He is Truly Risen!

“The splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shone on the people redeemed by his blood, alleluia.”

And with that antiphon we here at Serendipity Farmhouse witness the rising of the Son. This is Easter Sunday. Yet it is an Easter unlike any other in our time. Even as it brings great joy and comfort, it also brings a longing. The first psalm of the day brings that thought to mind.

O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

To our family and friends, please know that you are in our prayers today. May we soon – very soon – be able to share with you the fullness of joy at Holy Mass.



SFH Journal: 2020-03-30 through 04-05 – Spring Planting Underway

0924191434b (2)Hi! Mr. Monte here. – – As the Serendipity Farmhouse Chief of Security, I am required to ensure that, during these troubled times, my big cats (they prefer to be called humans), Blondie and Fuzz Face, remain free of undue anxiety and worry. It’s a difficult job herding big cats, but that’s what I do.

Often, they tend to stray and veer away from what is logical and practical. Additionally, as distasteful as it might seem, I am considered by them to be a kind of emotional support animal. Should it be any wonder that, when Ol’ Fuzz Face tries too much of that male bonding schmaltz, I give him a wake up call and bite his arm. I think he’s beginning to understand that affection is a good thing, but don’t overdo it, Buddy.

The big cats are pretty much sticking to routine and life goes on here at SFH. All physical security and health/sanitation Standard Operating Procedures are now being implemented and enforced. Once again, for my Situation Status Report I can say:

SFH – All Secure!

Thank you, Mr. Monte. I doubt that I could be convicted of any “schmaltz” with you, but I guess you see the world differently than I do, Buddy.

Here in our mountain retreat, Spring continues to settle in. Beautiful Wife and I now have the time and the freedom to stroll about our vast 1.24 acre estate and enjoy all the new life that is emerging around us. When we keep our minds focused on the gifts we receive daily, our spirits remain calm and our strength grows. And to make this sense of abundant life even more real, we are in the midst of an SFH birthday season. Grandson #1, Grandson #5, and Grandson #3 all celebrate birthdays in April. Indeed, God is good!

As this post’s title would suggest, we have also come into planting season. Industrious Spouse, with great foresight and good fortune, has gathered seedlings, seeds, and plants for planting. Each is being started and planted according to its own individual time and need. The pictures below show some of what’s already in the ground and the table that follows the pictures gives details on planting dates and locations. – – It won’t be long until there are fresh SFH greens for use in salads and for garnishing.

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03-10Beets, Early Wonder3 rowsVegetable #1
03-10Tulip bulbs6Mary's Garden
03-11Tulip bulbs27Pine Tree Stump
03-20Lettuce, Romaine6Vegetable #1
03-29Basil2Herb garden
03-30Arugula4 rowsVegetable #1
04-02Kale, curly6Herb
04-02Kale, purple6Herb
04-02Lettuce, Romaine4Vegetable #1
04-02Lettuce, butter leaf4Vegetable #1
04-02Kale, curly2Vegetable #1
04-02Lettuce, red leaf6Herb
04-19Beans, garden green3 rowsVegetable #1
04-19Beets, Early Tall Top2 rowsVegetable #1
04-24Kale, purple2Herb garden
04-24Parsley2Herb garden
04-24Lettuce, red leaf1Herb garden
04-25Cherry tomatoes, black1Herb garden
05-01Basil3Herb garden
05-01Pepper, jalapeno2Vegetable #1
05-01Pepper, salsa1Vegetable #1
05-01Pepper, banana1Vegetable #1
05-01Pepper, cayenne1Vegetable #1
05-13Beans, garden green2 rowsVegetable #1
05-13Tomato, Mr. Stripey1Vegetable #2
05-13Tomato, Beef Master1Vegetable #2
05-13Tomato, Park's Whopper2Vegetable #2
05-16Basil3Herb garden
05-16Tomato, black cherry2Herb garden
05-16Pepper, serrano2Vegetable #1
05-16Pepper, Jalapeno2Vegetable #1


SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-03-30 through 04-05


How We Make Do

For some time to come, what is now in the Serendipity Farmhouse pantry will have to suffice. Oh, to be sure, some items such as milk, eggs, and greens can be found locally. Yet it’s quite clear that in the coming weeks dearest Wife will have to call upon her imagination and incredible resourcefulness to plan our weekly menu. In fact, she has already demonstrated some of the skills that are essential for times like these. – So, here are some examples of How We Make Do here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

IMG_20200322_170557204_editedTaco Salad: In this case, beautiful Spouse brought together a a simple meal by using what was at hand. We had leftover salad and a third of a bag of corn chips. We learned long ago that solid and shredded cheese could be frozen, so we had the necessary cheese. And, of course, we have many jars of salsa from last year’s growing season. Ground beef was in the freezer. Unfortunately, this was the last of the sour cream. But, a dollop of sour cream on a superbly crafted taco salad is one of life’s great joys. – In short, resourceful Wife benefited by using preserved items and leftovers.

Modifying an Instant Pot Recipe: There is an excellent instant pot recipe for ground beef and pasta that we have used several times. (You can find it here Instant Pot Ground Beef and Pasta.) It’s easy to make and doesn’t take much time to prepare. When my wondrous Spouse began to prepare this meal, she found that we lacked two items in the recipe – 8 ounces of campanelle pasta and a jar of marinara sauce. No problem! We have an entire assortment of pastas to substitute – we chose penne rigate pasta. To solve the marinara sauce problem, clever Wife mixed a can of tomato sauce with our very own SFH G&G Pasta Sauce. – The end result was a much more flavorful version of this instant pot dish.

Bread Machine Bread: It’s not worth the trip to a grocery store to get a loaf of store bought bread – ever. Read the ingredients – if you can’t pronounce it, perhaps you shouldn’t eat it. Sweet Spouse has been making bread with a bread machine for decades. So, it’s no wonder that, over the last few weeks, that beloved homemade staple has become an important item in our menu planning.


White Bread: The soon to be famous SFH kitchen recommends a very simple white bread recipe for beginners. (Check it out here White Bread For The Bread Machine.

Wheat Bread: To stretch out our flour supply, we will start making wheat bread this week. We have a good supply of hard red wheat berries and a flour mill. I will grind up sufficient quantities of wheat flour for bread making. We will try out a number of recipes and will provide updates to let you know which recipes you might want to try.

So there it is. We’ve given you a small taste of How We Make Do here at Serendipity Farmhouse. And, I suppose, we have also given you a small taste of How We Make Dough here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

Bon appetit!!











SFH Journal: 2020-03-23 through 03-29 – Oh, Happy Routine!

I won’t dance around the subject. Life is not the same as it was this time last year. Right??

Don’t be so quick to jump to a conclusion. Let’s look back a year and see what we were doing. Take a look at this post – SFH Journal: 2019-04-07 through 13 – Things You Never Expected! Take special notice of the entry “13 APR: Mother Nature Still Calls the Shots:“. Yep, gentle readers, we had set out to power wash and paint the railings on our deck. Did we ever finish that job? Nope.

Well, nope, until this last week. Despite bad weather, procrastination, and very studied and highly skilled forms of laziness, our collective conscience forced us to return to that task. I must say, my dearest Spouse was a very strong motivational force for me.

To be sure, the job took a very, very long time. But please note, we did complete it in less than one calendar year. So, in addition to the picture of my dearest and most sweet Motivator-in-Chief at the head of this post, I will give you a few glimpses of before and after of this now completely completed task.

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– And from all this we derive a great bit of Serendipity Farmhouse Wisdom – A task worth doing is even more worth doing when it is put off to when it can be put off no more.

Once again, I won’t dance around the subject. Life is not the same as it was this time last year. Right??

Don’t be so quick to jump to a conclusion. Let’s look back a year and see what we were doing. Take a look at this post – Reflections on Spring at Serendipity Farmhouse

Take special notice of the portion of that post that says:

“There are two major cycles to life at SFH. The first is our motto, the way we approach each day – Pray, Prepare, Preserve. The second is the underpinning of our relationships – Faith, Family & Country.”

This year as last, Spring has come. Here are some pictures to remind us that beauty and growth are part of the “Happy Routine” here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

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And the best sign that life goes on here at SFH is when the potting table has been returned to its normal place and industrious Wife is nurturing the young tomatoes, peppers, and herbs as she waits for just the perfect time for planting.


God provides many, many blessings. It our job to seek and to understand them, even when they are shrouded in mystery.

By the way, today is our Anniversary.

Oh, Happy Routine!


SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-03-23 through 03-29



Post Birthday Post

The featured picture at the head of this post leaves little doubt that there has been a birthday here at Serendipity Farmhouse. Unlike last year, however, family and friends could not come to join yours truly in the celebration this year. (Click here to see highlights from last year’s SFH Godzilla Birthday Bash.)

DSC_0928 (2)In times like these, certain sacrifices must be made, especially by those of us who are older than Godzilla. [Note: Yes, I am older than Godzilla because he first appeared in Ishirō Honda‘s film Godzilla  in 1954. Ergo, I preceded him by several years. Of course, one must remember that my long held belief is that “Godzilla is real and everything else is fake.” Based on that assumption, I must admit that Godzilla is probably older than I am.]

This year, my birthday party was a quiet affair. Beautiful Wife and Mr. Monte dedicated themselves to making it a grand and glorious day despite the fact that we must remain isolated on our vast 1.24 acre estate.

Our next door neighbors outdid themselves with creativity and humor. The large sign on the fence across from my office window was the very first thing I saw at sunrise. Lacking regular sign making materials they improvised with a huge length of sandpaper. The sign spoke for itself as did the bottle of wine. How can one ever forget a birthday when they receive a fine bottle of wine that says, “Happy social distancing!”?

Among my most highly prized gifts of the day was a piece of art that speaks directly and poignantly to the meaning of family and family traditions. Eight of my grandchildren, in simple drawings, illustrated their love for their grandfather and their strong desire to carry on the humor and sentiment of our family culture. These drawings also speak for themselves.

BD Gift-V2_edited

There you have it, dear readers. Through the dark clouds of these uncertain times, so many rays of sunshine and good cheer continue to shine through. A very sincere thank you to all who sent me presents, cards, and other forms of birthday greetings. May God greatly bless each and every one of you!



SFH Journal: 2020-03-16 through 03-22

0924191434b (2)

Hi! Mr. Monte here. – – As the Serendipity Farmhouse Chief of Security, I am required to ensure that, during these troubled times, all physical security and health/sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are implemented and enforced. For the sake of brevity, I will make my first Situation Status Report (SSR) very short:

SFH – All Secure!

Thank you, Mr. Monte, for your report. Now, I will move on to more routine matters and report on events of the last week here at SFH.


As can been seen in the photo at the head of this post, March, the month of variable weather and temperature, is making its mark in a good way on SFH. Many flowers are in bloom and our cherry tree will reach peak sometime this week. Here you can see my ever so industrious Wife preparing some cut daffodils to brighten up the house.

IMG_20200321_151508524_editedAnd what better reason to adorn the house with flowers than on the occasion of Granddaughter #1’s birthday. On the other hand though, those daffodils, as pretty as they are, can not compare to the beauty brought to SFH by Granddaughter #1.


There was some spring planting done this week. I will provide a summary in an upcoming post. Meanwhile, it brings great joy to my heart and great anticipation to my taste buds to see the garlic prospering.


Just about the time you think you have set forward every single clock, watch and timepiece for daylight saving time; just about the time you think that job is complete, then you find one more timepiece that must be reset. Yes, even the sundial must be adjusted to account for this somewhat ridiculous, artificial manipulation of our daily lives. So, I adjusted the sundial and it is accurate to within a minute or two. But please, please, if it should slow down, please don’t ask me to wind it up. I don’t think even Atlas knows how to do that.

It was with great joy that my dear, wonderful Spouse announced to me that a flower that she had thought was with us no longer had reappeared. It is so very fitting that it has come to life and blossomed during this season, this Lenten season. After all this member of the genus Helleborus is, among other things, called the Lenten Rose.


SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-03-16 through 03-22


SFH Journal: 2020-03-09 through 03-15 – Truckin’ On

Despite what you may have read in the news or seen on TV, there are places where life continues on pretty much as usual. Serendipity Farmhouse is one of those places. To be sure, we are aware of the outside world. But as you know, dear readers, since the first day of this blog, our motto has been “Pray, Prepare, Preserve.” At SFH, that is what we do.

That is why, on Tuesday, beautiful, industrious Spouse and I had the time to plant three rows of Early Wonder beets. As we worked in new soil with the old, we could see that all of our 30 garlic plants were prospering and promising to provide a bountiful crop in July.

On Wednesday, hard working Wife set to the task of planting a bagful of tulip bulbs given to us by a most gracious neighbor. Mary’s Garden benefited with the inclusion of several new bulbs and the gardens in the front yard received 27 new bulbs. – Now we can sit back and see how the bulbs will take to their new home at SFH.

Yesterday was the big day. Our Class-C RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM) was uncovered and now we have begun the process of readying Mr. Monte’s motor home for another season of travel and adventure. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), it was a delight when I turned the ignition key and ECDM started and, how shall I say it, “Purred like a kitten.” Mr. Monte nodded approvingly.

In my personal view, putting a cover on our RV is dangerous and requires great care. By comparison, removing the cover is much easier. Nevertheless, managing to get that huge cover into the very small storage bag is a task that requires ingenuity, patience, and some measure of luck. – There is reason to rejoice when the job is finally done.

Mr. Monte is a great believer in preparedness. He foresaw some of the recent events and recognized that there might be a run on some of his most needed supplies. In January, he made a special order for a most essential item. The following picture shows the day when his cat litter was delivered. With his stockpile well established he can keep “Truckin’ on.”

Cat Litter_edited

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-03-09 through 03-15

SFH Journal: 2020-03-02 through 03-08

The word “busy” is quite inadequate to describe the events here at Serendipity Farmhouse this week. Consequently, all of our daily chores and work on this post have had to take a back seat to doing the important things. Here are just a few of the events that, most happily, occupied our time.

Driving Lessons: A certain grandson visited us from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning. This was not your usual run-of-the-mill, fantastically exciting visit to SFH. No! This was a visit with a purpose. What purpose you might ask?

This young man and yours truly set about the serious task of driver training. I could fill pages with narrative about the event, but let me just say the following. Early on Monday morning I sat beside a grandson who had never started an auto engine. At 10:30 AM on Wednesday, that same grandson drove his granny and granddad to Mass on a four-lane divided highway at 55 mph. – – Granny was favorably impressed.

There will be more to this saga in coming weeks.

Liver & Onions for a New Generation: In honor of my dear brother Tim, whose birthday was March 3rd, Blondie and I made one of his favorite dishes, liver & onions, as a memorial dinner. We gave our visiting grandson the option of eating something else or trying Tim’s favorite. To make a long story very short, dear grandson ate the meal with great enthusiasm and was ready for more. – – Tim, a new generation has taken the torch in hand, the tradition will live on. – – P.S. We miss you!

Annual SFH “First Robin of Spring Contest: In the past, this event has been both a cause for great rejoicing and, at times, a cause for some passionate discussion. This year, the three judges, Blondie, Mr. Monte and I, seriously considered the photographic entries for the contest in all manners, aspects, and ways. – The decision was unanimous. Both entries from the Eastern branch of the family were selected as winners.

There was one judge, however, who indicated that next year he would like to have more substantial evidence than mere photos. He suggested that the subject robins be brought to SFH for his close personal examination. – – Meeooww!

Level-headed Wife: My dearest spouse, level in hand, requested my presence at the site IMG_20200223_120155200_HDR_editedof the new arbor. Under her expert direction, the new arbor is almost level. The new anchor pins held up well under the force of recent high winds. It was still too early to obtain any praise or even simple acknowledgement from my beautiful Wife. – – Perhaps someday I’ll meet her expectations.

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-03-02 through 03-08

SFH Journal: 2020-02-24 through 03-01 – Drat!!!

These last few weeks, you, most unfortunately, have had to endure my ceaseless prattle about damage to and repair of the extensive infrastructure which supports operations here at the vast Serendipity Farmhouse vineyard. With all due apologies, this week you will be subjected to yet another story of vineyard woes.

(Please refer to previous accounts of this most frustrating saga here and here.)

As is illustrated by the featured image, wind gusts exceeding 20 mph toppled our newly erected arbor early on the morning of February 26. My dear, sweet Wife and I woke that morning to that most aggravating sight. Mounting posts, supposedly designed to keep the structure firmly anchored, easily gave way under the force of the winds.

Recognizing that the new arbor’s mounting posts were, (a) not well designed and (b) impossible to sink to a suitable depth in the ground due to the rocks beneath, I knew that it was time to head to the hardware store to procure devices to anchor the arbor to the ground. Below you will see the temporary fix. During heavy gusts yesterday, the anchors did their job, but dearest Spouse quickly pointed out that the structure is not level.



There was some damage to the arbor when it crashed to the ground. A corner brace was pulled out from its recessed mount. Because of poor design on the placement of the reinforcing screw, the brace was not firmly fastened to the vertical post. I have added another screw at an appropriate place.

There will be one more episode in this ongoing saga. ThatIMG_20200223_120155200_HDR_edited will be the day when beautiful, levelheaded Spouse escorts me to the arbor construction site and provides detailed instructions on how to bring the new arbor to be completely level.


In reparation for boring you to tears with my ramblings about fallen arbors, sometime soon I will have a post recounting how dear Daughter #2 and Son-in-law #2 gave me a most appreciated early birthday present – a trip to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.


SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-02-23 through 03-01

SFH Journal: 2020-02-17 through 02-23 – Calamity Averted

As you may recall, due to a great windstorm that blew through the immense Serendipity Farmhouse estate on Friday, February 7th the entire infrastructure of our most fruitful vineyard was totally devastated. (See SFH Journal: 2019-02-03 through 02-09 – Calamity! for the full story.)

We hearty and proud residents of SFH gathered together in council to determine what could be, what should be, and what would be done to restore our dear vineyard to its once great glory. It was decided by my dear, sweet and most level-headed Spouse (see featured picture) that we would rebuild. Not only would we rebuild, we would make our vineyard even more grand than it was before the wind storm.

Lovely Wife would provide the planning and oversee the execution of the plan. Mr. Monte would scour the Internet for the best possible materials. As usual, I would provide the labor and respond, without hesitation, to all commands dictated by my True Love.

Within days the new arbor had been shipped to our door step. Mr. Monte had chosen wisely. I immediately set to the task of dismantling the old arbor; salvaging all usable hardware; and disposing of the debris. Dearest Wife decided that we would celebrate the demolition with a small bonfire and chocolate chip cookies. – – I saw this as a great incentive and motivator to get the work done quickly.

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Using my highly developed multitasking skills, I, almost without error or difficulty, also managed to assemble the new arbor. Now the key to understanding my last statement is to consider that almost no home assembly project is completed smoothly and without mishap. Here are some examples of what novelties this assembly task presented:

1 – Instructions: Unlike many other products, these instructions were written by Americans. For those of us who have adapted to Zhonglish (Chinese-English mistranslations), our ability to comprehend literal and coherent English has diminished. Consequently, it took some time to reacquaint myself with my own native language.

2. Adhesive: You will note that the supplied parts included “Fix-All Adhesive”. The instructions also referred to this devilish mixture as “Super Glue”. The reader will note that on several occasions I have worked with this substance. My experiences have not been good ones. Even as I type these words for you, I am trying to remove a large amount of this substance from index fingers and thumbs. – At least this time I didn’t get it on my nose.

3. The “Last” Part: There is always great joy in affixing the last part to your assembly project, stepping back, and viewing your project with great pride. I did so earlier this afternoon. I even called out my wonderful Spouse to see my work. There were no left over parts. – – I celebrated too soon! – – Please note the red circle in the picture below. – It took Dearest Wife and I nearly 25 minutes to find that part and install it properly.


So, here’s a quick review of assembly of the arbor.

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The objective of this project, completed so adeptly by the residents of SFH, was to restore and improve the infrastructure of the vast SFH vineyard. The following pictures show that we accomplished that task in fine fashion.

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In addition to acknowledging beautiful Wife’s unparalleled planning and oversight of this project, I would like to thank Mr. Monte for his fantastic and uncanny ability to search the Internet for project materials. He’s really one smart cat!


SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-02-17 through 02-23

Pray, Prepare, Preserve
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