The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
May 1999

Garden Gold, May 1

Leafing Out, May 11

Nearly Swallowed, May 25

Title of the Month: The Market for Hedging Services

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

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Garden Gold
Saturday, May 1

As seems to be my annual habit, I went out and destroyed plants on May Day. Denny came home after book saleing to find me sauteing dandelion greens in olive oil and garlic. Tasty, but a bit tough. I always leave some dandelions, of course. For one thing, one can't help it, and for another thing, I love the flowers.

We brought the worms outside and I cleaned out their bin for the summer. Wet and mucky, just the way the little red wrigglers like it. They were still chewing on the carrot tops I put in a few weeks ago, left over from making some carrot wine. The carrot tops were sprouting. I rewarded the worms with some nice coffee grounds, spoiled lettuce and potato peels. Yum. Some worms went back in the bin, some worms went into the newly turned compost heap.

I have two, side by side. My neighbors contribute their grass clippings in the one near the fence, and the one beside it gets most of my weeds and crud. They both get kitchen and canning scraps and the occasional deceased bird.

We hadn't turned the piles in a few years (Denny says he can't remember when it was either, although he remembers the strain) and so far, out of the grass clippings pile I've gotten over half a garbage can of sifted garden gold. I'll sift the rest of the treasure in the next couple of days.

We haven't processed the brush and weed pile yet. We usually get a small amount of compost (needs more green stuff, I know) and several mice. The mice exit rapidly and creep back later, grumbling at the inconvenience.

This pile never gets very hot, so there are weed seeds in it, sometimes stray tomato, squash, dill and whatever else I toss in there. Last year it had lovely little squashes growing out of the bottom, and some small but tasty tomatoes. Interesting, but not scientific. I'll try harder this year to get it to heat up.

The sifting is kind of fun. It reminds me of the days when I was an anthropology groupie and learned to micro sort: hmm, scrap of Snickers wrapper, ancient bottle cap, possible mylar from a potato chip packet, peach pit, a corn cob, perhaps, bent nail, something unclassified, must be an object of great ceremonial significance. . . 

And of course I become cheerfully filthy and blow dirt out of my nose for a day or two.

Tomorrow is the May Day parade and pageant over at Powderhorn Park. I've written about it before—huge puppets from Heart of the Beast Puppet theater, many many children, much tie dye and always the Sun is powered across the lake by canoe just in time to save the Earth and the Tree of Life and several thousand of us sing "You Are My Sunshine" at the end.

The Ladies Poetry and Tea Salon will be meeting early in order to be there at the proper time. For the second year in a row Laurie will be off at the Nebula Awards collecting the Asimov's Readers' Choice award for best poem instead of joining the crowd. Last year it was "why goldfish shouldn't use power tools" which also got her the Rhysling Award, and this year it's "egg horror poem". Some people will do anything for attention.

Maybe I should have given the worms a flashlight for their first night outside.

Take good care of yourselves, my friends.

Terry


Leafing Out
Tuesday, May 11

Went up North to see Denny's mother for Mothers' Day. As we traveled north the leaves on the trees got smaller and smaller. We brought with us lilacs, as we do traditionally, because the lilacs up there won't be out for a week or two yet.

On the way back, of course, the leaves got bigger and bigger. Time tripping in a way.

It's been raining on and off for well over a week. Denny got the lawn mowed in a dry break, and I stuck some plants in the ground, but down came the rain again. The weeds love it. In spite of my efforts for the last couple of years, the European bell flower is still pretty darned lush. Still, green is green at this stage of the game.

The Assembly of Gaud met again to finish up this year's Gaudy duds for the Tiptree fund. Once again cries of "It looks great, better add more glitter!" and declarations that Gaudy is not the same as ugly rang through my living room. We assisted well over 100 used ties, feed caps, masks, vests, and deely bobbers from mere existence to Gaudhood through the magic of hot glitter glue, sequins, Mardi Gras beads, feathers, wiggle eyes, Easter grass, little plastic toys, and fabric paint.

The Eiffel Tower sprouted from the top of a jeweled cap, a stuffed carrot stuck to the front of another, tiny pinwheels marched across ties, and plastic octopuses in screaming neon showed up on everything that wasn't already covered with beads, lace, paint, or miniature erasers in the shapes of fish, ice cream cones, and soccer balls. Boring logos were eliminated or changed drastically. More cries of "Why not?!!" rolled across the table followed by cackles of glee and quiet little exclamations of "Oh yesssss. . . ."

I'm still vacuuming up the glitter. Most of the hot glue came off the Formica in the kitchen just fine.

Those of you attending Wiscon over Memorial Day weekend should be sure to show up Friday night for the "Oh Gaud, Too" party for the best selection. Last year we raised over $600. This is the last year for this particular, er, theme, so stock up while supplies last.

Take good care of yourselves, my friends.

Terry


Nearly Swallowed
Tuesday, May 11

Nearly got swallowed today. I had stopped at Lake Nokomis to refresh my raveled spirit after getting my hair cut too short and having to shop for shoes (life is hecky-darn) and saw swallows swooping low over the water from the bridge.

Usually one sees swallows from below, and very pretty they are to watch. But from above, they are even prettier. These birds had a blue patch in between the dark wings. When they made their rolling passes at the insects over the water, the blue would flash, then the yellow of their bellies as they banked and turned.

They are so fast, and so agile! The Blue Angels have nothing on them. One got carried away and didn't see me until about 8 inches from my face, did what must have been a skew flip turnover (Heinlein fans might recognize that phrase) and peeled back over the water in about the time it took me to start to gasp in amazement.

Also on the birdy front , I realized last week we have a pair of kestrels in our neighborhood. I kept hearing the shrill keening and wondered what it was, but didn't spot them until I laid flat on my back one evening to recover from weeding.

Also known as sparrow hawks, they are the smallest of the hawks and quite common in urban areas with trees. They like to nest in tree hollows, very un-hawk-like. Feed mostly on insects, small birds, etc.

The pigeons who had been plaguing us suddenly left, and even the crows aren't hanging around as much. This pair has a nest in a big elm a few yards away and seem to be raising at least one youngster.

They are amazing acrobats. I got a good look at one up near in my office one day. I heard a fuss and looked out the window to see one trying to pluck out whatever is living in the eaves this year (squirrel, sparrows, Cthulu. . . ). Don't think it succeeded on that pass but it was entertaining to watch. Gave new meaning to the phrase 'let's do lunch'. It wasn't taking 'no' for an answer.

In the evening they like to sit on the electric wires in the back and shriek at one another till dusk. I can't tell if it's conversation or disagreement. Maybe they're toting up the catches for the day : "Well, dear, you know Junior likes haunch of squirrel and all you brought were grasshoppers!" "Yes, but you should have seen the size of the grasshoppers!"

Take good care of yourselves, my friends and watch the skies!

Terry

P.S. Thanks, Gordon, for the garlic! You are silly but delightful!


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