It’s post-Vernal Equinox and, as it is every year at this time, my two big cats are running around like their hair is on fire. (In Ol’ Fuzz Face’s case, he doesn’t have much left to burn.) While they panic, I am methodically conducting the much-needed SFH Blog Upgrade. – That’s my job, to keep Serendipity Farmhouse running.
In case you’re wondering what’s got into my big cats, here are a few crises that have taken over their age-addled brains.
It’s coming on to planting season, and they don’t have a plan;
It’s coming on to RV season, and they don’t have a plan;
The hot weather is just around the corner, and they’ll have to install air conditioners;
They’re trying to make sourdough starter, and they failed their first attempt; and
There are about 16 more things that they just realized needed to be done.
Serendipity Farmhouse Blog Upgrade Progress
Now that you understand my current work environment, it’s time to discuss the essential albeit boring technical stuff. I have thoroughly reorganized the SFH Website structure. Hopefully, you will find the new format to be an improvement.
Here are some of the changes. (Feel free to click on items in red.)
I have designated three primary categories for posts and farmhouse information. Each category has several sub-categories. Here are the three primaries:
2 – Select from posts listed in the righthand column section labeled RECENT POSTS
Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway. In making these changes, I have created some temporary untidiness. For example, several of the new pages contain links that aren’t active. Additionally, I intend to add many interesting graphics, but they will have to wait until I have developed the site infrastructure. Consequently, when you land on one of the untidy pages, you will encounter the following notice:
This page is under construction. Some links are not activated. We appreciate your patience. Mr. Monte
Please bear with me. Rome wasn’t built in a day and keeping my humans from getting in the way is, shall we say, like herding cats. Nevertheless, despite my humans in their springtime planning frenzies, I will complete the mission. I will complete the Serendipity Farmhouse Blog Upgrade!
I haven’t spoken to you, my 23,417 feline followers, in a long time. As you know, we cats don’t have any family traditions. We have something far superior – instincts. However, humans both need and enjoy traditions. That is why many years ago, I persuaded Ol’ Fuzz Face and Miss Blondie to have a yearly First Robin of Spring Contest. Since then, I’ve learned that all of us cat should know how to start a family tradition.
But, before you try something like this with your humans, you should take these three tips to heart.
3 Tips on How to Start a Family Tradition
The three tips I have listed below have been compiled and developed here at Serendipity Farmhouse over the course of eight years. They are practical and based on feline common sense. If you follow these tips, you and your humans will bask in the warmth and wonder of family tradition.
Tip 1: Make the Family Tradition Guidelines Clear
First, you should institute a family tradition that has a set of clear and well-defined guidelines. If you fail to do this, the result will be needless squabbles. Here are a three sample guidelines from our contest:
There must be a picture of the alleged robin;
The bird in the photo must be a real robin; and
The picture must be dated on or after March 1st.
This year, Daughter-in-law #1 submitted the winning entry. As you can see, this is an American Robin. The metadata on the photo confirmed the picture was taken on March 2nd.
Congratulations, Daughter-in-law #1
Tip 2: Ensure that Everyone Gets the Message
If your adoptive human family is large, extended, and includes close friends, you should expect some communications problems. Your guidelines should provide an explanation of how to inform all concerned about critical events, like the confirmed sighting of a robin. If some extended family member doesn’t get the message, you can be sure there will be a moment or two of anxiety.
This year, dear friend Miss Nancy got the word late and registered a minor complaint. The communications oversight caused some rather unfortunate use of terminology to be brandished. Apparently, all is well now and there are no more ruffled robin feathers.
Tip 3: Be Prepared to Start a New Family Tradition
The panel of judges might encounter seemingly insurmountable problems at times. No, I don’t mean problems like the submitted photo is blurred or difficult to view. I mean problems of the type that might disrupt tranquility throughout the entier galaxy. One of those problems occurred on February 25 this year.
It was on that date, that the panel of judges (Ol’ Fuzz Face, Persnickety Pierre, and myself) received a contest submission photo from Miss Blondie. Obviously, the photo should be automatically disqualified because it was submitted days before the start of meteorological Spring. As you will see below, there was another problem with the photo.
According to the article Vultures in Virginia (All You Need To Know) the photograph that Miss Blondie submitted was not an American Robin. In reality, it was a Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus). – This forced the judges to go into an extended huddle.
Under normal circumstances, the panel of judges would have just laughed at the submission. These were not normal circumstances. By definition, here at Serendipity Farmhouse, Miss Blondie is NEVER WRONG. – This was when the huddle began. We were two desperate men and a Maine Coon cat. Heads would roll if we couldn’t find a solution.
Huddle Results – A New Family Tradition
It took several hours. Fuzzy lost more hair than usual. Pierre said things in French that probably shouldn’t be translated. And I felt my skin crawl as if I had been attacked by a thousand fleas.
Then the answer came. We were trying to solve the wrong problem. The problem wasn’t that Miss Blondie was wrong – because Miss Blondie is NEVER WRONG. Rather, the problem was that the family tradition was wrong.
In a flash, the panel of judges instituted a brand new family tradition – The Last Vulture of Winter Contest. We immediately wrote clear set of guidelines; set up communications protocols; and complimented ourselves on our ability to be prepared to start a new family tradition.
From 2023 forward, Serendipity Farmhouse has two wonderful family traditions;
The First Robin of Spring Contest, and
The Last Vulture of Winter Contest.
So you see, my dear feline followers, if you follow these three tips, your adoptive human families can also bask in the warmth and wonder of a new family tradition.
Reviving the Serendipity Farmhouse blog is a job for a cyber master. The portrait you see honors me as a cyber kitten prodigy. Now, I have grown to be the only Maine Coon cat capable of saving this farmhouse blog.
It has begun! I have been on this job for a bit more than two weeks and already we have increased subscribers and views. We have a long way to go, but with your help, this blog will become the best farmhouse blog ever.
Serendipity Farmhouse Blog Staff Reorganization
Immediately upon taking on my new roles as SFH blog Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technical Officer, I reorganized the blog staff as follows.
Lead Editor – Creative Content
Ol’ Fuzz Face can write. He can tell a story. He can even embellish it and turn it into an entertaining tall tale. Unfortunately, he has no grasp of the concept of running a business or how to manage the technical details of the SFH blog. His writing and creative talents are considerable. He is now assigned the duty of Lead Editor and developer of creative content. – Because this work requires the use of no sharp tools or blunt objects, Fuzzy and the remainder of the staff should remain relatively safe.
Test Kitchen & Cultural Coordinator
Miss Blondie is as technically inept as Fuzzy. Nevertheless, she has more than proven her prowess in the Test Kitchen. Additionally, she is among the most knowledgeable humans I know when it comes to Southern life and the full range of accomplishments epitomized by a Girl Raised In The South (GRITS). – She promises that you will be delighted with all the recipes she’s going to publish for you. – For an example of what to expect, see Pimento Cheese IHO Mom.
Lead Food Editor & Chief Financial Officer
My dear friend, Monsieur Pierre LeChat, is the quintessential French gourmand. He is unequaled in his knowledge of all things food. So, it was only natural that he would be assigned as our Lead Food Editor. What most of us did not know is that he a business management genius. So, to him I have delegated the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO). – One of Pierre’s recent posts revealed the high level expertise achieved by our soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen. That expertise was demonstrated by the masterful execution of a Jacques Pépin recipe – Jacques’ Lamb Stew.
What’s Coming for this Farmhouse Blog?
Folks, there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. If you’re viewing this site on your PC or laptop, you may notice that we’ve gone to two-column format instead of three. We’ve changed some of the fonts. And a massive restructuring of menus and pages is underway. Cruise around the site and see the difference. Remember this is: The Serendipity Revival – It Has Begun!
Although I have 23,417 faithful, feline followers, for some reason, our blog host suppresses tabulation of my followers’ views, clicks, and comments. – I know it sounds like censorship, but perhaps our blog host has a valid reason. – I suspect our host thinks my followers only had this type thing to say (click if you dare): Meow, Meow, etc.
Please help us out here at Serendipity Farmhouse. If you like a post, take the time to click on the ‘Like’ button. Share your thoughts with us and make a comment. Suppose you don’t like something, make a comment. If you think that a post or recipe might interest a friend, send them the link to the post. –
You too can take part in the Serendipity Revival! – Thank you.
To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, Winter is not over yet. We know that because we have instincts and highly advanced feline intellects. Nevertheless, a warm, sunny day like today informs us that Spring will come. Days like this make the mind leap ahead and think of what Spring will bring and cause the heart to imagine the possibilities.
When Ol’ Fuzz Face posted his admission of gross failure here, I thought he was merely in a state of depression. Little did I realize the he had left this blog in state of complete ruin and that Serendipity Farmhouse was speeding along on the road to the intersection of Doom and Destruction.
To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, after a rather heated discussion by the Serendipity Farmhouse board of directors, it was determined that I, due to my extensive electronic media expertise, would replace Ol’ Fuzz Face as Senior Blog Editor and assume control over all content creation on the SFH Blog.
To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, I have some words of wisdom to pass along to you. Please note that none of this will make any sense whatsoever to John the Hiker, one of my less than ardent human followers.
Now, on with my story. Whether he knows it or not, Ol’ Fuzz Face has given me carte blanche to make full use of my feline sense of honesty to air all the dirty laundry from Serendipity Farmhouse. In this particular case, the laundry is not so much dirty as it is soggy.
Perhaps a little background will help you understand. In his last post, The Wake-up Call, Fuzzy made the grave mistake of saying, “To be sure, Mr. Monte will have a word or two to put Fuzzy in his proper place and to correct all of our human failings.” – Well if that’s what Fuzzy expects, then that’s what Fuzzy and Blondie will get. As an observant and enlightened feline, it is so very easy to see how fraught with failings are my two humans. And, as we move into the season they call Advent, their failings are amplified and multiplied as they go through their frenzied Advent rituals.
If you’ve been following the weather closely on Serendipity Farmhouse – KVAFLETC4, you will know that November 26th was a beautiful day with a high of 65.7°F. Blondie determined that it was the perfect day to clean her bathroom carpets. These carpets are especially favored by me because they keep my underside warm when I spend my time in contemplation and rest. Perhaps out of affection for me, knowing that I so love the fresh smells of clothes dried outside, she hung the carpets on the clothesline to let them dry. Then, off she trotted to do a myriad of her hurried, ritual tasks. (In Blondie’s case perhaps trotted is a poor choice of terms. Ambled might work, although sometimes it’s more like hobbled.)
The morning of the 27th was wet and dreary, very wet indeed. As I made my security rounds, I observed two very sad and soggy carpets hanging on the line. It was my duty, of course, to tell one of the so-called SFH authorities. So, I went to Fuzzy and reported my finding. In his usual cowardly way, he decided he didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news. He told me it would be better to let Blondie figure it out on her own. – – She did, and Fuzzy and I played dumb.
Three days passed, each was wet and inclement. The carpets remained on the line. Blondie wandered about the house muttering about how wet the carpets were, how dirty they were getting, and how upsetting this was to her peace. I considered needling her about this and add to her list of woes by advising her of how this must look to the neighbors. I dismissed that thought however and merely asked her, “Mom, where are my nice, warm, cozy carpets? I really miss them.” That question was more than sufficient to cause her to fret even more.
During all of this, Fuzzy laid low. He knew any comments to Blondie about the sad state of the soggy carpets would trigger an entirely unpleasant response. At this point, Fuzzy should have been a little more concerned about his own glass house. He too should have been watching the weather forecasts. At 638 AM EST on the 30th, the National Weather Service issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook bulletin reading in part: “Breezy, with a south wind 15 to 24 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph.“
Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, that bulletin contained the stone that would break his little glass house. Why and how? Think back to the SFH post SFH Journal: 2020-02-24 through 03-01 – Drat!!!. In Fuzzy’s words, “… wind gusts exceeding 20 mph toppled our newly erected arbor early on the morning of February 26 .” So the great engineer devised what he thought was a clever way to anchor the arbor securely. This picture clearly shows that one of his anchors failed the test and that his clever little plan was an abject failure. – – Great job, Fuzzy!!
So there it is! I am now living with a pair of humbled humans with a great many failings. To be sure, they’re lovable in their own ways and I feel very much a necessary part of the Serendipity Farmhouse family. But also be sure that living with their failings, soothing their feelings of humiliation, and keeping them on the right track is a full-time job.
So, look again at the featured picture at the beginning of this post. – – Their laundry isn’t dirty, but it is soggy. And I will continue to air it whenever the need arises.
To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, do I look a little bedraggled and worn out in this photo? Is there a look of confusion and the onset of panicked terror in my eyes? – Yes, there is all of that, and I can confirm that Ol’ Fuzz Face wears the same look of dread.
Why is that you may ask? – – Well, Fuzzy and I have just returned from what should have been a well-deserved, restful RV vacation, but we had no rest, we had no relaxation. Instead, we heard pronouncements that naturally lead to great vexation. From this day forward it is now “All hands on deck! — Man your battle stations! — “The Admiral is coming back!”
To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, my primary duty here at Serendipity Farmhouse (SFH) is to protect the lives and ensure the safety of all humans who reside in or visit this vast 1.203-acre SFH estate. Because the estate is located along the North Fork of the Thornton River, there is abundant wildlife and no shortage of nuisance animals. Some of those creatures are potentially dangerous and are not welcomed here. Others are relatively benign, but they are capable of disturbing the tranquility that is a hallmark of SFH.
This past week, Grandsons #2 and #4 visited SFH with the purpose of assisting Ol’ Fuzz Face move two cords of firewood from the driveway to the woodshed. A second purpose of their visit was to partake in ample portions of Granny Blondie’s home cooking. Being wise and conscientious grandsons, their very first act upon arriving at SFH was to report to yours truly the SFH Chief of Security. I presented the mandatory security briefing and they, being so impressed by my presentation, volunteered to be deputized as SFH Security Officers. One of their duties was to maintain a detailed and accurate log of events pertaining to SFH security.
Following are excerpts of text and artist’s renditions from their log with amplification and clarification based on my official records along with photos from the ultramodern and extensive SFH security surveillance system:
To: SFH Chief of Security
While we were working, we encountered some unusual and, in some cases, slightly concerning forms of wildlife. The first of these was a snake with a distinct pattern, that we believe to have been a pine snake [Pituophis melanoleucus]. At the time it was discovered however, not knowing what kind of snake it was, there was certainly cause for concern and alarm. [Grandson #4 had picked up a log to place it in the wood cart and was startled when the snake began to move. He dropped the log, and the snake slowly made its way toward the river.]
This concern was increased, when sometime later [the next morning], our grandfather was attacked by another such creature, who had positioned itself atop the doorway of the barn. [I was watching from the porch and saw the snake drop from the top of the door and pass just in front of Fuzzy’s face as it fell to the ground at his feet. Knowing that he was in sight of his grandsons, he uncharacteristically did not scream and made his best attempt to act in a manly fashion. This was utterly hilarious as seen from my vantage point because it was clear to me that he was scared beyond description. – Fuzzy, removed the snake with a shovel, warning his grandsons to be ever on the lookout for more snakes.]
Another critter was later found inside of the woodpile, a coal skink.[Plestiodon anthracinus] It was harmless and scurried up a tree when it was uncovered. [Once again, it was Grandson #4 who found the critter. He has an uncanny knack for finding nuisance critters. In just a short period of time, he surpassed the achievements of some of my permanent security officers.]
Our Grandfather also brought our attention to the skeleton of a zombie raccoon. And while this one had met its fate, there are apparently more in the area. We were fortunate to not run into the wild zombie raccoons while we were trapped in the woodshed by a sudden downpour of rain. [The zombie raccoons in question were suffering from baylisascaris, a genus of roundworms that infects many animals including raccoons. I described the symptoms to the grandsons and advised them to steer clear of these poor infected creatures for reasons of personal safety.]
The level of security inside the SFH, as well as the ECDM [El Camino Del Monte] RV was impressive however, and while the outdoors was chaotic at times, we both more than enjoyed our stay. [I and the entire SFH Security Force accept this compliment, noting that we’re just doing our job with our usual professional dedication to duty.]
Respectfully submitted on Thursday, September 8
It was obvious to me throughout their visit that Grandson’s #2 and #4 are strong young lads with a well-developed work ethic. They respect and honor their grandparents. I look forward to having them return and once more assist me the world-renowned SFH Chief of Security.
Below you will see the disappearance of a woodpile and the filling of a woodshed. The successful completion of the combined effort of grandfather and grandsons was celebrated by a most enthusiastic victory lap around the entire SFH estate.
It is certainly important to note that Granny Blondie provided logistical support to the wood-moving crew. A highlight of the workday was her preparation of a total of 50 Godzilla Tongues (jalapeno poppers) in her new SFH TK air fryer. It was a memorable feast.
To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, the following is “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.”
Last week, I noted the case of one of my followers who made a severe breach of Catiquette that resulted in the great indignity of a “scruffing” by its owner. (See Caturday & Catiquette.) A recent email from the poor humbled feline suggests that he/she deserves a bit more instruction on the proper techniques prescribed by Catiquette. (Please note that I will do my best to avoid revealing the identity of the feline in question or of its humans.)
The email informed me that the cat made a sincere attempt to communicate its desire to partake in the enjoyment of a chicken bone. The feline crawled up on the shoulder of its human and demonstrated its great interest in the chicken on the human’s plate. Unfortunately, the said feline was too abrupt in its actions, signaling to the human that the feline would lunge for the chicken in an attempt to steal it away from the human. Here, look for yourself and see how the feline’s objectives might be misinterpreted.
I think it’s clear that this approach is far too overt and could lead to an untoward outcome. So, for all 23,417 of my dear followers, please observe the master of Catiquette in action and learn from him. – – Announce your intent/desire, show your human how important it is to you, convince your human that it was really his/her idea, and, most importantly, signal that satisfying your desire will result in great purrfull attention to your human. – – This is your way a saying “Thank you!” beforehand. – – It works every time.