Category: Mr. Monte

SFH Journal: 2018-07-06 through 11

Highlight: Today is the feast day of one of our favorite patrons, St. Benedict of Nursia.

Our apologies for the tardiness of recent posts. There has been much to occupy our time during these last two weeks. We have a new pastor, I have taken on new responsibilities, and work has made demands on my time.

Meanwhile, Mr. Monte has been directing us in outfitting his new bug out bag, the 24 foot Class C RV. For him, cost is no object, just get it done and get it done to his expectations. He is a thankless and unforgiving taskmaster. The reasonable budget that I had allotted for the RV has been overrun in every conceivable way. In his mind’s eye, Mr. Monte sees a Taj Mahal on wheels and even that will be inadequate for his royal needs.

Perhaps by the end of July, we will be able to return to a normal level of activity. We hope to share a spectacular recipe for okra that was given to us by Admiral No. 1 (my dear wife’s most pleasant and capable older sister.) This evening, we were able to enjoy the first okra of the year, and Admiral No. 1’s recipe was an enjoyable and tasty success.

Weather: We have now entered a warm/hot dry period and are forced to water regularly. Too much or too little water, there is seldom an even distribution of sun and rain.

2018-07-06: High – 82º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-07-07: High – 77º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-07-08: High – 81º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-07-09: High – 88º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-07-10: High – 91º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-07-11: High – 86º (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: This has been a very bad year for tomatoes at SFH. We have planted some new plants, but we don’t expect to get much from them. We will have to purchase tomatoes for salsa canning this year. My alternative is to sneak into my daughter’s garden and poach some of her tomatoes. Her cat and I are buddies and he won’t tell if he sees anything.

2018-07-06: Planted an Organic Better Bush tomato plant


Harvest: The garden is now providing enough vegetables for side dishes and, in the case of the okra, they will be a featured main dish. However, there are nasty critters competing with us for the harvest. Fearless wife had to kill a monstrous worm on one of the tomato plants.

2018-07-06: Picked a handful of cherry tomatoes

2018-07-09: Picked the last of the green beans, 5 jalapenos, 3 okra, and 3 cherry tomatoes

2018-07-11: Picked 5 cherry tomatoes, 5 okra, 1 asparagus


Mr. Monte’s New Bug Out Bag

Of course, you remember this year’s first bout with heavy rain and potential flooding in early-June. If you don’t, see A Rainy Day – Pray, Prepare, Preserve.) One of Serendipity Farmhouse’s most notable characters, Mr. Monte to be precise, voiced his great displeasure.

0603181618cIt seems that he was not pleased with with the provisions we had made to evacuate him should the need arise. No, he wasn’t the least bit happy. Although, we had a cat pan, litter, and some food ready to go, His Excellency was exceedingly perturbed because he did not have his own personal bug out bag (BOB). While the big cats had taken care of themselves with brand new, well equipped BOBs, there was none at the ready for Mr. Monte.

Lesson Learned: His Highness demands, deserves, and will get a personal BOB for rainy days and other SFH contingencies.

Now, after giving sufficient thought to the problem of how to keep our feline friend happy, no matter what the circumstance, we have hopefully found a way to satisfy, if not all, at least most of the requirements levied by His Royal Highness. Here it is – Mr. Monte’s almost like new bug out bag:

0627181215b_HDR (2)

You will note in the featured picture at the beginning of this post how closely Mr. Monte is inspecting his almost like new BOB. He found two or three minor discrepancies during the first phase of his inspection and demanded that we email the dealer immediately. I meekly did so – and with appropriate haste.

Yes, our quest for this Class C RV, all along, was the result of demands made by SFH’s one and only Mr. Monte. As you might think, there will be many more episodes to this adventure.

Ruffles & Flourishes – Admiral Departing

Dear Reader, please note that I submitted this report to Old Fuzz Face within 24 hours of Admiral Sister-in-law’s departure. He, however has been malingering, lollygagging, and skylarking and missed his publishing deadline by several days. Also note, that he frequently alters my reports and adds pictures that are demeaning to my character and dignity. I can only hope that you understand my work is normally flawless, and often even better than that. Fuzz Face has a way of making me look bad. Despite all that, I miss Admiral Sister-in-law and hope that she will return soon. – Mr. Monte
Memorandum for the Record: I, Mr. Monte, Chief Security Guard and Master of Protocol and Ceremonies for Serendipity Farmhouse, hereby submit my formal report on the departure of Admiral Sister-in-law on May 12, 2018. In accordance with OPNAVINST 1710.7A, 15 Jun 2001 and subsequent changes, I directed and/or personally rendered “The honors prescribed for an official visit … on departure as follows:”
 a. The rail shall be manned, if required.
Because Old Fuzz Face was too busy eating his grits and making small talk, I personally “felined” the rail.
b. “Attention” shall be sounded as the visitor arrives on the quarterdeck.
I not only called “attention”, I also rubbed Admiral Sister-in-law’s legs and let her pet me.
c. At the end of leave taking, the guard shall present arms, all persons on the quarterdeck shall salute and the ruffles and flourishes, followed by the music, shall be rendered. As the visitor enters the line of side boys, he or she shall be piped over the side.
This was the most elaborate part of the ceremony. My actions were:
  • In presenting arms, I fully extended all 24 of my claws (specially sharpened and polished for this occasion), and opened my jaws, displaying a mouthful of teeth. I must admit, it was an impressive display.
  • All members of SFH did render salutes, although Fuzz Face was rather slovenly dressed and incapable of saluting in proper fashion.
  • SFH lacks a formal marching band, so I purred four times and followed that with the requisite number of meows. (It was readily apparent, that Admiral Sister-in-law took note of my performance. I’m certain that, immediately upon return to her command, she started the paperwork for a medal and letter of commendation for me.)
  • Once again, I have to state for the record that Old Fuzz Face’s idea of being a “side boy” is akin to a bunch of school boys waiting in line for the lavatory and acting up when teacher isn’t looking. He needs to be “squared away”.
  •  I “piped” Admiral Sister-in-law “over the side” by performing an amazing feline vocalization filled with heartfelt sentiment.
After my excellent performance rendering honors and Admiral Sister-in-law’s departure, I was finally able to stand at ease and take a well-deserved rest.

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Visit Discrepancies: Upon review of the recent Admiral Sister-in-law visit, a number of unpardonable discrepancies were noted. I hereby request that the culpable parties take immediate measures to ensure that these offenses are never repeated.
  • Demeanor & Decorum: In my view, Fuzz Face and the big female cat did not render honors with the care and demeanor required. I strongly recommend that they be reprimanded for their weakness in understanding and adherence to protocol.
  • Precedence: While it is understood that Admiral Sister-in-law has seniority over the big female cat, she was not the highest ranking officer on board SFH. That honor is vested in me and me alone. Therefore, it was absolutely unforgivable that Admiral Sister-in-law was given MY bedroom during her visit.
  • Practices Dangerous to Security: Based on my rank and my duties as Chief Security Guard, there is no reason whatsoever that any compartment or room in SFH should be “off limits” to me. It is essential that I have universal access to all spaces in order to ensure safety. During Admiral Sister-in-law’s visit there were several times when I was not granted access to bedrooms and bathrooms. – This must be corrected prior to her next visit.

I take personal pride in keeping things “ship shape” here at Serendipity Farmhouse. So, you can well understand why I was so deeply shamed by the poor performance of the two big cats upon Admiral Sister-in-law’s departure. These pictures give some sense of my shock and mortification.

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Mr. Monte – Health Inspector

Health_Inspection-01An indispensable member of the soon to be famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen is none other than Mr. Monte. Since he has joined our team here at SFH, there have been absolutely no untoward incidents relating to insects, rodents, or any creature with wings or feet. His untiring vigilance in pursuit of kitchen pests is unequaled. That is why he wears his title of official SFH Test Kitchen Health Inspector with such pride and distinction.


This picture shows Mr. Monte conducting a Health_Inspection-02thorough inspection immediately prior to a test of a goat milk cheese (Chèvre) recipe. Note how he leaves no nook or cranny unchecked. Not only does he look for kitchen pests, he also seeks out stray bits of food that might contaminate test recipe ingredients. In this task, he is relentless and he is never satisfied until there is absolute certitude that all scraps and morsels have been found and removed.

We here at the SFH Test Kitchen only have praise for Mr. Monte and the great work he does. We have, however, encountered one minor problem as a result of his unconventional inspection methods. While Mr. Monte leaves no critters or morsels behind, there is a slight problem with hair. That is why my beautiful spouse and I perform a complete scrub of all food preparation surfaces after he departs the Test Kitchen.

Our motto: SFH Test Kitchen – always in pursuit of perfection.


What Were They Thinking?

What possible confluence of events could possibly bring the coming of Spring and our dearly beloved wood stove together? – Here’s the story of  how that happened.

How lovely and refreshing it was on February 27th to see a daffodil blooming in Amissville. What pleasant thoughts were ready to fill my mind as I drove by that blossom.

But!!! My mind was not filled with pleasant thoughts. Rather it was filled with a dreadful anticipation. My beautiful spouse had just called me during my homeward bound commute. She exclaimed, “There is scratching and thrashing in the wood stove! The chimney is echoing and reverberating with the frantic sounds a trapped creature! I think there’s a bird caught inside, and Mr. Monte is going berserk trying get his claws on it!”

How can one serenely contemplate the wonders of a daffodil and the advent of Spring when one has those words ringing and resounding in their mind? Surely, there would be no peace in the Serendipity Farmhouse tonight until yours truly captured and safely released the poor, stranded creature. Nor would there be any peace until yours truly had calmed the wild beast that now possessed Mr. Monte.

I arrived home. I parked. I opened the door and got out. Beautiful wife was waiting on the porch. I entered the house. Scratching and thrashing were heard from the wood stove. Cat was bouncing off the walls. Wife urgently, urged me to do my duty as husband and protector. What about the daffodil? What about the coming of Spring. Neither wife nor cat cared to know. Scratching and thrashing continued in the wood stove.

Step No. 1: Mr. Monte, claws extended, teeth ready to disable prey, had to be physically removed to the bedroom. The door was securely locked, but it shuddered and rattled from the impact of the 18 lb. wild cat attempting to force his way out.

Step No. 3: (What happened to Step No. 2? You’ll find out soon enough.)0227181549a (2) Turn on all lights, get flashlights. look inside. Yup, there’s a bird inside.

0227181547 (2)Step No. 4: Suit up. One must protect oneself and the feathered intruder from harmful accidents. Long sleeved shirt, jeans, leather wood stove gloves – who knows what kind of bird this might be?

Step No. 5: Look inside again. Survey the scene. Be aware of 0227181550 (2)what might be lurking inside. Apparently, the creature had started plucking some of insulating fiber in the rear of the wood stove. – Keep looking! – Then we saw it. No! Then we saw them! – Not just one bird inside – there were clearly two.

Step No. 6: Get out the first one. Slowly open door. Reach inside. Successfully grab the first bird. Wrong!!!! It flies out and immediately heads for the light coming through the back door. (Now this is where Step No. 2 should have been. Dang it! I should have opened the back door prior to Step No. 3.) Bird number one careens off the back door. Bird reverses course and heads up the stairwell to the second floor.

Step No. 7: Scurry to second floor in hot pursuit. Mr. Monte is heard meowing from behind locked door. After short chase, I capture the bird. I take it to the front door and release. One scared starling flies due north and then it’s out of sight.

Step No. 2: Belatedly, open back door, Dummy!

Step No. 8: Here repeat Step No. 6 with a few variations. Bird number two also escapes inside. Bird number two flies through back doorway and into screened porch.

Step No. 9: Close back door. Open porch door. Herd bird number two out through porch door. One scared starling flies due south and then it’s out of sight.

Step No. 10: Kiss wife. Unlock bedroom door. Kiss cat and sooth wild beast inside that furry exterior.

DSC_0004 (2)Step No. 11: Try to determine if there is something wrong with the chimney. No, the chimney is in fine shape, but it was poorly designed. We have now scientifically determined that birds the size of starlings apparently have no trouble getting in if they have a mind to.


Moral No. 1: A bird in hand is better than two flying freely through the house.

Moral No. 2: There are more daffodils blooming today. There is every sign that eventually Winter will give way to Spring. We can see it and feel it all around us. The starlings that thought the chimney would be a fine place to nest also felt that Spring was coming. Once they made their way into the chimney, they, in their own bird-like way, probably said (with some intense emotion), “What were we thinking!?”

Serendipity Farmhouse is not like the chimney and the wood stove and we are not like the starlings. Although at first, we wondered, “What were we thinking?”, we can now say Serendipity has become our home – our own little nest.

Monte-07Supplemental Comment from Mr. Monte: Those two big cats just have no common sense. They did it all wrong. If they had listened to me, this story would have had an entirely different ending. That’s why I was meowing when old Fuzz Face went rumbling past the bedroom door and up the stairs.

Once again I say, this story could have had a much better ending if only they had listened to me. Oh sure, the big cat with the fur on top of her head might have  complained a bit because of some feathers floating around the house. But, she’d get over it in time.

Oh well, what can you expect from two big cats who try do a job for which God gave them no skills. Next time, let me handle the job. I have bird hunting skills and I was born to use them.


Mr. Monte #1 – Two Big Cats

Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae – Del Monte (formerly Bumblebee)


Father: Coonopry’s Rocky Top of Makanacoon

Mother: Champion Makanacoon’s Malala

Registration: The Cat Fanciers’ Association, Inc.

Primary Traits: Royal by birth, distinguished by breed, lovable by nature

The two big cats who live to serve me while I deign to reside in the Serendipity Farmhouse are rather odd and mysterious creatures. Visibly, they are strange and unusual. One only has fur on top of her head. While, the other has barely any fur on his head, but a great deal of fur on his face.

In their actions, they continuously prove to be troublesome. They interrupt my royal naps. They often don’t respond when I beckon for them to wait on me at 2 or 3 AM. They actually think that night is for sleeping rather than prowling or hunting.

There is no apparent explanation for their inappropriate actions. I have attempted to adapt to their tedious routines, but frankly it should be they who amend their life styles to conform to my wants and needs.

Monte-07Nevertheless, they have their good traits and I suppose there are other big cats who are even less agreeable – though that seems difficult to imagine. They do have their redeeming graces. For example, the one whom I call “Mom”, is unusually good at preparing tasty meals – she brings happiness to my stomach and a softening to my heart.

Old Fuzz Face, the one I call “Dad” is the only one I trust with my grooming. He is quite handy with comb and brush and always adds a snack. Occasionally, he pulls a hair or two the wrong way. He’s learned to expect my growls, hisses, and occasional toothy response. When it comes to trimming nails, he’s the only one I allow near me.

I love my two big cats. They try their best to care for me and in return it is my job to protect them and to teach them how to be better cats.