The funny thing about the Short Stories is; they are all based on actual events. Early this morning, we had our elk herd come in to sit under our bedroom window at 0-dark:30..With a wake up call. The other funny thing is, more often than not, I don’t have a clue what I’ll be writing about when I go to bed on Saturday eve… By the time I sit down Sunday morning to write, some kid will come in with a new story for me to share… as I always say; It’s just another day on Zen Mountain
This is the weekend for the time change for us, which is always annoying.. more so to Ma; my better half, than myself, but still…
I had changed the clock in the bedroom before we headed off to bed Saturday eve, just so I didn’t have to adjust my brain when I wake up during the night..which I always do.. We both do.. The night before, I had woken up at 2am and lay there listening to audiobooks until I finally drifted off around 4am..as I had the night before that…
Last night, I woke up at new 2am.. turn back on my audiobook…which is the Only reason I deal with a Smartphone.. I almost never use it as a phone.. I am retired.. No one calls with problems and as we are basically socially devoid of pretty much any persons other than the few comments I make on the Social Media ( note: you are reading such) I have little use for calling or texting… I have YET to figure out how to answer the damn thing.. Soooooooo my phone serves two main purposes; A) it is my new ” Ipod..beings that isn’t a thing anymore” for my books and , Number 2; it is my alarm clock. My old flip phone was better in many ways including a MUCH better calendar , but apparently, it was too efficient and now it is Google or not at all..which.. either way, it seems to be Not At All…
Drifting back off finally, around New 4am… I heard a ” Mewww” outside the window.. I lay there, eyes open and a grin spread across my face.. The elk herd was coming in to hang out. and, this is where the story begins.
“ Just go to the window and say Hi.”
I lay there listening… I knew that voice and it was no elk..
“ Noooooo. Ma and Da are sleeping. I’ll get in trouble.”
“ Naw.. Da likes it when we tell him good morning.”
My eye twitched as I pursed my lips… Rhey; our young female coyote was starting trouble again. I swear, I could almost hear Dennis’s brains, or possibly his eyes banging around in his skull as he nodded to what his sister was saying.
Rhey, A few years old now is probably the smartest of the coyotes in Limpy’s pack. She is always looking at causing mischief through the efforts of others. I think she could even so much as talk Bunnie into chasing a bear if she thought it’d be funny.
Then there is Dennis, her brother…And That would be the other side of the coin.. If I didn’t know better, I would think that Mama Coyote was watching too many episodes of Loony toons when she was preggers with him… Possibly even munching a few too many Wile Coyote comics . The poor boy completely loses himself any time he doing anything other than mousing. He loves mice… He will even grab up Evil Greydiggers… If we have already taken them down for him…. But any other task, he will space out and next you know, he is staring at a mouse hole again… His eyes seem to roll in his skull any time he shakes his head, slowly spinning to a stop, long after he has stopped moving… He is by far the closest thing we have to a cartoon character as we have up here….But.. put the two together and there will be pranks.
Young Bull watched Rhey cautiously. Everyone knows about her wily ways.
“ Seriously Dude. Just go up. Say Hi and move on. It’ll hurt Da’s feelings if you don’t when you are so close.”
“ Well.. I wouldn’t want to hurt Da’s feelings.”
“ There you go then. Just go up to the window.” Rhey grin slyly, waving the bull elk towards the house as she and her brother sat at the edge of the field, below the elk herd.
“ Best not do that.” one of the cows said as she worked her way towards them, leisurely cropping grasses.” It’s Rhey. You KNOW she is up to something.”
“ No uh.” Said Dennis, smiling up at the cow elk. “ Just sitting here. Not up to anything. We are down, not up.” He grin, shaking his head. His eyes spinning in slow cirlces as he stared at the cow.
” Can’t you Not do that? It makes me woozy.”
” Do what?” Dennis asked, cocking his head to the side, causing his eyes to start rolling back and forth again.
“ That!” She said waving her hoof at him, gagging slightly.” That. That right there.”
Dennis spun to look at Rhey, who shrugged, a smile creeping up along her lips as Dennis turn back sending the cow off to gag in the weeds.
“Aaaannnnnyyyway…” Rhey said, turning back to Young Bull. “ Better go say Hi before you guys head out.”
“ Oh we’re camping out this morning. Figured we’d hang out here at Ma’s till she gets up to visit. I can say hi to Da then.”
Rhey’s face grimaced. She roll her eyes and started up again. “ No , no. You’ll want to wake Da so he’ll make sure to come visit with you.”
“ You’re sure?” Young Bull asked. His head cocked, looking unsure.
“Oh Totally.” Rhey said , nodding her head.
“ Totally!” Dennis parroted . His head shaking hard enough, his brains sounded like a hand full of superballs banging around in a gym corner.
Young Bull curled his nose and squinted at Dennis, backing up a few steps.” You’re pretty weird Dennis.. You know that right?”
Dennis grin, nodding his head agan, his eyes breaking free to spin in their sockets.. not necessarily in the same direction.
Young Bull shook his head, look to the bedroom window and back at the pair, who were, once again, nodding.
Finally he shrugged. The cows and calves were chatting around the house, so how bad could it be.
Young Bull stared at the open window, then back down to the coyotes, who were yet again, nodding and gesturing him to move closer. He look to the cows and calve who had all grouped together to watch….giggling. He moved to the window, slowly pressing his lips to the screen and whispered ,” Da ! are you awake?” Taking a breath, he spoke louder,” Da! Are you awake?”
I roll my eyes as I turn to the window, less than two feet from my head, looking at the screen that was pushed in by a pair of moose lips and nose. “ Shhhhhh.. Don’t wake Ma… and you have moose drool all over the window.”
“ No No..It’s me Young Bull.. Not a moose at all. Elk.. Remember?”
I sighed,” Yes Young Bull. Now, if you would, please remove your lips from the window screen.”
I watch as the screen moved with his lips as he talked, a green vapor coming into the bedroom. “ Ahh.. Ok.. Sorry.. Good Morning Da.” He moved back slightly so that all I could see was his nose springing off the screen.
“ A little more Dude.. You’re getting elk snot all over the window. We’re awake, just waiting for it to get a little lighter so we can actually see you guys.”
“ Oh… Ok…” He said as he rub his nose against the screen once again. I fell back on my pillow, my hands over my head in frustration.
I could hear him step away…and I could hear Rhey and Dennis giggling along with the rest of the herd.
Once again a pair of lips pressed the screen nearly to the breaking point. ” Oh.. and Da?”
“ Yesssss Moose Drool?”
He hesitated a moment, licked the screen and started up again. ” You know you turn clocks back today right? So you can sleep in.” The screen moved up and down as he nodded his head then stepped back.
I relaxed back into the bed once again, a migraine causing my eyes to flash lasers around my skull. ” Jolly.” I listen to see if Ma was sleeping, it sounded like she was so I , as quietly as I could, slipped out of bed for meds and water then slip back in under the warm covers, starting my book back up.
The open windows and slight night time breeze had the bedroom in the forties. Great for sleeping, not so much for crawling out any time soon…
The elk were back to chatting amongst themselves once again. slowly working their way towards the field from along the side of the house. I lay there grinning. They had already been here nearly an hour.
Getting up again, I look out the window though still too dark to see the elk I could hear. As I lay back down yet again, Ma asked,
“ Is that elk?”
I laughed softly.” Yep. They have been here for awhile now.”
Ma jump out of bed and started the tea water. I got up as well, I could hear her working at the wood stove.
Soon water was ready and Ma was heading out to the porch. I fussed with the fire until it was going well then followed her out with my camera. It was still fairly dark. Some time before the sun would rise so I grabbed the tripod as Ma hushed me, whispering that the elk were still here.
I messed with the camera, trying to raise exposure without it going grainy, attempting to pull any light I could from the dark skies to take pics of the herd.
I got several shots. Too many were blurred as any movement would blur at the shutter speed I had to use. Night look like day as I snapped off shots. The only way to tell it wasn’t light out was from Gotham’s lights below.
The closest thing I could get to a pic of Young Bull was as he turn his head, ruining the shot. I did manage pics of cows and calves however…
The herd had now been here for over two hours. The longest they have just hung out here for many many moons. Normally it is maybe ten minutes or so as they graze along. Today they were in no hurry. Even as I sat to start writing, the herd was still hanging below having only moved some 300 yards in hours.
Rhey and Dennis had long since taken off to go tell their story of Moose Drool to their friends.
Big Buck was out chasing the girls once again. They, running to the house, “ Moooommmmmm! He keeps bugging me.”
Ma, sitting under the cover of the porch watched as Big Buck slowed to stare at her.” Ummmmmm I was just passing by when..”
Ma cut him off,” Behave yourself or I’ll call Da out. Mr. Venison Burger.”
“ Wait.. What?” His eyes getting big then he laughed.” Nuh uh… Da already said the freezer was full to the top.”
“ Then we’ll have a BBQ.” Ma said, glaring at him.
The buck watched her then looked to the does who were sticking their tongues out at him. He pointed stuttering .” Yeah but..”
“ One… Two…”
He sagged his shoulders and pouted his way over to the mineral block muttering under his breath.
“ What was that?” Ma asked as she squinted at him.
He straighten, look to Ma and started to lick the soil. “ Nuthin..” He said, his mouth full of soil and minerals.
“ I thought not…I’m watching you.” Ma said. She could hear the does giggling from down below. She spun to glare at them as well. “That means you girls too. Quit teasing him.”
They all stood at attention. The buck sticking his tongue out at them while Ma was looking away. ” I saw that young man.”
His tongue zipping back into his mouth, his eyes popping again.” Yes Ma’am..“
Ma got up to come back into the house to warm up. As soon as the door closed the buck lit after the does again. They all squealed, giggling as they ran off.
The herd below look up as one at the antics of the deer, heads shook , eyes rolled and a few laughed quietly as they began to move over the embankment.
In the Kitchen
Well, I managed to get both my cherries and a batch of elderberries taken care of.
Cherries are easy enough.
I had a full reusable grocery bag full of cherries in the freezer.. down in the dark depths..
I use a large pot, fill it with the cherries.. and they do end up going over the top, but that’s fine, they cook waaaaay down.. I just toss in enough water to cover the bottom to keep the cherries from burning.
I turn the burner up to medium and let them start to cook down. Once they start producing their own juice, I turn the heat up to med-high, keeping half an eye on them. Never let them boil, it’ll run it…
Using a tater smasher, I squish the cherries down as they start to break down. I do this until there is too much juice to continue. In a second deep pot, I put in a deep colander, pour the stuff from the first pot into the second.. replace the cherries from pot 2 back into pot one and start things up again. When they are little more than pits skins and goo, you are done. Once again toss the colander into pot two and pour everything in. This time mush the cherries to finish getting the rest of the goodies out.
If you don’t get too carried away, you’ll have a very dark red juice clean and clear…if you over push, you’ll have chunks and such in with it..It wont hurt anything so that is a matter of taste, you can always filter from there if you want.. Canning follows at about 15 mins for pint jars in a water bath…
Any and all cherries work.. We like tart so we go with mostly tart or not fully ripe cherries.. No sugar. No extra water etc..
The Elderberries can be a pain in the ass unless you buy the dried fruit online.. The procedure is the same as cherries, only adding that make sure there are no stems, no leaves etc.. and most importantly.. Though it will lose some of the benefits, better safe than sorry and cook them for 30 minutes and use a sieve not a colander. No skins no seeds. Now you can can that up exactly the same. If you watch the temp and don’t Overcook.. the juice will be sweet.. too long and it’ll get bitter..
There are many recipes for the syrup, as in for flu .. not pancakes.. though I am sure those are out there as well…We do in the cupboard style which means LOTS of Honey and Vodka to keep it stable .If you don’t like the taste of honey, this wont work for you.. You can not taste the vodka..we even do 100 proof though 80 works just fine..you just get more from the juice with the higher proof as I believe I mentioned last week.
I still have two full bags of Elderberries left in the freezer. Picking stems from the bag of frozen berries was a major chore.
and.. one cup of berry juice which is around 3 cups of berries will give you enough syrup to last a long friggin time.
We had to go to town on Friday for Ma to see the doc.. ON the way home we hit the store so I wouldn’t have to make two trips. As we walked in, I saw a gal going out with a turkey.
“CRAP! Let’s see if this store has organic.” Again, I have mentioned Ma can only do organics if we don’t want to make a trip to the hospital…
We picked up things as we made our way around. We haven’t shopped here much but as Freddies decided to stop selling most named brands so that people would buy their crap brand, we see no need to pay high prices for plastic and cardboard foods. Ergo.. different store.
Making our way around, we looked in all areas for turkeys..as Freddies doesn’t actually have the turkeys by the meat dept…because how does that make sense .. right? They also only have organic turkeys for at best a couple days.. Not that they don’t sell.. just because , it would seem, We’re not worthy…
The new store had a BUNCH of nice sized turkeys; organic, at the meat dept ! What a novel freakin idea!… As we haven’t been able to get any, which means no turkey for us ever.. we picked up more than one…
The last one we got from Freddies was literally the size of a chicken… These were all around 13lbs… perfect…
Well… in celebration, we pulled the turchicken out yesterday so we could have turkey today…
“ BUT!?!?! Thanksgiving is in a couple weeks!!! What the hell?!?!”
Yeah..whatever… We love turkey.. We do not buy 30 pound birds just because there are thirty pound birds…
Even on Thanksgiving, which we don’t do on Thanksgiving as it is always and has always only been us and Ma ALWAYS works EVERY holiday… We only have enough turkey for the dinner and sandwiches for the week… The rest has already been made into stock and soup starters… There is no “ 75 ways to use leftover turkey” dishes to try to hide it from whiners bitching about leftovers…. Remember.. We have always lived mostly off leftovers due to our work schedules….
This bird, we will be lucky to get a few sandwiches after tonight’s dinner.. Chicken size remember… and, of course I am all half giggly about making more stock.. Yeah.. whatever… I like putting up foods for us… I have been up here without too many snowed in winters…Besides… when I ask Ma what she wants for dinner tonight and she replies “ I don’t know.” That gives me a cupboard of quick choices….. And lastly because once it gets cold, I always have soup, chowder or stew on, all week.. When we finish up one, I get ready for the next. So Stock in the pantry is a must.
When I took off to pick up mail this week, I looked down to see my ” Check Engine” light on as I was heading back home.
If things are going to go wrong, it is generally when weather is changing …
I got home, tinkered with it for a bit. Got it back off BUT….she runs like crap…I called my mechanic only to find out I’ll have to take it somewhere new… While Ma was getting poked and Prodded and I waited and worried in the truck… I texted my nephew for ideas.. Sure enough, he had a mechanic and better, a LOT closer than mine had been. And even better, I can get it in this coming Friday.. The closest to a problem is..as we are loners unto ourselves.. I have no one to bring me back home and Ma will be working.. Just have to come up with a work around. But ! at least I can get it worked on. Hopefully it wont be overly horrible…
It is that time of the year when we tend to be in those clouds you see overhead that sock in the mountain tops….Which, of course, means ; less sunrises…Yeah.. I know they are still out there.. we just don’t see them.. but no one below us can either so.. there ya go.. But.. we did have a couple amazing ones earlier this week.
Ma has been working on her Bunnie fiber, finishing up the singles this week, a total of 8 batts of Shetland, Tussah Silk, and Angora, both Satin and English. These will be plyed together, to make 2ply sport or dk weight yarn for another cardigan sweater for Ma. Maybe even enough yarn left for a hat, or pair of gloves. You never know what Ma will come with.
and she has started on some Shetland Neck wool she got from her buddy Jen and Whispering Pines
She is spinning this very fine once again, unlike the Bunnie, which she wanted thicker . Ma , Mama Wheel and Neck fiber from Jen all come together to make a seriously thin yarn.. Once she makes this into a two ply, we will check to see the size… I watched as one of the spiders lurking around the place sat on the arm of the couch while Ma spun, asking her how she does this..
This and that
Well, I have a lot of little things to keep me busy this week, not the least of which is the truck deal..And stock…
I still have the currants to make into jelly, and as we have both red and black, that’s a couple batches at the least.
Putting the turkeys away, I see we have a pretty good batch of frozen fruits which means if I want to make even more room, I could do some jams as well… I’ll worry about that once I get caught up however… I got the room I needed, if JUST..and when I do grind pork, that goes in a different freezer…which I need to do again soon.
I have been messing around more with my telecasters ( guitars I built ) and I have run into little things I would like to do on each of them.. different on each.. Just like no two of them play or sound..or look at all the same… So if I get bored…well and make some time, that’s on the list as well.. the only down side is they will need soldering..which, as my eyes are buggered from work, solder now trashes me horribly even vented and a fan blowing over the work area…otherwise I would have already done the work.
I can’t get a call back from our wood guy though he said he would fill our order for nearly two months now, which is freaking me out… I may have to work on the chain saw and recut the three cords he screwed up two years ago… It is all several inches too long, and many pieces that are way to wide and knotty for me to cut down. I know I am at LEAST a cord short as it is and probably two before spring. Mice ruined our heating ducts so this IS our heat source …Hate mice… Dennis and Spike need to get to working harder.
The tractor is still and seems as it will continue to be ” Farm Art ” which also has me concerned with winter coming.
Lastly, once the truck is back up and running, I have to fill my extra gas cans for the sami which, as I mentioned is chained to just try to get us to the main road…and I need to fill the jeep.. which is way lower than the truck but great on ice.
We got our first ice of the year this morning, but little more than just to look at.. or slip on ..the morning warmed and we are back to normal once again.
I know I am forgetting stuff I wanted to jot down but… I tend to forget what I think about during the week once the kids come up with some new way to get me laughing at them
Dennis popped by while it was raining, making grumpy faces at being soaked and grumbling about wet dog smell to which I reminded him that it was coming off him… As fun loving as the boy is, he didn’t laugh. He did complain however that I am not putting out enough leftovers for him at the pit lately, but as Ma hasn’t felt well, I don’t cook as much. If she can’t eat, I don’t see much reason to cook…..Although he understood, he reminded me that HE could eat and I could cook for Him..
I told him that there are still mice out…Which we both agreed that mice were better than sticks..
As Dennis trotted off to the pit.. you know.. Just in case…. something akin to watching reruns and STILL hoping the character will be smarter this time around.. I turn to walk into the house, grinning and saying to Lass who was griping at me as I had taken down half her feeders beings there are generally only two of them up here now…
This is just another day on Zen Mountain
She was not amused… She went to the window to complain as I walked through the house.. she followed…..