The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
June 1999

Peonies and Elephants and Wiscon, Oh MY!, June 5

Title of the Month: Algorithmic Beauty of Sea Shells

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Peonies and Elephants and Wiscon, Oh MY!
Saturday, June 5

Wiscon was a great success, as usual, this year. The panels were fascinating, the art show was great, the Tiptree auction was terrific fun, and our "Oh Gaud, Too" party was a success. Lady Poetesses From Hell made their Wiscon debut, thanks to John Rezmerski taking time from his academic schedule.

It's so wonderful to have so many people one really likes and wants to get to know better, all in one place. It's also a bit frustrating, because one can't do it all, even on only four hours sleep a night. And then there is State Street with its funky little shops and cheap but good restaurants. Next year, the Ladies From Hell contingent has voted to arrive a day early.

A fun thing about Wiscon is that when you tell outsiders it's a Feminist Science Fiction convention they look at you with a sort of pity, having visions of a bunch of dour hairy women grunting polemic and thrashing about looking for a man to castrate.

They have no idea of the riotous affair it really is, and how much fun the women (and men) attending have. Some of us might be a little hairy (we're mammals, right?) but dour? Even on the really serious panel discussions (thanks to Jeanne Gomoll and Debbie Notkin for programming this year) there are moments of levity, and until you've heard the crowd roaring as they pass around a knitted pink wool uterus, filling it with money to raise funds for the Tiptree literary award, well, you just haven't been to a real auction.

Terri Windling and Mary Russell gave very different, but very good Guest of Honor Speeches, and we all went home exhausted but happy, and the men intact.

I had driven to Wiscon with Laurie and Rebecca but drove back with Mike and Karen, who were visiting from California. They wanted to stop and see Circus World in Baraboo, so we did. Baraboo was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers circus. Why Wisconsin, I have always wondered. Because that's where they were from, it turns out. We stayed much longer than we had planned, even with the horrid humidity, watched a show in the Big Top, and toured the (mercifully) air-conditioned sheds where they keep the huge collection of restored circus wagons. It's breathtaking. I can't begin to describe it. There are literally tons of memorabilia, and it is worth every penny to go.

Our first sight once inside the grounds was the elephants coming out of the Baraboo river after their bath, and it just got better and better after that.

They serve a pretty good corn dog, too. I have an actual photo of Karen with cotton candy in her hand, which I plan to use as nefarious proof to the contrary next time anyone tries to tell me how sensible and practical she is. Mike ate some too, but not I!

The Big Top performance is a little over an hour long, and pretty good, about the scale of a small European circus with a dog act, acrobats, a juggler (with a bit he 'borrowed' from the Flying Karamozov Brothers, unless I miss my guess), a bit of magic, and of course, the wonderful African Elephants. For me the best part was watching the stage business of the roustabouts or whatever they call them. What a coordinated team! Everyone did double or even triple duty. The juggler was sweeping up behind the clowns right after his act, and the Trapeze girls were also the magician's helpers and the juggler's assistants. There was a three piece band which was quite good and did not resemble French and Saunders' Raw Sex in the least. Even the ringmaster could actually sing.

But oh, those elephants! Eyelashes 5 inches long!

We reluctantly dragged ourselves away and finished the drive home talking to keep ourselves awake. There was certainly enough to talk about.

Most of my plants survived while I was gone, thanks to Denny's efforts.

My peonies are blooming, just in time for thunderstorms to knock them over. This is their first big year. I got them from someone at work a few years ago. Her grandmother was thinning out her peony hedge, so I have no idea of the varieties. The colors and shapes are always surprises. So far, so good. But whoever saw an ugly peony?

Not me!


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