The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
March 1999

Kipple, March 6

Weighing In, March 6

Title of the Month: Magical Mushrooms and Mystical Molds

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Saturday, March 6

Am getting over a cold or something—my best guess is a mild version of what local doctors are calling Crud. I should probably thank my flu shot that it was mild.

Woke up with it Thursday and realized I should not meet my dad at the airport and give him my lovely germs, but I couldn't phone him, since he was somewhere over the polar regions at the time. I spent an hour on the phone trying to get a human being at Northwest airlines to talk to me. No doubt if my brain had been feeling better it would have only taken a half hour.

Dad had a two-hour layover on his way from overseas to home. Good old NW grudgingly said they would have him paged when the plane landed and hope that he heard it.

Oddly enough, it worked. He arrived in Seattle unworried about my absence.

Was saddened this week by two deaths, one being Dusty Springfield, whose voice I had long admired. When my family was stationed in England back in the sixties, Dusty, Lulu, and Cilla Black were my favorite female performers. Yes, she had weird make-up and all that, but she had a magnificent voice. Denny gave me a three CD set of her work last Xmas.

The other sad passing was Buck Coulson, science fiction fan, writer, huckster, gentleman. He will be missed by many. It's hard to imagine fandom without him.

This morning is cool, but bright with sun. Spring can't be too far away. Dover found enough dry ground to roll around in and is now his customary spring grey around the edges.

I went out in the backyard to check on the state of the glacier on the vegetable garden. It's shrinking. Little plants are popping up in the cold frame. Too bad I can't remember what they are. Something edible, I assume. Sun felt good. My head felt clear for the first time in a couple of days. I could actually smell things.

I decided to pull the dead bean vines off the trellis. I leave them up in the winter for the birds. After a season of frost they shatter and come away very satisfactorily. The poles are still frozen in the ground, of course.

Flush with accomplishment I came indoors and reported to Denny that I had pulled down the bean vines.

"Ah," he said, "they are now has-beans."

"If I had torched them they would have been baked beans," I replied, knowing he can out pun me anytime. He did, but gently, in deference to my weakened condition. Ah, love.

Hope all is well out there, and that you are all avoiding Crud and taking good care of yourselves.


Weighing in
Saturday, March 13

The sixteen inches of snow we received last Monday is dwindling. It's an interesting experience to go out in one's shirtsleeves (for a short period of time) and feel comfortable while all around are heaps of clean white snow.

Another week and it'll be gone. In the meantime I'm starting seeds indoors under lights and making garden plans. There isn't much choice of where to put the vegetable garden on our lot. The front is out because of car fumes, and there is only one area that gets enough sun in the back. I rotate crops as best I can to avoid plant diseases but it means putting the 6- 8 tomato plants a few feet away from where they were last year and figuring out if the beans will get enough sun without shading everything else where the tomatoes were.

Ran across a tally I kept last year for part of the growing season. I started weighing the produce I picked before using it. Not counting the fruit bushes, spinach, lettuce, herbs, and the times I simply forgot, I raised at least 76.5 pounds of food on our little lot.

It was mostly tomatoes, beans, and peppers, but hey, not bad! Even at the height of the season, store prices made the garden economical. Perhaps the Farmers' Market prices were cheaper (and I did buy a lot at the Farmers' Market) but it wasn't as satisfying as going out into the back yard for a few sprigs of this and that and a basket full of tomatoes.

This year, who knows?

After all these years, Nelly has learned that the heating pad is warm. I was under the weather a bit the other day and using the heating bad on my back. Got up to get a glass of water and came back to find Her Majesty curled up comfortably. Lifted her off, sat down, sipped my water, put it down on the floor by the couch and a few minutes later heard little lapping noises and the tinkle of metal against glass. There she was with her head in my water and her license tags tapping. Shooed her away, got up to get another glass of water and came back to find her back on my heating pad.

Was about to put the water down again, then got smart, drank it all gone, and rudely shoved the cat onto the other half of the couch, whereupon she gave me the evil eye and stalked back to the radiator, carefully checking to make sure I hadn't left a glass of water on the floor on the way.

We used to try to get her interested in the heating pad as an alternative to ruining Denny's knees, but no, it was much more fun to inconvenience him and she would have none of it. In her old age she's become more of a heat vampire and now appreciates technological advances like electricity, it seems.

Ah, I have reports of daffodils and tulips blooming over in England, out in the Bay Area, and down in Los Angeles. Good news. We have some here, but they are only an inch high and covered in a foot of snow. That's OK—all in good time. Hmm, ought to check the pussy willows. Last year they fuzzed in February.

Happy March to you all. Take good care of yourselves.


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