Eye of the Monte

It’s been quite a while since the cover came off of Mr. Monte’s soon-to-be-world-famous personal RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM). (See SFH Journal: 2020-03-09 through 03-15 – Truckin’ On.) We haven’t said much about our preparations for this RV season. That doesn’t mean that nothing’s being done; that just means we’ve been busy.

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IMG_20200520_210718412_editedMr. Monte watches me. He watches everything I do. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get away from his watchful eye. – – I call this “The Eye of the Tiger Monte.”

I suppose I could live with that, but unlike other cats, as he watches me, he frequently criticizes me. Name the topic, name the action, name the circumstance, name anything I do and he criticizes me. Most recently, the topic of his criticism is how poorly I plan for our RV trips. He is especially critical of how I pack things haphazardly and make poor use of space.

OK, perhaps he has a point there. I haven’t really paid much attention to how we stow our gear. Quite often, beautiful Wife and I are more concerned with making the menu and planning for gourmet feasts. Obviously, Mr. Monte, as the SFH Chief of Security, thinks that we should focus on safety and economy.

To quiet the criticism, at least on this topic, I developed a storage plan that identifies all storage units on ECDM. The plan specifies what items are to be stored in each unit.

In rather uncharacteristic form, Mr. Monte readily approved of the plan. Unfortunately for me however, the approval was conditional. He demanded that I spend a whole night alone with him in ECDM. Ostensibly, I would make use of the time to explain and demonstrate the merits of my stowage plan.

His real plan was really quite different.

Wednesday night was his chosen date for the event. Without his usual complaints, he jumped into his carrier, welcoming the walk through the yard and arrival inside the RV. Once the carrier door was opened, he purrrred. He walked about the RV, inspecting everything and purrrring. He jumped into the upper bunk and purrrred. He rubbed past my legs and purrrred. – – He moved like a shark circling his prey – but this shark purrrred.

Beautiful Wife returned to the house just after 7 PM. As soon as the door was shut, Mr. Monte looked at me. His purrrring intensified. And then he said quite distinctly, “Well, Fuzz Face, it’s time for a little sport. Are you ready to play?”

How can a cat make a question sound like a command? How can a furry, large Maine Coon strike fear in your heart when he is purrrring so loudly?

“Are you ready to play?” That’s what a cat says to a mouse.

No, this wasn’t about my RV storage plan. This was about a night of cat play. We were alone. I was trapped. – – And there was no mistaking the fact, the “eye of the Monte” was focused on me.

Round 1: If there had been a bell, it would have rung at 8 PM. That was when the purrrring grew even louder. I was being watched. Then, without warning, he was on the couch and attacked my arm.

Round 2: The purrrring seemed to come from everywhere as he circled me. He decided to stalk my toes. He came close. He sat and stared at my left foot. He purrrred. Then he struck. I tried to distract him with burlap fish toy. – – The ploy worked. He grabbed at the fish, pulled it towards himself, and “killed” it.

And so it went throughout the remainder of the evening and late into the night. Each hour brought another round of “play.” It was clear to the referee and judges, I was already losing by many points. Despite my size and weight advantage, I was outfought. I was totally outclassed by that fearsome Maine Coon with the “eye of the Monte.”

There was a slight respite in the onslaught of attacks. I tried to grab some sleep. Even as I slept, I couldn’t help but be aware of the incessant purrrring and the knowledge that I was being watched. The “eye of the Monte” was on me.

It seemed like such a short sleep. I certainly didn’t feel rested. But there it was, the alarm clock was beeping and demanding that I get up. So I did.

I dressed. I folded up blankets and restored ECDM to some semblance of order. Mr. Monte was immediately at my feet, purrrring. He was in an unusually friendly and happy mood. I knew not why.

Mr. Monte cheerfully jumped into his carrier. He purrrred the entire way to the house. When released from his carrier, he circled my legs, purrrring as he did, and demanded a morning snack. As I was getting his food, my wondrous Spouse came out and questioned, “Is there something wrong? Why are you boys in so early?”

“So early?” said I. “It’s after 4 AM, the time I always get up, what do you mean “early”?

She looked at me oddly. Then she asked me to look at the clock. I looked at the clock. The clock looked at me. Then, the clock told me, “It’s only 3:15 AM, Dummy!”

I then looked at Mr. Monte. He looked at me. Then, he told me, “It’s only 3:15 AM, Dummy!” Then he purrrred as he cast his gaze on me with that unnerving “eye of the Monte.”

Round 10: The referee ruled that Mr. Monte’s changing of the time on the alarm clock was absolutely fair. The decision had to go in favor of Mr. Monte. He remains the uncontested champion at SFH. Meanwhile, I remain under the watchful gaze of the “eye of the Monte.”*

“It’s the eye of the tiger Monte, it’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of the tiger Monte”**

For the video and song “Eye of the tiger Monte” click here.

* The events related in this post are based on a true story. No humans were harmed during the night in the RV.
**Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Frank Sullivan / Jim Peterik
Eye of the Tiger lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

SFH Journal: 2020-05-04 through 05-17

The last two weeks have been filled with commotion, disruptions, minor catastrophes, tumult, anxieties – in short, all the usual, run-of-the-mill events that are common for life at Serendipity Farmhouse. There was, however, an oasis of quiet, warmth, and happiness. That day, that oasis of family joy, was, of course, Mother’s Day. All of the children and grandchildren joined together virtually and shared the sentiment of the day. My beautiful Spouse, daughters, daughter-in-law, all of them mothers, were honored.

The featured picture of an iris makes an interesting point. At a distance, a flower is beautiful and can be admired. When you come in closer, that is when you see that there are interesting details and remarkable individual patterns. Each of the “Moms” in my life are like that. They certainly deserve a day of their own, an oasis of warmth and love.

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With those thoughts in our minds, Mr. Monte and I were on our best behavior throughout the day. In fact, we went a little further and made some buttery English scones for dear, sweet Wife. She was pleased and bestowed hugs and kisses upon the two chefs. It was a wonderful day – one that we all shall remember.

On the other side of that oasis, the harsh realities of life continued to prevail. Nightly, we would hear the prognosticators, the purveyors of weather lies, announce that frosts and hard freezes were on the way. Why is it that these highly paid, deceitful charlatans are only correct when they predict doom and disaster?

Cautiously, we took them at their word and did our best to prepare for the late freezes and extended cold spell.

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Then came the polar vortex – chilly days and freezing nights. Each night grew colder. By the early morning of May 10th, we saw three hours steady of 28 degrees.

IMG_20200510_114150442_HDR_editedAlthough we had prepared, we had not done enough. Our extensive vineyard took it the hardest, though there are still some signs of life on the vine. We lost a cherry tomato plant. Three pepper plants are on the verge of passing into history. Three basil plants are barely holding their own. – – It was sad and mournful at SFH during the days that followed the “big freeze”. – – No happiness, no joy.

If ever there were a woman with the pioneering IMG_20200516_135112543_HDR_editedspirit, a strong-hearted woman with “true grit”, that woman would by my Wife. Mourning and worries set aside, that industrious Lady of mine has dedicated the past week to restoring life in the gardens. New plants were purchased; cow manure was obtained from a local farm; and all of SFH was mobilized in the effort. So, in addition to restoring the lost plants, Vegetable Garden #2 was filled with new tomato plants.

We will accept the setback, we will cut our losses, but you can be sure of this, we will never give up. Excellent Wife has decreed that it shall be so, and it shall be so here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

Here is what has been done at SFH thus far during 2020: SFH 2020 Plantings and SFH 2020 Harvest.

The following links will catch you up with our up-and-down, troubling weather during the last two weeks:

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-04-20 through 04-25

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-05-11 through 05-17

Why St. Isadore?

HC-St._Isidore-Front_grandeToday is the feast of St. Isadore the Farmer. As you may or may not know, he is one of the patrons of Serendipity Farmhouse. We think of him when we are planting. We ask him to intercede for us so that we might have a good harvest. But, we don’t ask for miracles. Instead we ask him to inspire us to live as he did. That is because he was known for his love of the poor. There are many stories about Isidore providing for the poor in miraculous ways with food. – – That is why we share our harvest and our canned and pickled foods with family, friends, and those in need.

In a few days, I will write a post about how we lost several plants to a couple of hard freezes. That’s when we turned to St. Isadore to ask for a little help. – – The featured picture shows the first strawberry of the year. It was picked just this afternoon. It survived the freezes and there are many others that are ready to ripen. – – There’s reason for hope and there’s reason to be at peace.

Another reason why we consider the life of St. Isadore as being inspirational is because he had a great concern 0924191434b (2)for the proper treatment of animals. Mr. Monte ranks St. Isadore among his most highly favored saints.

Blondie, we need to talk!

IMG_20200425_155922618_editedBlondie!! – – We need to talk!!

As you can see by the look on my face, I am not happy. Disturbed perhaps, deeply troubled of course, but most assuredly – NOT HAPPY!

You and I both know what happens at SFH stays at SFH. It is the policy here to keep our deeply private matters, especially those that would undermine the credibility and dignity of our corporate image, out of public view. We don’t advertise our insecurities or immature behaviors.* On May 8th, you violated that policy and have breached our common trust.

Imagine my shock and dismay when your picture popped up on my screen as I was catching up with my feline friends on Facebook. There you were. My dear, sweet Blondie in the midst of your mad and wild ravings about desiring to return to a hair color that caused my inner being to shudder. – – See for yourself!

Ol Red“About sixteen years ago, I had a blonde moment. I decided to have my naturally blonde hair dyed red. And I loved it. But… The upkeep is unreal. Hubby had no problem with the color, but the cost was beyond his patience level (his inner cheap). Now, the pandemic has forced Hubby into his blonde moment – he’s growing a ponytail. – – One blonde moment deserves another. There’s a real chance this blonde is going red again. – – Help me out, Anna!!!!”

 

Dearest Blondie, this is where I am obliged to save you from yourself. Sit down and listen to the voice of sanity and wisdom. Breathe slowly and deeply; compose yourself and listen to what I have to say.

True, you do have your blonde moments. There’s a reason for that. You are, in fact, a blonde – natural and true. Accept that fact; embrace it. It is what you are and it helps to define who you are. Don’t let this world, filled with all of its current insanity, drive you into trying to be something else.

IMG_20200213_132850189_editedLook at my picture. I am a mackerel Maine Coon cat. I was the enchanting mackerel Maine Coon kitten you brought home. How would you feel if suddenly you found that I had, through a foolish, emotional act, turned myself into an orange Maine Coon. How would you react? – Of course! I wouldn’t be your adorable Mr. Monte.

We both know that Ol’ Fuzz Face is wont to go off the deep end at times. He can’t help himself. Stability and common sense aren’t his strong suits. For example, consider his actions in my post SFH Journal: 2019-12-23-29 – No! Christmas is Not Over Yet!. It was pretty clear that he was in need of professional help.

But you, dearest Blondie, not you. You can find the strength within yourself to avoid making this terrible mistake. If you don’t restrain yourself now, you might follow the  same sorrowful path as Fuzzy. In which case, you might even resort to using some of my wonderfully soft hair to supplement your own. – – Please, please stop now while you still can!! Please stop so I don’t have to call you Ol’ Red!!

 

*Please note: My revelations about the foolhardiness of my big cat Ol’ Fuzz Face is an exception to the rule. Spotlighting his total buffoonery is most humorous to my 23, 417 feline followers.

SFH Journal: 2020-04-20 through 05-03 – Slipping into May

So very much to do, so very little time to do it. Without the slightest sign of slowing, Serendipity Farmhouse is slipping speedily into May. The world has its problems, but at SFH there’s no reason to dwell on what is nigh unto inconsequential in comparison to the demands of the here and now. Vegetables must be planted. Herbs must be picked. Planning, execution, everything follows a timetable dictated by weather and sunlight.

But there is time to remember and celebrate things which are most important. There is time to slow down and acknowledge the One who makes this all possible, And there is time to reflect upon his Mother to whom we dedicate this beautiful month of May. – – On May 2nd, the First Saturday of the month, we had our annual May Crowning.

And in her honor we present a pictorial bouquet of May flowers.

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Sandwiched between all of the chores, plantings, and harvests, we have taken the time to upgrade the way we present recipes that have been developed by the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen. Check out our post And the morel of this story is … to see what the new format looks like. We hope you like it.

We’ve also taken the time to give a useful presentation of statistics for our plantings and harvests. Here is what has been done at SFH thus far during 2020: SFH 2020 Plantings and SFH 2020 Harvest.

The following links will catch you up with our weather during the last two weeks:

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-04-20 through 04-25

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-04-27 through 05-03

 

 

And the morel of this story is …

What happens when Spring, wild chives, fresh asparagus, good neighbors, and a “honey hole” all come together at the same time? We here at SFH call it – “Serendipity!”

My creative and amazing Wife has made Sunday our official “Menu Day.” She thinks and ponders – I wait for her inspiration. Then it comes! She dictates – I type, feverishly trying to keep up with her burst of creative energy. Then, there it is, the menu for the week. A true work of glorious culinary planning has taken shape before my very eyes.

That wonderful weekly menu, however, is not set in stone. No, no, sweet wife is a believer in “Serendipity”, and because we have exceedingly generous and entirely unpredictable neighbors, “Serendipity” is a frequent visitor. (See related posts here and here.)

That is where the “honey hole” comes in. Whether it be the mysterious gathering of huckleberries in Idaho or the Spring rite of finding a highly favored mushroom in Virginia, the location of the “honey hole” is never ever revealed.

Thus it was on Thursday, an unnamed friend, provided an undisclosed amount of those highly favored mushrooms, gathered from a most secret “honey hole” somewhere within a 10-mile radius of SFH, to our dear neighbor. She, in turn, requesting utter and complete silence on the matter, gifted us with a dozen medium sized morel mushrooms.

Wondrous Spouse immediately set Mr. Monte and me to the task of finding an appropriate recipe that would highlight the delicate texture and flavor of the morels. We found several, but none was good enough to allow the morels to stand out as the deciding feature of delight that they certainly should be.

Saturday night, lovely Wife made the decision to take some ideas from the several recipes we collected, but she would improvise and make it a recipe truly her own. Immediately, the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen was mobilized. Mr. Monte would inspect all ingredients and supervise kitchen safety. I would slice, dice, and fetch. Meanwhile, the Chief Chef for the night worked with amazing speed and masterful zeal – this was an opportunity to take the best from what the Serendipity Farmhouse gardens were producing. It would also be an opportunity to invoke here “inner Julia”.

A key ingredient for the dish was our own garden asparagus. Wild chives grow everywhere in the yard. Mr. Monte recommended including some of them. Rather than use garlic, our beautiful Chef would mate the chives with a chopped shallot. With the exception of the gnocchi, all ingredients would be sauteed in just the right amount of butter and olive oil.

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In just a very few short minutes, my ever so capable Wife had prepared a masterpiece. It spoke of Spring freshness with our own chives and asparagus, and it mysteriously punctuated the entire meal with the exotic yet earthy aroma and flavor of morel mushrooms. – –

And the morel of this story is – never make a menu set in stone when there is the slightest chance that “Serendipity” might appear.

Gnocchi with Morel Mushrooms

Serendipity
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 package fresh gnocchi
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 dozen morel mushrooms sliced in halves
  • 2 wild chives chopped
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 2-3 spears asparagus sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 - 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup reserved gnocchi cooking liquid
  • 1 pinch kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper or to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese for garnish
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest for garnish
  • 2 wild chives for garnish, finely chopped

Instructions
 

  • Boil fresh gnocchi 2-3 minutes until soft; reserve 1/2 cup liquid prior to draining.
  • As gnocchi cooks, add olive oil and butter to wok or large skillet and warm over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add morel mushrooms and saute, tossing occasionally, until they soften slightly.
  • Add chopped shallots and chives and continue to saute for about 3 minutes.
  • Add gnocchi, asparagus, peas, and reserved cooking liquid in with mushrooms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until asparagus and peas begin to warm and sauce starts to thicken.
  • Serve and add grated parmeson cheese, lemon zest, and uncooked chives to garnish. - - The flavors have now reached their peak. Eat without delay!

Making Better Than “Do” – Sometimes

It’s not my intention to burden our readers, followers, and friends with needless words this day. Perhaps a few background notes, a descriptive sentence, and well chosen photos will suffice. Let’s give it a try.

In our post How We Make Do we discussed menu changes, food substitutions, and a few other ways to make a good meal even though we have the present set of challenges. Over the last few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to experiment and develop our food preparation strategy. Some experiments have worked quite well – some have not. Here are some examples of both types of results.

Example 1 – Goat Milk Cheese – (Rating *****): This was a no-brainer. We have written IMG_20200416_144648722_editedseveral posts about how we make goat milk cheese here at SFH. We have plenty of supplies on hand and the goats at our local dairy farm have been very obliging this year. – – I’ll be making some more tomorrow.

Example 2 – Ham & Bean Soup – (Rating **): We had leftover ham and ham bone from Christmas. We have many pounds of dried beans. The Instant Pot recipe was highly confident in saying that the beans need no soaking before cooking – “No Presoaking Dry Beans.” The recipe lied!! Beautiful wife was unhappy. Mr. Monte and I sought shelter.

The next day the house was filled with the delightful smell of the first day’s failed ham & bean soup as it the cooked in the slow cooker. After hours of additional cooking, wondrous Spouse announced that the terrible mistakes of the preceding day had been successfully remediated.  Although the final result was acceptable, only two stars can be awarded to this meal.

Lesson Learned: Always, always presoak the beans.

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Example 3 – Pasta Carbonara – (Rating ****): There is no shortage of pasta in the SFHIMG_20200421_180304825_edited pantry. Bacon, however, is a precious commodity these days. No problem. We had some prosciutto approaching its expiration date. Farm fresh eggs are available in abundance at our local dairy farm and, most happily, our asparagus is now producing enough for limited use. Voila! Pasta Carbonara with the SFH magic touch.

Example 4 – SFH Salad Deluxe – (Rating *****): Our motto is Pray, Prepare, Preserve. This year, our vegetable gardens add some meaning and illustration to why we say “Prepare.” Food will be there when we need it. So, last night there was an amazing salad featuring Serendipity Farmhouse vegetables. The veggies that came from our own garden included: garlic leaves, parsley, red leaf lettuce, purple kale, and romaine. We added fresh asparagus to the baked chicken thighs. They absorbed the flavor of the chicken and, in turn, added a minor but noticeable accent to the chicken.  The pictures below show how far the vegetable garden has come already this Spring.

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Example 5 – Homemade Whole Wheat Bread (Rating ****): As promised in our post How We Make Do, we made our first loaf of bread machine wheat bread yesterday. This required that I take out the wheat grinder we purchased in 2010 and grind up enough hard red wheat to make flour for at least one loaf of bread. We used a recipe called Easy Whole Wheat Bread by Allrecipes. A whole egg was added instead of egg substitute or egg powder. With one minor exception, the results were excellent. Flavor and texture were perfect, but the top rose and then fell. No damage to the bread, mind you, but an imperfection not acceptable in the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen. – Thus we could only award four stars to this beautiful loaf of the staff of life.

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Example 6 – She Won’t Let Me Do it (Rating – We’ll never know): There are many plants in this yard that are edible but not on our regular menu. Long ago I told you that Redbud tree buds, leaves, and seed pods are all edible. Imagine how delighted I was when I found out that the leaves on the hosta bushes that surround SFH are also edible. I immediately wanted to try out this new wonder. Lovely Wife objected. – Ergo, we will not eat the hosta leaves unless in extremis. However, I can’t help but looking at all those hostas and wondering.

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Don’t Tread on Me – Ever!

IMG_20200425_155922618_editedLet’s get straight to the point, if you mess with Serendipity Farmhouse, you’re messing with me. And, if you’re messing with me, your days are numbered.

There is a reason I am the Chief of Security at SFH, and that reason is not because I’m “Mr. Nice Guy.” My highest priority is the protection of SFH from all malicious intruders and individuals foolish enough to cause any harm to my beloved home.

As skilled, tough, and ornery as I am, I recognize that a good security chief needs a good deputy. I’m still working on that part. Several years back, I deputized Ol’ Fuzz Face. Despite all the nasty things I’ve said about him, there’s some real potential there. I rag on him because it’s a “guy thing”, sort of like Marine boot camp – the harassment can make a “man” out of you, if you can learn to take it. – – Fuzz Face tries his best.

Discipline and training are the hallmarks of the strict security regimen we have here at SFH. To understand what I mean, here’s a look at a typical day for me and my deputy:

0400 – Rise and shine! Fuzz Face and I hit the deck. I make first rounds to ensure the security and integrity of Serendipity Farmhouse

0410 – My next duty is to nip Fuzz Face’s kneecap with bared teeth. That’s the signal for him to give me some dry food. This is repeated a minimum of two more times. If Fuzzy is too slow in his response, the nip becomes a little more insistent and the teeth almost penetrate his epidermis.

0500 – With all secure and stomach filled, I take a nap.

0630 – I join Fuzz Face in the office and again nip him on the kneecap (sometimes the ankle works better). Fuzzy almost immediately hops to and brushes me for 15-20 minutes. Sometimes, I require that he trim my fearsome claws. Once grooming is complete, we spar for a while. This is more dangerous for him than for me. Over time, however, his reflexes have improved.

0700 – I make my rounds, persuade Blondie to give me a snack, and then settle in for another nap.

The remainder of the day continues in a similar fashion. During good weather days, I stand watch on the back porch and monitor the local bird population. Blondie cringes when I suggest that perhaps that population should be thinned a little for, ahem, security purposes. Fuzzy understands my intent and laughs. – – Blondie, however, has considered my offer when her beautiful grey vehicle has been the object of too much avian attention.

After Fuzz Face, finishes work, does his chores, and assists Blondie with the evening meal, he again belongs to me. – – There are two distinct security training activities in which he must participate.

2000 – 2100 Playtime is strictly for Fuzzy’s benefit. He needs the exercise and the one-on-one interaction tends to have a calming effect on him. If he accidentally misjudges one of my lunges with teeth and claws extended, he might suffer a little harm. But, all-in-all, playtime helps to relieve his tensions. It makes for a healthier human.

2100 – 2200 Hunting, stalking, and kill training are of the greatest benefit for my deputy. He needs to keep his defensive skills at their best. Using my stealth, agility, and superior armament, I help him to understand his areas of greatest vulnerability. This training is most effective just after Fuzz Face turns off all the lights in the house. More often than not, he hasn’t a clue of what hit him. – – As a side note, Blondie has watched this evening ritual for years and maintains an ample supply of band aids, disinfectant, and other medical supplies nearby.

As I said earlier, keeping my deputy trained and ready through insult and intimidation is a kind of “guy thing.” And it’s a two-way thing as well. Yep, Ol’ Fuzz Face has pulled a few tricks on me too.

I’ll leave you with a picture illustrating how I taunt him by pulling down his neatly stacked work gloves one-by-one to irritate him. Once he is properly riled, I take each of the gloves and proceed to administer the “kill” maneuver with my hind paws. That let’s Fuzzy know that I could have done the same to him if he were wearing those gloves. – – His response is to throw the gloves at me and watch my ears go back on my head in mock anger.

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Yet, as mean and as hateful as this may sound, this game goes on. We at SFH have learned that this is the way you build and train an effective security force. – – So, let’s get straight to the point, if you mess with Serendipity Farmhouse, you’re messing with me and my deputy. And, if you’re messing with me and my deputy, your days are numbered.

 

SFH Journal: 2020-04-13 through 04-19

Easter: For us here at Serendipity Farmhouse, Easter and the Octave of Easter were celebrated with great joy despite the many problems around us. This feast, by its very nature, takes precedence over worldly cares. – He is truly Risen!

In IMG_20200412_164104759_editedthe spirit of “making do” (see How We Make Do), we found a fantastic rack of lamb hiding in our freezer. We had never prepared one before, but a quick study of recipes and a few minutes on the grill and that rack became the centerpiece for our Easter dinner. (We used this recipe for Grilled Rack of Lamb with Garlic Herb Marinade.)

Desert presented a greater challenge. We had a can of cherry pie filling. Why not have a cherry pie? I’ll tell you why not. We only had one pie crust, not the required two. – Pause for a momentary, “Drat!” – End pause and look for an alternative. Our search was rewarded with the flavorful desert you see in the picture at the top of this post. – Yes, there was still vanilla ice cream in the freezer and some of it adorned the cherry cake on our desert plates. (We used this recipe for Delicious Cherry Cake with Crumb Topping.)

Inventory: The pie crust problem encountered on Easter Sunday highlights a need for the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen to have an up-to-date listing of all food items on hand. That is why we have spent several days inventorying and reorganizing our pantry.

To keep track of our supplies, items on hand, quantity of items, expiration dates, etc. we have been using a program called “Food Storage Planner” (FSP). We have used it for years, but have not been as careful to update it as we did early on.

Inventory
The canned salsa entry in FSP

Because we didn’t have a current inventory and, because yours truly is not so very observant, we had to make a last minute recipe substitution for Easter Sunday dessert. As I started accounting for every item in the freezer, low and behold, hidden behind bacon and other items, I found an unopened box containing two frozen pie crusts. – Beautiful Wife said words to me – fortunately, they were melodious and forgiving.

Lesson Learned: Keep your pantry inventory up to date.

The Notorious Ma “G”: She is cunning and fearless. She commands respect and can cause shivers of fear to overcome your being if you cross her. She is everything that a strong, forceful, and loving mother can be. She is, after all, the notorious Ma “G”.

Early in the day at an undisclosed location, her vehicle quietly pulled into a parking lot, precisely on the hour. She had her cell phone in hand while a 320 ounce Maine Coon cat gave her updates gleaned from a network of police scanners. – She had made it to the rendezvous point undetected.

It only took a minute or two. The items were transferred. A sum of cash was exchanged. All items were disinfected. Then, the vehicles warily pulled out of the parking lot. Once again, the notorious Ma “G” had shown the truth in the saying, “A mother’s work is never done.”

Ma G

PIMG_20200414_170746643_editeditcher Plant: Observant and curious Spouse asked me to take a picture of this probable pitcher plant that appeared in our garden this week. Hopefully, I can find out more about it and why it might like to make a home in our garden.

 

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-04-13 through 04-19

SFH Journal: 2020-04-06 through 04-12 – Upson’s Life Revisited

My Friend Upson: Sometime during my junior year in high school I met a quite engaging individual. He lived in a somewhat peculiar manner. I thought at the time that his approach to life was odd and I would never, nor would I ever, want to live as he did. For, you see, he was quite prone to having mistakes, errors, and other minor hardships befall him with little or no advance notice. Yet, no matter what happened to him, Upson would always come out of it with a shrug of the shoulders and a simple smile. His life was no puzzle or oddity to him; he came to expect these things and he was quite content.

Now, Upson was not a one-of-a-kind individual. Since high school, I have met many a man like him. For example, I had an acquaintance whose name, when translated from its original language, was Mr. Unlucky. He too, took the misadventures of his life completely in stride.

Many years have passed since I met Upson and worked with Mr. Unlucky. More and more I realize I have become much like them. The day will bring what it brings. It is the best I can hope to get. And, in the end, the best is good enough for me.

By they way did I tell you Upson’s last name? Could it have been anything else? Yes, it was Downsof. So, when I wrote a short biography of my friend, I couldn’t help but call it The Upson Downsof Life.

And all of that written above, dear reader, leads me to a couple of topics for this week’s journal. Yes, for my dear Wife and me, this week has been a chapter from that never published biography The Upson Downsof Life.

Frost Warning: As I wrote last week, clever and industrious Spouse, has filled several garden boxes with early season plantings. A couple of the young plants were not quite as strong as the others. Then our usually unreliable weather prognosticators made their first correct call of the season – “There will be frost.” Of course, that call had to be correct because they were announcing impending doom to the plantings at SFH.  So, when the two weak, young plants were exposed to a chilly low temperature of 32.2° F, they sank low in their beds never to recover. – Upson would have seen this coming.

DSC_1472_editedBirdie and the Battery: As you can see in the feature picture at the top of the post, our bluebirds have returned to take up temporary shelter in the safe surroundings of Serendipity Farmhouse. Now, yours truly, has been waiting for quite a while to take a picture of our temporary lodgers that is something more than just a snapshot. To be sure, I couldn’t complain about the feature picture with Mr. Bluebird all puffed up trying to stay warm. Even this picture of Mr. & Mrs. Bluebird on the fence next to their home is in the category of “okay.” But I wanted something better. There I was perched on the deck, camera in hand, when the perfect shot arrived. I pressed the button and awaited the reassuring “click”. – – No, no, no! – No “Click”! – – The battery was dead. – Mr. Unlucky would have seen this coming.

As you can imagine, I thought of Upson and Mr. Unlucky. Such is life for such as we. I shrugged it all off and charged up my camera battery. – – Easter Sunday arrived and all things have been made new. (See our Easter post here.) Even my camera battery. And the following picture will explain why it is easy for me to say: “The day will bring what it brings. It is the best I can hope to get. And, in the end, the best is good enough for me.”

DSC_1490_edited
Mr. Bluebird building a nest

Mr. Monte is taking the day off, but he reports that all here at Serendipity Farmhouse is safe and secure. Beautiful Wife and I will spend this Easter Sunday enjoying the life God has given us. – – Indeed, the best is good enough for me.

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SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-04-06 through 04-12