The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
June 1997

Trillions of Trilliums, June 4

June Bloom, June 12

Worm Stampede, June 19

It's the Humidity, June 25

Title of the Month: Food and Free Radicals

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Trillions of Trilliums
Wednesday, June 4

. . . are what my friend Rebecca and I saw on the way to a convention in Madison a week ago. They were especially visible on the steep limestone hillsides. I had my camera but no film. Good thinking, there. Also stopped at the fabled Norske Nook for breakfast and PIE. Pie is what you get at most places that have it, but PIE is what you get at the Norske Nook. And then we journeyed on.

All went well until the accelerator cable on the car broke. It was fairly apparent what the problem was — happened to me once about 20 years before. It was broad daylight, the weather was great, and we were on an interstate. Help would soon be along. And indeed it was. Marianne and Mike, on their way to the same convention, stopped five minutes later. Then Geri stopped. Then the highway helper guy, and then the state trooper. It was HighwayCon. We were covered.

Called AAA on Mikey's cell phone (clear as a bell — amazing). Trooper told us it was a good tow and mechanic service and felt we were in good hands. Couldn't get the cable that day, but arranged to drive on with M & M, then pick up the car on Monday on the way back.

Wiscon, the convention, was pretty darned good. There were some minor alarums and excursions but everything turned out fine and the con committee did a fine job. I realize most people consider feminists a dour lot, (I don't) but science fiction feminists certainly aren't, and they also know how to party. Pretty lively bunch for a cabal.

Picked up the car on the way back with no trouble (less than $100!) and drove home — stopping to look at more flowers. We heroically decided to skip the Norske Nook but our noses sniffed sadly in the direction.

Having recovered from Petunia Knee (which you get from being cheap and kneeling on concrete on a worn-out kneeling pad, thus aggravating an old motorcycle wound) I am still trying to get all my plants in the ground. The lilies of the valley have bloomed and are perfuming the side yard. I planted some of Jeff's nicotiana to see how they do there in the shade.

Denny dug up three expired roses for me out front. I was hard at it trying to clear the garlic chives I had planted there years ago (sure, they keep away bugs, but then they reproduce and try to kill the roses) when the next door neighbor offered to loan me his Fathers' Day present: the Garden Claw. It's a whiz. Divoted out those clumps of chives in no time.

I am hoping to get everything planted before the mosquitoes (due in a week or two) and the humidity arrive — so it's mostly create a hole and fill it, tucking things in wherever I can get rid of a weed, mulching like crazy, and trying not to be seduced further by the garden centers.

I am thinking of painting my fingernails black. Not to be chic, but to hide the dirt-stained nails. It might work.

Hope all is well with everyone out there.


June Bloom
Thursday, June 12

Hooray, the first of the 'mystery' peonies I planted 2 years ago have bloomed! A co-worker's grandmother thinned her peony hedge and Nancy shared. One is such a pale pink you have to be really close to see that it isn't white, and the other is a nice deep rose color. The other five will probably bloom next year.

The roses are beginning to bloom, as well. Gotta get out there and feed them. The iris look good this year. They probably liked the long cool spring. Must say the Golden Lights azalea is a bit startling with the purple trim on the house but them's the breaks.

Currently I'm lusting after mini day lilies — they do well on my front terracing and I'm bored with Stella d'Oro and weeding the annuals. Every year I have an idea of what it's going to look like and every year it doesn't quite work the way I had hoped, but it's fun. I raised almost all the annuals I've planted this year myself. And some perennials.

Ruthlessly dug out some daffodils which haven't bloomed in years. I might try tucking them in back but I think they are just worn out. Sprinkled in some sunflowers (thanks, Mog) to take their place till fall.

The one Bells of Ireland is still alive — nothing has eaten it yet. Last year they got et.

The nicotiana is in the shady "woodland" area (south side of the house, very narrow and next to the house next door) and the squirrels have only buried a few, so far. These are seeds from Jeff's garden. I didn't want them near the tomatoes in the back because of tobacco whatsit virus.

The spinach is bolting (run for the hills!) but that's ok, because I need room for the cucumbers. The peas have pods but nothing in them.

The Chinese cabbages are forming up into heads. It hadn't occurred to me when I planted that all six heads will be ready to eat about the same time. This is a lot of stir fry for two people. Kim chee is a distinct possibility. I still have a packet of kim chee mix that I got in Seattle.

You didn't know that there was such a thing as kim chee mix, did you? (OK, probably Jeanne Bowman knows. She knows everything.)

Cats are fine, Denny is fine, the newish car is fine, and my eldest niece has all her high school done PLUS 40 college credits. Pretty good, huh?

Last week I received a phone call from her daughter (my niecette) who is all of 3½ (her Mom dialed). We had a strange conversation in which Zoe informed me that they were going to have pizza for supper that evening.

"Oh," I said "that's nice."

"Yeh. Will you buy it for us?"

"Umm, well, the pizza guy would have to run 2000 miles with a hot pizza in his hands. . . "

"OK," she said, "I'll set the timer."

Somehow Bethe or her Grandmother must have explained it to her but I'm not sure how.

Hope all is well out there.


Worm Stampede
Thursday, June 19

Many years ago I had a fifth-grade teacher who didn't like my science experiment. My wonderful idea was to put some soil and earthworms in a big glass test tube and see what kind of tunnels they dug. He thought this was stupid, and drowned them, then declared me crazy because I cried. Well, they hauled me off to the University where my dad was teaching ROTC and tested me. They found that I was bright, and weird, but not crazy.

Later, it was decided that he was crazy (I suspect not just because of my beloved worms) and got rid of him.

Last December, Denny gave me worms for Xmas. I was thrilled. Worried over them and fed them, nursing them from little itty bitty white things to lean red garbage-eating machines. All was well with my worm ranch: El Rancho Gusano Rojo.

Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed a bunch of twigs, or thick pine needles on the floor around the worm bin. Odd. Where could they have come from? Did the cats bring in twigs from downstairs?

I vacuumed them up, wondering how they got there. Then it happened again a week or so ago.

Suddenly, it dawned on me — these were not twigs but the desiccated bodies of my prize composters! For some reason they had escaped the confines of the bin and had been headed away from it as fast as possible when they dehydrated to death on the linoleum.

Why? Why were my red warriors running away to their deaths? They had food, it was dark, and moist. . . .uh oh.

I suspected I had overwatered the bin. Looked it up on the Web, and sure enough; I had lovingly drowned my worms.

Can you imagine the depression I felt and how silly, at my age, I felt about being sad? The specter of Mr. Schaeffer came back to haunt me in my dreams.

Not all died, of course, and I've been very careful since, building the stock back up and worrying about temperature and moisture. I keep thinking of how much better it would have been if the worms (collectively known as Fred) had realized the futility of emigrating and struggled back home. In other words, I wish the worms had turned.

Hope all is well out there


It's the Humidity
Wednesday, June 25

It causes anything polyester to show its true nature as plastic. It causes heavily furred cats to lie miserably in the grass and get slugs in their fur. It causes the cabbages to bolt (yes, Rez, I went out to the garden and you were right, off they had wented), doors to stick, fungus to grow and underwear to cling damply. We finally had to turn on the AC in the front two rooms to dry the air out enough to breathe.

I moved my nice new (to me anyway — thanks, Steve!) computer down to the summer office: half of the dining room table. It takes up more room than the laptop but it all worked out. Steve also explained some technical things that had always been a mystery to me (scary things like autoexec.bat, and pathways) and showed me the innards as he changed the video card.

The flowers outside love humidity. They drink it in. Their colors get brighter. They also start getting black spot and mildew, but you can't have everything. I suppose I could go out and get some rose anti-perspirant. My big white rose, Madame Hardy, has languidly laid a branch or two over the front of the Stella d'Oro day lilies and another off to the side in the purple salvia. Looks rather like a diva of the silent era of films draping herself on a satin chaise lounge. I gathered a bowl full of every kind of rose that was blooming and made the most fragrant rose jelly I've ever managed. (For a recipe, see Karen's website.)

The humble zinnias, daisies, petunias and the marigolds, crass peasants, are also taking hold and getting uppity. Lupine, iris and columbine have been and gone. Delphiniums are about to bloom, as are the rest of the lilies, both asiatic and day. The year-old scabiosa looks just wonderful — dainty and ethereal, which is not my usual style but I like it. I hope the ones I started this year look that good next year, too.

Even the clover in the lawn looks great right now, like sprigged calico.

More and more people are putting in some flowers in the front along our street. It's quite gratifying. Park Avenue is a one-way going into the heart of the city — very busy in the morning. It's nice to help change a few minds about the quality of inner city living. Even the cleome I gave the people next door seems to make a difference.

Thanks for the response on the Worm Stampede. Fred, Fred, Fred, and all the little Freds thank you for your concern on their behalf. They've been moved to the downstairs bathtub temporarily (pongs a bit, but not bad). In the next couple of days I'm going to harvest the compost and re-bed them, then let them spend the summer in the basement. The big ones that are left get to finish out their days in the bottom of the compost heap; surely a worm nirvana.

Not quite sure how to separate the worms from the compost. In Worms Eat My Garbage, the author divides them into little piles and weighs them. The key seems to be that they don't like light and will wriggle to the bottom of the little piles to escape daylight, then one scoops off the compost.

We'll see. I am not getting out the kitchen scales to weigh them, whatever else happens.

Hope all is well out there. Take good care of your new knee, Daphne!


Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
1997: | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec |

| 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | Current Month |

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Copyright 1997 by Terry A. Garey.