SFH Journal: 2018-10-14 & 15

Highlight: What did you have for breakfast this morning? I hope it was something good. As for me, my breakfasts are usually pretty routine – cold cereal or oatmeal with coffee and Saturday is reserved for grits with butter and cheese.

This morning was different, however, because last week my beautiful and usually patient wife had an all out argument with four unworthy bananas. There they were, in the house for only a day or two, and already speckled brown and loudly declaring their over-ripeness. Now you have to understand that my wonderful spouse considers a banana virtually without worth very soon after it begins to turn yellow. I don’t know when, where, or how she developed that little taste quirk, but it’s very real. Many speckled bananas have met their untimely demise at her hands.

This time, however, dear wife, after sharing several disparaging thoughts with that worthless “bunch”, had a sudden change of heart. Within an instant, the kitchen shown with the light of mercy and kindness – she had a plan of salvation for those spoiling fruits. Without a moment’s hesitation, all four of them were placed gently into the refrigerator to await a mercy-filled fate.

Yesterday, those four old and completely brown bananas were brought out into the kitchen – they were to become the main ingredient of what was for me the world’s most tasty Banana Pumpkin Bread ever.

Wife’s skillful hands, following a recipe from allrecipes.com, gathered the needed ingredients; made necessary substitutions; and stirred the mixture with loving care. Roughly an hour later, there it was – beautiful to the eyes, filling the house with a most enticing aroma. Ah! The joy of having a wife who brings mercy to offending bananas and gives them a purpose for existence!

What did you have for breakfast this morning? I hope it was something good. As for me, I had a new SFH specialty – Banana Pumpkin bread, slightly warmed, with a bit of butter.

Thank you, dear Wife!

Weather: The cool weather is upon us.

2018-10-14: High – 55º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-15: High – 73º (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: The harvest continues to slow, but we had enough okra for dinner last night.

2018-10-14: 10 okra pods and 3 jalapenos

2018-10-15: Nothing to report

SFH Journal: 2018-10-08 through 13

Highlight: No, the trees haven’t really begun to show their seasonal change of colors yet. That is still some weeks away. But, the black walnut trees have already lost most of their leaves. Their obnoxious and annoying green balls, along with their offensively malodorous, rotting husks, are littering the yard and endangering the windshields of our vehicles. And, as with so many of life’s contradictions, the unpleasant black walnut litter, in its own way, engenders a certain type of optimism. Yes,  the most highly favored season at Serendipity Farmhouse is now beginning to wrap itself around us – our dearly treasured Autumn.

Weather: The remnants of Hurricane Michael and a welcome cold front brought rain, wind, and a dramatic drop in temperatures. As has been the case all year, weather dominates our work in the yard and gardens.

2018-10-08: High – 86º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-09: High – 77º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-10: High – 78º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-11: High – 77º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-12: High – 62º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-13: High – 55º (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: The harvest continues to slow.

2018-10-08: Nothing to report

2018-10-09: Nothing to report

2018-10-10: 11 okra pods, 1 jalapeno

2018-10-11: Nothing to report

2018-10-12: 5 okra pods

2018-10-13: Nothing to report

My Big Cats Got it Done!

Monte-wood_stove Old Fuzz Face left me in charge of the blog this week. That was certainly a mistake on his part. So, let yours truly, Mr. Monte, tell you this story the way it should be told.

In this picture you can plainly see that by my second year, I had developed a meaningful relationship with the Serendipity Farmhouse wood stove. Old Fuzz Face and Blondie quickly learned that, if they stoked the wood stove regularly and kept the temperature sufficiently warm, I would be a happy cat.

If, however, they got lazy and just ran the propane furnace, this old house would be drafty, cold, and generally unpleasant. Needless to say, but it’s worth saying anyway, if I’m feeling unpleasant, they will pay the price. Consider for a second the meaning of the phrase “tooth and nail” and apply it in the context of an unhappy, 20 pound Maine Coon cat.

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This year, at my behest, my big cats ordered two cords of firewood. When it was delivered, I noticed that Old Fuzz Face merely looked at the beautiful pile of potential warmth for the winter and then went on about his business. He didn’t even lift a finger to move that wood immediately to its proper place to dry and season. Blondie wasn’t much better. She kept on picking okra, baking bread, and vacuuming floors. Somewhat uncharacteristically, she didn’t even nag Fuzz Face to get on with this most important task.

Showing their laziness, Fuzz Face and Blondie tried to use the old Tom Sawyer ploy – get the family over here to move the wood. They went so low as to use guilt and extortion. See SFH Journal: 2018-09-29 through 2018-10-02 – I was ashamed to even be associated with Fuzz Face, much less admit that he was one of my big cats.

Oh, then one day, Fuzz Face nearly freaked out when he saw that Tropical Storm Michael was brewing and fixing to head our way. Panic was in his voice and he quickly sent out an urgent post to the whole extended family. “Help!”, he screamed. “All the firewood is going to wash away!”

1009181557h (2)See SFH Journal: 2018-10-03 through 07 to witness first hand how pitiful and undignified was his plea for help. He became a raving “Chicken Little”. He immediately, put on his work clothes and forced Blondie to do the same. Fuzz Face pulled out the lawn tractor and wood cart and forced his dear, sweet, and fragile wife to load wood. Nearly, four hours he spent working that poor woman nearly to death.

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Fortunately for me and Blondie, SFH has some real friends who came to the rescue the next day. Daughter #1, son-in-law #1, and granddaughter #1, in a calm and collected fashion traveled nearly 25 miles to SFH. They saved the day and they save my beloved big cat Blondie from overwork.

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They worked calmly and efficiently. Granddaughter #1 found fascinating fungus and mushroom growths on the wood. Avoiding spiders and centipedes, she found other critters in the midst of the wood pile that aroused great interest and awe. She and her parents demonstrated the true SFH family spirit.

So, yesterday, the wood that promises to bring me a warm and cozy winter, was all transported to the shed and stored until needed. Daughter #1’s family now holds a much higher place in my warm and fuzzy feline heart – I highly esteem them.

My big cats got it done!

Fuzz Face, however, will be served justice during the coming winter. You can be sure that when the wood stove starts to grow cold, I will force that lazy lout to go out to the shed and bring back wood sufficient to serve my needs.


SFH Journal: 2018-10-03 through 07

Highlight/Notice: Daughters, son, daughter-in-law, sons-in-law, grandchildren, please take notice of the featured picture. Yes, that is a new tropical storm tracking our way.

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And yes, that is a brand new stack of firewood – two full cords to be precise. It was delivered to Serendipity Farmhouse on September 29th and it is still waiting for you.

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And yes, that is what Florence did to the end of the yard where the firewood is now stacked. Another event like the flash flood that Florence brought, could mean that our neighbors downstream might end up with our two cords of firewood.

Ergo, I will start moving wood to the shed today. Your assistance with the firewood is cordially invited. (Pun entirely intended.)

Weather: Dry, warm weather continues to dominate. We are beginning to watch tropical storm Michael. The projected track now goes through a portion of Virginia. We are making the requisite advance preparations – just in case.

2018-10-03: High – 86º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-04: High – 87º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-05: High – 75º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-06: High – 86º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-07: High – 89º (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

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Harvest: The harvest has slowed. As this post is being written, three trays of serrano and habanero peppers are being dehydrated.

2018-10-03: Nothing to report

2018-10-04: 1 okra pod, 11 jalapenos

2018-10-05: Nothing to report

2018-10-06: Nothing to report

2018-10-07: Nothing to report

SFH Journal: 2018-09-29 through 2018-10-02

Notice: Daughters, son, daughter-in-law, sons-in-law, grandchildren, please take notice of the featured picture. Yes, that is a brand new stack of firewood – two full cords to be precise. It was delivered to Serendipity Farmhouse on September 29th and it is waiting for you.

Now I don’t believe in coercion, especially with my own kin. So, I won’t make too much of the fact that I am currently revising my will. Mind you, there is absolutely no relationship between the fact that those two cords of wood need to be moved to the shed and how I might choose to distribute my estate to you, my heirs. Nope, there’s no relationship at all. However, I am open to any and all offers by you to come to SFH and participate “freely” in the wonderful Autumn ritual known as “The Moving of the Wood”. [My attorney will be taking attendance.]

Oops, beautiful, wonderful, and most wise spouse just stepped in and read the above. As a result of her gentle reminders and admonitions, I have placed my will back into the safe, sent my attorney back to his office, and I am now planning to purchase and prepare treats, goodies, and wonderful snacks for all of my beloved family who might join me in “The Moving of the Wood.”

Highlight: Our next post will be filled with pictures of the devastation caused to our yard and apple trees here at SFH due to the unusually wet weather we’ve had this year. It will be somewhat of a downer. But, as you will see below, the jalapeno, serrano, habanero, and okra plants survived the worst of nature’s insults. They continue to provide a bountiful harvest. Who knows, maybe some of the SFH wood movers will be treated to some tasty Jalapeno poppers in partial repayment for their labors.

Weather: How wonderful it is to experience a few days without rain. Autumn is in the air and beautiful spouse and I are enjoying the change.

2018-09-29: High – 77º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-30: High – 73º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-01: High – 84º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-02: High – 82º (Details – click here.)

DSC_0661 (2)Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: Though limited, the harvest is varied and colorful. We have peppers for poppers, peppers to be dehydrated and dry canned, and okra for eating now and freezing for later.

2018-09-29: Nothing to report

2018-09-30: 5 okra pods

2018-10-01: Nothing to report

2018-10-02: 10 okra pods, 42 serranos, 13 jalapenos, 14 habaneros


SFH Journal: 2018-09-24 through 28

Highlight: The yard remains soggy and puddled. I’m not complaining, mind you. You know full well that I’m not one to complain. But, I have a concern about this unusually wet year. In our next post I will talk about this year and what it has meant to the residents of SFH.


2018-09-24: High – 66º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-25: High – 77º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-26: High – 86º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-27: High – 68º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-28: High – 77º (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report


2018-09-24: Nothing to report

2018-09-25: 8 okra pods

2018-09-26: Nothing to report

2018-09-27: Nothing to report

2018-09-28: 10 okra pods

What? Me Spoiled? – Meooow!

Okay, Fuzz Face, move over and give me the keyboard. You don’t know squant about cat’s birthdays. I’ll write this post.

Unlike other cats, we Maine Coons don’t come to full growth and maturity until we are about four to five years old. Yesterday was my fourth birthday, and, because I am most  assuredly unlike other cats, it was a day to be celebrated with great fanfare and jubilance. Unfortunately, my two humans, the big cats Fuzz Face and Blondie, didn’t do a very good job of organizing the truly memorable event that I so certainly deserve.

Oh, they tried, I guess. The gave me a couple of piddling presents and wrote “Happy Birthday, Mr. Monte!” on the blackboard. But it was all so trite and generic. I mean, where were the TV cameras, press interviews, and adoring fans? They invited no one.

In their minds, the main event was a meager bowl of melted ice cream. Look at the featured picture. Look at that tiny bowl that was virtually empty when they gave it to me. Now, look at my eyes. Do I look happy? No way! The whole affair was a big letdown. I was ready to rip something to shreds.

Now, take a look at Blondie and the bowl of ice cream she had. She had even gone so far as to pour tons of chocolate syrup all over it.

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Although it was way beneath my dignity, I politely put my paw on her wrist and quietly pointed out that I was the guest of honor and perhaps some of that ice cream should be given to me. Her simple response was a wretched display of rudeness. She said, “You’ll have to wait. Perhaps there will be some tiny bit left after I finish.”

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Of course, old Fuzz Face wasn’t even that courteous. He scarfed down his ice cream with great haste and then made ghastly and guttural people sounds of satisfaction. I think I even heard him belch.

In her own good time, Blondie finally granted me permission (she’ll pay for that) to lick the meager remnants of what could have been a most wonderful feline-ice cream encounter. Now, however, it was just a matter of the cat gets the scraps.

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As unsettling as that experience was, there were many other indignities I had to suffer. On a Maine Coon’s fourth birthday, reception of wonderful, expensive, lavish, and glorious presents should be the norm. No, not for me! Fuzz Face and Blondie thought they could buy me off with a two-ounce burlap bag of catnip with a chintzy rattle inside. The bag said “50 lbs” on it – what a huge lie and deception.

So, I played their little game, knowing that someday, when they least expect it, I will strike with vengeance. I rolled on the floor with the catnip bag and pretended to be somewhat happy. That’s when old Fuzz Face came over and started to sniff the bag and played with it just as I had done. What’s with this guy? I won’t elaborate, but I’ve known for some time that he is a “secret sniffer” of catnip – how unbecoming for a human.

What should have been a wonderful and memorable birthday for me is now history. I had a little ice cream and sniffed a little catnip. Perhaps I enjoyed some of the attention I received, but now that you’ve learned what I had to endure, you can certainly understand that the charge that I am spoiled just doesn’t hold water.

But, I guess this comes with the territory. I mean, when you have two people to train, it’s tough work. Yep, herding people is a tough life, but that’s what I do – even on my birthday.