The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
February 1997

Mr. Dot Dot Dot, February 6

Above Average, February 14

Lettuce Entertain You, February 26

Title of the Month: Prolific Sheep

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Mr. Dot Dot Dot
Thursday, February 6

Columnist Herb Caen passed away last Saturday, at the age of 80. His columns ran more years than I've been alive. He was a good guy, as far as I could tell, even though he would never come down to the Magic Cellar and watch the Karamazovs. He liked Turk Murphy's place better. My gosh, I hope there is a Dixieland band to play tomorrow at the huge party they are throwing for him. Turk and his lead singer, Jimmy, are long gone, alas (no one will ever sing "When the Saints Go Marching In" properly again).

During the Alcatraz crisis (Native Americans reclaimed Alcatraz Island and the Feds, even though they weren't using it, claimed it was a crisis), he was on the side of the Native Americans, and during the first big Bay Area oil spill, he put pleas for seafood for the oiled birds in his column and it worked. We still had to find a use for all the bird seed we got beforehand, though.

Sometimes I think Herb's column was the only thing that kept San Francisco from coming apart at the seams. Five square miles and more will miss him.

Silliest sight of the winter, this year: Dover, our white cat, sitting under the bird feeder hoping to be mistaken for a lump of snow so that a bird would fly into his mouth. It also could be that the fallen husks insulate his behind from the cold. We may never know.

Hope all is well with everyone,


Above Average
Friday, February 14

Spring break is coming up soon here on the U of M campus. An enthusiastic sign caught my eyes near the Outdoor Store on campus. I stared at it awhile and reflected that not many other college campuses would consider dog sledding a great idea for Spring Break, but I'm sure they'll have sold out when the time comes. . . 

Dover update: I discovered that Dover's interest in the bird feeder is focused on a hole in the snow. I noticed it when Nelly was sniffing around it, as well. Some mouse has tunneled under the snow (probably from the compost heap several yards away) and dug its way to the spilled birdseed, which must seem like mousey heaven.

Real mouse heaven is in our house. Dover watches faithfully, and several times has made a dash for it, but the current house mouse eludes him. It even stole bait from my trap, the little rascal.

My amaryllis is about two feet tall and about to bloom. I bought it for work, but by the time it was warm enough to risk the car trip, it had budded. So, now it's the house amaryllis.

The new worms seem snug in their compost bed. It's hard to have a relationship with critters that live under wet newspaper shreds and garbage and don't like light. At the supply store I got to help dig them out. They're long and thin and quite red, not like earthworms at all. The young look like tiny white threads. We'll see how they adapt to coffee grounds, onion ends, and the remains of the impatiens I brought in for the winter.

Have mailed off my seed orders, including an order for a set of the new 'plug' seed starters. Saw them last year down at the hort building, and it's amazing how strong and vigorous the seedlings were, and how many fit into the space. Now if I can get rid of the white fly population I brought into the house with the now defunct petunia (and the cause of the demise of the impatiens), things will be all set for the great grow-in. I shoulda known not to trust that petunia.

Hope all is well,


Lettuce Entertain You
Wednesday, February 26

Went out into the back yard to feed the birds and saw that the sun had melted the rest of the snow from the glass of the coldframe. The week before I had teetered on the ridge of the drift in front of it and cleared away as much as I could, out of some sort of defiance against the climate.

I stepped into the huge holes left by my tractor boots and looked through the glass. Folks, there is lettuce growing in my backyard.

I kid you not. There is still a foot of snow on the ground, the other night it was -4 degrees and I have lettuce. I can't get to it because the glass is still frozen to the frame but hey, it makes me happy to know it's out there and I love telling people about it. I figure the snow is insulating the sides well enough to keep the worst of the cold out.

Denny and I have decided to overcome our mutual fear of electricity and try to replace two light fixtures in the basement that are flickering. We have checked and double-checked the two wiring books we have and feel that with two of us, the electricity off, and a strong flashlight, we should be able to cope. We have set a solemn date for this coming Saturday to do the deed. Stay tuned.

A friend has called me organizationally challenged and she's right. Reclaimed much of my (home) office these past couple of weeks, and was rewarded by finding the stickers for the a and b sides of my poetry tape. I had been looking for them for 6 months. So far I have recycled 3 grocery sacks of paper out of the various midden heaps, and a box of books. Blowing the dust out of my nose, have used about 1/4 box tissues but I think the recycling more than pays for that environmentally.

All sorts of stuff has been surfacing. I found a package of sequins, a bunch of photos, and my autographed copy of Wendy Rose's Lost Copper. The carpet, I note, is an ugly yellowish green. Still looking for the office scissors. I remember buying a pair with red handles so I could spot them easily.

There is a clear need for more bookshelves in there but I can't blame it all on that. No, mostly it's a fear of filing. Don't know why. I can file for other people just dandy, but myself? It is to sneeze loudly and look for more kleenex.

Hope all goes well for everyone out there this week. Come on by and visit the lettuce!


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