Highlight: Let’s keep the lady who mistakenly pulled into our driveway this afternoon in our prayers. She was lost and seemed somewhat distressed. The reason was apparent when you looked at her license plate – it said “North Carolina”. She was trying to get back home and find her loved ones. I pray that she was able to follow my directions and that she will soon be reunited with her family.
Weather: Until SFH has its own weather sensors and rain gauges, any of the weather data reported below is likely to be skewed or entirely incorrect. For example, on Monday, we had to evacuate SFH due to a flash flood. Some local folks are saying that over eight inches fell in our area. In Luray, just a few miles away, they reported a total of 0.47 inches of rain and most of that was in the morning.
Harvest: Unlike the weather reports, the harvest count is entirely accurate and credible. Each time beautiful wife brings the harvest bucket into the house, Mr. Monte carefully sorts the various items into stacks – okra in one pile, tomatoes in another pile, etc. Then he writes down his count of the individual items. How does he do that you might ask? If you had a cat as smart as Mr. Monte the answer would be immediately obvious to you – he uses a scratch pad.
2018-09-17: Nothing to report
2018-09-18: Nothing to report
2018-09-19: 7 okra pods, 9 cherry tomatoes, no fingers
They say, “A man’s home is his castle.” And, in my mind, Serendipity Farmhouse is my castle. It is where I find my solitude. It is a safe haven for my family. It is our fortress. Having said that, I have never, ever requested that my castle have a moat. Last night, however, despite my strident objections, Florence blessed Serendipity Farmhouse with a quite impressive moat. A moat that effectively cut SFH off from the rest of the world with a terrifying mass of surging water.
It started with a series of intense downpours. A narrow band of storms moved north-north easterly up the Blue Ridge. When they passed Charlottesville, the grew in strength. By the time they reached SFH, they dumped rain in a concentrated deluge into our local watershed.
Water began to cascade down from the nearby golf course and road into our driveway and yard. Meanwhile, the North Fork of the Thornton River was rapidly reaching full capacity. The rush of water was nearing the edge of the banks. Prudence dictated that we take the two cars to higher ground. El Camino Del Monte (Monte’s Bug Out Buggy) remained in the driveway, ready if needed.
I had watched the situation on radar and saw that more rain was coming. My natural concern was now becoming an urgent worry. Sweet, adorable wife, on the other hand, was more concerned about what might be happening to our son and two daughters. Tornadoes were predicted in my Son’s area and both daughters had homes prone to flooding. Wife was intent on praying for them and was putting off the idea that we might need prayers ourselves.
The downpours continued to visit us, one after another, and each one brought new intensity and greater amounts of water. Beautiful wife and I needed to talk. And so we did. We encountered difficulty in deciding whether we should evacuate or remain ensconced in SFH.
Two events helped us make a rapid decision. First, wonderful spouse saw water lapping at the side of the house opposite from the river. She began to see that there was a chance for us being cut off from an escape route. The second thing was the true deciding factor, the tie-breaker. Mr. Monte entered the room wearing a pair of swimming goggles and a snorkel.
Wife immediately said she would gather some extra food and supplies. Mr. Monte, a bit indignantly, entered into his carrier. We turned off lights, secured the house, and made our way into Mr. Monte’s Bug Out Buggy. In just a few minutes, the driveway had become covered by two to six inches of water. It was filling from both the high ground runoff and from the river overflowing its banks. We had little time to spare.
All passengers were in place. The engine was started. It was getting dark and the rain was obscuring the view. Lights were turned on. Wipers were activated. I put the RV into drive. Slowly and carefully I began the journey out the flooding lane. Water splashed to both sides. Mr. Monte hunkered down in his carrier and released a worried mew. Wife was praying.
As a swipe of the wipers cleared the windshield for a brief moment, I saw it. It was just ahead of us on the right side of the drive. It was large, long, and dark. I had to veer sharply to the left. As we passed by the object, the next swipe of the wipers allowed me to see the large railroad tie that the water had pushed into our driveway.
Minutes later, we had made it to the high ground. The Bug Out Buggy was parked next to our two cars. We began to settle in. Mr. Monte emerged from his carrier and had some food. He reckoned rightly that we were out of harms way. Wife and I prayed a Rosary in thanksgiving and asked that our home might remain safe. There were a few more details that had to be handled, then we turned in for the night.
Mr. Monte, now a veteran RV cat, stood watch at the window while we slept. Assured in his mind that all was well, he jumped into the upper bunk and kept vigil while we slept.
Promptly at 3:55 AM, Mr. Monte called reveille. Get up Fuzz Face! Get up Blondie! First feed me, then let’s get back to Serendipity Farmhouse and assess the damage. We did precisely as he requested.
Though the water came to all sides of the house, it never rose high enough to do damage. But the force of the flowing water was evident. One large stone, perhaps weighing twenty pounds was rolled over 30 feet from it place in the garden. The grass around the house was flattened and matted, but all the damage was superficial.
We had prayed – our prayers were answered.
We had prepared – but we learned some new lessons.
We had preserved our loved ones – each other.
Having lived through this relatively minor emergency, we can only think about the folks in North Carolina and other places who had to suffer through so much more. Tonight, our prayers are with them. May God protect and preserve them.
Also it is necessary to say to Mr. Monte – thank you for letting us use your Bug Out Buggy.
Highlight: Once upon a time, there was a hurricane, a pair of scissors, and an okra plant. Who would ever suspect how the accidental coexistence of those three things could lead to a Serendipity Farmhouse emergency and a very unexpected Lesson Learned?
Florence is coming! Florence is coming to Virginia! Batten down the hatches! Stow away everything that isn’t tied down!
And so it was a week ago. Tables, chairs, and garden tools were stowed away. My beautiful, forward thinking wife made sure everything was safe from tropical storm wind and rain – even her garden gloves.
While on our RV trip in Mr. Monte’s bug out buggy, Florence changed course and moved further south and west. The immediate danger was gone. We returned home and set about our normal routine – even in the garden – even though all that had been stowed away had not been returned to its rightful place. And, of course, that included dear wife’s garden gloves.
On the 16th, okra needed to be picked. The beautiful woman, whom I love so dearly, went cheerfully with scissors and bucket in hand. She had everything she needed to pick okra. Everything except her garden gloves.
A snip here, a snip there and soon seven okra pods were in her bucket. Number eight was waiting high atop an okra bush nearly seven feet up. She gently bent the push to where she could reach that eighth pod. Perhaps it was the awkward position; perhaps it was the unusual angle; no matter what it was, as the scissors snapped sharply shut, a small piece of her middle finger slid into the path of the blades. The blood followed soon afterwards
In her stoic way she called to me while heading towards the house. I saw the problem; I saw the blood; I saw this was no simple cut.
First one, then another, first aid kits, hydrogen peroxide, and other emergency items made their way to the kitchen where we attempted to stop the bleeding. There was no combination of bandages, gauze, or tape that would stem the flow. Within minutes, we were in the car heading 25 miles to the urgent care facility.
There was a wait, but not too long. There were experienced medical professionals that had just the right makings for a custom fit dressing. Finally, the bleeding was under control and the wound was properly cleaned.
Today, dear spouse is nursing her wound and she asked me to tell you about here Lesson Learned: Never take a shortcut, always use your garden gloves, and always, always look closely at what your are doing.
There is no doubt that the next batch of okra cooked at SFH will be accompanied by a remembrance of once upon a time, when there was a hurricane, a pair of scissors, and an okra plant.
Weather: The remnants of FLORENCE are heading our way and will dump heavy rains on the region on Monday. The level in the river is low enough to take 2-3 inches. Any more than that, however, may mean moving the cars to high ground and spending a night or two in El Camino Del Monte in the church parking lot.
2018-09-14: High – 77º, precipitation 0.06 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-15: High – 73º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-16: High – 71º, precipitation 0.02 (Details – click here.)
Good day to all of my adoring fans throughout the world!
After a threat of terrible bloodshed and carnage, Old Fuzz Face relinquished the keyboard and allowed me my rightly due, that is, I shall be the one to relate the sequence of events that took place on the second Shakedown Cruise of the good RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM).
As reported in SFH Journal: 2018-09-12 & 13 yesterday, I and my sometimes intrepid crew have returned to the safe harbor of Serendipity Farmhouse. Old Fuzz Face, Blondie, and I, Mr. Monte the Magnificent, once again, have braved the open road, steep hill climbs, perilous descents at excessive speed from high ridges, and the exhausting life of a luxury RV campground.
(Please note carefully: A “luxury RV campground” only refers to luxury for humans. The fact that canines (slobbering, yapping, flea-infested dogs) are allowed in an RV campground, seriously detracts from the “luxury” that any exalted feline might enjoy.)
I must commend Blondie for having the forethought to understand how stressful the barking, yapping, and generally distasteful sound of dogs might be to my royal sensitivities. She had sprayed ECDM with a preparation called “pet remedy”, a “natural de-stress and calming” spray.
Now, you must understand that, although the spray may have helped me some, there is more to this story. A close reading of the “pet remedy” box shows that this product works with all mammals. Let’s face it, Fuzz Face and Blondie are, in fact, mammals. It is my contention that one reason why this shakedown cruise went so well was because my two humans were even more influenced by this spray than was I.
This was a far, far better cruise than the first. It was highlighted by many successful undertakings. One might say that my two big cats (i.e. trainable humans) have almost gotten their act together. And, although not all things went perfectly, for example the large knot on Fuzz Face’s forehead and the severely scraped and bruised area on Blondie’s right shin, we return with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Join us over the next week or two as I, with feeble and faltering technical assistance from Fuzz Face, recount our shakedown cruise experiences.
Highlight: We’ve just returned from our second shakedown cruise in El Camino Del Monte. This was a far, far better trip than our first adventure in Mr. Monte’s bug out buggy (BOB). Hopefully, tomorrow we will begin to relate a short series of stories concerning the trip. I will let you know now that living in close quarters with a playful, 18 pound, semi-nocturnal feline, with 24 sharp claws and a mouthful of savagely sharp teeth can be perilous to health, well being, and nighttime rest.
Weather: It now appears that hurricane FLORENCE has decided to take a different track. Although this reduces the level of immediate risk to us, it still threatens several who are very dear to us.
2018-09-12: High – 77º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-13: High – 78º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)
Highlight: As you will see in the Weather topic, there is every reason to believe that we will have a high water event at Serendipity Farmhouse. Our motto is “Pray, Prepare, Preserve”. So, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Monte, my beautiful spouse, and yours truly, old Fuzz Face, are making preparations for heavy rain and high winds. Be assured, the generator is working, the lightweight objects in the yard have been stored away, and Mr. Monte’s bug out buggy (our RV, El Camino Del Monte) has been readied to deploy at a moment’s notice.
Weather: The story can be told with two names – GORDON & FLORENCE. The remnants of tropical storm GORDON dumped water in our area and has kept the river unusually high. Now there is the prospect of hurricane FLORENCE bringing enough rain to cause the river to overflow its banks.
2018-09-09: High – 60º, precipitation 0.75 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-10: High – 68º, precipitation 0.12 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-11: High – 69º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)
For example, Mr. Monte demanded his favorite grain-free food for dinner tonight. We also ate well, as you will see later in this post. But, some of our neighbors weren’t quite so happy. The cardinal family sat on the bird feeder and glared menacingly at my beautiful spouse because the feeder was empty. She told those cardinals that they can complain as much as they wanted; however, she had no intention whatsoever of filling that bird feeder until the rain stopped.
Yep, it’s all about food. And so it came as no surprise when our friend Bartholomew Bear made his appearance in the yard almost precisely at 6:15 PM this evening. As we were eating the last of the fried okra, Bartholomew (Bart for short) made his rounds from apple tree to apple tree. He muttered a few comments about how the apples weren’t as good as last year, but he informed us that it was worth the trip to SFH, even if the apples were sub-par.
He finally made his departure at a sauntering pace, heading for the North Fork of the Thornton River. He mentioned that he might check out all the country gentry partaking in the local The Taste of Rappahannock charity fest. Since we heard no screams from that direction, we assumed that he changed his mind and went elsewhere.
No matter what he decided, for Mr. Monte, Old Fuzz Face, Blondie, the cardinal family, and Bart the Bear, it’s all about food.
Weather: The heat wave is gone.
2018-09-06: High – 91º, precipitation 0.02 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-07: High – 86º, precipitation 0.35 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-08: High – 71º, precipitation 0.02 (Details – click here.)
Plantings: Nothing to report
Harvest: The okra plants are producing full force now. The picture below shows sixteen okra pods sliced and ready for flash freezing. They will be a great side to some meal in deep winter.
Fried fresh okra and baked chicken, topped with last year’s salsa, were the featured ingredients for dinner tonight. This is how a vegetable garden pays for itself in flavor and cost savings.