but it was calming, never the less.

The elk herd is around far more this week than they have been in a while. Cows lounging before the break of day in our meadows and fields. They come in at night and wipe out the bulk of the water from our watering hole, which lets us know, if we don’t hear them, that they have been in again. We see them along our hills and valleys.

You can usually hear a bull in the early mornings. Not always, but usually. Bugling that they are getting ready for the rut. A few mornings there have been answering calls from other bulls, chuckling and screaming by turn.

For as long as I can remember, I have listen to the calls of bulls in the Fall. When I was young, our family headed to the woods every weekend from break of snow in the Spring and up to Hunting season in the Fall. Listening to the Bulls is something that always just makes me smile, thinking of the days as a kid.

I seldom do any hunting anymore , mostly because for so many years, one stupid thing or another with my body, injuries from work, have kept me from it, taking years to heal, only to have another come up before the one before was healed. Now?… Now being retired, I just haven’t had the urge really. That, and the fact that the freezer stays full. Wont do me any good to go out and hopefully bring something home only to wonder what the heck I am going to do with it. Also, no hunting buddies and I really don’t want to be staring at a 600+ lb animal down in a canyon with nothing but me and a backpack to bring it out. I use to, but a little worn out it seems.

So.. I watch and listen, remembering youth .. It works… Beats the hell out of sitting in an apartment staring at a grey smoggy portion of a city.


Well, there really isn’t much going on with any gardens this year, as I have mentioned before. Most of the trees and bushes are still alive. I have lost a few of the bushes.. not many. I haven’t seen a dead tree yet. More likely, something might not come back in the Spring.

Veggies? Well, we are getting tomatoes to make sauce. Nothing crazy but they are still coming on ..Surprisingly as the plants look like crap, no matter how well they are tended. IN the Late Winter, I’ll pull up the raised beds , moving them while making bigger, deeper raised beds for the next crop.. That’s all I can think of, is that the roots got to the hard pan and that was it.

The Peppers are doing great ( for up here ) I am letting the hot peppers ripen while I have taken quite a few of the Italians while still green. We only get so many , and only so much space for plants in the small area I have set up, mostly out of the wind. I wish we could do a green house, but with said winds, I am afraid it would be destroyed. The plastic siding I put up in the Spring for this garden is pretty much shredded even though I put it between layers of fencing to keep the damage down.. Just too much wind.

I will probably pull potatoes most any time now. I see small ones have come to the surface, so I hope somewhere in the bed’s depths I will find some decent ones…Again; weather.


I had mentioned that we had gotten our first shot a couple weeks ago. It knocked the crap out of me within hours and then weeks But now it finally hit Ma. She has been down all weekend.. Great way to start your Friday. She is going through everything I have already dealt with but looks rougher on her.

The thing is, with things as they are out there around the populous, we know we need the shots, that and shops and government buildings are talking HAVING to have proof.. It really boils down to wanting to get through this crap.

The worrisome thing is; this is just the first shot.. We still have the second to go in a few weeks. Some people have gotten sick off the first, but others have gotten worse on the second. That concerns me when I see Ma down like this.

I just don’t see another choice but to hope the first one simply got this crap out of the way and that the second wont be any worse for us. With different versions of the vaccines out there and all the different side effects, there is no way to know, plus, whatever is going on in each of us changes side effects…

Abby Normal

Back in the day, when I was actually playing music for folk on a weekly basis, one of my guitars that I was ” known” for was my 1970 Gibson SG Deluxe. She fit my play style, though she always drove me nuts as due to the way these are set up, they tend to tilt forward and with the Bigsby style tail piece ( the wanger bar ) She didn’t have a lot of sustain. But she was one of my two favs and got a lot of use.

After the accident back in the mid 80s that made it so I couldn’t play anymore; semi bounced me out of the driver seat and onto the floor of the passenger side as it ripped through the side of the van I was driving, taking a lot of my dexterity , leaving me with white noise and a disconnection between hand and mind…. I packed my gear away. I had tried to play again back then but I couldn’t hear right , so any other problems really didn’t help much.

My gear was in what I considered pretty much the safest place in the world… Turns out; not so much.

Several of my guitars and all my amps disappeared. Two of the guitars that were left had some sever damage to them. And both of them, someone had tinkered with the pickups and wiring.

I had been seeing a few different types of docs on several of my problems as they popped up during them working on work injuries over the years. One of them got rid of the white noise, not all that long ago.

One time Ma and I had run up to my parents’ place, both long gone now. Ma decided with the new house here on Zen, I could finally bring things home…. That’s when I found out things were missing and or broken.

My SG had, by far, the worst damage, My old Tele; one of my first guitars, I was able to do all of the work save for the frets are too far gone, so she sits. The SG however had something very heavy tossed on the case it was in.

I am very lucky that the neck wasn’t broken. The lacquer finish was shattered on the face . Frets ( the wires on the neck ) had serious damage. Some were lifted many had impact dents or nicks. The fretboard had nicks in it. The bridge was severely damaged . The Bigsby also was damaged badly.. Not just from the impact, but also from whomever monkeying with it afterwards. The pickups were ruined, by the same person. The tuners weren’t right either, something I thought I would have to swap out. She was completely unplayable… as was the Tele.. I imagine that that is why they were still there, whomever took off with the rest of the gear didn’t think these were repairable enough to be worth it.

When I brought her home and saw the damage, I put her away and started building guitars. Oh, I hadn’t started playing again yet, but I figured that if I was ever going to fix the SG , I had a lot to learn.

I started building, and the easiest for me were the tele style guitars. Slab side electrics with necks I could pull and replace. If I didn’t get the neck set up correctly cut, I could toss in a wedge to fix the problem…Wiring could be simple but could also be modified .

It actually took until the Band wanted to get together for a reunion for me to actually start playing… I had been goofing with some stuff of my own earlier that year, slowly relearning chords and scales, but I hadn’t learned a single song from 1985? until 2018? When I got the call. They gave me a list and I started learning … That was intense.

I continued to build a few guitars but also started working on ones I had that could use some upgrades…

Finally, a few weeks ago, after all that, I figured that I had put in enough time. I felt I was ready to work on this old girl of mine.

I started with the tuners, pulling them and working one them, as I really didn’t want to replace anything I could fix.. I got them straightened and got them to hold.

Next was the neck, if I couldn’t fix that then it was a lost cause. A couple days on the bench and I had the fret wires filed, shaped and leveled again, working on the fret board while I was working on the frets. It all turned out better than I expected.

I looked at the shattered finish to the face and decided that these were ” war wounds” she survived . I felt that I could minimize the drastic nature without trying to melt the finish back together…and so , I did…

Next was the bridge…. Now, THAT was a pain in the ass. The nature of a Tune-o-matic bridge from the 70s was never my favorite design.. nor for many players…so many small parts, literally held together with a piece of wire…Working that took me almost as long as the frets…and I still am not completely happy with it…

Next was the first stage of the Bigsby….Again, it took days and I still am tweaking on it.

The pickups , I could not fix, short of buying equipment to do the job, so I replaced them and all the wiring and pots etc..

Once I got everything ready for the first trial, I put on strings and started to tune it… Five strings on and the sixth coming up to tune when the Bigsby let go and all string spun loose, whipping around me at the head of the guitar. Fortunately, I was wearing cheaters as they wrapped me like Spiderman was on me.

A few minutes of swearing, then laughing later, I disentangled myself , pulled the bar and started to rework it on the bench. Once I had it all back together once again, strings were back on and I slowly retuned her, waiting for a repeat..

Strings held, well, rather, the Bigsby held. Everything tuned up and time to do a sound check…

The brand new pots for the brand new pickups had a did one of the new pickups… Always assuming I was the problem, I went through all my diagrams, re-soldered everything and started over.. only to find the exact same problems… Now, funnily enough, I decided to put out the multimeter.. OH! Not me.. crap, spendy, parts.

I contacted the vender, getting new parts in to replace the old. About a week later, the new parts came in…and fortunately, they sent spares of their another pot was bad…

Finally the girl was ready to go…. I sent back the remaining parts to the vender, so I wouldn’t get charged for them… And the SG was getting a run through… Still, no sustain, but as I say, it never did… But, I have ideas…

After all the trouble, and I didn’t even mention a bunch of it, as long as this is… I decided to rename her “Abby” (Normal) inspired by this scene out of ” Young Frankenstein” from back in the day.

Now, I just have to work out the small bugs and then see if I can figure out something, not too drastic, to come up with for a video on how she plays….Because, I just can’t entertain myself by playing a couple chords or whatever to say

” See! It works.”

Final Thoughts

Winds have, of course, kicked back in.. shocker… Temps down into the 70s, again , We even had an evening where I threw some wood in the stove enough to warm the house into the 60s….

I don’t think I’ll need to hit town this week, which is always nice. I had a long day in town this last Tuesday, multiple stores just to find what we needed…Shelves were fairly bare. I imagine between stores being short handed as well as Just after the Holiday weekend and, of course, Big business doesn’t feel they need to toss much to us in the armpit of the Gorge . More and more often, corporate stops sending things our way.. Again, they say that items aren’t selling… Well, Dumbass; if it isn’t on the shelves , we can’t buy it. They force a hording effect. If something makes it this way, folks garb what they can.. Then stores have to put up signs saying that you can only buy ” this ” amount…and still Big business feels no need to send any more than they do… Oh it isn’t that they don’t have whatever over in Metropolis, you can find it all day long there…just not here… We’re not worthy.

Anyway.. so the bulk of the day I was running from one place to another just to fill a hand full of bags…and again, due to worker shortages, they ( per store) were only running two check out lines. You spend a half hour running around through all of the isles trying to find items that USE to be in the store only to spend another hour in line.. PIA …

Several stores, I walked away with nothing as they were completely out of what use to be glutted in the isles…

So.. again.. Yippy! , no run to the store this week…. The following week will be at doctors and or hospitals for the bulk of the week.. Super fun… Assuming that they don’t call last minute again postponing tests and or appointments.. which is why it is the bulk of the week rather than one here and one there… These have been getting backed up for months now, all to fall on this next week.. maybe…

The new folks, whomever they may be, seem to have stayed the weekend at the cabin by us.. I haven’t seen them , but so far, they are quiet.. So far so good. The elk walked into the grove, only to turn back around grumbling about the neighborhood going to hell, so seems they noticed there was someone there. As long as they are fairly quiet, I am sure the ” Kids ” will get use to them as well.

It’s nice seeing clouds in the skies again more than smoke, though far from every day. But hopefully soon.

I find myself a little off my game these days with us dealing with the side effects and the weather, but, a few more weeks and we’ll be done with the next shot and hopefully get into full Fall mode quietly.

I watch leaves turning colors already, in part due to the Seasonal changes and partly due to the lack of rain. But, in any case, it is, in fact,

just another day on Zen Mountain

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