The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
January 1999

Cooking with Gas, January 3

Precipitation, January 26

Title of the Month: Shoeing in Your Right Mind

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

| 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | Current Month |

Cooking with Gas
Sunday, January 3

It's a cold, snowy day, so I made beans for supper. I washed them and put them on for a one-hour hot soak before cooking them—you know, boil for a few minutes then let them sit. Simmered for a couple of hours. Threw in some caramelized onions and garlic and homemade enchilada sauce.

Pinto beans have a distinct smell. Just after putting them on to soak I was transported for a second to a small, cold trailer in a small, cold trailer park back in Nevada, winter of 68/69, where my then spouse and I had ended up.

It was called the Sun Valley Trailer Court and Golf Course. The proprietor had a strange sense of humor, and when people from Reno would show up wanting to golf, he'd point out into the acres of sagebrush and gopher holes and tell them to help themselves.

We had almost no money, and if Sun Bear hadn't let us spend the day in his warm double-wide helping out with the magazine he edited (Many Smokes), I don't see how we would have made it. For his trouble he only got the $45 a month rent from us once or twice, but he and his wife Annie were very kind people.

Anyway, that's where I learned to cook beans. They were very cheap to buy, only a few cents a pound. The catch was that they took a lot of propane to cook, and propane was expensive—so they were never quite done all the way.

My mother almost never cooked beans, because she had eaten enough of them, she declared, during the Depression. Therefore I had no idea how to season the beans, except with bacon scraps.

Underdone, greasy pinto beans were the result. You can imagine the atmosphere of an evening.

Those few cold months are long gone, but I don't regret having lived them. Some of it wasn't very pleasant; some of it was. It was all informative.

I still like beans and cook them often these days. I take pleasure in cooking them all the way through and making them taste as good as I can. No bacon grease. Maybe that's the triumph of survival—to enjoy something despite a reminder of bad times.

I hear Sun Valley is a nice suburb of Sparks/ Reno these days. I wonder how many people there are cooking beans with gas?

Take good care of yourselves, and stay warm!


Tuesday, January 26

Ah precip, we've got it all here in Frostbite Falls—snow, rain, sleet, freezing rain, raining freeze, drizzle, frizzle, and yet more snow.

The cats are content to sniff cautiously out the front door once in a while. They haven't been down the icy passage to the back in well over a week and I don't blame them.

The birds steal the sand we put on the front walk as grist for their gizzards. I throw out extra for them. No sand, and their seed ingestion is useless. It took me years to figure it out—I who once owned parakeets. Tsk.

Walking through the neighborhood teaches one love for one's neighbors—or at least those who shovel their walks. I mutter dark curses at those who fail to clear away the treacherous white. Miss one little snowfall and zap, you've got ice if the walk wasn't cleaned all the way down to the cement.

In the hardware stores they sell ice chippers—rather like hoes that have been flattened out. The trick is to wait for a warmish day, and with the help of some salt, soften the ice enough so you can stab and pry and sort of shuck the blade under and shatter the stuff loose. It's hard work, but satisfying is a sort of weird way when one absolutely must do it and it goes right. Of course, only the virtuous use them.

We're on the edge of a major storm right now. About 50 miles to the north they are getting socked with 6-10 inches of snow, while we should get just 1-3 inches. It's only considered an emergency if it's over 5 inches.

We are also getting sleet and ice, so getting to work tomorrow will be an adventure. Don't worry, I know all the sneaky spots on my route—the bridges and things like that.

Any time I feel sorry for us I think of Lake Tahoe, up in the Sierras. They got over 7 feet of snow last week.

It's truly amazing. The people who live there and people who own cabins and the like have to hire people to go up and get the snow off the roofs, so they won't cave in. Snow is very heavy when it's that deep.

But a good year for snow in the Sierras is a good year for drinking water for the Bay Area.

Well, the sleet is tinkling merrily against the window panes, and it's about time I turned off the electric lap robe (ahhhh, luxury, luxury, you say, but it's a drafty old house) and toddle off to brush my teeth. and I don't have to melt any snow to do it.


Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
1999: | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec |

| 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | Current Month |

Table of Contents
| Home | Confessions | Of Juice | Winemaking 101 | Vin de Moi | Q/A | Book | Links | Poetry |

Copyright 1999 by Terry A. Garey.