SFH Journal: 2020-10-26 through 11-15 – Autumn – All too Brief

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

Ol’ Fuzz Face turned the keyboard over to me today because he and Blondie are a little under the weather. Nope, nothing serious like acute Cagamagas or the dreaded Canguskin disease, but a less deadly and more treatable ailment.

In a way, it’s fortunate that I have the reporting duties today because it gives me the opportunity to update all of my 23, 417 feline followers on the health status of my dearest Miss Fleur. As you learned in my post For Want of Winter Warmth, Miss Fleur had visited my very least-loved veterinarian, Dr. Dog-man. Apparently, based upon my threat of bodily harm, Dr. Dog-man sought medical opinions from a total of eight of the country’s most renowned experts in feline medicine. For once in his life, he wisely followed their advice. Now, I can advise all of you that my most cherished Miss Fleur has fully recovered. – Dr. Dog-man may live another day.

Oops! Wrong turn? Dang GPS!

This morning, while I was on security patrol upstairs, Blondie and Fuzzy alerted to yet another home invasion via the wood stove chimney. (See here and here for historical perspective.) This time the invader was an errant bluebird who, sadly for him, depended too much on his internal GPS. Alas, he made a very, very mistaken wrong turn while looking for a secure place to avoid an incoming cold front.

Blondie and Fuzzy have developed a fairly good procedure for responding to cases like this and they handled the situation with great professionalism. In fact, they’ve gotten so good at this they didn’t even call me for assistance. Their after-action report gave me reason for great pride – my SFH security team is well-trained and ever vigilant.

Admittedly, had I partaken in the rescue and release operation, I might have been a little conflicted. After all, it had been over two hours since I had my last meal. In any event, the cute little guy has happily returned to his mate. I strongly recommend that he get that internal GPS adjusted.

Day-by-day, the rapid progression from Autumn to Winter becomes more dramatic. Recently, the sweet and most pleasant female humans whom Blondie calls Daughter #1 and Granddaughter #1 came out for visit. As I watched Granddaughter #1 walking beside the river, it was easy to see that she was most happy to be in the midst of the autumnal beauty to be found here at Serendipity Farmhouse. (See the feature image.)

It’s not just the array of colorful Autumn leaves and plants that captured Granddaughter #1’s interest. Even a creature of questionable value and charm such as the hundreds of Camel crickets that inhabit the SFH well house were a subject of her curiosity. These little guys are also called ‘sprickets’ (spider crickets). As for me, I call them a barrel full of fun. They hop, jump, and generally give me an opportunity to sharpen my unusually well-developed hunting skills.

As I noted earlier, the colors of Autumn are waning. But, even 21 pound Main Coon cats like me know that life is not ending. The so-called Christmas cactus upstairs, which is really more of a Thanksgiving cactus, is blooming as it has for well over a decade, long before I was born. And Fuzzy came running into the house the other day, almost delirious with some strange sort of joy, proclaiming that the garlic plants had already begun to sprout. He and Blondie see hope almost everywhere. I guess that’s just another reason why I’m so happy to call Serendipity Farmhouse my one true home.

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-10-26 through 11-01

SFH WX 2020-11-01 through 11-08

SFH WX 2020-11-09 through 11-015

Of Wine, Truth & Quièvremont Winery

This post will likely become too lengthy and complicated for some. So, let me put the bottom line up front.

At Quièvremont Vineyard and Winery in Rappahannock County, the product may be an exceptional selection of wines, but of much greater importance is the ‘truth’ behind how those wines come to be.

In vino veritas.

They say that ‘in wine there is truth‘ (in vino veritas). Unfortunately, that is said with the suggestion that perhaps too much wine has been consumed and one has become less guarded in what he says. I do not hold that view. I prefer to think that the real ‘truth’ to be found in wine pertains more to those dauntless souls who have chosen wine making as their life’s work – determined and dedicated men like John Guevremont and Karl Selzer. Assuming that my view is correct,* let’s continue on and ask the the important question.

* On the Serendipity Farmhouse website my view is always correct unless, of course, when I’m overruled by my dear Wife or Mr. Monte.

Quid est veritas?

“What is truth?” Or more precisely, “What is the ‘truth’ behind the wines produced at Quièvremont Winery?” There are many ways to frame the response to that question. I will merely answer it with another question. “How was it that John Guevremont, a 20-year Marine Corps aviator, went from piloting the A-6 Intruder on display at the National Air and Space Museum to becoming the owner and operator of a Bucher Vaslin JLB 5 Basket Press?

John answers part of the question himself on the Quièvremont Winery website. But my beautiful Wife and I have seen that there are many more aspects and ways to view the ‘truth’ behind the wines produced at Quièvremont Winery.

Veritas est adaequatio intellectus et rei.**

Here is one way we were able to view wine making ‘truth’ on an enchanting Autumn day last week. Immediately following the tasting of a new variety of wine at Quièvremont, we were invited to tour the wine cellars. This most enlightening tour illustrated the extent to which the ‘romance’ of wine making and the ‘rigid laws’ of chemistry and mechanical engineering must be brought into harmony if there is ever to be a memorable vintage.

Karl Selzer, the winery manager and vintner, described the wine making process and explained the functions of barrels, vats, wine presses, and pumps. He also delved into the mystery of the chemistry hidden in each glass of wine. We learned that there is no single ‘recipe’ for any variety of wine. Weather conditions, crop losses, and a myriad of other variables during a particular year dictate that the vintner must do his best with the ingredients he has at hand. Every possible variation must be considered and the potential impact on the end results must be weighed. – Thus, the vintner must measure, test, record all the factors, and keep his notebook close at hand.

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John, Teri and their son Nick

Let me briefly depart from our tour for a moment so that you might understand that, even though wine is made with grapes, the art of wine making truly depends upon those aforementioned “dauntless souls” who make the wine. Beautiful Wife and I have seen firsthand how John Guevremont has handled distressing times. For example, this Spring, several late freezes devastated a large portion John’s vineyards. Simultaneously, his winery was beset by revenue losses due to shutdowns caused by the current pandemic. Instead of declaring himself a victim, John devised a strategy to help his family, his employees, and his community carry on through the hard times. Much of his strategy was business related, but two items stand out:

  • Reality Farm, run by John’s wife Teri, produces high quality beef and dairy products. When many in Rappahannock County, including my Wife and I, couldn’t obtain these items elsewhere, we were able to order them on line and pick them up at the winery.
  • When local schools were closed and learning could only be done on-line, John set up a WiFi hotspot so that students who had no other access to the Internet would be able to go on-line.

In short, no matter how difficult the times, John and Teri put faith, family, and community first. They are always there for others. That may explain how Karl, who started out by presiding over wine tastings and laboring in the vineyards, eventually came to be the successful vintner he is today. It was under John’s watchful eye and encouragement that this transition was brought about.

Now back to our tour. – Another ‘truth’ to be found in the cellars is the expense of investment in equipment, even for the most fundamental items. Take for example the cost of oak barrels like the ones pictured below.

On the left we have a high quality barrel by the French company Tonnellerie Baron and on the right we have a somewhat less expensive, near-equivalent quality California product by The Oak Cooperage. In both cases, the pricing of typically used wine barrels begins at close to $1,000.00 per barrel. We learned from Karl that the considerable investment in equipment extends to every aspect of wine making.

At this point, my dear Wife inquired how are the grapes pressed. She confessed to me later that she had envisioned the pressing as it was done by Lucille Ball in a memorable episode of I Love Lucy. Here again, Karl was prepared to demonstrate a ‘truth’ of wine making – the modern wine press. Not only did he demonstrate, he allowed my most sweet Spouse to try her hand at pressing the grapes. – From my point of view, she was a far more dignified presser of grapes than Lucy was.

Beautiful Wife Presses Grapes

Karl continued the tour by elaborating on the process and explaining the individual steps involved. The photos below show the means by which the newly pressed juice is moved from the press to an awaiting barrel. Then, after months of waiting with great anticipation, the wine is bottled and stored.

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The wine waits in storage for the day it will be brought upstairs and revealed to many who have come from far and near to sample the new vintage. And that is where another ‘truth’ about wine making is revealed. – Wine brings things and people together. – For example, sometimes Quièvremont Winery will sponsor events where local caterers and chefs can provide tasty samples of their art and trade. The pairing of fine wine and just the right delicacy make for a most delightful afternoon or evening.

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Now that my dear Wife and I have learned these ‘truths’ that can be found in wine making and the ‘truth’ about those who make the wine, we will never look upon the expression ‘in vino veritas‘ in quite the same way. – So, as we take in the view from the deck at the Quièvremont Winery, we say, “Santé et Bon Apetit!”


**St. Thomas Aquinas asserts “Truth is the equation [or adequation] of things and intellect“. – We have seen some of the ‘things‘ that go into wine making and have done our best to make them ‘equate/adequate’ to what we hold in our ‘intellect’.


For Want of Winter Warmth

Hi! Mr. Monte Here!

To all of my 23, 417 feline followers and even to some of my more sympathetic and compassionate human followers, please forgive my rather forlorn and dejected mood today. I just received word that my dearest Miss Fleur has taken ill. Although her big cat tried hard to get an emergency appointment at Miss Fleur’s regular vet, they had to take her to my old vet, Dr. Dog-man, instead. (Please click here to see the miserable visit I had with him.)

I’m told that Dog-man thinks he has found the cause for Miss Fleur’s ailment and he has taken appropriate actions. For his sake, I hope Dog-man has done a better job with my sweet Miss Fleur than he did with me. If he’s botched this, he will pay – if you catch my drift.


As a cat, a most unique cat with a superior intellect and royal demeanor, it must be understood that Winter, with all its associated charm, brings with it cold weather and damp discomfort. Surely, you understand that I have a vested interest in assuring that all at SFH, especially Moi, are warm and comfortable. That is why I do my best to ensure that the primary heating systems at SFH are in tip-top condition and service ready. So this year, I enjoined Ol’ Fuzz Face to be extra alert for potential problems and to confirm that both the wood stove and the propane furnace were in working order.

Fuzzy recognized my concerns and, much to his credit, has taken this matter in hand this season. The chimney has already been cleaned and two days ago Fuzzy and Blondie stored the last load of the two cords of wood that were delivered some time ago. They make a good team and did their best not to exceed their limits. Even with all their care for safety, however, Blondie slightly strained her right paw while loading the cart with logs.

I took some pictures while they were working as you will see below. – SFH owes the success of their excellent efforts to my outstanding management skills.

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2013-Already in Bad Shape

It must be kept in mind that when Serendipity Farmhouse was constructed circa 1927, it was without indoor plumbing or electricity. Over the years, “modern” improvements were made. One of those “modern” improvements was the installation of a propane furnace in 1987 – 33 years ago. Fuzz Face and Blondie bought SFH “as is” and they knew from the home inspector’s report that the furnace would have to be replaced. When the furnace was inspected last week, it came as no surprise that the old furnace had to go. There were several safety concerns plus condensation had built up and was beginning to rot the wood under the furnace.

Being the most forward thinking member of the SFH Staff, I advised my two big cats to invest in a more advanced, efficient, and reliable system. Of course, they did as I recommended. – This morning as I type this, I am basking in the evenly distributed and ever so comforting warmth from the new furnace.

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So, now you know what must be done here at SFH “for Want of Winter Warmth”. 

SFH Journal: 2020-10-05 through 10-25 – The Little Things

This post is long overdue. – We extend our sincere apologies.

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind I knew that October is always a busy month, but it was not until the this late point in my life that I was able to really understand why that is. Rather than take up your valuable time with a lengthy explanation, I will merely refer you to the simple and useful moral of the Aesop’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. In short, we here at Serendipity Farmhouse turn into ants during October. To illustrate that fact here are but a few of the tasks, chores, and other items we have performed in just the last few weeks:

    • Clear vegetable gardens of old plants
    • Prepare vegetable gardens for next season
    • Plant 30 garlic cloves
    • Clean portion of storage shed
    • Remove 3 air conditioners and store in shed
    • Change out all home water filter
    • Prepare RV for Winter
    • Clear yard of rotting black walnuts
    • Move nearly 2 cords of wood to woodshed
    • Sell an automobile
    • Have 33-year old furnace inspected
    • Have 33-year old furnace replaced
    • Etc., etc., etc.

Even though October turns the entire SFH staff into a veritable colony of ants, we have still been able to learn from the grasshopper that music, art, and love of God’s creation must remain an important part of our SFH culture.

That is how I have come to hold the view that life should not be wasted in waiting for “important” and “big” things to happen. Disappointment will be your likely reward. Rather, one’s time should be invested in enjoying “the little things” that surround you. That is a belief that is shared by the entire staff here at SFH. Even as we busily prepare for the coming Winter, we take time out to enjoy the little things that others might miss. Here are some examples.

Example #1 – Squirrel Chatter:

The beauty of black walnuts is in the eye of the beholder. While industrious Spouse and I were struggling to rid the yard of smelly, rotting black walnuts, the squirrel on the woodpile chattered and laughed at us. He knew that soon I would chop up any remaining walnuts with the lawn tractor. For beautiful Wife and me – a great deal of work. For scoffing squirrel an easy meal.

Example #2 – Clinging to Hope for Life:

A real measure of a life well lived is the extent to which one strives to “be fruitful” and to pass life on to another generation – even when there seems to be no chance for success. Our okra plants illustrate this thought so well. Below we see the beautiful Blossom of Hope despite the chill in the air. Then there is the okra pod that will never mature but has enjoyed its day in the sun. Finally, we have the tiny okra plant that had been overshadowed by all those around it, yet even this diminutive plant brings forth a bud and blossom.

Example #3 – Mr. Stripey:

Then there is our prize example of fortitude and will to survive. One tiny Mr. Stripey tomato plant, grown from seeds we collected in 2015, has stayed with us to this very day. He alone remains after drought, windstorms, heavy rains, near frosts, and a host of other hostile attacks. – Now, he alone stands in the garden bearing fruit.

Example #4 – Promise for Tomorrow:

And the last example of “little things” that are not so little after all is the promise for tomorrow. Our arugula and beets are just now coming into their own. Even into November there will be fresh, homegrown food on the table. And now the the gardens are prepared and lie dormant, yet come next April and May, my beautiful and ever so hopeful Wife will be out in the gardens laboring in love, filled with the greatest hope.

Serendipity Farmhouse is filled with great respect for “the little things” in this life!

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-10-05 through 10-11

SFH WX 2020-10-12 through 10-18

SFH WX 2020-10-19 through 10-25


RV Season 2020 Comes to a Close

For a number of reasons, we, the intrepid crew of the good RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM), decided to bring the 2020 RV season to an early close. We had reservations for a sixth excursion to Shenandoah River State Park during the last week of October. Their was great anticipation of being surrounded by the magnificent Autumn color in the midst of the Shenandoah Valley. It was a sad moment for all of us as I pressed the computer key that finalized cancellation of that reservation.

Fortunately, however, our dear friends Don and Louise at Serendipity River Park (SRP) invited us over for an overnight. How could we say ‘no’; there was to be no charge for the stay and they provided free firewood and full use of the brick barbecue/fire pit. (See Serendipity River Park – Re-Creation for details concerning our first trip to SRP.)

So, without a moment’s hesitation and with no planning for a menu and provisions, ECDM was positioned at the best camp site in the park. Dinner was a make-do affair. Once the dishes were cleared, we gathered the firewood and lit the campfire. For two hours we enjoyed the warmth and glow of the blaze. My beautiful Wife and I held hands and talked of grand and cherished memories. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte set up a perimeter guard and warned us of potential threats hidden in the darkness.

We then settled in for the night. Mr. Monte was keen on taking the best spot on our queen-size bed. It was only with some serious discussion and an offer of a bite-size bribe, that he allowed us to occupy our rightful places in the bed.

Even though there was a threat that the remnants of Hurricane Delta would bring us a soaking rain early Sunday morning, we took the chance and made plans for a breakfast outside. – – As it turned out, our instincts were correct. The rain didn’t arrive until noon and our early morning camping experience was all that we had hoped. – – Below are pictures of Serendipity River Park’s main water feature and first colors of Autumn.

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My wondrous Spouse is a certified, card-carrying ‘Glamper”. Gourmet RV meals are her specialty. Because there was no time to plan such a sumptuous meal for this trip, she still managed to turn the most ordinary meal imaginable into a culinary delight.

Cooking simple bacon and scrambled eggs on a camp stove became something of a higher order. The bacon was perfect – crisp, colorful, and best-of-all, tasty. The scrambled eggs, highlighted by the flavor of cheddar cheese, and the aromatic scent of bacon flavor captured while cooking, made the dish a tasteful treasure.

You might be wondering, “What about the coffee?” And, of course, that is an important question. The answer is quite simple, yours truly had masterfully prepared two cups of coffee and we were drinking that coffee as we prepared the meal. It would not have been proper to show you my dear Wife’s wonderful meal sitting beside two empty coffee mugs, would it?

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So, there it is, the last camping excursion of 2020. Now, it’s time for year-end maintenance, minor repairs, vehicle inspection, winterizing, etc. But, those are not useless and tedious chores. As each item is accomplished, we will be planning for upgrades to ECDM and mapping out an even better RV season for 2021.

God is good and that is why He gave us the out of doors to enjoy!

SFH Journal: 2020-09-20 through 10-04 – The Best Time of Year


Mr. Monte is excused from post writing duties this week due to an emergency strategy meeting with the SFH Security Department Staff. In addition to the recent rise in malicious pilfering of bird feed by squirrels (click here for details), massive subterranean lawn and garden devastation is evident throughout our vast 1.204 acre estate.

I have been advised that Lightening the hawk and Rusty the rat snake have been overwhelmed by the infestation. Although they are capturing and consuming the moles/voles (species identification remains uncertain) at a record pace, they are unable to keep up with the unusual increase in numbers of the delinquent dirt dwellers.

Lightening and Rusty suggested deputizing several feral cats to assist in staving off the infestation, however, Blondie noted that those ne’er-do-wells are not to be trusted. Mr. Monte wholeheartedly concurred with Blondie’s assessment and nixed the ferals.


Red Spider Lilies

With the exception of the crazed critter attacks on lovely Serendipity Farmhouse grounds, Autumn continues to reveal its charm and color. Wherever one’s gaze might wander, there are manifestations of glorious new colors and seasonal changes welcomed by heart and memory. Although we may tend to see Spring as the birth of new life and an awakening, these crisp Autumn days transmit a message of expectation and a promise that, indeed, life will continue and prosper.

Perhaps one can see that in the Red Spider Lily shown here. It rises when other flowers have decided their time is past. And it states quite clearly that it will return next year with new ones beside it. It is more than a passing beauty, it declares a prophecy of Hope.

Okra, peppers, arugula, and beets are finishing off our garden season. Our okra plants have grown tall and have produced abundantly this year. The cooler weather and shorter days have slowed them down considerably. Tonight might be our last chance to have a full portion of fresh fried okra. We will savor it.

Meanwhile, Autumn brings with it the need to complete some strenuous chores. The air conditioners and fans have to be moved from their assigned positions indoors out to the shed for Winter storage. I have no idea how much a BTU weighs, but when you’re lifting 8,000 of them you’re not engaged in lighthearted pleasure.

By the way, BTU’s take many forms. Did you know, there are many BTU’s in each piece of firewood and, in my opinion, that’s what makes it so heavy.  And, sure enough, today my dear, sweet Spouse enlisted me to start moving firewood from the big stack on the lawn to the woodshed and stacking it there in precisely measured rows. So, between air conditioners and firewood, I feel tired and a little weighed down. – – Which is to say, I don’t take heavy labor lightly. – – Please forgive my heavy-handed levity.

Despite my statements about the seasonal chores, Autumn remains our favorite time of year. With that thought in mind, beautiful Spouse and I purchased a new bench and placed it under our maple tree. Next to it, we have placed two pots of pansies to add a dash of color. – – As the day begins to fade and the sun flirts with Skyline Drive, you will find us sitting there viewing Mary’s garden, adorned with the Red Spider Lilies proclaiming their message of Hope.

                                 New garden bench with pansies nearby

SFH by the Numbers

This week we will begin dehydrating peppers. The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-09-28 through 10-04

SFH Journal: 2020-09-14 through 09-27 – New Condo!

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

Important note to my 23, 417 feline followers: September 24th was my birthday. Greetings and accolades have been pouring in from around the world. For example, the Center for Applied Threat Surveillance (CATS) announced the selection of the Serendipity Farmhouse Security Department, headed by Chief of Security Mr. Monte, as the “Outstanding Security Center of 2020”. The accompanying citation was certainly correct when it stated the “award is well deserved, and Mr. Monte stands as a shining example of what it means to be a dedicated Chief of Security.”

Humility restrains me from listing all of the incredible but true statements made concerning my outstanding achievements over this last year. Likewise, modesty and prudence require me to request (if you haven’t already done so) that you send me only inexpensive tokens of your affection and admiration for my birthday – simple snacks and interactive toys will do just fine.

On the other hand, Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face, owing to their complete dependence on my protection of their beloved SFH, are required by contract and conscience to ensure that I receive, high-quality presents as suitable tributes to my invaluable services rendered at Serendipity Farmhouse.

This year, my two big cats met the challenge and ensured domestic tranquility by purchasing a lavish and well-appointed new Cat Condo for me. Although they attempted to keep the present a surprise, they failed miserably. The primary reason for their failure is that I understand everything they say – of course, I just don’t let them know that I do. The second reason for failure is that it is my duty to inspect all incoming boxes and packages. As you, my fellow felines, know there is no way to disguise the distinctive scent of cat tree – the sisal rope is unmistakable. Here are pictures of the “Maestro” performing his inspection.

The big day finally came. Blondie and Fuzzy did their best at paying due homage. They pampered me royally and treated me with the greatest respect – if only they were as thoughtful every day. I showed my appreciation as best I could. I even provided instruction and guidance to Fuzz Face as he assembled the amazing cat condo – he followed my every command flawlessly.

So, dear and faithful followers, I set about the task of testing my birthday condo. My two big cats are to be commended – for once, they got it right.

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But, the new cat condo was not the highlight of the day. No, dear friends. The true highlight was the card and gift from my dear, sweet Miss Fleur. She was so very thoughtful. Those dairy flavor Temptations and her handwritten birthday card made my heart beat faster – it is such a joy when you know your are loved.

With cat treats in hand, Blondie did her best to perform a trick I taught her. Upon my request she will shake my paw and then give me a treat. She has almost mastered this trick – some day she will learn how to shake with her right paw rather than her left.

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, Blondie and Fuzz Face did attempt to provide a birthday celebration equal to my stature, prowess, and fundamentally outstanding feline nature. Though their attempt may have been somewhat lacking in its execution, they are nevertheless to be commended. And, no matter what their failings, they did manage to remember to have a fresh, tasty half gallon of ice cream ready for a perfect end to a memorable birthday bash.

Unfortunately, the short but enjoyable respite from my normal duties came to an end and it was necessary to return to the work of maintaining security here at Serendipity Farmhouse. And this week, a new critter problem has reared its ugly head. My SFH Security Department staff and I are meeting in the morning to develop a strategy to bring an immediate halt to the malicious activity pictured below.

SFH by the Numbers

Canning season has almost come to an end. This week we will begin dehydrating peppers. The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-09-14 through 09-20

SFH WX 2020-09-20 through 09-27


SFH Journal: 2020-08-31 through 09-13 – New Hire

IMG_20200826_194012872_editedHi! Mr. Monte here!

To all my followers and ardent fans, as another sign of my dedication to duty and fervent desire to maintain security, good order, and peaceful tranquility here at Serendipity Farmhouse, in my capacity as SFH Chief of Security, I have taken on a new member to join the SFH Security Department. Our new hire, Rusty the Rat Snake comes with an impressive resume. He is adept at controlling destructive rodents and other pesky critters, especially subterranean dwellers.

Rusty rounds out our Security Department with his ability to identify and engage security threats at ground level and below. Meanwhile, Lightning, our broad-winged hawk, has secured the skies over SFH and Bronto the bear has ensured the integrity of our perimeter areas. Now, with no further ado, here is the official SFH Security Department staff picture for 2020.

Harvest and Preserving

Old Fuzz Face is our official SFH statistician. He maintains the planting, harvest and preserving tables. Because he’s currently tied up with other pressing matters, all I intend to do at this point is give you the latest preserving table. When he gets a chance he will tell you about the end of the tomato season and other changes as we move into Autumn. You will see from the table that, even though Blondie and Fuzzy were engaged in the great 2020 Birthday Bash, they still found time to harvest and preserve the bounty.

Date: Month/DayItemQuantityType of PreservationComments
08-04Okra4 pint jarsPickling
08-06Salsa6 pint jarsCanningHowlin' Coyote
1 Jalapeno, 1 Serrano, 1 Cayenne
08-13Banana Peppers1 1/2 pint jarPickling
08-13Jalapeno Pepper Mix3 1/2 pint jarsPicklingJalapeno, serrano, cayenne peppers
08/14Salsa6 pint jarsCanningSome Like It Hot
1 Jalapeno, 1 large Salsa, 2 Serrano, 2 Cayenne
08-18Popcorn7 quart jarsDry Canning
08-19Pasta Sauce5 pint jarsCanning1 clove garlic, dried basil
08-20Okra4 pint jarsPickling
08-23Salsa6 pint jarsCanningMax Karl's Bad
1 Habanero, 2 Jalapeno, 2 Cayenne
09-01Okra3 bagsFreezing
09-07Okra4 pint jarsPickling
09-07Banana Peppers1 1/2 pint jarPickling
09-07Jalapeno Pepper Mix3 1/2 pint jarsPicklingJalapeno, serrano, cayenne peppers

SFH by the Numbers

Canning season continues. The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-08-31 through 09-06

SFH WX 2020-09-07 through 09-13


Blondie’s Birthday – Part III and Final

This post will be somewhat less polished than I had originally planned. There are two reasons why. First, my time today is limited. Second, I’m having trouble accessing my regular editor and I’m not familiar with the one I’m using now. – Please have patience with my attempt to master this new format.

While Parts I & II of Blondie’s Birthday were open and lively events, Part III was far more private and personal. Perhaps that was the one advantage to not having a single, coordinated birthday bash. This year, Blondie could spend more one-on-one time with each person involved

Daughter #2: Visiting Daughter #2 and Granddaughter #4, not to mention two of Mr. Monte’s cat cousins, was a very enjoyable treat. It’s so difficult these days to be able to share with family members without a distracting phone or computer in between. Just sitting in the living room together with cats jumping about and a granddaughter playing peekaboo, talking about what really matters, that is the way life is supposed to be. I could tell Blondie was happy. – Daughter #2, as always, had the most beautiful bouquet of roses for her Mom.

Dear Friend: Dearest Friend Nancy drove many miles and made the trek to Serendipity Farmhouse to spend some time with Blondie. I did my best to let them have some time alone, drinking their tea and tasting selected sweets and treats. Dear friends are such a great blessing. – Nancy, of course, had a most beautiful addition for Blondie’s garden – a multi-colored, dwarf Crepe Myrtle.

Thoughtful Neighbors: As you might guess by now, there has been a minor theme to Part III of Blondie’s Birthday – Flowers, many, many beautiful flowers. Our most thoughtful next door neighbors added to the array of blossoming beauties with this gorgeous, colorful chrysanthemum.

The Cleanup: All good things, even birthday bashes, must come to an end. The presents, the sweets, the smiles, the hugs, and the many signs of sincere love and caring, must take their place in residence along with other fond memories. And for Blondie, the signal that this wonderful birthday week had come to an end was her statement to one and all that she was going to clean our RV El Camino Del Monte all by herself.

Before Blondie takes over the keyboard to write this part of the story, Mr. Monte invoked his privilege as SFH Chief Enforcer of Truth to add the following notice and warning.

At SFH, everything must be clean. Not just slightly clean, but entirely clean. Although my Hubby does a fair job cleaning El Camino Del Monte, he sometimes cuts corners or avoids hard things like cleaning up the roof on our RV.

This cleaning had to be different. If Hubby wasn’t up to doing the job properly, then I was going to do it – no matter how much work it took or how dangerous it might be.

So, here is the pictorial proof that I cleaned that RV, I cleaned it right. There I was on top cleaning the air conditioner and plastic covers. Every bit, every piece, every inch, with my trusty brushes and sponges I cleaned that rascal and I cleaned it right.

Today, it stands in the yard shining in the sun. A monument to cleanliness and good order, immaculate in a way that only this woman’s hands can make it.


And with this great feat accomplished, I can stand back and admire my work. That’s because, I’m happy. After all, I had a most memorable Serendipity Farmhouse birthday bash. The people who mean the most to me were there to help me celebrate a most important birthday.

At SFH, there are high standards – High standards of cleanliness and good order. And there are even higher standards of Faith and Family. No matter what is going on in this crazy world, we will be there for each other.

And if I got a little carried away with this cleaning job, it’s only because I had such a good birthday week. Even my RV wished me a Happy Birthday! – – Thank you Family and thank you Friends!

Blondie’s Birthday – Part II

Mr. Monte is taking the day off. He had an exceedingly distressing experience last evening and is only now beginning to recover. Even though the events of yesterday will become part of Serendipity Farmhouse legend and lore, the details of the experience are best left unrecorded in this blog.


As you may remember in Mr. Monte’s post Blondie’s Birthday – Part I, he and I had decided that we could celebrate Blondie’s birthday in small, but meaningful parts – with a daughter and family here, with a son and family there, with a dear friend on another day, and our second daughter on a different day. This post will provide highlights from the second part of our grand plan for “a magnificent SFH 2020-style birthday bash.”

As with Part I,  because of Mr. Monte’s meticulous planning, it will come as no great shock that Part II of our master plan was faultlessly executed during our visit with Son #1 and his family.


While there is no need to describe how severely many families have been affected by the innumerable problems of the year 2020, there is a compelling need to state that some families, especially those families based in Faith and Love, are able to continue to find joy and humor in life.

Son #1 and his greatly loved wife are blessed to have such a family. Blondie and I are equally blessed in that their children, our grandchildren, are so loving, thoughtful, and unusually creative.

And that leads to an important part of the SFH 2020-style birthday bash. When children are given the chance, they can express their creativity in ways that you would never expect. For Blondie (also known as Granny), this was a highlight of the day. – Each child presented a handmade birthday greeting to Granny. Although there is not room in this post to show them all, please note that Granny has viewed each and every greeting several times. – There is no way my camera could ever capture the love and emotion that came to her face as she was presented these mini works of art.

Let’s take a look at a small sampling of what Granny found to be so very precious.Granny Birthday Card 2020

Example #1 – A tribute to Granny, the Master Chef of the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen: If examined carefully you will find several of the fine dishes created by Blondie and her able assistant Chef Monsieur Monte. (See if you can find him in the picture.)


Example #2 – What happens when a member of the SFH Security Staff, namely Bronto the Bear, requests the privilege of joining the family at dinner?



Example #3: The family is intrigued by all the situations that can arise when our RV, El Camino Del Monte, heads out for another adventure. Based on the scenarios depicted below, I suspect that some in the family believe too much of what has been written by Mr. Monte.

And those were just three samples of what Blondie received from our dear grandchildren during Part II of the SFH 2020-style birthday bash. Mr. Monte and I think that the message in all those birthday greetings is quite clear –

There’s just nobody in the world like our Granny!

More to follow …..