Category: Farmhouse History

Farewell Virginia Craftsman

I know of no greater compliment to a man than to pay tribute to what he made with his own hands. From a simple 1920s farmhouse, surrounded by mud, all the way to our own beloved Serendipity Farmhouse, there have been men and women who have had skills, patience, imagination, and great ability. They were caring individuals who knew what this simple farmhouse could be, should be, and would be. And they made it happen.

0221181236_hdr-2Today, we learned of the passing of one of those people – Our dear friend Bill. (Please see post SFH Skills 2018-01: Bill Skills.)

There is virtually no building on this property, no room in this house, no direction we might turn that does not reflect the work of this inspired craftsman. And every fixture or feature that has known his touch is now better, brighter, more functional, more pleasing, and more highly valued. We would tell him our vision, he would make it a reality.

When we moved into this house, the wood on both the front porch and the back deck had rotted. This was a img_20140524_152424_569-2matter of replacement not repair. Bill got it done. There was no door for the rear porch and it was a non-standard size. Bill custom made the new door. Two joists under what is now our living room had broken and needed to be shored up. Bill got it done. – – I could go on, but there is no room in this post to list all Bill did here at Serendipity.

IMG_20140405_100638_375_editedBill was not just a repairman, he was a craftsman. When we explained that we had more books than space to store them, Bill came up with a perfect design for a set of shelves for the living room. Practical and functional as it was, it was also what could be expected in a house of this vintage. It was not out of place. In fact, it probably should have been here to begin with.

I think the previous owners and occupants, those who either grew up here or had children here can understand why my beautiful wife and I are feeling a great loss tonight. This little old Virginia farmhouse deserves great care and constant attention. So many have done so much for this house. And tonight one of those people is no longer here. Yet, when we look at the paint, walk up the  steps, open the screen door, turn on the tap at the kitchen sink, we cannot help but be thankful and appreciative of the work that Bill did here. He loved old homes and had a craftsman’s skill and Serendipity Farmhouse will display his love for years to come.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

 

* Thank you to Jackie for the old picture featured in this post.

A Serendipitous Meeting

Oftentimes, unfamiliar cars come down our private lane. More often than not the drivers have made a mistaken turn. The cars then proceed down the lane only to find they are not where they thought. – – GPS directions are never to be fully trusted.

Sometimes, however, the driver knows more about where they are than we do. Today, this was the case. And this, dear reader, was the occasion for a most serendipitous meeting.

As I walked towards the unfamiliar vehicle, ready to provide directions to the local attractions, I was met by a most unexpected revelation. The two charming ladies sitting in the front seats represented two generations of a family that had lived in Serendipity Farmhouse many years before. Today was an important day to them, the birthday of a beloved husband and father.

Blondie and I were fascinated by their story of how the farmhouse had been renovated many years ago. They were equally interested to hear about what had been done here by a number of successive occupants.

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No, what took place in our driveway today was no mere chance meeting. It was, in fact, most serendipitous.

To the fine gentleman of fond memory, who did so much for this little farmhouse – Sir, may you have a most blessed and happy birthday!

Happy Anniversary, Serendipity!!

Hi! Blondie here.

What were we thinking six years ago today???

No sooner than we had closed on the sale of our beautiful house in Idaho and signed the papers making what would become Serendipity Farmhouse our own, we got the news that we had to hit the road immediately. Winter storms taunted us and plagued us all the way across Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, and my beloved Virginia.

What a trip. We did it all because we wanted, no, we really needed to be with our children and our grandchildren.

God is very good! May He continue to bless this little farmhouse and all who enter it!

Re-Dedication to Our Patrons

This month marks one year since the Serendipity Farmhouse blog became a fully functioning reality. Today marks one year since we at SFH dedicated ourselves and this blog to our patrons St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. (See Dedication to Our Patrons – St. Scholastica & St. Benedict.)

Today is the feast of St. Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict and our dear patroness. So, today, as we do every day, we re-dedicate the Serendipity Farmhouse blog to her and her brother St. Benedict.

To all of our readers and followers, thank you for staying with us and referring us to your friends. Feel free to comment on how we are doing and what you might like to see in the way of new content, recipes, and stories.

SFH Journal: 2018-11-29 through 2018-12-03 – 200 Amp Service!!!

Highlight: When Serendipity Farmhouse was built, circa 1927, electrical wiring was of little concern. In fact, it appears that, along with indoor plumbing, electricity was of no concern at all. As time moved on, and two extensions were added to the original house, plumbing made its way into the extensions and electricity made it into the entire house.

In the minds of those who made the additions, everything seemed fit and proper. A circuit here, a circuit there, no more wood stove for cooking, electric heat in the bathroom – everybody was happy.  Right?

In October 2013, the eyes of one beholder, our home inspector, the picture (or pictures) of the state of the SFH electrical system were not so rosy. Nope, here is some of what she saw and some of what she thought.

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“6.1 (1) Main panel does not have a main shut off breaker for entire panel–only a breaker (60 amp) labeled as “lighting main”. Also, other lighting circuits have been added — this could be confusing if someone trying to work on lights / switches thinks that power off to all those circuits if “lighting main” breaker is off. Suggest upgrade panel to include panel main breaker.”

Old box-2

“Note wire coming up in bottom of panel through knockout hole — but grommet missing. This protects wire from damage.”

Then, of course, there was the problem that SFH only had (barely had) 100 Amp service. That is why you heard me whine all Summer about the heat – attempting to run even two small air conditioners at the same time could have dire consequences.

1202181116b (2)So, that is why the last two months have been filled with the sounds of electricians tearing out old wires, installing conduit, running new wire, drilling holes, etc., etc., etc. Needless to say, Mr. Monte was not happy with the noise. Yet, despite the noise and strange humans wandering through the house, Mr. Monte frequently made forays into the work areas in order to assess the quality of the work. He let us know when he thought there was something amiss.

 

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Then finally, just as we readied to roll the calendar over from November to December, the work was done. Serendipity Farmhouse now has modern, legal, and safe 200 Amp service. Come next Summer, we will be able to run air conditioners in the house, wherever and whenever we want.

1202181118 (2)As a wonderful side benefit, we now have a special 30 Amp circuit for our Class C RV “El Camino Del Monte”. And that, dear readers, signals the opportunity for the next big upgrade at SFH – an updated kitchen. Yup, either in 2019 or 2020 we will update the SFH Test Kitchen. And, when we do, we can move into the RV and live comfortably there. With the new 30 Amp service, we will be able to run the RV air conditioner, watch TV, listen to music, and prepare Julia Child meals while the workers are performing their magic on the “new and improved” SFH Test Kitchen.

Weather:  Chilly and damp; rain, mist, fog on Saturday the 1st. (For details of Sperryville, VA weather in November 2018 – click here.)

2018-11-29: High/Low -39º/27º

2018-11-30: High/Low – 43º/32º

2018-12-01: High/Low – 37º/30º

2018-12-02: High/Low – 59º/37º

2018-12-03: High/Low – 57º/39º

Plantings: Reporting suspended until the first planting of 2019.

Harvest: Reporting suspended until the first harvest of 2019.

SFH Skills 2018-01: Bill Skills

Everyone has skills. Skills are very important. You can’t live without them. Even Mr. Monte has skills. (Read What Were They Thinking?) Unfortunately, some people have the wrong skills for where they are. Serendipity Farmhouse, for example, requires some unusual skills. For example, we have recently acquired “bird in wood stove skills”.

Although we have developed several requisite SFH skills, and someday we might even have blogging skills, there is no way that I will ever have wood working skills, plumbing skills, generator fixing skills, or deck building skills. That, dear friends, is why we are blessed to have Bill and all of his “Bill Skills”.

You can see Bill here with a project he completed last week. Yup, Bill has railing skills. Those stairs under the railing? Yup, Bill built those steps – he has stair skills. Over the course of this coming year we will talk about Bill and his Bill Skills.

 

 

Oh, some day, you might find someone like Bill, but I guarantee you, you’ll never find someone with the entire set of Bill Skills. That set of skills only belongs to Bill. Bill is our “go to guy”. Every day, Serendipity Farmhouse shows off more and more why it was happy to be introduced to Bill and his skills.

Don’t think we take this lightly. Bill is a craftsman, a professional, he’s worked on this house inside and outside since we first moved in. It’s more than just skills, he loves what he does, and he’s the best.

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How it all began – What were we thinking?

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My beautiful spouse asked me to keep it simple and short. I will.

I am married to a grandmother of 11. We were living in Idaho, nearly 2,000 miles from our nearest grandchild. For you grandparents, you know that nothing else needs to be said. There was no other reasonable choice. We had to listen to our hearts. So, in December 2013, we made the move from Idaho back to our beloved Virginia.

Our About page describes the on-line home search. Finally, after over 40 years of marriage, we realized this was not to be a hurried hunt for “the house of our dreams” it was to be a careful quest for “the house of our realities”.