Category: Camino Del Monte

SFH Journal: 2020-11-16 through 11-29 – Thanksgiving?

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

My 23, 417 feline followers will look at this selfie and immediately realize that I am not a happy 21-pound Maine Coon cat. Those initiated and wise in the ways of cats will know that the positioning of my ears is an unmistakable signal of extreme displeasure. – – Why might that be?

I won’t beat around the bush and make you wait in suspense. – – I just had a perfectly miserable Thanksgiving!!

While Ol’ Fuzz Face and Blondie blissfully wandered off to who-knows-where to celebrate this most important holiday of giving thanks, I was left alone at home for innumerable hours, abandoned and virtually orphaned. – So much for the bonds of familial love.

Nevertheless, I am a feline possessing great measures of love, devotion, and forgiveness. Rather than dwell on the indignity of my circumstances, I counted my blessings and gave thanks for them. For example, my dearest Miss Fleur sent a most wonderful Thanksgiving card and thoughtfully included a bag of tasty chicken & turkey treats.

As I wandered through the vast hallways and rooms of Serendipity Farmhouse, I pondered the meaning of loneliness and how my heart was saddened by the absence of my two big cats. It was then that I realized that my situation was no different than Blondie’s not-so-great birthday bash. There was no way that she could be with the whole family all at one time. No, her birthday had been divided and segmented, a little here and a little there. (See details here, here, and here.)

As my mind mulled on these thoughts, I realized Blondie and Fuzzy were needed by others elsewhere on this day of great thanks. They hadn’t left me to be alone, they had gone to another house to be with at least part of the family.

The sun had just set as I heard their car come into the driveway. My ears perked up; I stood up in full anticipation – Fuzzy and Blondie had finally returned. – The door opened and they came in with great smiles on their faces. – They picked me up and there were the most enjoyable ‘family’ smells about them. And there were cousin smells – Cousin Gizmo and Cousin Cosmo!!!

Suddenly, I was no longer sullen and forlorn. My family had returned and I gave great thanks. – – I just had a perfectly wonderful Thanksgiving!!

SFH Security Force Winter Realignment

When one is in charge of a most professional and capable security department as I am, one must be aware of the changing threat-space and particular strengths and weaknesses of security force members. Because I know and uniquely understand the SFH threat-space, I have had to make certain modifications to our defensive alignment. As of December 1st, duty assignments will be as follow:

  1. SFH Security Department Director, yours truly, will perform all necessary management and backup duties;
  2. Bronto the bear will conduct perimeter patrols as breaks in hibernation permit;
  3. Rusty the rat snake is excused from duty until Spring due to cold weather and cold blood; and
  4. Lightning the broad-winged hawk will continue all assigned duties.

My special thanks to Lightning. He persuaded his parents to join in the effort to reduce the exploding subterranean mammal population. The feature picture at the beginning of this post shows that they have already taken on their assignment. These are truly the ‘friendly skies’ of SFH – providing you’re not a small surface or subterranean mammal.

El Camino Del Monte Winter Stand-Down

It was a better than average RVing season. El Camino Del Monte (ECDM) served faithfully, providing SFH staff members five relaxing camping trips. Additionally, ECDM provided comfortable lodging during two delightful stays at Serendipity River RV Park. Thank you to family friends Don and Louise for the very special invites.

So, with a successful RV season sadly at an end, Ol’ Fuzz Face set to the task of washing ECDM one final time. Once the RV had dried, it was time to put on the protective cover to shield ECDM from the harsh Winter winds, snow, and ice.

Fuzzy did a relatively good job. Of course, that was only because of my exceedingly watchful supervision and direction.

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Plans are already being made for RV Season 2021. As you can see, Blondie has made it one of the themes for her Advent decorations.

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-11-16 through 11-22

SFH WX 2020-11-23 through 11-29

RV Season 2020 Comes to a Close

For a number of reasons, we, the intrepid crew of the good RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM), decided to bring the 2020 RV season to an early close. We had reservations for a sixth excursion to Shenandoah River State Park during the last week of October. Their was great anticipation of being surrounded by the magnificent Autumn color in the midst of the Shenandoah Valley. It was a sad moment for all of us as I pressed the computer key that finalized cancellation of that reservation.

Fortunately, however, our dear friends Don and Louise at Serendipity River Park (SRP) invited us over for an overnight. How could we say ‘no’; there was to be no charge for the stay and they provided free firewood and full use of the brick barbecue/fire pit. (See Serendipity River Park – Re-Creation for details concerning our first trip to SRP.)

So, without a moment’s hesitation and with no planning for a menu and provisions, ECDM was positioned at the best camp site in the park. Dinner was a make-do affair. Once the dishes were cleared, we gathered the firewood and lit the campfire. For two hours we enjoyed the warmth and glow of the blaze. My beautiful Wife and I held hands and talked of grand and cherished memories. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte set up a perimeter guard and warned us of potential threats hidden in the darkness.

We then settled in for the night. Mr. Monte was keen on taking the best spot on our queen-size bed. It was only with some serious discussion and an offer of a bite-size bribe, that he allowed us to occupy our rightful places in the bed.

Even though there was a threat that the remnants of Hurricane Delta would bring us a soaking rain early Sunday morning, we took the chance and made plans for a breakfast outside. – – As it turned out, our instincts were correct. The rain didn’t arrive until noon and our early morning camping experience was all that we had hoped. – – Below are pictures of Serendipity River Park’s main water feature and first colors of Autumn.

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My wondrous Spouse is a certified, card-carrying ‘Glamper”. Gourmet RV meals are her specialty. Because there was no time to plan such a sumptuous meal for this trip, she still managed to turn the most ordinary meal imaginable into a culinary delight.

Cooking simple bacon and scrambled eggs on a camp stove became something of a higher order. The bacon was perfect – crisp, colorful, and best-of-all, tasty. The scrambled eggs, highlighted by the flavor of cheddar cheese, and the aromatic scent of bacon flavor captured while cooking, made the dish a tasteful treasure.

You might be wondering, “What about the coffee?” And, of course, that is an important question. The answer is quite simple, yours truly had masterfully prepared two cups of coffee and we were drinking that coffee as we prepared the meal. It would not have been proper to show you my dear Wife’s wonderful meal sitting beside two empty coffee mugs, would it?

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So, there it is, the last camping excursion of 2020. Now, it’s time for year-end maintenance, minor repairs, vehicle inspection, winterizing, etc. But, those are not useless and tedious chores. As each item is accomplished, we will be planning for upgrades to ECDM and mapping out an even better RV season for 2021.

God is good and that is why He gave us the out of doors to enjoy!

SFH Journal: 2020-08-24 through 08-30 – The Biggest Blunder

IMG_20200826_194012872_editedHi! Mr. Monte here!

Yep, I’m back again. While Ol’ Fuzz Face is dutifully attending to the details of Blondie’s birthday, I’m temporarily running the day-to-day operations here at Serendipity Farmhouse. – It’s probably better that way. At least you won’t have to put up with Fuzzy’s fake news and inane commentary.

El Camino Del Monte RV Trip 2020-04

As I noted in my last excellent post (Blondie’s Birthday – Part I), the entire SFH staff partook in an almost perfect RV retreat at Shenandoah River State Park. It would have been completely perfect had it not been for Fuzzy’s uncanny ability to capture failure from the jaws of victory.

Yes, the resident SFH buffoon, Ol’ Fuzz Face, managed to damage, demolish, or destroy almost everything he touched. I give you now three examples of Fuzzy’s blunders.

Blunder #1: No sooner than Fuzz Face had pulled into our RV site, he managed to breakBlunder 1 the fastening latch on the center console in the RV cab. He continues to maintain that it was an accident. He said that he merely attempted to open the latch in the usual manner and that it spontaneously fell apart. Well that’s his story, and we’re stuck with it. We’re also stuck with a nearly $40 fee for a replacement latch.

Blunder #2: Would it be too much to say that our esteemed RV driver is prone to unusualIMG_20200826_102700059_edited bouts of clumsiness? No, in fact, that would be an understatement. Ol’ Fuzzy is quite capable of making the same foolish mistake over and over again. In this particular case, we find that he is unable to circumnavigate our RV without hitting his head on the extended rear-view mirrors. On this trip, his mirror of choice was on the driver’s side. He gave it a mighty wallop with that thing which he carries around on his shoulders. He claims there was no pain involved. Nevertheless, he had managed to hit the mirror so hard that the fisheye mirror fell off the main assembly. – It has since been repaired with Gorilla Glue.

Blunder #3: And this brings us to Fuzzy’s biggest blunder of all. This time, there is no doubt at all that it was a true accident. There is no way that he would ever allow such a thing to happen, especially on Blondie’s Birthday – Part I. No, Ol’ Fuzz Face is sincerely remorseful about this particular blunder. It happened as he was washing the morning dishes on the last day of our trip. It happened. It happened to him. And, it can never unhappen. He broke a coffee mug. No, it wasn’t just any coffee mug. It was THE coffee mug – and it can never be fully replaced.

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SFH by the Numbers

Canning season continues. The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-08-24 through 08-30

 

 

 

 

 

Blondie’s Birthday – Part I

IMG_20200826_194012872_editedHi! Mr. Monte here!

Ol’ Fuzz Face and I continue our truce. Although we may glare at each other from time to time, we have to consider higher priorities – namely, Blondie’s Birthday.

Fuzzy was right when he said in his post An SFH Lament:

“Now, I can buy her presents. I can do special things for her. I plan on doing several things that might make her smile. But, the one thing I cannot do this year is provide a world-class SFH Birthday Bash; a party with all the family; a chance to see all the grandchildren together, frolicking on the vast Serendipity Farmhouse estate.”

So, Fuzzy and I had a long talk, and I offered some suggestions. Maybe, just maybe, if we could celebrate Blondie’s birthday in small, but meaningful parts – with a daughter and family here, with a son and family there, with a dear friend on another day – perhaps we could have a series of little world-class SFH birthday bashes that would add up to a magnificent SFH 2020-style birthday bash. – Fuzzy listened intently to me as I purred with anticipation on how it might go. I listened to Fuzz Face as he considered the logistics and timing. This all had to be coordinated and scheduled well in advance.

And so, we settled on a plan. We understood that this could not be and would not be a surprise birthday event. So, Fuzzy filled Blondie in on the details while I worked out the logistics and timing.

Needless to say, because of my meticulous planning, it will come as no great shock that Part I of our master plan was faultlessly executed during El Camino Del Monte RV Trip 2020-04 at the Shenandoah River State Park this last week.

Let’s take a look at how Fuzzy and I made it all work. First, there was camp setup and preparations for the arrival of Daughter #1 and her family.

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When the party guests arrived, there was more than an ample supply of tasty foods and cold beverages. Of course, we made provisions for site seeing and relaxation.

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Now, I have to say, RVing is not my favorite thing. My work as SFH Chief of Security is far more fulfilling than rumbling around in a huge, noisy white box with windows. I am a master predator and I need the constant challenge of the hunt. But, there is a soft spot in my heart for Blondie. If it means that I have to spend two nights away from my most beloved and important security duties, and there is a chance that I can see Blondie smile during her birthday week – so be it!

Fuzz Face and I are not above claiming credit for something that we didn’t do. Blondie probably knows that. But, that sweet and wonderful lady that we both love so dearly, was willing to say thank you when we told her that we had arranged this sunset to celebrate her birthday.

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There’s just nobody in the world like our Blondie!

 

Serendipity River Park – Re-Creation

Lesson Learned: When it seems that you have exhausted all the possibilities, it’s time to look to your friends and be creative. Once you’ve done that, then it’s time for re-creation.

Blondie and I were becoming frustrated and irritable. Every RV park was either booked solid or we would have to stay in one spot one night and move to a second spot the next. That certainly was not what my dearly beloved Glamper or I wanted to hear. – – It looked like 4th of July week we would be confined to Serendipity Farmhouse.

Then, Blondie and I, almost simultaneously, remembered an offer made to us by Don and Louise. Don and “Lou”, as we call her, were very close to us and we go back a long, long way. They have a beautiful piece of land, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Long ago, they told us we could set up our RV there any time we wanted. Knowing of our regard for unexpected, happy discovery, they had named their little private RV camp Serendipity River Park (SRP).

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It didn’t take long to work out the schedule and details. The very best camp site at SRP was reserved for us. El Camino Del Monte was loaded up. Mr. Monte, with great pomp and ceremony, was escorted to the RV and positioned safely in his favorite travel spot. – – By 4:15 PM we were in our assigned site, which Don and Lou had dubbed “River View”. It was very hot that day, but River View was a full hookup site. So, there was 30 Amp AC electric service to run our air conditioner. We quickly made everything as cozy and comfortable as any dedicated Glamper could want.

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As usual, we had a full two-day menu prepared. My dear Master Chef, after taking a short break, got to work making a delicious Chickpea Scramble. It was perfect meal, light but filling, and ever so tasty. Our next post will document that happy culinary achievement.

The next day was for exploration, relaxation, and re-creation. And I do mean “re-creation”, not “recreation”. – – Along the river bordering Don and Lou’s property, they have cleared some land to make a wide grass pathway they call “River Walk.” There they have done their best to enhance the naturally beautiful scenery. Along the walk, they keep a couple of small meadows mowed, giving visitors a place to emerge from the forest setting and enjoy the Summer sky. – – Indeed, Blondie and I had a most enjoyable walk, our earlier frustrations and irritability had long since vanished.

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Having seen the open clearings along River Walk, an idea came to my mind. This is where the re-creation comes in. Almost two and a half years ago, my most thoughtful Spouse had given me a drone for Christmas. For two and a half years I had never even taken the drone out of its box. There never seemed to be a right time to attempt a first flight. Either the wind was too strong, or the fields at Reality Farm needed mowing, or it was too cold, or … You get the idea. – – Somehow, I had become an “old man” and forgot how to play, forgot how to enjoy fun things. I had intentions to do “fun” things, but I had forgotten how to let go and just do them.

It was not so at Serendipity River Park. On a whim I had packed the drone. On another, ever more important whim, I actually took that drone out of its box, charged the battery and prepared to make my first flight.

One point must be made here. I attempted to read the directions, but they were an example of the very worst possible machine translation into some language no way resembling English. That is when I decided to cast away all caution and be young again. Nope, there’s really no need for instructions, I’ll figure this out all on my own.

– – And that, gentle reader, was an act of “re-creation”. I had found something that had been lost in me and literally re-created an element of youthful daring. – –

You can be sure there will be many more flights for the newest addition to the Serendipity Farmhouse Air Squadron. Someday, there will even be pictures and videos from the air.

While on another “great explore” of the areas near Serendipity River Park, Blondie and I found that we were in the midst of an historic Civil War site. We read the story and decided that SRP might be a perfect place to search for Civil War relics.

And that brings me to a second act of re-creation. For over five years, a metal detector has sat alone and abandoned in our shed at SFH, never to be used.

– – Now  I can tell you that forlorn electronic gadget has been thoroughly cleaned and restored to working order. It will be among the first items packed for our next trip to that fantastic place called Serendipity River Park. – –

No, it’s not a second childhood, it’s a return to how I was created.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RV Cooking – Two Easy Meals

For the intrepid crew of El Camino Del Monte (ECDM), RV Trip 2020-02 was an unqualified success. (See SFH Journal: 2020-06-08 through 06-21 – Father’s Day.) After two very short and frustrating RV seasons, ECDM is now cruising and camping with a qualified crew.

IMG_20200616_173857294_editedOne of the most notable and rewarding achievements this season, is the way in which my beautiful wife has mastered the art of preparing gourmet meals in the cramped confines of our RV kitchen. She is no mere camper. She is a “glamper”. She knows how to raise the level of any common dish to the sublime. And she does so using the most simple equipment and a bare minimum of space

So, let’s take a closer look at how she has developed her skills and elevates camp cooking to “glamp” cooking.

Planning: No adventure on ECDM begins without a menu, prepared in advance, with all ingredients neatly stowed in their appointed places. Likewise, recipes for main courses must always be available for reference. Below are the menu and recipes for our most recent trip.

Food Prep: Most efficient and adept Spouse has determined that it is best to do as much food preparation as possible prior to departure. The prepared items store better in the fridge and much time is saved. For longer trips, of course, food prep has to be done as part of meal preparation. Another thing, make sure you have all the necessary spices and they are clearly labeled. – Note that there was a menu change for the second evening. – One has to be flexible.

The Right Equipment: Storage space is limited on ECDM. That means that sweet Wife must make the most out of just a few select pieces of cooking equipment. For example, we have what essentially is a rice cooker. However, we have found dozens of recipes that can be prepared in that little wonder. Likewise, you will see later on several ways in which our master chef makes use of our large sauce pan.

Don’t Overdo It: Even for my amazing Glamper, breakfast and lunch are meant to be more relaxed – especially that first cup of coffee. Mr. Monte agrees that breakfast must be relaxing, savored, and enjoyed. Please note: In the picture below, Mr. Monte immediately washed down the dinette table and sanitized all surfaces after eating. He is a most fastidious feline.

Now to the food. The first recipe is one of a host of different curry dishes served at Serendipity Farmhouse. This particular recipe has been modified and improved over a period of more than 25 years. Slight changes have been made to allow for best results on ECDM.

The second recipe came off of the side of a Frigo Parmesan Cheese container. The reason we selected it was quite simple. We had a head of broccoli from our local CSA that needed to be eaten. This recipe made that possible.

Indian Chicken Curry – The ECDM Way

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Indian Chicken Curry - The ECDM Way

This has been a family favorite for 25+ years. There are several versions. This version has been adapted for cooking in a cramped RV kitchen.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Large sauce pan
  • mi AROMA 3-cup Mini Rice Cooker or similar

Ingredients
  

Chicken

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • 4 bite-sized, boneless chicken thighgs we prefer dark meat, substitute white meat if you prefer

Curry Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup tomato juice we use 1/3 cup catsup mixed with 2/3 cup of water
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Sticky Rice

  • 1 cup calrose rice
  • 1 1/4 cup water

Instructions
 

Chicken

  • Add olive oil to sauce pan and bring to medium heat. Add chopped chicken and cook thoroughly. Reserve cooked chicken when done.

Sticky RIce

  • Add rice and water to rice cooker and start on white rice setting.

Sauce & Final Touches

  • Add olive oil to sauce pan and bring to medium heat. Add chopped onions and celery begin to sautee. Stir in flour to coat vegetables. Gradually stir in broth and tomato juice (or catsup and water mixture), Stir in Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, until mixture thickens.
  • Stir in cooked chicken and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve Indian curry mixture either over or on the side of the sticky rice. Garnish dish to taste. - - Please note, this dished can be served with any number of traditional sides, e.g. raisins, cashews, mandarin orange, etc.

Parmesan Broccoli Pasta

Parmesan Broccoli Pasta

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Large sauce pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 head broccoli cleaned and trimmed
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 5 oz. Frigo Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Place broccoli in boinling water until al dente, 3-4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Bring water back to a boil and cook pasta according to instructions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of water.
  • Combine pasta with broccoli, remaining ingredients and reserved water to achieve desired consistency. Toss and serve hot.

SFH Journal: 2020-06-08 through 06-21 – Father’s Day

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Hi! Mr. Monte here.

It’s Father’s Day and for some strange reason I felt compelled to give Ol’ Fuzz Face the day off. He’s been getting calls from his kids and grandkids. I guess it’s important to him. – More on that later,

As you might have guessed from the feature picture, Fuzzie and Blondie took me out for another adventure in El Camino Del Monte (ECDM). For record purposes this was RV Trip 2020-02.

The trip itself was a technical success – no breakdowns, no water leaks, no bad meals. Fuzz Face is finally getting the hang of things and as usual, Blondie again confirmed her status as the Master Chef of ECDM. Fuzzie was so impressed with the two main meals, he intends to put out special posts with recipes, pictures, and instructions.

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So much for the introductory notes, let’s get on with most recent “Fuzzie Fiasco.” Although RV Trip 2020-02 was a technical success, Fuzzie proved that the Three Stooges were mere amateurs compared to him. Here’s the scenario: One of the last steps in RV departure procedures is unhooking shore power (30 Amp, 120V AC). Blondie had confirmed that the breaker was in the “off” position. Fuzzie approached the shore power box with due care and caution. I watched him closely from the porch. The old guy reached for the power box and ever so carefully lifted the cover.  – –  And then it happened. – –  There was a loud, blood curdling shriek. Fuzzie’s right hand lifted high into the air and he began to hop and jump and bounce away from the power box, shaking his right hand violently. – – Slowly, ever so slowly, the old man began to recover his composure. He checked his hand. There was no sign of damage, no blood, no burns. He had not been electrocuted as he had first thought. No, it was something else that caused his most humorous dance around the power box.

The gray tree frog is native to this part of Virginia. It is by nature a reclusive creature, seeking no contact with humans. The shore power box offered this particular tree frog aIMG_20200616_145519104_HDR_edited most comfortable dwelling place. At least it did until Fuzz Face disturbed its day by rudely opening the power box cover. In his attempt to retreat from the scene, the frog had jumped onto Fuzzie’s unsuspecting hand. Though not electrical, it was a most shocking experience to the old guy. For me, it was the highlight of my day.

IMG_20200616_174001340_HDR_editedThis RV trip was blessed with unusually cool weather for this time in June. For all involved, that meant that the noisy air conditioner would not be needed. It took us just a short time to set up and assume our duties as assigned by the “Watch, Quarter, and Station Bill.” (If you don’t know what that is, either you’ve never been on a Navy ship, or you never lived with Ol’ Fuzz Face.)

As ECDM Chief of Security, I quickly reported to that area of the RV where I could IMG_20200616_201158574_editedmonitor areas of primary security concern. Since the main door was opened, I knew that position was most vulnerable to intruders. Our RV was now in my safekeeping. I reported to the Skipper – “All secure!”

IMG_20200617_072613514_editedThe second day of our trip was even cooler than when we arrived. But, for me, this is when things began to go down hill. If my primary job is to provide security, what threats are there on a rainy day? And that’s what it was, it was a very rainy day. No lizard, no squirrel, no bear, there wasn’t a sign of anything threatening anywhere.

Blondie and Fuzz Face watched movies, read books and magazines, planned dinners, and quite often came back to talk about the coming Father’s Day. Fuzzie, speculated about what interesting presents he might receive. Meanwhile, all I had was a view of a rainy world and the unrequested opportunity to ponder what is the meaning of Father’s Day.

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There is a great divide between humans and Main Coons when it comes to fathers. I never really met my Dad. Mom told me his name was Rocky Top and that he was brave, fearsome, and proud. She said I was a lot like him. But, I never got to see him or play with him.

I know that Fuzzie taught me how to play, how to stalk, how to attack. He sometimes gives me snacks and almost every day he grooms me. Sometimes, when Blondie goes to bed early, he and I watch TV together and occasionally he’ll give me a piece of my favorite cheese.

Yet, I know Fuzz Face can never be Rocky Top. I also know I’ll never know what it would have been like if I had grown up with my real Dad. – – So there it was on the second day of our RV trip. All I had was a view of a rainy world and the unrequested opportunity to ponder what is the meaning of Father’s Day.

I guess I will have to adopt the Serendipity Farmhouse philosophy, especially on rainy days: “I am not living the life of my dreams. I am living the life of my realities. And, because I have Fuzzie and Blondie, that will be good enough for me.”

Oh, and before I forget, Happy Father’s Day, Fuzz Face, and Happy Father’s Day, Rocky Top, wherever you are!

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SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s gone into the gardens and what has come out since our last Journal post. They will also update you on the arrival of the hot, humid days of Summer:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-06-08 through 06-14

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-06-15 through 06-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, Shenandoah, we came to see you

Mission: The mission’s official name is El Camino Del Monte RV Trip 2020-01. When the day began all systems were “Go”. We had a relatively late departure on the afternoon of May 27, because beautiful Wife treated herself to her first hair cut since March. That was no problem though, because Shenandoah River State Park check in time is 4:00 PM – we arrived at 4:10 PM.

Purpose: The mission’s official purpose was rest, relaxation, and checking out the RV. The unofficial purpose was to get away from TV, radio, Internet, and telephone. For all intents and purposes, this nearby state park allows one to go entirely off the grid. What a blessed relief!

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Mission Operations: How about the weather? The sun was out when we were up and the rain came down when we were in bed. So, on the 28th, the air had been washed clean of pollen and dust and the views were remarkable. It was a perfect day for a walk down to the Shenandoah. Sweet Spouse was doubly anxious to stretch her legs. She opined that this would be a good time to reduce the size of what she describes as her “Covid rolls.” It is advisable not to linger on this point. Instead, let’s allow her to lead us on a quick tour to the river and the meadows that were so close to our happy camp site.

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With our walk to the river behind us and the temperatures beginning to climb, we settled into the RV and told Mr. Monte all about the park. He tried to look interested, but it was my sense that he was more concerned about devising new ways to keep us awake during his beloved hours of nocturnal predation. – He has his priorities!

Entertainment: Loving Daughter #2 had given us a game to enjoy during RV trips. Perhaps the game requires skill. Perhaps it requires patience. Perhaps our daughter knows that her parents have neither skill nor patience. Perhaps she has learned how to think like Mr. Monte. Perhaps we shall never know for sure. We played the game. The pictures tell the story.

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Mr. Monte’s Log: Hi, Mr. Monte here. As the pictures on the wall proclaim, this RV belongs to me. You will note the one sign that declares “This house is under the protection of a Maine Coon.” Thus, it’s always an amazement how those two big cats of mine, Blondie & Fuzz Face, take so little notice of all I do for them. While they were out frolicking in the woods and skylarking by the river, I had to conduct my rounds and ensure absolute security aboard El Camino Del Monte.

They frolicked – I protected. Observe the picture of the lizard that menaced our RV. I suspect it was a Northern Coal Skink. As soon as he approached our camp site, I alerted and went into stealth predator mode. Fortunately for him, he sensed my presence and was urged by his instinct of self preservation to avoid conflict with a superior force.

Field Test: Until this trip, all of our RV cooking experiences have been inside on our three-burner LP gas stove. (We haven’t used the oven yet.) This trip afforded us the opportunity to test a newly acquired Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill.

Don’t be alarmed. I have not, repeat have not, lost my “inner cheap.” Nope, I simply redeemed some of my frequent flyer miles and this handy device was delivered to my doorstep. The primary ingredient for the test meal consisted of two grass-fed, grass-finished porterhouse steaks, raised on Reality Farm just three miles from Serendipity Farmhouse.

I’ll dispense with useless chatter. The grill worked as advertised. The chef performed with great skill and accomplishment. Add in baked potatoes and green beans and this was the all American meal, a worthy reward for two happy campers at day’s end.

Mr. Monte’s Last Word: As I said, “They frolicked – I protected.” And, as I must add, “They ate steak – I ate dry cat food.”

There will come a day of justice – a day of reckoning!!

 

 

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: 2019-11-04 through 11-10

The blossoming of our Christmas Cactus is another sign of the seasons here at Serendipity Farmhouse – a very welcome sign, indeed.

We woke up on the morning of November 5th to a hard freeze of 29.7°F. Though we have

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A frozen cherry tomato plant

had several frosts earlier, this was the one that finally signaled “end of season” for our ever-faithful cherry tomato plant. Up until the day it was taken by the cold, this little plant produced abundantly. It may be gone now, but it leaves behind the memory of 654 tasty red orbs.  Truly, a great achievement!

Yet, here at Serendipity Farmhouse there is always confidence and hope. That fact is witnessed to by my energetic and resourceful Wife. On the very day of the loss of our cherry tomato plant, she made her way to SFH Vegetable Garden #1 and planted five rows of garlic with six cloves in each row. Buoyed by her success with last year’s planting and this Summer’s harvest of fresh garlic, she decided to increase the numbers. There is no doubt in the author’s mind that we will see a bountiful SFH garlic harvest in 2020. (See: SFH Journal: 2019-07-01 – A Midsummer Day)

The arrival of colder weather dictates that El Camino Del Monte must be winterized. Now, with a year of experience under our belt, we managed the whole affair with a minimum of problems or concerns. It was not so last year. (See: SFH Journal: 2018-11-15 – First Snow & First Fire)

In case you’re wondering what Mr. Monte has been up to, in addition to leaf  and critter watching from the back porch, he has taken up photography. He submitted this photo as a sample of what the quick eye of a Maine Coon cat and the quick shutter of a digital single lens reflex camera can catch. Good job, Mr. Monte!

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Now if you remember, one of our very first posts (see: WWWT? #1 – What a Lovely Wood Stove!) detailed all the problems we encountered when we first attempted to use our wood stove. Now that we’ve been here for a while and had time to learn from our past mistakes, starting the first fire of the year was without incident and blessed by warmth throughout Serendipity Farmhouse on the afternoon of Thursday, November 7th.

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All-in-all, a very good week at SFH!

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2019-11-04 through 11-10