Highlight: Let’s keep the lady who mistakenly pulled into our driveway this afternoon in our prayers. She was lost and seemed somewhat distressed. The reason was apparent when you looked at her license plate – it said “North Carolina”. She was trying to get back home and find her loved ones. I pray that she was able to follow my directions and that she will soon be reunited with her family.
Weather: Until SFH has its own weather sensors and rain gauges, any of the weather data reported below is likely to be skewed or entirely incorrect. For example, on Monday, we had to evacuate SFH due to a flash flood. Some local folks are saying that over eight inches fell in our area. In Luray, just a few miles away, they reported a total of 0.47 inches of rain and most of that was in the morning.
Harvest: Unlike the weather reports, the harvest count is entirely accurate and credible. Each time beautiful wife brings the harvest bucket into the house, Mr. Monte carefully sorts the various items into stacks – okra in one pile, tomatoes in another pile, etc. Then he writes down his count of the individual items. How does he do that you might ask? If you had a cat as smart as Mr. Monte the answer would be immediately obvious to you – he uses a scratch pad.
2018-09-17: Nothing to report
2018-09-18: Nothing to report
2018-09-19: 7 okra pods, 9 cherry tomatoes, no fingers
They say, “A man’s home is his castle.” And, in my mind, Serendipity Farmhouse is my castle. It is where I find my solitude. It is a safe haven for my family. It is our fortress. Having said that, I have never, ever requested that my castle have a moat. Last night, however, despite my strident objections, Florence blessed Serendipity Farmhouse with a quite impressive moat. A moat that effectively cut SFH off from the rest of the world with a terrifying mass of surging water.
It started with a series of intense downpours. A narrow band of storms moved north-north easterly up the Blue Ridge. When they passed Charlottesville, the grew in strength. By the time they reached SFH, they dumped rain in a concentrated deluge into our local watershed.
Water began to cascade down from the nearby golf course and road into our driveway and yard. Meanwhile, the North Fork of the Thornton River was rapidly reaching full capacity. The rush of water was nearing the edge of the banks. Prudence dictated that we take the two cars to higher ground. El Camino Del Monte (Monte’s Bug Out Buggy) remained in the driveway, ready if needed.
I had watched the situation on radar and saw that more rain was coming. My natural concern was now becoming an urgent worry. Sweet, adorable wife, on the other hand, was more concerned about what might be happening to our son and two daughters. Tornadoes were predicted in my Son’s area and both daughters had homes prone to flooding. Wife was intent on praying for them and was putting off the idea that we might need prayers ourselves.
The downpours continued to visit us, one after another, and each one brought new intensity and greater amounts of water. Beautiful wife and I needed to talk. And so we did. We encountered difficulty in deciding whether we should evacuate or remain ensconced in SFH.
Two events helped us make a rapid decision. First, wonderful spouse saw water lapping at the side of the house opposite from the river. She began to see that there was a chance for us being cut off from an escape route. The second thing was the true deciding factor, the tie-breaker. Mr. Monte entered the room wearing a pair of swimming goggles and a snorkel.
Wife immediately said she would gather some extra food and supplies. Mr. Monte, a bit indignantly, entered into his carrier. We turned off lights, secured the house, and made our way into Mr. Monte’s Bug Out Buggy. In just a few minutes, the driveway had become covered by two to six inches of water. It was filling from both the high ground runoff and from the river overflowing its banks. We had little time to spare.
All passengers were in place. The engine was started. It was getting dark and the rain was obscuring the view. Lights were turned on. Wipers were activated. I put the RV into drive. Slowly and carefully I began the journey out the flooding lane. Water splashed to both sides. Mr. Monte hunkered down in his carrier and released a worried mew. Wife was praying.
As a swipe of the wipers cleared the windshield for a brief moment, I saw it. It was just ahead of us on the right side of the drive. It was large, long, and dark. I had to veer sharply to the left. As we passed by the object, the next swipe of the wipers allowed me to see the large railroad tie that the water had pushed into our driveway.
Minutes later, we had made it to the high ground. The Bug Out Buggy was parked next to our two cars. We began to settle in. Mr. Monte emerged from his carrier and had some food. He reckoned rightly that we were out of harms way. Wife and I prayed a Rosary in thanksgiving and asked that our home might remain safe. There were a few more details that had to be handled, then we turned in for the night.
Mr. Monte, now a veteran RV cat, stood watch at the window while we slept. Assured in his mind that all was well, he jumped into the upper bunk and kept vigil while we slept.
Promptly at 3:55 AM, Mr. Monte called reveille. Get up Fuzz Face! Get up Blondie! First feed me, then let’s get back to Serendipity Farmhouse and assess the damage. We did precisely as he requested.
Though the water came to all sides of the house, it never rose high enough to do damage. But the force of the flowing water was evident. One large stone, perhaps weighing twenty pounds was rolled over 30 feet from it place in the garden. The grass around the house was flattened and matted, but all the damage was superficial.
We had prayed – our prayers were answered.
We had prepared – but we learned some new lessons.
We had preserved our loved ones – each other.
Having lived through this relatively minor emergency, we can only think about the folks in North Carolina and other places who had to suffer through so much more. Tonight, our prayers are with them. May God protect and preserve them.
Also it is necessary to say to Mr. Monte – thank you for letting us use your Bug Out Buggy.
Good day to all of my adoring fans throughout the world!
After a threat of terrible bloodshed and carnage, Old Fuzz Face relinquished the keyboard and allowed me my rightly due, that is, I shall be the one to relate the sequence of events that took place on the second Shakedown Cruise of the good RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM).
As reported in SFH Journal: 2018-09-12 & 13 yesterday, I and my sometimes intrepid crew have returned to the safe harbor of Serendipity Farmhouse. Old Fuzz Face, Blondie, and I, Mr. Monte the Magnificent, once again, have braved the open road, steep hill climbs, perilous descents at excessive speed from high ridges, and the exhausting life of a luxury RV campground.
(Please note carefully: A “luxury RV campground” only refers to luxury for humans. The fact that canines (slobbering, yapping, flea-infested dogs) are allowed in an RV campground, seriously detracts from the “luxury” that any exalted feline might enjoy.)
I must commend Blondie for having the forethought to understand how stressful the barking, yapping, and generally distasteful sound of dogs might be to my royal sensitivities. She had sprayed ECDM with a preparation called “pet remedy”, a “natural de-stress and calming” spray.
Now, you must understand that, although the spray may have helped me some, there is more to this story. A close reading of the “pet remedy” box shows that this product works with all mammals. Let’s face it, Fuzz Face and Blondie are, in fact, mammals. It is my contention that one reason why this shakedown cruise went so well was because my two humans were even more influenced by this spray than was I.
This was a far, far better cruise than the first. It was highlighted by many successful undertakings. One might say that my two big cats (i.e. trainable humans) have almost gotten their act together. And, although not all things went perfectly, for example the large knot on Fuzz Face’s forehead and the severely scraped and bruised area on Blondie’s right shin, we return with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Join us over the next week or two as I, with feeble and faltering technical assistance from Fuzz Face, recount our shakedown cruise experiences.
Highlight: As you will see in the Weather topic, there is every reason to believe that we will have a high water event at Serendipity Farmhouse. Our motto is “Pray, Prepare, Preserve”. So, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Monte, my beautiful spouse, and yours truly, old Fuzz Face, are making preparations for heavy rain and high winds. Be assured, the generator is working, the lightweight objects in the yard have been stored away, and Mr. Monte’s bug out buggy (our RV, El Camino Del Monte) has been readied to deploy at a moment’s notice.
Weather: The story can be told with two names – GORDON & FLORENCE. The remnants of tropical storm GORDON dumped water in our area and has kept the river unusually high. Now there is the prospect of hurricane FLORENCE bringing enough rain to cause the river to overflow its banks.
2018-09-09: High – 60º, precipitation 0.75 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-10: High – 68º, precipitation 0.12 (Details – click here.)
2018-09-11: High – 69º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)
Highlight: The Acts of the Apostles records the encounter of St. Philip, evangelist and deacon, who met the Ethiopian eunuch on the road from Jerusalem to Ethiopia and converted him to Christianity. From this story, the elements of travel, safety, and salvation have all come together in the form of a prayer from the Roman Ritual used for the blessing of a wagon or other vehicle.
“Be gracious, O Lord God, to our prayers and bless this vehicle with Thy right hand. Send Thy holy angels to accompany it that they may keep from all evils those who ride in it; and as once Thou didst grant faith and grace through Thy deacon Philip to the Ethiopian riding in his chariot and reading the word of God, so now show the way of salvation to Thy servants that, always given to good works, they attain to everlasting joys after the vicissitudes of the journey and of this life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Today, our Deacon kindly visited our home and used a much longer form of the blessing for vehicles and blessed our Class C RV. You can be certain that, when El Camino Del Monte takes to the road on its maiden voyage, we will be accompanied by holy angels to guide and protect us on our journey.
Weather: Today was cloudy, cool, with mixed sunshine, rain, and drizzle.
2018-07-22: High – 77º (Detailed Summary – click here.)
Plantings: Nothing to report
Harvest: Beautiful wife checked on the garden and harvested one okra pod.
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.
It 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:
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.
Once again the North Fork of the Thornton River has threatened Serendipity Farmhouse. Once again Serendipity Farmhouse has weathered the storm safely.
The year 2018 will go down in the SFH journal as a “weather year”. Weather has been the dominant factor in almost all of our many undertakings this year. A severe cold spell caused damage to plants and shrubs in January. High winds in March took down trees, forcing us to modify our garden landscaping – and our budget as well. And if you have been following our journal closely, you know how our vegetable garden has suffered the effects of too much water in May and June.
The most recent challenge to SFH was the threat that the North Fork of the Thornton River would overflow its banks and cause flooding in our yard. Heavy rains on the 21st and 22nd of June brought the river to the highest point we have ever seen it. Simultaneously, heavy runoff from higher ground filled our yard and driveway and was approaching Serendipity Farmhouse itself.
Beautiful and courageous wife had to face the challenge alone. Yours truly was nearly 2,000 miles away and could only lend support through prayer and advice. We had to determine our reaction to this event over the phone and through email as I made my way through three airports, running to catch flights.
We decided that our car was in jeopardy and valiant spouse piloted the vehicle to higher ground. Armed with only an umbrella and a pair of rubber boots, she forded the rising waters and and made the perilous trek. Of course, the faithful bugout bag and supplies for Mr. Monte were at the ready should an evacuation be required. Brave wife, however, declared to me on the phone that she had no intention of abandoning our beloved Serendipity Farmhouse.
By the time I made my way home, the danger had passed and the waters were receding. Sweet, dear wife and I embraced and Mr. Monte rubbed against my leg and characteristically meowed, “Where the heck have you been, Fuzz Face?”
As I write this Sunday morning, our yard still has abundant standing water. Although the garden appears to have weathered the storm, we are concerned that we will lose this year’s tomato crop.
In the end, we must be thankful to God. The house is safe and more importantly beautiful wife and I are together again. The saga of SFH continues.