Category: Faith, Family, & Country

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit

The sun rose a little over an hour ago. Here at Serendipity Farmhouse this is our time for prayer and reflection. On this great national holiday, my mind comes naturally to these words.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This year, the meaning of these words has been restored and renewed – at least in part. Here are two shining examples:

Life Prevails

Liberty Triumphs

As the sun continues to rise, there remains a quiet and peaceful calm. My beautiful Spouse has declared “holiday routine” for the entire SFH staff. For all of us, today will provide a special opportunity to enjoy that third enumerated right which the Declaration states was endowed by our Creator –

“the pursuit of Happiness”

Pierre LeChat has buried himself in a pile of cookbooks looking for new recipes for the soon-to-be-world-famous, recently renovated SFH Test Kitchen. The ever-vigilant Mr. Monte has made his morning security rounds and is taking a well-deserved nap. In a short while, Blondie and I will start preparations for today’s holiday Feast. And that feast, as it is every year on this day, will be festive, filling, and flavorful. Behold! Here is the traditional SFH 4th of July menu.

Although today will be relaxed and restful, the latter part of June and the first few days of July were filled with a multitude of chores related to completion of the SFH TK renovation. There has been organizing, cleaning, ordering a new stove, and preparing for the 2022 preserving and canning season. In fact, the harvest has already begun. So far, we have picked over two pounds of green beans, several jalapeno peppers and tomatoes, and the first pods of okra.

Because our green bean harvest is the largest ever, we have had a chance to freeze the surplus beans (three bags so far). We’ve never done that before, but it turned out to be quite simple. We used freezing advice provided at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. For green beans, we used the instructions listed here.

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The SFH TK renovation, although not complete, is already making life better here. Several years ago, we had to store away our Breville juicer and have not had the opportunity to partake of the wonderful “green juice” we used to make. The art of juicing was introduced to our daily routine by our friends Rob and Carol Hoffman. Now that we have easy access to the juicer, and because many vegetables are available to us from our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, we have once again been able to make “green juice” a morning standard.

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Neither the Declaration of Independence nor our Creator gives us a right to “Happiness”. Rather we are endowed with the right of “pursuit of Happiness”. Here at SFH, we always try to remember that distinction. Sometimes, things other than “Happiness” come our way. For example, when we came home one day last week, we found that a storm had caused some destruction to our vast SFH gardens and arboreal treasures. Compared to what happened to our neighbors’ house two weeks ago, when a large Maple tree crushed a portion of their roof, the damage we had was entirely insignificant. – –

It’s at times like this, that our “Liberty” and the right to pray when and where we want becomes so important. In other countries, that is not the case. We must remember that the rights we celebrate today were won for us by brave men who were inspired by “divine Providence” to say:

“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.”

Happy 4th of July!!!

 

50th – The Celebration

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, instinct is a very strong and protective force for us felines. It ensures our survival as a species and guides us through unexpected encounters with the harsh realities of life. In essence, our feline instincts are the basis of our predatorial dominance. In conjunction with our innate cognitive superiority, our instincts have enabled us to interpret human behavior and fashion it to our personal designs. If there is any doubt that my statements are not correct, I offer you my total and uncontested control over Blondie, Ol’ Fuzz Face, and the entire Serendipity Farmhouse establishment as supporting evidence.

Having said all that, I must acknowledge that my two humans demonstrate some traits that are as endearing as they are mysterious. For over a month now, this human couple has been engaging in a set of most unique rituals. All of these quaint activities seem to be centered around something referred to as their “50th”.

The rituals begin early each morning. Fuzzy will kiss Blondie on the forehead and say something sickeningly sweet. Blondie will reply with a smile and something that sounds like a pigeon cooing. Frequently throughout the day, they will hold hands. Sometimes they will even hug each other. They take walks together around the yard. And, when working together in the garden, they thoughtfully help each other, smiling the whole time. – – If this is getting a bit too mushy for you, dear feline friends, just be glad you don’t have to witness it firsthand as I must.

This last week, their unusual activities intensified. The week started off with a two-night RV trip to Shenandoah River State Park. There, I was subjected to uncharacteristically charitable treatment from them. Even when I would wake them with frequent and loud meowing, they would merely get up, feed me, play with me, and hug me as if I were some type of prize possession. During the daytime, they would hold lighthearted conversations and gaze into each others eyes. In the evening, with all the RV lights off, they would view the colorful sunsets and speak of their years together.

Good grief! I tried to sleep through all this, but their romantic chatter kept disturbing my sleep. Wouldn’t it ever stop? A cat has to have his naps to stay fit and alert.

But, during the entire trip and the remainder of the week, it never stopped.

I gathered from all their endless and inane prattle that there was to be some big event this Sunday – today. Apparently, Daughter #2 and the other siblings conspired to organize a celebration honoring the big “50th”. There are to be many guests – family and friends. It is intended to be an event honoring the thing humans call Holy Matrimony and it is in thanksgiving for God’s grace that made it possible.

Even with my golden feline instincts and superior cognitive skills, I don’t claim to understand what this thing called Matrimony is all about. Nevertheless, if it is something that makes Blondie and Fuzz Face happy together, and if it is big enough to include children and even a 21-pound Maine Coon cat, then I’m all for it.

So, along with all the others today, let me simply and sincerely say to Blondie and Fuzzy – “Happy 50th!”

SFH Gardens – By the Numbers

  We are currently revising and updating our tables and presentations of statistics for the Official SHF Year 2022. The following links will provide the latest ketchup on what has been planted, harvested, and preserved since our last Journal post:

SFH 2022 Plantings

SFH 2022 Harvest

SFH 2021 Preserving

Official SFH Weather Station Statistics

Likewise, the following links will provide the latest ketchup on what has been recorded by the Serendipity Farmhouse Weather Station – KVAFLETC4 since our last Journal post:

Report – Last Three Months

2022 – February

2022 – March

2022 – April

 

 

 

 

Paschal Triduum Journey

He is risen as He said, Alleluia!

In keeping with the solemnity of this day, allow me to tell you about a special place here at Serendipity Farmhouse. This garden spot alongside the river is reserved for meditation and prayerful reflection. Throughout the Spring and Summer, flowers grow nearby.

The Resurrection Lilies in that garden spot remind us of the Paschal Triduum. This month, we can see their leaves reaching upwards, perhaps praying for strength and courage, somewhat like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani on Holy Thursday.

Good Friday comes to this garden and all signs of the lilies vanish. Now we are left to wait.

Holy Saturday is a very long dark night.

This year we went to our garden spot to reflect on the mystery of the Paschal Triduum. We went to spend an hour awake in prayer in Gethsemani. We went to meditate on the meaning of His Crucifixion. We went to wait along with Mary and the apostles through the long dark night.

And like the Church does throughout the world, we lit a fire so that we could be filled with heavenly aspirations and prepare for the perpetual brightness of Easter.

DEUS, qui per Filium tuum, angularem scilicet lapidem, claritatis tuæ ignem fidelibus contulisti: productum e silice, nostris profuturum usibus, novum hanc ignem sancti✠fica: et concede nobis, ita per hæc festa paschalia cælestibus desideriis inflammari; ut ad perpetuæ claritatis, puris mentibus, valeamus festa pertingere. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.

O God, Who through Thy Son, the cornerstone, hast given to Thy faithful the fire of Thy brightness, sancti✠fy this new fire, produced out of a flint-stone, to be serviceable for our uses; and grant unto us to be so fired with heavenly aspirations through these paschal festivities, that with pure hearts we may be able to attain to the festivities of perpetual brightness. Through the same Christ our Lord.
℟. Amen.

That is when the full moon rose and shown down on our river and on us. That was the same moon that was visible in the Garden of Gethsemani and during the nights of the first Triduum. – – Certainly, this time spent in our garden spot gave us great solace and cause to believe that the dark night would end. And so it has – He is risen as He said. Alleluia!

SFH Anniversary & Birthday

Eight years ago today, Serendipity Farmhouse became the house of our realities. That was when the papers that finalized the purchase were signed.

The day was sunny and clear just as you see in the picture of the title office, but there were no leaves on the trees then and the official temperature at Fanning Field in Idaho Falls (IF) only reached 21°F. Of course, that was a relative heat wave. Several days earlier, when we packed out our belongings, the temperature was below -20°F not counting the wind chill factor. In less than three hours after the signing, Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face would be on the road making the nearly three-day trek to Virginia through snow, ice, and dangerously high winds.

It was a trip well worth making. The risks were well worth taking. We were on our way to a rendezvous with Serendipity.

Since early in 2018, this blog has chronicled the important, the serious, the sad, and sometimes the hilarious events that have taken place at SFH. Today, there is one report to make that brings great joy to these two grandparents that reside here at SFH. Granddaughter #3 is celebrating a very important birthday. We pray that Our Lady of Guadalupe will intercede and have her Son make this a most happy day for her and her family.

Virgen_de_guadalupe1 - San Antonio Report

 

 

SFH Journal: 2021-11-22 through 28 – Thanksgiving

We here at Serendipity Farmhouse hold Thanksgiving Day to be most precious. It speaks to our hearts and souls of a lofty ideal, yet it resides with us in the realm of reality and common sense. Indeed, to celebrate Thanksgiving Day properly, one must answer two important questions:

For what are we thankful?

To whom are we thankful?

President Abraham Lincoln, in his 1863 Proclamation of Thanksgiving, spoke to both questions when he wrote:

“To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

Yes, even in the midst of the Civil War, he could say, “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.” And he attributed all those “bounties” to “Almighty God”.

We here at SFH, like you and many whom we know, have been touched by the sickness and evils of these most uncertain times of pandemic and social upheaval. Nevertheless, we can also see the many gifts we have been given throughout this year and, without any doubt, we know to Whom we are to give our thanks. Along with Lincoln, we can affirm:

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

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At Serendipity Farmhouse, there is no thanks to be given for the great bounty we enjoy, if it is not thanksgiving to Almighty God.

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Sometimes, even though it might seem contrary to what one might think, five chefs in a small kitchen isn’t necessarily a pending catastrophe. Nope! Sometimes, five chefs in a small kitchen might be the harmonious prelude to a most memorable Thanksgiving dinner. And so it was on Thursday when we assembled in that unnamed, but soon-to-be-world-famous kitchen somewhere in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

It would take far too much time to describe all that took place in that small kitchen. Nevertheless, I will attempt to summarize as follows, listing each chef and their particular specialties for the day.

Executive Chef – Daughter #2: This up-and-coming young chef extended her already expansive repertoire to include the following masterworks:

Asparagus & Prosciutto Bundles – Working with the basic recipe by Ina Garten, D#2 added her own variations and made this the centerpiece of the dinner plate.
Cranberry Sauce – It wasn’t from a can, it came from a creative hand, and it was oh so tasty.
Turkey Gravy – This was another first for D#2. Never again will she have to rely on some pre-made gravy from a jar or a bag.
Appetizer Tray – Here was an excellent assortment of cheeses and other flavorful morsels.
Sangria – This delightful punch consisted of rosé wine, chopped fruit, and other ingredients and spirits.

Deputy Executive Chef – Son-in-Law #2: Here is an unsung master, who quietly plied his craft and produced two flavorful staples for this traditional meal.

The Turkey – Even if everything else is superb, when the turkey is a failure, the entire Thanksgiving dinner falls flat. SIL#2 did not let us down. The turkey was completed on time and cooked to perfection.
Yeast Rolls – These were a must to accompany the meal. What can be better than to add a little butter, then clean the gravy off your plate with these wondrous little rolls?

SFH Test Kitchen Executive Chef – Dearest Wife: A great joy in the life of a mother is watching a daughter accept the challenge of the kitchen and to master the cooking skills. On this particular day, Dearest Wife assisted D#2 when needed. The day before, she did prepare something that would make the dinner complete.

The Pumpkin Pie – What would Thanksgiving Dinner be without this scrumptious dessert? All agreed that it was the very best they had ever tasted.

Rank Amateur – Yours Truly: Based on his amazing ability to break or damage just about anything, this guy was assigned the duty of mashing defenseless roots.

Mashed Potatoes – Despite his best efforts, this guy was unable to bring about any type of culinary disaster. There were actually some fairly good mashed potatoes on each plate, ready to soak up D#2’s good gravy.

Junior Chef – Granddaughter #4: The Deputy Executive Chef was aided and assisted in several tasks by able and willing Granddaughter #4. Her eagerness to help and apparent joy in joining in with the more senior chefs suggests she is at the beginning of a lifelong culinary adventure.

For this love-filled day, for this time in the kitchen, for this enjoyable meal, for this family we have been given, Dear Wife and I say, “Thank you, Lord!”

SFH Gardens – By the Numbers

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

SFH 2021 Plantings

SFH 2021 Harvest

SFH 2021 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-11-22 through 11-28

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: 

SFH WX 2021-11-01 through 11-30

SFH Journal: 2021-11-01 through 11-21 – Deep Autumn

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, observe the pictures above. Everything in them conveys a most important point – this is Le Chat, this is a feline in command. And that is precisely the case – I am the Feline in Command. While conducting my command and control duties on RV trips in El Camino Del Monte, my Command Post is strategically located in the over cab loft. From there I can observer all, monitor each and every activity, and maintain close control of my humans as they conduct all their activities within ECDM. It’s a difficult job ‘herding humans’, but it’s what I do.

The same can be said of my most necessary work at Serendipity Farmhouse. It’s a daily ritual. I get Ol’ Fuzz Face and Blondie up at an appropriately early hour. I make sure that they waste no time doing their required chores, e.g. feeding me, cleaning my pan, making my bed, etc. Blondie’s pretty good at following all my instructions, but I have to confess Fuzz Face is not exactly the ‘sharpest claw on the paw’.

Yep, Fuzzy is a little slow on the intake and downright bad at time management. He was supposed get this post out on Sunday, yet he hasn’t written a single word. The SFH blog has to maintain its five-star reputation, and Fuzz Face really isn’t up to the job. That’s why I have to take matters into my own paws and let you know what’s been happening here at SFH. So, sit back, relax, catch up on your grooming, and be informed by this report on all the SFH local news.

10 -12 NOV – RV Trip 2021-06: This was the last trip of the year. Blondie and Fuzz Face had made some ridiculously bad scheduling errors for some of our mid-season trips. Of course, you remember my post RV Trip 2021-02: I Wanna Go Home!. My big cats couldn’t have picked a worse time to take our rig out camping. – Dang! I hate that air conditioner!

RV Trip 2021-06, however, couldn’t have been any better. The weather was perfect in the mid-60s. The Autumn foliage was at its peak, and I was a happy cat camper. If he ever gets his scat together, Fuzzy will write a post and provide some pictures.

Looking southwest at the Massanutten Mountain Range

11 NOV – Dinner with Julia: Now, I’m not much into people food, but Julia Child and I share a love of butter. You can be sure that when the smell of butter is in the air, you will accompanied by Le Chat Chef Extraordinaire. And so it was on the evening of November 11th. Blondie and Fuzzy, under the close scrutiny and guidance of yours truly, successfully executed Julia’s recipe for Coq au Vin. Once again, if Ol’ Fuzz Face ever gets his scat together, he will write a post and provide some pictures.

Coq au Vin a la El Camino Del Monte

17 NOV – River Cleanup: For several years now, we at SFH have watched as our lovely riverfront was slowly overgrown by small trees, invasive shrubs, and killer vines. The presence of established trees along the river bank is essential to prevent erosion, but many of the recent plant arrivals were hostile creatures, seeking to destroy all useful varieties of vegetation in their path. Enough was enough, Blondie commissioned a work crew to turn back the invasion. Although we know this is not the end of the war, and we will have to remain ever vigilant, the pictures below show that we are now winning.

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16-19 NOV – ECDM Winter Storage: Even for those of us who are somewhat reluctant to admit that RV life can be fun, it is always a sad time of the year when El Camino Del Monte has to be serviced, cleaned, and wrapped up in its protective cocoon for the winter.

As usual, Fuzzy provided examples of his all too frequent buffoonery. He stated to all of us here at SFH that gas prices were only going to go up. So, he rushed off to the nearby service station and pumped $102.92 worth of gasoline into ECDM at $3.29/gallon. Of course, the very next day, the gas price dropped by 10¢/gallon. — Fuzzy next showed off his ability to make simple jobs look hard, while at the same time taking foolish risks with his aging life and limb. I suspect Blondie was willing to take the pictures of him up atop ECDM so that it would support her claims for a maximum payoff from Fuzzy’s life insurance.

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20 NOV – First Woodstove Fire: So, we here at SFH have made the turn into the midst of what we call ‘Deep Autumn’. Finally, we’ve reached the time of year when the trusty old woodstove is used as our main source of heat. And for me, now that this post is complete, it’s time to curl up and take a long deserved nap, enjoying the warmth of the fire.

SFH Gardens – By the Numbers

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

SFH 2021 Plantings

SFH 2021 Harvest

SFH 2021 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-11-01 through 11-07

SFH WX 2021-11-08 through 11-14

SFH WX 2021-11-15 through 11-21

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: 

SFH WX 2021-11-01 through 11-30

The Guy’s Guide to Glamping: Guys’ Night & Guys’ Day

(Note: See The Guy’s Guide to Glamping – Section 1, Chapter 1 for Part 1 of this amazing adventure.)

Section 1, Chapter 1: RV Trip 2021-05 – Serendipity River Park – Part 2:

Guys’ Night & Guys’ Day

The Code of Guy is a complex and fortunately not well known set of unwritten rules used to guide the behavior and guard the reputation of guys. For example, if you were to ask if the guys in our camping group took showers while on our camping adventure, the Code of Guy would demand each of us to avoid comment on the question – after all, we have a right to privacy.

Likewise, should one inquire regarding the nature or topics of our nighttime, round-table discussions, one would be answered only with a smile that loudly proclaimed that one was quite foolhardy to pry into the secret inner sanctum of ‘guy’. So, I will relate the happenings of Guys’ Night and Guys’ Day at Serendipity River park in full adherence to the Code of Guy.

Guys’ Night

In Part 1 you were introduced to guy camping conducted on a lavish scale. Yes, Grandson #3 and Son-in-Law #1 dined on an exquisitely prepared dinner of hot dogs and other healthful and nutritious foods as listed in our guy camping menu. Now it’s important to note that the beverages offered with the meal were not listed – that was due to certain privacy concerns. Serendipity River Park is located quite close to several breweries, and a fine distillery is within easy walking distance. With this in mind, GS#3, SIL#1, and I were confronted with an array of beverage options. It was only after a long and meaningful discussion that we finally settled upon the manly beverage that would accompany our meal. That’s right, you guessed it – Chocolate Milk!

Guys’ Night would not have been complete without our astounding store of snacks to accompany our three-movie marathon. M&Ms were measured out by the pound. There were bags and bags of trail mix, containing all possible ingredients to satisfy the varied tastes of our guy ensemble. Chex Mix was the favored treat for GS#3. And the list goes on and on. There is no way whatsoever to wonder why our movie watching consisted of equally high decibel levels of laughter, discussion, and snack munching and crunching. – The local wildlife would have no rest on this night.

Then, in the wee still hours of the early morning, three guys decided to call it quits. We said our bedtime prayers and climbed into our assigned berthing areas. I went to the queen sized bed, SIL#1 curled up in the dinette sleeping area, and GS#3 climbed up into the loft over the cab. Thus ended Day 1 of our two-day trip.

Guys’ Day

Breakfast the next morning was notable for the way we all pitched in to prepare this glorious first meal of the day. Fried bacon was in abundant supply. Eggs enough for seconds all around were prepared outside on the cook stove. SIL#1 prepared toast and other sides in the commodious RV kitchen. And, of course, there was coffee and orange juice. Yes, a hearty breakfast for a hungry group of guys!

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Once the dishes were cleaned and the RV was made “ship shape” (not necessarily to glamping standards), we started on full day of manly exploring adventures. First we found our way to nearby Civil War historical locations. GS#3 took great interest in the campsite of Union soldiers from Pennsylvania.

We followed the Thornton River into village of Sperryville, noting all points of interest. This was the beginning of tourist season here in the Blue Ridge. Early lookie-loos from the big cities, expecting the Autumn colors already to be at full peak, meandered about in disappointed groups wondering why their timing was so incredibly wrong. We, on the other hand, know the Shenandoah National Park area quite well. There was no disappointment for us. No, we merely enjoyed all that was around us, including the lookie-loos. – Then we made our way back to our base camp. It had been a tiring outing.

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The realities of Grandson #3’s disease have a way of intruding into all aspects of our lives. Perhaps the hike had been too long and too tiring. GS#3 was showing signs of fatigue caused by the side effects of recent chemotherapy. – Sometimes you have to surrender to reality. – Son-in-Law #1 and I decided now was the appropriate time to bring this guy camping adventure to an end. So, we packed up all our belongings, broke camp, and made preparations for the homeward leg of our journey. We bid farewell to Louise, thanking her for all she had done. And then we made our way up the long and bumpy lane, looking back one more time at our riverside campground at Serendipity River Park.

Along the way, SIL#1 proposed that we should pray the Rosary together. And so we did. GS#3 led us in that Rosary. We offered it in dedication to the real patron of guy camping, a special saint to whom this past year has been devoted. Yes, we dedicated our Rosary to that man who had to take his family on several extended trips that required long treks, camping under the stars, and one time even staying in a stable – a real man, a real guy, a real father – St. Joseph.

And as I went to rest that night in my comfortable bedroom at Serendipity Farmhouse, I looked up to see the painting just above my bed – Flight into Egypt. And now it is my ritual, each and every night to look up at that painting and I say, “Dear St. Joseph, please remember me and those in my family, especially Grandson #3, to your Son.”

https://i0.wp.com/i.etsystatic.com/18195780/r/il/54d57f/1726687057/il_794xN.1726687057_a5n7.jpg?resize=533%2C429&ssl=1
Flight into Egypt – G. Hitchcock

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Author’s Note: It is necessary for me to acknowledge that I am the husband of a hard core, die hard glamper and, for the sake of self preservation, I have conformed myself to almost all facets of her glamping lifestyle. That means, of course, that my credentials as a 100% ‘guy’ are somewhat sullied and do not hold full weight and merit in the eyes of 100% bona fide guys. Although severely compromised on this point, I remain a happily married coward.

In an effort to overcome that loss of acceptance by the guy community at large, let it be known by one and all that in writing The Guy’s Guide to Glamping I have consulted on a regular basis with two stalwart proponents of the real guy philosophy. The first is legendary in this region of the Shenandoah Valley. He is the world renowned Donald Wiser, Ph.D.* the author of what some refer to as the ‘definitive guide to guy’. And no book about what it means to be a guy camper would be complete without frequent reference to the thoughts and opinions of that true icon of guy camping, our own highly distinguished Mr. Monte.

*Factoid: The nickname for Donald is “Bud”.

The Guy’s Guide to Glamping – Section 1, Chapter 1

Introduction

Now you may have fallen for the balderdash presented in the recent crop of books and magazines fixated on the world of glamping. Those books are mostly written by glamping gals and they are filled with every sort of aberration of the ancient recreational art known as camping. To a person like me who grew up in Scouting, with a father who had actually met Sir Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, glamping is an entirely foreign concept. For us real camping guys, it is immediately understandable why virtually no books about glamping are written by guys.

Yet, the incontrovertible fact is my lovely and most endearing Spouse is a dedicated glamper. And even though we spent thousands to purchase our Class-C RV “El Camino Del Monte” for camping, it is true to say there will be no camping unless it is high class glamping. So, for the sake of domestic tranquility, I have had to adapt my camping style to her glamping style. – – Yes, call me a coward because I have compromised my beliefs, but I remain a happily married coward.

Mr. Monte

I might also add that both of us, the long-time camper and the beautiful and dedicated glamper, have had to modify our style of glamping to accommodate the whims and extremes of Malicious Monte, the namesake and real ruler of our RV.

(For those of you who want a taste of what glamping is all about here at Serendipity Farmhouse, refer to the following posts: 4th of July Glamping and RV Cooking – Two Easy Meals.)

The three smartly dressed and well groomed gentlemen appearing in this post’s featured image are none other than dear Grandson #3 (GS#3), yours truly, and, of course, esteemed Son-in-Law #1 (SIL#1). We will be your hosts introducing this, the very first chapter of the very first section of the forthcoming and soon-to-be-best-selling-book “The Guy’s Guide to Glamping – A Serendipity Farmhouse Perspective.”

Section 1 RV Trip 2021-05 – Serendipity River Park – Chapter 1 The Beginning

This particular trip has been long in the planning (over two years) and many times postponed. The reason for postponements this year were caused by a medical diagnosis that indicated our greatly loved GS#3 has acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Much of the RVing season was lost to us while GS#3 underwent the first phase of chemotherapy. And throughout that most difficult period, GS#3 kept asking, “When will we be able to make our RV trip, Granddad?”

The dilemmas and tribulations brought about by chemotherapy, COVidiocy, and work schedules, kept causing the trip date to be moved back. Finally!! Finally!! There was a break in clouds and the sun shone through, we finally found a date when GS#3, SIL#1, and I could make the trip. No matter what might come up, I refused to have that date changed.

And things did come up. Do you remember that water leak in our front yard that I wrote about in SFH Journal: 2021-10-11 through 10-17 – Dark Autumn Reflections? Sure enough to my dismay, the only day the plumbers could come out was on the second day of our planned trip. I would not be deterred, lovely Spouse and I found a workaround. The trip would go on!

Then, SIL#1 sent an email. GS#3 was not doing well and he might need a blood transfusion, our trip might have to be postponed. That’s when beautiful Wife and I went to the church and made a direct plea for assistance or intervention. God heard us and answered in the affirmative – on the day of the trip, GS#3 was strong enough and the trip would go on!

With this good news, the three guy campers now threw everything they had into getting ready for the trip. A real camping trip. A real camping trip with a few modifications to accommodate dearest glamping Spouse. It would be a real guy glamping / camping trip. No gals allowed!

Without question, two important lists had to be prepared – the menu and the movie list. I took care of the menu, ensuring that it would be a menu remembered by all. GS#3 volunteered to prepare the guys’ night movie list. It consisted of a primary grouping and was accompanied by a large number of alternatives. Below, you will see the most fantastic menu ever, followed by the three movies that were actually watched on guys’ night.

The Muppets (2011) – Full Cast & Crew – IMDb

Muppets Most Wanted (2014) – IMDb

Stargate (1994) – IMDb

The big day finally came. El Camino Del Monte (ECDM) departed Serendipity Farmhouse and travelled the 20+ miles to pick up GS#3 and SIL#1. Although the forecasts had originally been threatening, the weather turned out to be perfect for an Autumn RV trip. After some forty minutes on the road, ECDM pulled up next to the house that all seasoned travelers know as the landmark announcing arrival at the gateway to the Shenandoah National Park – the town of Front Royal.

Within minutes, GS#3 and SIL#1 were aboard ECDM with all their carefully packed belongings – two small knapsacks, pillows, and a highly favored blanket. – Let the adventure commence! – And we were off, heading to that hidden oasis of happiness known as Serendipity River Park (SRP). Owned and operated by our dear friends Don & Louise, SRP has been a haven and resting place for ECDM and it Serendipity Farmhouse crew on several occasions over the last four years.

(See Serendipity River Park – Re-Creation to learn more about Serendipity River Park.)

Just after we crossed over Chester Gap on US522, I called the secret, only disclosed to us Serendipity River Park phone number. The delightful voice that could only belong to our dear friend Louise immediately answered. We told her our expected time of arrival and she informed us that everything was ready for our two-day stay. – Both GS#3 and SIL#1 eagerly awaited meeting Louise and having their first view of SRP.

The miles quickly passed under our wheels and it seemed like no time at all before we were pulling down the long, bumpy lane that leads to Serendipity River Park. Then, there she was, Louise was standing to the side of drive waving her ‘hello’. ….

Tune in next time for the continuation of our RVing adventure.

Some Glamping / Camping Facts: Please view the pictures below. Take some time to compare and contrast. On the left you will see an amazingly beautiful and dignified glamping gal. You will note that she is drinking her afternoon tea from the finest of China and her table is adorned with flowers. On the right, you will see two real guy campers awaiting a gourmet dinner of hot dogs and corn chips. SIL#1 in the foreground is sporting a fine pair of bare feet while wearing suitably worn and frayed sweatpants and t-shirt. GS#3 is quietly musing on the wonders of nature while attempting to become invisible to all biting insects. – The glamping gal is happy and the camping guys are happy.

 

SFH Journal: 2021-08-15 through 10-10 – Do the hard things first!

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, it has been nearly two months since the last post on this site. By now, you must know that I hold each of you in the highest regard and with the greatest affection. I understand how stressful the last year and a half has been for you. You’ve been anxious about the health and happiness of your humans. Some of you may have even lost one of your human companions and you are suffering the heartbreak of agonizing loneliness.

Your are not alone in your world of worries. Yes, their are even reports that some my dearest web followers, such as Shera, have fallen ill. If you haven’t heard about her, you can read the story Delta variant nearly killed a lion during National Zoo’s covid outbreak. Fortunately for Shera and her companions there are is now the report Lions and Tigers Recovering Well at Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

We here at Serendipity Farmhouse have always strived to bring you news and commentary that is uplifting, edifying, and occasionally humorous. Yet, there are times here in this “the house of our realities” when it is necessary to acknowledge that we also are overburdened with cares and concerns. That is when we must pause and reflect and make serious decisions about what is most important in our lives; that is when, as Ol’ Fuzz Face says, we must “Do the hard things first.”

And so it has been here at SFH for the last two months. We have paused. We have reflected. We have considered our real priorities. And we have been doing the hard things first.

Thus, after consultation with my beloved humans Fuzzy and Blondie, I am writing today to introduce a series posts that will show you my 23,417 feline followers and those few devoted human followers how the SFH family has come together to do the hard things first. At the same time, Fuzz Face and I will endeavor to continue in our quest to provide commentary that is uplifting, edifying, and occasionally humorous. This series of posts will include discussions on the following serious topics:

  • How an elderly couple cared for each other while beset by Covid;
  • Grandparents’ response upon learning that a grandson has acute lymphoblastic leukemia; and
  • Making a decision that may mean the loss of employment.

But, there will also be more typical SFH stories about:

  • Trips in our Class-C RV El Camino Del Monte,
  • Blondie’s birthday, and
  • My birthday!!!!!!!

Of course, the series will update you on the almost bountiful harvest from the extensive SFH vegetable gardens and how much canning, pickling, and freezing has been done.

If you were wondering about the featured picture, and how could you not wonder, our upcoming series of posts will demonstrate beyond any doubt that the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen, even during these hard times, remains in full-scale operation. In fact, the picture to the left was inspired by Blondie’s whimsical thought: What if Julia Child had combined Japanese watercolor art with her French cuisine?

 

SFH Gardens – By the Numbers

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

SFH 2021 Plantings

SFH 2021 Harvest

SFH 2021 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: 

SFH WX 2021-08-01 through 08-31

SFH WX 2021-09-01 through 09-30

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