The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
May 1998

Blossoming Mayday, May 1

Pelican Rapids, May 12

Raking Leaves in May, Tra La, May 19

Title of the Month: New Frontiers in Barnacle Evolution

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Blossoming Mayday
Friday, May 1

It smells so sweet out there you can get drunk on the air. The crab apples and the lilacs burst into bloom a day or so ago (a week or so early) and it's like heaven must smell. The only other thing I can compare it to is a patio in Italy which was surrounded by citrus trees and covered with wisteria, all in bloom. (It was my Senior Class Trip to Rome. The words 'boiled chicken' still causes my heart to quake and my stomach to rebel.)

Anyway, it's lovely out there. Warm, but not humid, light breeze, gentle sun. . . ahhhh.

So tomorrow is probably summer.

I'm spending a lot of time in the garden, re-doing beds that have gotten out of control. Bought some native plants from Alternative Landscapes—fireweed, prairie sage, and a milkweed for the butterflies. This year I am trying to limit the time I spend kneeling, to spare my knee, even if it's on my new sooper dooper kneeler (sort of like a portable church kneeler, but with handles) and yet get more done. Oddly enough, it's working.

Walks about the neighborhood are more interesting, with plants coming out. Something new every time. Sometimes the 'something new' is something I'd rather not see, but that's what the 'Crack Squad' phone number is for (the Crack Squad is not worried about cracks in the sidewalk).

Got my photos back from Minicon. Yes, the Ladies From Hell Poetry Reading looked just as, uh, interesting as I thought we did (thanks to Ruth B. for sudden photo services). Rez looked particularly fetching in the pearl earrings. I got some great photos of the audience cracking up (not subjects for the Crack Squad, though).

After 8 years, the house next door is being rehabbed. It only took three calls over three nights to get the contractor to have his workers board over the basement windows and clean up the broken glass, etc., that they left around every night. It didn't seem to occur to any of them that children, animals, and others (see Crack Squad, above) might find open windows attractive.

Great pickings in the dumpster, though. It looked like a pretty small dumpster for such a large project until I realized that there were dumpster cruisers foraging for stuff, keeping the dumpster from filling up. It's recycling at its best—everyone saves money and things get reused instead of going to the landfill. I got three huge hardwood drawers from a discarded built in, which I plan to use as planters after I salvage the old fashioned drawer pulls.

Earlier this year I scavenged some pretty good leftover lumber from the new place being built behind us. I always wondered why contractors appeared to be throwing perfectly good stuff away. They aren't really throwing it away—people use what's useable. The contractor doesn't have to haul it to the dump, or try to store the short, odd pieces, and lots of people are happy and have new shelves, cold frames, and fence parts.

In the meantime, it's May, it's lovely, there are flowers blooming, and there's hope. Happy May Day to you all.

love and peace,


Pelican Rapids
Tuesday, May 12

We went up North to see Denny's mother for Mothers Day, but stopped for the night in Pelican Rapids, which is a very small town in the plains. Itís wrapped around a pond which has a ten-foot waterfall, with a huge concrete statue of a pelican nearby. Also nearby, inexplicably, is a 10-foot replica of Seattle's Space Needle. As our investigative reporters, Erik and Paula, have reported from a previous visit, no one knows why the Space Needle Replica is there. It's great for King Kong snap shots, though.

We drove through awakening fields and skipped the Interstate, going via secondary roads. This was much more calming and interesting. Ten miles out of town we (well, actually I, Denny was reading) saw pelicans in a lake. They come down to nest from the Great Lakes, in case anyone is wondering why there are pelicans in Minnesota. We get cormorants and seagulls, too.

Becoming a little bewildered at one point, thanks to the stupid map provided by the State of Minnesota and the nonexistence of a town called Lawndale, we arrived at the sumptuous Pelican Motel late and paid the princely sum of $37.50 for a non-smoking room (I hate rooms that smoke). The Pelican Motel has its own, smaller concrete pelican huddled in shrubbery.

The next day we arrived in Detroit Lakes and took Denny's mom to the semi-traditional truck stop for dinner (lunch).Once again I was thwarted in the matter of the walleye dinner because, even though we were early and there was probably still walleye to be had (walleye is a fresh water fish which is quite good. I've never examined one closely except to eat it, so I am not sure why they are called walleyes, but have my suspicions), I stupidly ordered the fish fillet instead of specifying walleye, and got fried minced formed breaded cod, instead. Durn.

Denny's mother has recently set the fashion at the apartments via the wheeled walker we gave her. This thing is great: it has four wheels, a seat, a basket, and hand brakes, so you can walk along with support, sit down if you like, and carry things along in the basket. It weighs 12 pounds, and folds. I ask you. Now they all want one. Steve Brust's indefatigable mom had one, fire engine red, of course, which first gave me the idea.

Denny's sister and I went off to the local nursery and drooled over plants (saves on the watering) then Denny and I drove back home, on another secondary road, not having to deal with too many boat trailers (it was also the Fishing Opener. they take fishing very seriously in Minnesota, Land of 10,000 or so Lakes) till about Motley. The town Motley. No kidding; it exists.

Hope all is well out there—


Raking Leaves in May, Tra La
Tuesday, May 19

Saturday I had to rake leaves off the lawn. This is not a normal Minnesotan occupation in May. We had a big storm with hail, high winds and assorted tornadoes. Mostly small damage in the Metro area, but lots of it: trees and branches down, plants damaged, cars dented, some windows broken. Further north there was a tornado and more serious damage.

On the other hand, I needed the mulch. The planting season is at least two weeks ahead, and I'm shoving stuff in the ground as fast as I can.

At work we don't have windows to the outside. I had peeked out into the corridor just an hour before the event and it didn't look bad, but then, wow. We discovered someone had left the weather alert radio off (smooth move) and hecky darn was bearing down upon us.

I looked outside and yup, the sky was green. BAAAAAD sign. It was all over in an hour, and the worst of it only lasted a few minutes but whoosh, what a storm. We need rain, yes, but not quite such solid, bouncy rain.

It was 90 and humid yesterday, much better today. The peonies and irises are confused about popping out so early, but doing their best. The roses are coming into heavy bud. I gave up and put in the tomatoes and peppers, which I normally don't bother with for another couple of weeks.

I think it's going to be one of those years with 'interesting' weather: hot and humid interspersed with tornado watches and severe thunderstorms.

This coming weekend is Wiscon, the Wisconsin feminist science fiction convention. Several of us are throwing a theme party, the theme being "Gaud", and we being "The Gaud Squad". For months we've been scouring the thrifts stores for cheap ties and feed caps, etc., and applying as much glitter, iridescent puff paint, medallions and glitter hot glue as each item can stand, to gaud it up. Plus lace, silk flowers, pipe cleaners and whatever else came to hand.

Think Mardi Gras and you'll get an idea. It's amazing what you can do to a Pierre Cardin tie, chortling madly and hot gluing pogs, small plastic animals, and stapling gilded silk leaves to it, then dribbling glue all over it and plunging it into the big box of assorted glitter. Also curiously relaxing obliterate "Marlboro" or Eradicane" from the front of a baseball cap and turn it into a volcanic jungle or lacy extravaganza. We had two work parties and had a Blast.

The idea is to pick an item at the item, donate to the Tiptree Literary Fund and wear the item around the convention—no real reason. Just wanted to have a nifty party and liven things up a bit. Blessed be the tie that blinds. Gaud is good.

We'll see how it goes. Hope all is well. Take good care of yourselves, my friends, over the holiday. Buckle up.


Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
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Copyright © 1998 by Terry A. Garey.