The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
June 2000

Bagpipes in the Night, June 17

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Bagpipes in the Night
Saturday, June 17

My, I haven't written for a long time! It's been busy.

Wiscon, in Madison, was quite wonderful. It amazes me how, every year, such a small number of people can continue to create and run such an amazing convention. The Guests of Honor this year were the writer Charles de Lint (yes, it's a feminist science fiction convention—just not a rigid one) and Jeanne Gomoll, one of the founding mothers of Wiscon, co-editor of JANUS and AURORA, and at least a founding Auntie of the Tiptree Award.

It was delightful to see Jeanne honored.

The highlight of the Ellen Klages Show, otherwise known as the Tiptree Benefit Auction, was an Australian kangaroo scrotum pouch. I think she raised more money by auctioning off her reading/not reading the horrifyingly coy story of How the Kangaroo Lost His Scrotum, than in the actual sale of the item. You hadda be there. About $5000 was raised altogether.

The art show was a delight this year, except for Diane being allergic to the dust from the new pegboard. However planning and Jim's undying enthusiasm carried it off.

The discussion panels were fascinating, the ceremonies worth attending, and the Lady Poetesses From Hell Party went very well (thanks to Laurie, Rebecca, Paula, Erik and Jane and Beth)—- and and and. And we laughed a whole lot with friends (hi everyone, Karen and Mike, Floyd, hi Laura, hi Rez!) and ate good food along State Street.

The un-highlight of the convention occurred early Sunday morning, when most of the fourth floor (including me) was awakened by the unlikely sound of bagpipes. I leapt out of bed in my tie-dyed nightie (a fearsome sight), flung open the door and there in the hall was a skunk-drunk Scottish-American wedding party piping the bride and groom to their beds.

As it was 3 a.m., I was Not Amused, nor was Rebecca. Discovered I could not out-shout a skirling bagpipe. Called security. Security came. Much discussion and thumping in the hall by the irresponsible cowards ensued. Finally it was almost quiet. Then I heard a sound outside our window, which looked out over a flat roof with no railing.

Outside were two drunken idiots cavorting. Called security, in spite of a serious wish to lean out and urge the Oatmeal Twins to jump and help clean out the gene pool. Security had to go through our room to get at the two men, who had seen me scowling at them and crawled back in their window.

The next day we complained again to the hotel, and made sure the charming group of individuals had left the premises, for I had seen some of them lolling about in their PJs in the hall drinking Harp Lager (the fiends) at 2 p.m. Maybe they were Scots-Irish.

We were entranced to hear that they had left for sure and the previous morning one had been hit by a car, but not fatally. Maybe it was the one who stole the Union Jack from a private display of international flags in the convention area. We also suspect they were the party at a nearby Greek restaurant who caused a riot at 1:30 am when the place closed, which took 30 police to break up. Lovely group. If I were Scottish I'd strip them of their wretched bagpipes. Pipes are for outdoors and Great Halls, not hotel halls. Any twit knows that.

Still, it was a good convention. and on the way back Rebecca and I discovered a pretty good truck stop and a gifte shoppe which sold fruit wines. What a find!

Last weekend I was in Los Angeles on a cheapie ticket for four days, visiting my friend Mog. She picked me up at the airport and we went from there to Venice Beach, which has changed a lot since the last time I saw it. Hardly smells at all. Beautiful flowers along the canals, lots of little restaurants. We had lunch at a Cuban place. I don't know if Mango-Cheese enchiladas with Jerk Sauce are authentically Cuban, but I don't care, they were delicious. I gaped at the several story high bouganvilleas, lush nasturtiums, roses, and pelargoniums, took lots of photos, saw a flounder making its way up the canal (like I said, the place smelled a LOT better than the last time I was there) and picked up shells along the beach, giggling and getting wet.

As most of the people on the sand near the pier were quite fit and tan, it must have been a shock to see two tubby, pale, middle-aged women laughing and dodging waves and gathering unsophisticated bits of shells, but it was probably good for them.

Next day Mog bravely drove us to Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, fulfilling a decades long dream for me. It was quite wonderful, but after four hours we were hot and very tired. Everything is very far away from everything else there. But my, it was gorgeous. The roses! Ahh, the roses!! And the jacarandas. All over L.A. the jacarandas were in bloom. Huge trees covered with lavender blossoms. Magnificent.

We spent the rest of the stay chatting, cooking, and making a big plant bench for Mog's tiny fenced patio area. You wouldn't think there would be a fern grotto in West Hollywood, but there is, albeit 6'x 9'. Now it is a tidy fern grotto, because it now has a six foot long, 28 inch high two tiered slotted redwood plant bench. Mog had bought the lumber pre-cut to her precise measurements, and we screwed it together over the course of about a day and a half on the living room rug, fighting an over-enthusiastic electric drill.

What was it, eight 2 x 4s and 7 spacers? Something like that. Two sets, mind you. Over 180 screws. It almost didn't fit through the patio door, but with some ingenuity (Mog does not have a saw, so it took ingenuity) and determination (especially on Mog's part, due to carpal tunnel on my part) and thanks to Mog's well thought-out Plan, it fit.

I told Mog if there was an earthquake, forget the standing in the doorway routine, head for the patio and the plant bench.

Four days wasn't quite enough, but it was a nice break, and good to re-connect with Mog, and to the surprising beauty of West Hollywood. Such beautiful plants and flowers, everywhere one turns. Then I had to go back to the reality of (drumrollllll) End O' Th' Fiscal Year.

You've heard me gripe about the EOTFY too much in the past, but to be honest, this year hasn't been that bad. For one thing, the library doesn't have as much money for acquisitions as it has in previous years. Maybe that's the main thing. Plus the selectors have (for the most part) made an effort to feed us their selections more regularly over the course of the year. Next week we'll be done, and take in the last invoices and whatnot to long suffering Accounting accompanied by lavish gifts of chocolate to cheer them through the last week or so of their part.

Then we start all over again.

I finished up the week out in the garage. It was raining, but I wanted to get the last of the petunias in pots to scatter around the more drab areas of the yard. It was kind of peaceful, dipping out the potting soil by the worklight and planting the petunias I had grown from seed into their final homes. Denny helped me carry them outside just as the rain stopped, so I still had to water them in. A few were about to flower!

A busy two or three weeks, and that's my excuse. Hope you are all well, especially in the Far West and South, with the dreadful heat. Take good care of yourselves, my friends.


Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
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Copyright 2000 by Terry A. Garey.