The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
March 1997

Wintermarch, March 13

Outside, March 19

55, March 27

Title of the Month: Tourist Hunting in Tanzania

1997: | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec |

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Thursday, March 13

Winter continues its icy grip here, although the grip slips now and then. Part of the front lawn glacier receded enough to expose one of my lavender plants. Then, just as I was thinking I ought to get some chopped leaves out of the garage to cover it, we got more snow. Of course it won't last more than a few days. And it is prettier than the dirty stuff heaped all over.

When the temp climbs above 32 during the day you can go outside and watch the miniature snow mountains erode—sort of a geological science project. They have strata and everything. I like the avalanches best.

This weekend I am going to start some plants in my new 'plug' starter system. I saw these in use in the hort buildings here on campus. It allows you to start many more plants in a smaller area, and is easier on the plant since the roots develop long and narrow systems instead of little balls. So out with the basil (onto pasta, no doubt) and on to serious horticulture.

The worm farm seems to be doing ok. The worms (all named Fred) hate light so I have to dig around a bit to check on them. When I last fed them (oh yum, coffee grounds, lettuce and sweet potato peelings) the parsley plant was still alive and trying to put out pale yellow shoots. I thought it was dead when I put it in there.

Here at work the great painting project proceeds. Everything stinks of paint. It's kind of fun to come in everyday and see what has changed color this time. The building was done originally in 'industrial style' which means grey concrete, bricks, and massive amounts of dark primary colors which would have been ok in areas that had a lot of light, but were not ok in the many dim stairwells.

We were offered a carefully coordinated palette from which to make choices. It came down to white, grey-beige, pink beige, beige, and 'accent ' colors. One hard part was getting everyone to agree and the other hard part has been the massive amount of moving of materials. Of course, compared to the carpeting project coming up, this is chicken scratch. Our intrepid office manager deserves a medal.

Elsewhere, the world turns. One friend in West Hollywood is putting out all sorts of seedlings in her tiny apartment garden. Another is pruning his roses. In Sonoma County in northern (real) California the daffodils are but a memory, and my friend is San Jose has her tomatoes (really neat kinds, like Green Zebra and Banana Fingers) in the ground already, albeit with protection. The Olympiad Rose in Daly City bloomed, I hear.

Denny is fine, the cats are grumpy but fine, the squirrel is irritate because I ran out of peanuts, I've had a cold but am getting over it. Couldn't get much sleep for a few nights because of a stuffed up nose, but Denny suggested that I used one of his Breathe Right nose strips and it worked! Passed out happily for several hours and am on the road to recovery!

Have discovered Russian Roulette jelly bellies. They sell mixed jelly bellies at the Student Center. I buy 4 oz. (lasts several days) and ration them out a few at time, never knowing for sure what I'm about to bite into. So far my least favorite was the time I got two coconut flavored beans followed by a hot pepper and something weird and mottled pink but even that was an interesting experience. Do I know how to live, or what?

Hope all is well. Have I mentioned my book went into a third printing? Wonders never cease.


Wednesday, March 19

Went outside in shirtsleeves today. Didn't stay long but did not get frost bite.

The painters are here in Technical Services in the library and the fumes are pervasive. I managed to get a co-worker to help me prop open the door to the hallway and things are somewhat better. Carpeting comes next month, but since they will not be using glue, we are told the stink won't be too bad. That's what they said about the paint — that it wouldn't be too bad.

Sure looks better in here already — the place hasn't been painted for 15 years. The carpet is that old, too. The little spiders we have (no match at all for the giant cockroaches) have evolved to match the current carpet, a sort of dingy grey with a thin burgundy stripe every inch or so. Ah, nature, striped in tooth and claw.

Personally saw Dover the cat slide on his butt down a hillock of snow the other day. It was not joi de vivre on his part; he just slipped. After that he stuck to the melted parts of the pathway. No, not literally. . . .

Have lost one shipment of seeds somewhere in the house. I can't figure out where I put them but suspect it was one of those places which seemed perfectly obvious at the time. I'm tempted to buy a camcorder and strap it to me head.

Recently found a packet of basil in the paint drawer next to the Titanium white. I have no idea why I put it there, and that's what worries me. Yes, the plant lights are in the same room that I laughingly call my studio, but that's no real excuse. And it was purple basil. Tsk.

My big treat today after a boring meeting will be to take a late lunch and go see a quilt exhibit at the Goldstein Gallery here on campus with a friend. It's a collection of African American quilts and it's spectacular. The colors and weird angles and improvisation would have driven my mother into a fit of the horrors, but I really like it.

Hope all is well out there. Take good care of yourselvess, and watch out for library doors, Mog!


Thursday, March 27

The temp was up to 55 yesterday and we can see much of our front lawn. It looks squashed and flat from all the snow. However, I found that the crocus and the species tulips are already up (but not blooming) in the half of the front terracing that isn't still frozen and that was pretty exciting.

The back yard is still full of drifts, but they are dwindling drifts.

In my seed starter the marigolds are up before any of the others and I feel like a dummy. Should have seeded them directly into the little pots in the first place, so now I have to repot them tomorrow morning before I go off so that I can put the cover back on the rest of the seeds so they won't dry out. It's either that or take them and the mister (not Denny, although he is coming, too) with me and tip the maid extra to not panic.

Birds are singing like mad to define territory. I heard robins singing a week ago (the males come first and squabble melodiously) but didn't actually see one till yesterday. Sparrows, chickadees and cardinals are also adding to the morning chorus.

Glorioski. In another month I'll be complaining that it's too hot.

My poetry group went down to Rochester on Sunday and had a nice time. We went out for supper at Zorbas. Odd that my favorite Greek restaurant is in Rochester. The rest of us disgusted Rebecca by eating plates of Calimari in front of her.

The fields are still dead-looking. The rivers were quite full. We are going to see some flooding from the meltdown for sure.

That night Ruth called to alert me and I went out my front door and could see Hale-Bopp, tail and all. That night was also a lunar partial eclipse. I went out and shouted quietly "Bad rice!" just at the peak, and sure enough, the dragon slowly unswallowed the moon. Good thing I was alert, huh?

Hope all of you have a pleasant weekend and that the pagan symbol of fertility brings you lots of chocolate pagan symbols of fertility with which to celebrate to coming of Spring. Don't take the fertility part seriously unless you want to.

Hoppy trails. . . .


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