The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
December 1997

Co-op, December 5

Minnesota Green, December 12

Invaders from Mars, December 19

Title of the Month: Using Ground Water

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Friday, December 5

Attended a torchlight parade to celebrate the move of the North Country Co-op from their old home to the new one two blocks away. It was Cassandra's birthday and she thought it was reasonable to tie the two events. It was great fun, albeit a bit chilly. Enough people showed up so we could encircle the old place, holding hands, then pass two torches around the circle ("typical co-op redundancy," commented one person), then we set off, still holding hands, and stretched aaaaaaaallllll the way down to the new co-op, and passed the two torches along the line. It was great. People laughed and giggled and had a wonderful time.

The new co-op is bright, large, and quite nice. We'll miss the old funky brick place, but hey, things change — Augsburg College wanted its building back. We actually belong to the Wedge Co-op, but Denny and I go to this one frequently anyhoo. And Cassandra had a happy birthday.

Getting into the holiday spirit, and having no flowers for my vases, I decided to put some dried stuff in them. I decided this in a craft store, looking at the bundles of eucalyptus, etc. Then I noticed the prices. My lord. Remembered my Mom gathering teasels back in Oregon — spray painting them gold to put in her copper pots. Eureka.

Went home, gathered dead stalks out of the garden, echinacea, fern, lily, weeds, this, that, and the other, did the deed, and they look fine in a terra cotta vase. Gold spray paint is an endlessly useful investment.

So far that's it for fa la la la la, although I did think to check the wrapping paper situation. I didn't actually do it, but I thought about it. And I looked at Xmas trees. Green, I thought, very green. Looking closely, I realized that someone else had made a nice investment in green spray paint. Humph.

Frank wins the First Xmas Card Arrival contest by sending his family letter last week. It was very nice!

Hope all is well. Watch out for the awful 'flu. Had it last week. So much for my 'flu shot.


Minnesota Green
Friday, December 12

We have no snow. This distresses some people, and not others. Personally, I think it's pretty good, except I need to mulch more plants. We might have a green and brown Xmas.

Nelly the cat thinks it's great because she can pee outside.

Dover the cat isn't sure, because he can no longer disguise himself as snow.

Denny is happy not to shovel the walks.

The lettuce in the cold frame has grown a tiny tiny bit.

On my walks I don't have to worry about slipping on snow or ice, and I get to look at all the Xmas lights.

On the other hand, things sure look prettier with snow, and it's lighter at night with the snow on the ground.

Here at work we have the Miracle of the Petunia. One of the guys in serials brought in his favorite petunia to try to overwinter it, and it wasn't doing well. Since we have no outside windows, the thing was doomed. Low-light plants do well, here; we have them all over the place. They look nice, they clean the air, it's great. But petunias are plants that need lots of light.

Then I thought about the supposedly full-spectrum florescents we have. We put the petunia up on a high shelf right under a fixture and lo! Petunia (we named it Petunia) has two beautiful purple blooms and several buds — seems quite happy.

Now, of course, I want to start farming all the high shelves back here in technical services. The library is always short of money, so how about a fresh herb farm? Basil, oregano, chives, parsley — if B & N can have espresso bars, why can't we have an herb bar?

"Would you like a chiffonade with that journal? Herbes de Provence? Perhaps a nice sprig of parsley to clean the breath after too much coffee during finals? Garlic would be good for that cold."

My boss laughs. She won't let me get a library cat, either.


Invaders from Mars
Friday, December 19

The cats were out Wednesday and Denny went out to haul them in so he could come get me from work. Instead he found a couple of dogs and no cats. Chased out the dogs (one of us had left the side gate ajar, probably me) and finally found Nelly on the porch roof next door. She wouldn't come down.

So he came and got me and by the time we got back she was happy to come down. There was a mighty crash on the other side of the porch; Dover came down, as well. We assume that somehow, even with no front claws, he scrambled up onto the roof via the junk trees next to the house. He usually can only climb trees that slant.

They both seem ok, although reluctant to go back outside. Dover gimped a bit — seems ok this morning. We figure it was pretty good for a 14-year-old lady and a 10-year-old butterball with no front claws. I'm surprised Nelly didn't just rip the dog's guts out, but maybe she has some sense after all and decided two against one and a half wasn't fair.

In a way, Dover saved Nelly's life by the way he chases her all over the house when he's bored and keeping her limber. She doesn't see it that way, I'm sure.

And then there was the great UPS debacle. Denny and I hauled a number of packages to the UPS place Saturday morning to send them on their way. As usual, UPS was geared up and quite efficient. A facilitator person strode up and down heading off trouble before it erupted, explaining to people that masking tape was not good to use, addresses had to be visible, etc. Then she got to us.

We had filled out the forms at home to save time. She read over the contents listing and suddenly, alarm!

"Pickles?" she said.

"Yes, pickles," I answered with a sense of foreboding.

"Packed in glass?"

"Well, yes, but double wrapped in plastic and padded and I've been doing this for 20 years and . . . "

"Oh, oh. . . ." It was clear I was going to have to let her open the box or they would refuse to ship it. She promised to repack it as she hyperventilated. I sighed and let her open it. No, no, this wouldn't do. Off she went to get another box, taped up my old one, and put it in a HUGE box, padded with all sorts of wads of brown paper. It cost me an extra dollar for the box, but it took her several minutes to pack it. I figured we were still ahead.

We safely got to the shipping clerk, safely got the packages on the conveyer belt and out of sight, then went to pay for everything.

It was a good thing, I remarked to Denny, that the word "jelly" did not ring the glass bell in Ms Facilitator's head. There was jelly in every other box we brought, and one other also had pickles, but she missed that one since I had written it tiny letters. He agreed, and we quietly decamped. Next year, it's all "canned goods".

I can see why they want to be careful. There are plenty of examples of bad packing and lack of forethought, like the old lady last year who wanted to send rifles to her son in a military base somewhere down south. "But they aren't loaded," she offered.

See you all next week. Happy Solstice! Let's welcome back the light!


Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
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Copyright 1997 by Terry A. Garey.