Category: Faith, Family, & Country

SFH Journal: 2021-06-28 through 07-04 – The “unanimous Declaration”

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

There is a price to be paid for liberty. That price was declared in the “bottom line” of the great document that defined us as an independent people. That document also clearly stated upon Whom we rely for protection.

This most important national holiday is being quietly celebrated here at Serendipity Farmhouse. Our gardens have begun to supply us with abundant returns for our labors. We have eaten sumptuously on a small feast of our garden-fresh green beans and a pin bone sirloin steak, from nearby Reality Farm. Of course, ice cream was served as the fitting dessert.

SFH Gardens by the Numbers

  The following links will catch you up with what has been planted and what has been harvested since our last Journal post:

SFH 2021 Plantings

SFH 2021 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-06-28 through 07-04

SFH Journal: 2021-05-17 through 05-30 – Remember

Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:

“I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Would Serendipity Farmhouse and the free exercise of our Faith exist if it were not for the brave and dedicated souls who have lived and died upholding this solemn oath? – – Remembering and thanking those who have sworn this oath is the rightful way to celebrate this national holiday.

We here at SFH have made a special effort to prepare for this weekend that marks the unofficial start of Summer. It was a truly grueling effort to clean up garden beds, trim and manicure our broad and extensive lawns, plant seeds and young plants in our herb garden and two vegetable gardens, repair or replace aging outside furnishings, install four heavy window air conditioners, and clean everything covered by pollen and dust. And that was just the beginning. We called on outside help to paint the front porch and to add two coats of stain to our deck and railings.

It was a quite ambitious plan. My ever resourceful and highly zealous Spouse was responsible for motivating all the workers involved. Although one could never accuse her of being ruthless, one might describe her leadership style as relentless and unwavering. She enlisted Mr. Monte to act as overseer and work inspector. In his case, one might describe his approach to be less forgiving than my dear and beautiful Wife. In fact, one might say his approach to leadership was on the vicious side of ruthless, or so it seemed to the majority of the work force under his command.

Despite all that, I, the work force, survived the effects of Mr. Monte’s management style. And, to her great credit, the inspired vision of a beautified Serendipity Farmhouse conceived by my most beloved Spouse, resulted in the most pleasant improvements. For example, see what she had done to the front porch.

Newly painted porch & new decorative bench

Dearest Spouse recognized that the deck needed to be brightened up and made more comfortable. So here it is with an eye-catching Cape Cod Red stain and some new deck furniture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, with SFH cleaned up for the unofficial start of Summer, the residents of SFH will take some time off from work and celebrate Memorial Day in fitting ways. I will take time to pray for close friends who died while serving our Country. Beautiful Wife and I will call to mind what it was like starting our family and raising children while stationed overseas. There will be memories of sacrifices and there will be memories of great adventures. After all, SFH is about Faith, Family, & Country.

SFH Cleaned up and ready to celebrate Memorial Day

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what has been planted and what has been harvested since our last Journal post:

SFH 2021 Plantings

SFH 2021 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-05-17 through 05-23

SFH WX 2021-05-24 through 05-30

Together Again!!

Although there is some minor dispute on the date, several sources record that, in 1427, São Miguel became the second of the islands discovered by Gonçalo Velho Cabral to be settled by colonists from continental Portugal. There is, however, no dispute as to Whom the island was dedicated. The picture above is a painting by Domingo Rebelo entitled Descoberta da ilha de São Miguel (Discovery of the island of São Miguel). It depicts how families from São Miguel understand their beginnings – their beginnings were in thanksgiving to God.

And why should any of this matter?

Here at Serendipity Farmhouse Faith and Family come first. For many, many months, our family has not had the opportunity to come together as a group, either to pray or to play. Last Saturday, that painful separation came to an end. It was Grandson #7 who made our reunion a reality. At 1030AM, he was Baptized and was born again “… of water and the Holy Spirit.”

Just as my grandparents, born on São Miguel, had my father Baptized; just as my parents had me Baptized, just as my beloved Wife and I had our children Baptized; so on that Saturday morning, dearest Daughter #2 and her beloved husband, had Grandson #7 Baptized. Son #1 and his beloved Spouse were proud to take on the responsibility as Godparents. – – And so there it was. Our family witnessed and was blessed to see another new beginning in the Spirit, and it was truly a beginning in thanksgiving to God.

Does this all sound too serious?

This is not just a family tradition or custom – this is something sacred and solemn – this is a family living every day in Faith. And with the solemnity of this precious moment there also comes joy, family humor, and great celebration. And celebration is something this family does quite well, especially when it has been so long denied to us.

After the ceremony, we all made our way to the Daughter #2’s charming hideaway, nestled as it is amidst the beauty of the world-renowned Shenandoah Valley.  No corner was cut and no expense was spared. The grill was filled with burgers and dogs, the kitchen  was replete with the finest fruits, snacks, and hors d’oeuvres. The yard was instantly filled with cousins dashing about, celebrating their first meeting with Cousin #12. And whether adult or child, not one soul was left untouched by the joy of being together again!

And, dear Reader, if you read Mr. Monte’s post RV Trip 2021-01: A Very Tent Situation, you will be happy to know that last Saturday there was also a type of redemption that took place. In the picture below you will see Son #1 checking his phone. Directly behind him you will see a beautifully erected screen tent. Unlike the terrible experience recounted in Mr. Monte’s post, my son confirmed that I had indeed set a new world’s record in erecting that tent. – I’m still waiting for Mr. Monte’s sincere apology and congratulations.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Musing

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, Mother’s Day is different for cats than it is for humans. I was reminded of that just yesterday when Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 came for lunch to visit Blondie. These lovely young ladies made the trek to Serendipity Farmhouse with the sole intent of letting Blondie know how much they love her. It was such a heartwarming sight – it made me all purrful inside.

At the same time, it made me think back of that wonderful and magical short time I had with my dear Mother – Malala. I was one of the eight siblings who were in her first litter. It was unusual for a Maine Coon to have such a large first litter and Mom was very young. But she was so very good to us, giving each of us affection and care as only a mother cat can do. Many of us in the litter took after Dad. We were, indeed, a mischievous bunch. Mom was firm, but tender in her discipline.

She spent much time showing us the Maine Coon way of life. We would be hunters; we would be brave; we would be resourceful; and we would, as Maine Coons rightly must be, independent. All of those things were necessary because cats by nature must all too soon leave their feline families. And so it was with me. It has been many years since I’ve seen Mom, and, in my own Maine Coonly way, I miss her on this Mother’s day.

Malala of Makanacoon

You know how good I am at research on the computer. Recently, I did some searches to find out more about my Mom. Here are a couple of things I found. (By the way thank you to Makanacoon, whose picture of Mom I borrowed to show you.)

First, I found Mom’s biography. If you read it closely, you will find that “She is our lookout kitty who sits in a cat tree in front of a window that looks out into our front yard.” Does that sound familiar? Now I know why I came to be the world-renowned Chief of Security that I am.

From what I remember and from what others have told me, Mom never put on airs. She always put family first. She was a model of humility and motherhood. You would have never known, except by her obvious beauty and charm, that she was a true champion of the Maine coon breed. If you get a chance, you might take a look at Pedigree Of Champion MAKANACOON’S MALALA.

For various reasons, Mom had to retire early. I’m told that she has a new human family of her own. They are taking good care of her, and she is loved.

And that brings me to the point of my Mother’s Day Musing. – Just like my dear Mom, I have a human family of my own. Every day, Blondie makes time for me and my few needs. Her warm and tender hands have taken the place of my Mom’s paws and have made every day a day of happiness. I may not be human like Daughters #1 and #2, but I am a Maine Coon who knows how a Mother’s love can make me feel warm and purrful deep down inside. – – Happy Mother’s Day Malala and Happy Mother’s Day Blondie!

My first day at SFH

Breaking News: Grandson #7!!

Mr. Monte

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, Saturday 10 April will forever stand as a great day of joy and celebration here at Serendipity Farmhouse. At roughly 8 PM last night, my highly esteemed cat cousins Gizmo and Cosmo texted me to share their excitement over the birth of Grandson #7. They told me that Daughter #2, after a very long day-and-half, although tired, was doing well. Later that night, they forwarded me a beautiful picture of mother and child.

The backstory on this wonderful event will never be fully revealed, but Gizmo and Cosmo provided some illuminating insights. While Daughter #2 and Son-in-law #2 were dealing with the labor and the whole hospital “thing,” the invariably incompetent and inept Ol’ Fuzz Face was called upon to sit with and entertain Granddaughter #4. If it weren’t for his bumbling, mumbling, and generally ridiculous accomplishments, he would have no accomplishments at all. From the very beginning of his time with Granddaughter #4, Giz and Cos had to help him stay pointed in the right direction. They even had to show him how to use the remote controls for the TV and Blue Ray player.

As the story from my cat cousins goes, while some granddaughters can wrap a doting grandfather around their little finger, Granddaughter #4 had Ol’ Fuzzy completely hogtied around hers. They played bounce ball. They “cooked” meals for each other. Fuzzy read books to her and she read books to him. When the poor old guy returned home last night, he even tried to talk Blondie into watching a Tinkerbell movie with him. Realizing that the old man had to be brought back to his senses, after his shower, I cornered him in the bathroom and bit him. – – Although a little stunned at first, he realized my good intent and thanked me with a snack.

As I said, the rest of the backstory will never be published. Just between us cats, human grandparents are strange creatures, not subject to the laws of reason and common sense. – – – Nevertheless, Serendipity Farmhouse and the entire extended family are truly joyful this day.

Welcome to the family, Grandson #7!

Resurrexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia.

Easter at Serendipity Farmhouse will be quiet and reflective this year. There will be prayer, good food, and thoughts of family and friends. And, while Easter is not about cherry blossoms, daffodils, or forsythias, the fact that they have again returned to SFH provides us a vivid reminder of the Resurrection. – – That is how it is meant to be here at our beloved Serendipity.

 

Birthday Conspiracy

СОВЕРШЕННО СЕКРЕТНО – 最高机密

Hi! Mr. Monte & Blondie here.

Conspiracy, coverups, and secrets have reigned supreme here at Serendipity Farmhouse this past month. Bribes and strong-arm tactics have been employed. We even had to pay off the UPS driver so that he wouldn’t leave anything incriminating on the front porch. Of course I, Mr. Monte, with my sly and cunning character and unequaled stealth have felt quite at home in this conspiracy. Blondie has turned into a real master at deception and the trade-craft known only by master spies.

Why all the secrecy and conspiracy you might ask? Oh, that’s quite simple to answer.

Ol’ Fuzz Face, who fancies himself to be a veritable, real-life James Bond, the analyst’s analyst so-to-speak, has repeatedly tried to uncover what the family has prepared for his birthday. So far, he has been a complete failure. We have outfoxed the old fox. We have beat him at his game. This year, he will just have wait to see what his conspiratorial family has planned for him.

So, let us end by saying, “Don’t you dare reveal anything to the old guy. If you do, the price you pay will be quite dear.”

One last thing, the reason we’re doing this is because, on his good days, Ol’ Fuzzy is really a pretty nice guy. In fact, Blondie recommends that you check out this clip from Julie & Julia to see how she thinks of him. Also, when the day finally comes, tomorrow, feel free to wish him a happy birthday. – – Happy birthday, Sweetheart. I love you!! Blondie

СОВЕРШЕННО СЕКРЕТНО – 最高机密

SFH Journal: 2020-11-30 through 12-16 – 1st Snow!

The featured picture above shows one of Mr. Monte’s cardinal friends patiently reminding us that his feeder needs replenishment. He has been with us for many seasons and he is confident that, even if the weather is severe, someone at Serendipity Farmhouse will tend to his need. – For him, the first snow is nothing to be feared.

We at Serendipity Farmhouse live within our beliefs and our traditions, even if the tradition is as simple as providing food for our resident cardinals. However, holding to tradition is not always easy. For example we are now deep within the season of Advent, a period or preparation. Our thoughts should be centered on the coming feast of Christmas – this should be a season of peace and prayer. Yet, all to often, the ways of the world, with all their artificial fuss and clamor, stand as obstacles in our path. – Nevertheless, we hold fast.

So, the last few weeks have been very busy, but SFH keeps the coming of Christmas clearly in sight. Here is a short sampling of the many preparations underway.

04 DEC – First Fire: As we approach the Winter Solstice and Christmas, the days grow colder. In order to keep SFH cozy and warm, and to reduce stress on our brand new propane furnace, we use our wood stove as our primary means of heating. The first fire always starts off with a little smoke, but then, as the stove and chimney warm, we end up with a clean burning fire and a very warm and comfortable SFH.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

08 DEC – Official Theme: As noted in our last post, the official theme for this year is recreational vehicles (RVs). That is because our Class C RV, El Camino Del Monte, served faithfully as our “getaway vehicle” and provided us safe haven during this disquieting year. The obnoxious, little red elf will lead off in showing you some of our RV collection.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

12 DEC – Outside Decoration: The outside decorations and Nativity scene are placed on display. our dearest piece of tacky yard art, Miss Florence Flamingo, dons her Christmas cap. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte sets up his own beloved little Christmas tree and investigates the mysteries of the snow globe and tasty Christmas elves.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

13 DEC – Gaudéte Sunday: Despite the rush of shopping, decorating, sending greeting cards, wrapping, and all the seasonal distractions, it is necessary to remember the true intent of Advent. This Third Sunday, we took time to rejoice – Gaudéte!! – – Why? – – Dóminus enim prope est – The Lord is nigh.

13-15 DEC – Family First: Blondie spends a couple of days with Daughter #2 – It’s a tradition. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte is left in charge and must ensure that Ol’ Fuzz Face stays out of trouble.

16 DEC – First Snow: There’s a story or two to tell about Winter Storm Gail, but we will save that for out next post. Suffice it to say, the wood stove kept us warm; the Advent wreath provided a shining light of hope, and Mr. Monte’s Christmas tree is where we gathered in prayer.

And that brings us back to where we began. Keep in mind this Advent that, just as Mr Monte’s little cardinal friend knows well,  the first snow is nothing to be feared and it is important to hold fast to your traditions.

There is nothing to fear.

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 2020-11-30 through 12-06

SFH WX 2020-12-07 through 12-13

SFH WX 2020-12-14 through 12-16

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Blondie’s Birthday – Part III and Final

This post will be somewhat less polished than I had originally planned. There are two reasons why. First, my time today is limited. Second, I’m having trouble accessing my regular editor and I’m not familiar with the one I’m using now. – Please have patience with my attempt to master this new format.

While Parts I & II of Blondie’s Birthday were open and lively events, Part III was far more private and personal. Perhaps that was the one advantage to not having a single, coordinated birthday bash. This year, Blondie could spend more one-on-one time with each person involved

Daughter #2: Visiting Daughter #2 and Granddaughter #4, not to mention two of Mr. Monte’s cat cousins, was a very enjoyable treat. It’s so difficult these days to be able to share with family members without a distracting phone or computer in between. Just sitting in the living room together with cats jumping about and a granddaughter playing peekaboo, talking about what really matters, that is the way life is supposed to be. I could tell Blondie was happy. – Daughter #2, as always, had the most beautiful bouquet of roses for her Mom.

Dear Friend: Dearest Friend Nancy drove many miles and made the trek to Serendipity Farmhouse to spend some time with Blondie. I did my best to let them have some time alone, drinking their tea and tasting selected sweets and treats. Dear friends are such a great blessing. – Nancy, of course, had a most beautiful addition for Blondie’s garden – a multi-colored, dwarf Crepe Myrtle.

Thoughtful Neighbors: As you might guess by now, there has been a minor theme to Part III of Blondie’s Birthday – Flowers, many, many beautiful flowers. Our most thoughtful next door neighbors added to the array of blossoming beauties with this gorgeous, colorful chrysanthemum.

The Cleanup: All good things, even birthday bashes, must come to an end. The presents, the sweets, the smiles, the hugs, and the many signs of sincere love and caring, must take their place in residence along with other fond memories. And for Blondie, the signal that this wonderful birthday week had come to an end was her statement to one and all that she was going to clean our RV El Camino Del Monte all by herself.

Before Blondie takes over the keyboard to write this part of the story, Mr. Monte invoked his privilege as SFH Chief Enforcer of Truth to add the following notice and warning.

At SFH, everything must be clean. Not just slightly clean, but entirely clean. Although my Hubby does a fair job cleaning El Camino Del Monte, he sometimes cuts corners or avoids hard things like cleaning up the roof on our RV.

This cleaning had to be different. If Hubby wasn’t up to doing the job properly, then I was going to do it – no matter how much work it took or how dangerous it might be.

So, here is the pictorial proof that I cleaned that RV, I cleaned it right. There I was on top cleaning the air conditioner and plastic covers. Every bit, every piece, every inch, with my trusty brushes and sponges I cleaned that rascal and I cleaned it right.

Today, it stands in the yard shining in the sun. A monument to cleanliness and good order, immaculate in a way that only this woman’s hands can make it.

 

And with this great feat accomplished, I can stand back and admire my work. That’s because, I’m happy. After all, I had a most memorable Serendipity Farmhouse birthday bash. The people who mean the most to me were there to help me celebrate a most important birthday.

At SFH, there are high standards – High standards of cleanliness and good order. And there are even higher standards of Faith and Family. No matter what is going on in this crazy world, we will be there for each other.

And if I got a little carried away with this cleaning job, it’s only because I had such a good birthday week. Even my RV wished me a Happy Birthday! – – Thank you Family and thank you Friends!