The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
August 1999

Defrost, August 2

Salute to Jennifer, August 15

Corn Mother, August 25

Title of the Month: Spotlight on Pork III

1999: | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec |

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Monday, August 2

Wow, what a difference a few days make! The weather is warm, but dry, and I can stand being in the upstairs office again. Normally I move the computer downstairs to the air conditioning but this year never got around to it, then we went on vacation and winter is only four weeks away here in Minnesota, so this year no computer migration. Strange to eat potato salad without staring at the tangle of wires from the back of the computer, but somehow we are surviving.

Laurie and I went to see a production called "The Temp" as part of the local Fringe festival. Musical comedy only an hour long with minimal set, but the cast and script were quite good. Being a temp was never like that for me, but hey, artistic license and all. Ladies From Hell has been invited to participate next year, and we are still trying to figure out if it's a viable idea or not.

It's one thing to amuse one's friends for an hour or two and another thing to stage a production for strangers for a week. We have minimal professional experience on the one hand but vast amateur experience on the other. I can't decide which is more dangerous.

The garden is a tangle of weeds, but they are healthy weeds and the tomatoes and flowers are struggling up through them. The carpal tunnel seems to have abated for now. I don't want to tempt it back. So I weed for five minutes or so once a day, getting the tallest weeds which are about to go to seed.

Went to the Farmers' Market yesterday and bought a case of blueberries, which meant I had to defrost the freezer because I knew that if I didn't do it right then, it would not get done before winter, and I refuse to defrost the freezer in the winter.

During the heat wave it crossed my mind that it would be a lovely idea to go down and defrost the freezer and I almost did it. Then I realized that it was so hot the food would defrost too fast even in the coolers, and I went back to sipping deaf iced tea and sweating.

Amazing how much more room the freezer has now, even with several quarts of blueberries added. Of course, I got rid of the container of bean soup dated 1995, and finally disposed to the frozen lutefisk Karen and I bought before she left for California how many years ago? I kept meaning to ship it to her packed in dry ice since it was her idea in the first place. Ah, how she would have laughed. Luckily, I decided to preserve our friendship in spite of not preserving the lutefisk. Still got her cross country skis, though. Not in the freezer.

Normally I defrost the thing every spring, so I can't understand how that soup survived so long. The worm farm has it now. The lutefisk is wrapped in several plastic bags and is lurking in the garbage, lying in wait for the hapless sanitary engineers who come tomorrow. Braaaaahawhawhaw. Hope they don't charge extra for hazardous waste.

Hello and good bye to Rick, who bravely visited for a few days and was driven away by the heat. It comes of living in British Columbia, that weakness in the face of hot weather. Thins or thickens the blood, I forget which. We wished he had taken us back with him.

Hope everyone out there is okay, and over the worst of the heat stress. Stay cool, drink plenty of fluids, and defrost the freezer to remind yourselves of winter.


P.S. My spellchecker doesn't have the word lutefisk. Foresight or fear?

Salute to Jennifer
Sunday, August 15

Went to the Farmers' Market early (shudder) this morning and whilst wandering along the aisles of eggplants, sweet corn, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, thought of Jennifer Paterson, one of the "Two Fat Ladies" and how much she would have enjoyed the place. Ms Paterson recently passed away, probably kicking and screaming about the state of clotted cream in the world.

There was a tribute to her on the Food Network this evening, which I taped. She was in her seventies, dyed her hair I've no doubt, smoked, drank, and drove a motorcycle. Her TV partner, Clarissa, is somewhat younger, much the fatter, a teetotaler, a wonderful quipper, and by gosh, they had fun, shooting grouse, cooking bunny rabbits, hunks of pork, lashings of cream (you only get 'lashings' of cream) rich, simple deserts, rich side dishes of peas, leeks, and mango tomato whatever, roast venison, tarts, and ribald comments, and she rolled her "Rrrrrrrr"s shamelessly.

Ghod, I loved her. Julia Child is my first love, but Jennifer and Clarissa were in the running.

From the news it seems lung cancer did her in, but I hope it was a short struggle, and I hope she knows some way, how much this Fat Lady enjoyed her efforts over tomatoes, bacon, honey, and grouse.

Vroom, vroom, dear, it was loads of fun, and I cook ratatouille in your honour.


Corn Mother
Wednesday, August 25

This morning Cassandra and I made our way through the rural wilds of Minnesota and Wisconsin to the Philadelphia Community Farm, whence comes our weekly allotment of vegetables.

Early in March this year we attended an open house exhibit of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms, read over the many brochures, talked to people, and decided to try buying a share together.

One share generally provides enough vegetation for two adults and 2 children through the growing season. We split it by thirds. Once a week the boxes of produce are delivered to central spots in the city, and we meet after work to divide out our box and chat.

Part of the deal is that twice during the growing season we must go out to the farm to help pick, pack and deliver, and today was the first day.

Luckily, it was fairly cool. I wore my trusty overalls, and brought my kneeling pad and gloves. We figured at our advanced ages and with our assorted aches and pains we'd be most useful washing and packing, and we were right. There were lots of interesting people there, and between us we had to pack 54 boxes with the chosen viands without shorting anyone. The people who live at the farm oversaw this, of course.

Cassandra and I crouched on a box and an old wooden chair respectively and loaded 54 plastic bags with a dozen ears of corn each. We helped wash zucchini, about a zillion tomatoes, cucumbers, little cabbages, and loaded yet more bags with the tomatoes and green beans. We counted out onions, garlic, potatoes, and doled them out as well.

It was hard work, but great fun to get wet and mucky and critique tomatoes with a 10-year-old girl, a woman in her 20s, and a young man who didn't speak much. There was the pile for the boxes, the Slightly Cracked But Ok For Sauce pile for the farm house, and the piggy pile for the pigs. Some tomatoes sank to the bottom of the huge tub we were washing them in so we had to go in up to our shoulders to scoop up the sinkers. Quite cooling!

We were very grateful for the lunch break, slurping down split pea and carrot soup with fresh cornbread, then worked another hour finishing up the boxes and loading them into our vehicle. Our car was quite crowded with the boxes and bags of corn. It's a good thing we had chosen one of the smaller drop-off sites as our home site. I don't think the little Eagle would have held much more.

It's been a weird year for agriculture around here. Way too much rain, odd weather patterns, and some strange crop failures. As the farm newsletter said this time, if we are having trouble getting enough zucchini, something is out of balance.

This was by far the most bountiful of the deliveries so far; very satisfying to pack. But the best part was being out in the country, petting the dogs, working hard with nice people, and getting back in touch with the Great Corn Mother, who surely must have been there, along with the Small Tomato Mother.

Cassandra and I also marked the passing of some of our loved ones, past and present, as we worked. Work was good, but boy did we ache.

It was green and lovely and misty this morning, and I couldn't help but think of the Irish SF writer James White, who died a few days ago. A good writer and a very sweet man.

Hope all is well out there. Take good care of yourselves, especially of your knee, Gordon.

Yours in need of liniment,


Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
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Copyright 1999 by Terry A. Garey.