The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
July 1998

Victoria's Secret, July 1

Gladioli Roulette, July 19

Garlic in Danger, July 23

All You Need is Love, July 27

Title of the Month: Samoan House Building, Cooking and Tattooing

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Victoria's Secret
Wednesday, July 1

Forget flying saucers. I have my own experience with aliens every once in a while:

For various reasons, I was at the Mall of America a week or so ago, and was passing the frighteningly pink storefront of Victoria's Secret (which secret, as I understand it, was that she made her own underwear so no one could say they made her undies for her, but I'm sure that's not what the store had in mind) and was stopped dead in my tracks by a piercing voice which exclaimed: HI! VICTORIA'S SECRET IS HAVING ITS BIGGEST SALE —EVER—!!!!!

It was very empty in the Mall that day and I guess she was desperate, but hey, at my size and age, do I look like the kind of person who would find anything to fit me in that place, much less in 100% cotton? Of course not. None of it would fit Denny, either.

So I growled "Congratulations" for lack of anything else to say that was polite, and the strange young woman shrieked "THENKYEEEEEWWWW" at my retreating rear end.

Little did she know that clutched in my string bag I had three nice, plain cotton bras I had hunted down at Sears, once of which I later tie dyed when my niece Rose was visiting. I might do the other two, as well.

I guess they were paying the poor kid to stand there and bray at people, but it seems to me that it would frighten more people off than attract them.

It's a bit like phone solicitors who don't want to admit that's what they are and expect me to be thrilled and buy what they are selling after they've tricked me into listening to them for a few seconds (not that they manage that very often).

"Oh, thank ghod you called at this inconvenient hour when my husband might call for a ride home in this dreadful storm. Of course I want dozens of your credit cards, tons of your aluminum siding, please, change my phone service any which way that suits you, oh, yes, I will give all my money to your dubious but charming cause, oh thank you thank you thank you, let my kiss your telephone feet for interrupting my life."

Yeah. Right.

There are green tomatoes on my vines, now, and the lilies are in full cry, or will be when Hyperion blooms. The beans are reaching for the stars, the peppers have blossoms, and the basil likes the planter box better than I thought. The roses are only blooming once in a while at this point, but that's OK, they all did very well. Petunias are getting that nice full look, and the new mounded morning glories are starting to bloom a little. They are supposed to make charming little mounds in among the petunias and marigolds. We'll see. The tall ones won't for another couple of weeks.

Last Friday I discovered I am way to old to be sleeping on airport floors. My young niece's plane was blocked by storm after storm, and I was at the airport from 7 p.m. to 4:45 a.m. the next morning. Around two am I simply gave up, got the funny little blankets they were handing out, and hit the floor. It really made me appreciate my nice comfortable bed at home, let me tell you. Screwed up my back a little, but it would have been worse if I hadn't done it.

Poor Rose spent most of the time in the plane, as they kept thinking they'd be able to get it from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis between storms, so I was lucky. And of course I had a book, which I carefully rationed out. Thank you, Nevada Barr!

All's well that ends well, which her book did. I feel like framing it.

Hope all is well out there


Gladioli Roulette
Sunday, July 19

Hmm, sad to say, the cats have done nothing noteworthy or cute lately. It's been too hot.

We do have an Australian visitor, the DUFF winner (non-fan friends, don't worry about what this means) Terry Frost. So Denny has had an interesting time trying to address his remarks to the exact Terry with whom he wishes to communicate.

Terry is also finding it a bit warm and humid, even for an Australian, but is bearing up fairly well, perhaps because he is armed with a surname like Frost. He was eager to see a tornado but we persuaded him to be content with a mild Midwestern thunderstorm instead.

He has something to look forward to, though; he hasn't yet met the Minnesota state bird: the mosquito. We've managed to shield him from that horror, but it's only a matter of time.

The garden loves the hot weather. Most years I plant some gladioli. Sometimes I go for the fancy ones and, of course, pick out the colors I like, but some years I just buy some of the cheap packets of assorted and stick them into the ground here and there, hoping for the best.

What usually happens when I try that has happened: in amongst the predominantly pink, burgundy, lavender, white and yellow other flowers are spikes of scarlet, shocking pink, Mercurochrome pink, dark orange, and shrieking orchid.

It lends a sort of cheap Caribbean cruise effect to the yard, needing only pink flamingoes, parrots and paper lanterns to complete it. And it's true that the Flying Saucer morning glories swarming over the juniper aren't helping dispel the notion a whole lot, either.

I do hope that it takes people's notice away from the luxuriant weeds that sneakily wait till the July heat to shoot up, just when my energy is at its lowest. Misdirection is very important in gardening. Cha cha cha and beat you to the shuffleboard!

Here's hoping those of you in the really bad heat in the South and on the West Coast are taking good care of yourselves,


Garlic in Danger!!
Thursday, July 23

To my horror, I have just read that the garlic crop in California is in danger from garlic rust, a fungus that has been around before, but because of. . . you guessed it. . . .El Nino, has gotten pretty serious.

The experts are working on it, but I'm worried. I take the Stinking Rose very seriously. Life without garlic. . . shudder. Life with expensive garlic. . . shudder.

The weather has changed up here and is quite pleasant. I actually got chilled today when I went out to change the position of the sprinkler and got wet (I'm home with a bum knee).

Our Australian guest, Terry Frost, was glad of the change, as well. Another friend and I took him down to the town of Red Wing the other day, a charming place by the Mississippi, home of the famous (sort of) Red Wing pottery, then drove back up the bucolic and green Wisconsin side. Terry had to keep reminding himself that the whole thing wasn't a result of extravagant irrigation.

His favorite road side sign of the trip was one in Wisconsin which read: "Taxidermy and Cheese". We had visions of a wheel of cheese with a tiny stuffed chipmunk in the center as a surprise, or perhaps a nice beaver holding a wedge of Colby. Lovely centerpiece.

I got the certificate from the SF Poetry Association for the Rhysling Award. It names the poem on the certificate ("Spotting UFOs While Canning Tomatoes"), and I was inspired. Got a flat wooden frame and carefully hot-glued canning lids along the perimeter. It looks great, all bright and shiny. Sets off the paper nicely. Maybe Laurie can hot glue little power tools and plastic goldfish on her award (title: why goldfish shouldn't have power tools).

In the meantime, be kind to your garlic. Cherish it and appreciate it. Then eat it.


All You Need is Love
Monday, July 27

Sunday morning Denny reminded me that some Christian Right Hate Mongers were coming to protest at the Metro Community Church down the block against their "gay friendly" policy (much of the congregation is gay). So we strolled down with our Australian houseguest to help swell the tide of Beauty and Truth.

There were about 400 of us from all over the neighborhood: mothers and kids in strollers, couples, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, lovers, gay, straight, and bi. We have enough problems in our neighborhood without more hate. The cops and media were there, too, plus some politicians and a small contingent of Dykes on Bikes. It was a lovely morning.

Then the hate mongers showed up. There were fifteen of them and they had had trouble parking. They were armed with truly nasty signs, like "God Hates Fags" and "AIDS Cures Gays", a very wobbly soprano, and an upside-down American flag. There was no place for them except on the kitty corner by the Indian Ministry. The Indian Ministry people came out and covered their sign with a white cloth so as not to have their name in the background shots of these people.

The people of the MCC church prayed and sang "Jesus Loves me" while the rest of us cheered and waved and smiled.

It was mostly peaceful. Some youngsters got a little rowdy and managed to pour coffee on one of the cars or something, but the cops did their duty and that was that. After 20 minutes or so, the protesters left, because most of the congregation had gone inside for the service and the rest of us outside were obviously having far too good a time.

I felt so sorry for the protesters. They caused more good than harm and they looked miserable. What did they think they would accomplish with their hate? How could they live like that? It was very sad. I found myself humming the old Beatles tune "All You Need Is Love".

As I told one of the church ushers the three of us had thought of making a sign that said "Atheists for Fags" but decided it would be counterproductive. He got a good laugh out of it, which he clearly needed. And then we all went home.

I realize this was a very small blip on the screen of the human struggle against its own hate and fear, and compared to Stonewall it was a picnic, but our neighborhood is the better for it. I wonder if those loveless protesters were?


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Copyright 1998 by Terry A. Garey.