Monday, October 27, 2008

Joe The Wino Speaks Out On Politics, The Economy & Joe The Plumber

(Editor’s Note: “Joe The Wino” lives in Blue-Merle Country and is an accomplished high-tech entrepreneur, farmer, grower & vintner. Concerned with all the attention given recently to “Joe Six Pack” and “ Joe the Plumber”, our Joe felt the concerns of winos were being neglected. In an exclusive interview with the Winemaker’s Journal, Joe the Wino speaks out. The views expressed are his and do not represent the opinions of Winemaker’s Journal nor the editors.)

Winemaker’s Journal (WJ): Joe, I understand you have a sign in your driveway that states “Keep Right.” Is that an expression of your political views?

Joe: It’s just a traffic sign I took from an intersection.

WJ: Isn’t that theft of government property?

Joe: I call it “fair trade.” What do you call it when the government takes thousands of dollars from me and gives it to some bankers so they can have parties in California?

WJ: Then, you’re not a liberal?
Joe: I’d like to take Sarah Palin on a date to a wine bar.

WJ: Wouldn’t that make Joe Six Pack jealous?
Joe: I used to make beer before I started making wine. I have nothing against Joe Six Pack and beer drinkers. It was costing me $6 a six-pack to make really good beer, but with the increase in micro breweries during the last 20 years, I could buy the best beer in the world for about $6 a pack so I quit making it myself. It costs me $6 to make a bottle of $46 wine, so I’m actually saving $40 a day with every bottle of wine I drink.

WJ: Speaking of home economics, how would Obama’s policies impact U.S. wine production?

Joe: Under Obama’s plan, my taxes are going up. He’s proposing to increase the tax on anyone who makes more than 250 cases of wine a year. I was thinking of buying out the Mondavi estate, but I just don’t know how I’m going to do it with my taxes going up. Obama says he’s only going to tax the rich, but where does it stop? Sure, he starts by taxing you if you make more than 250 cases, then the next thing you know, he’s charging a $10 tax on every bottle of wine produced in America in order to fund the bank bailout. Hey, Mr. Obama, would you mind lowering the mortgage on my vineyard by $250,000? The other thing the politicians don’t understand is that when they raise taxes, I’m going to hire fewer workers. When that happens, unemployment goes up in San Diego and in Mexico.

WJ: Concerning Mexico, how do you feel about the candidates’ positions on immigration?

Joe: I predict that Obama, bending to pressure from protectionist special interests, will ship all illegal Mexican workers back to Africa.

WJ: Wouldn’t that negatively impact you? How are you going to manage your ranch without farm hands?

Joe: Because our taxes are going up, I’ve taken preemptive action to cut costs and fired our workers. After things pick up again, we can always go down to the street corner to hire some day laborers.

WJ: Do you or did you ever employ undocumented workers?
Joe: Are you with the “Justice” department or something? No. Never.

WJ: How do you know?

Joe: They never told me they were illegal.
WJ: What would a McCain presidency mean for wine makers?
Joe: John McCain would free the grapes. The Republican Party, going back to the days of George Washington, has a long history of supporting brewers, winemakers & distillers. Did you know that George Washington himself made a pretty mean brew? Sam Adams used George’s recipe.

WJ: What about the Whiskey Rebellion, when Washington crushed a movement by distillers who refused to pay taxes to the federal government?

Joe: As Jesus said, pay unto Caesar what is due Caesar, then he broke out the good wine at a wedding. Under a McCain administration, the states would no longer be able to interfere with interstate commerce and the Constitutional Right of American citizens to purchase wine direct from any winery they want. McCain would end the tyranny and protectionism of the monopolistic wine distributors and we would be able to ship our wine anywhere in United States, especially Alaska. Did you know that Governor Palin nips a glass of wine every once in a while? She has a plan, whereby we could stock wine in Alaska then slip it into Russia. The idea is to get Russians addicted to wine, so they’ll quit vodka undermining Russia’s industrial base. As the saying goes, when vodka factories fail, down goes Mother Russia, and along with that Putin and his cronies. When McCain was campaigning out here in California wine country, he promised to cut tobacco subsidies (what with all the complaints about cancer and those other problems caused by smoking) and he promised to help the winemakers. Only John McCain and Sarah Palin are maverick enough to stand up to the tobacco lobby. Instead of a $10 tax on a bottle of wine which we would see under Obama within three years – under a new Republican administration I’ll be given a $10 per bottle subsidy to make wine – plus I get to keep the revenue from what I sell. McCain has a plan for fixing Iraq. He’s going to take the $75 billion annual surplus from Iraqi oil revenues to purchase wine to ship to Iraq. And finally, McCain has an alternative energy plan. He’s going to purchase millions of gallons of premium wine to convert to ethanol for use in America’s cars. Under McCain, wine production goes up, we hire more workers, unemployment in San Diego drops, unemployment in Mexico drops.

WJ: Are you planning to hire workers from Mexico?

Joe: I invited my friend Joe the Plumber to come over and install an irrigation valve because the Mexican workers were taking too long to get the work done. When Joe arrived, they freaked out. But I’ve got to tell you, Joe didn’t install the valve correctly, and the Mexicans repaired Joe’s sloppy work. It was a victory of the Mexican worker over the American worker, and the beginning of the end for Joe the Plumber.

WJ: You’re trying to be a farmer in a desert. Aren't you concerned about the future availability of water?

Joe: I used to be an avocado farmer before I planted grapes. In the summer, I was giving each avocado tree 300 gallons of water a week – my water bills were astronomical. A grape vine only needs 10 gallons of week in the heat of summer – and 8 months out of the year I don’t need to give them any water at all. I’m saving thousands of gallons of water with every grape vine I plant. I have a friend in New Zealand. His name is Joe, Joe the Avocado Grower. He’s the father of the avocado oil business over there, and has his own avocado groves. I asked Joe how much he spent on water. He said $500. I asked $500 per day? No, he spends $500 the whole year! He’s got much greater rainfall over there, and a well. Shoot, we should just buy all of our avocados from New Zealand, and the New Zealanders should buy all of their red wine from us.

WJ: Do the policies of the San Diego water district and the San Diego county government support avocado growers at the expense of grape growers?

Joe: That’s a complicated question – all I know is that there’s going to be less water to go around and that avocado trees require a lot more water than grape vines . While the politicians try to figure that one out, I’ve already made my decision: I planted grapes.

WJ: Which Presidential candidate is more supportive of the rights of wine producers to sell the product of their labor from their own backyard?
Joe: With the strategic importance wine producers will play in thwarting Russian aggression, alternative energy initiatives and the Iraqi balance of payments problem, I’m concerned Congress will nationalize wine production after the banks.

WJ: Wouldn’t boutique wineries benefit from billions in public investment?

Joe: Do you think the government can make "fine wine"? The Italians make good wine. Good wine is made by stomping grapes with your feet. But according to my good friend Merlot Mike, Fine Wine™ can only be made when lush grapes are gently crushed between the subtle breasts of nubile maidens. Can you see Uncle Sam doing that? Besides, what would we do if given billions of tax dollars? Go to California and throw a party? There’s no point in that – we’re here already and have as much as we want to drink already.

WJ: Is it true you’re organizing a protest march in New York?

Joe: I call it “Main Street Goes to Wall Street.” I’m calling for all winos to meet on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange building in Lower Manhattan next Tuesday, election day. It’s not a protest – it’s to provide emergency relief. After Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast, we bottled up wine to send to our brothers and sisters in Texas as a symbol of our solidarity. After all this financial carnage on Wall Street , I’m sure there are some bankers who could use a drink.

WJ: Won’t you need to hire New York wine distributors to do the pouring for you?

Joe: Not if McCain wins. He’ll bust the monopolies.

WJ: Any final last words before the election?

Joe: Vote early and vote often.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Full Moons & Fires

It was the week of the full moon in Blue Merle Country, almost bright enough to read a newspaper under the night-time sky. It’s the time to hunt gophers without night vision goggles. It’s the time to take an evening stroll through the vineyard to enjoy the magic of this time of the month. It’s mid-October, and it’s warm enough to walk under the stars and the moon without a sweater. The Santa Ana winds are blowing in from the dessert, and I suppose that the snakes are out and about looking for that last meal before hibernation. Not wanting to be mistaken for that meal, I bring a shovel, making my presence known to all in the area. Some might call it paranoia. I call it common sense, especially since we found 12 snakes the first two weeks we moved here two years ago. I’m on a mission, to investigate the smoke rising from the West. It’s "fire season" in San Diego and I’m climbing to the top of the hill of the vineyard to examine the scene below, where flames become visible in the valley. The fire looks much closer than it is – but if the wind shifts, we could be in trouble, so I pack a bag, important papers and the computer and put them by the door just in case. My father used to joke about "sleeping with one eye open." That skill will come in handy this evening, as the flames are visible from the house where I set up my stake out.

It was the first day of Gopher Season, which opens when the bulk of the winemaking is behind us and at least one car fits in the garage. I was setting the first traps of the season when Merlot Mike and Nancy, out for a joy ride, drove over in the Gator. "Every time you come here I catch a gopher," I tell Mike. "Let’s see if it works again this time." We had just finished bottling wine three days before, so we broke open a couple of bottles for tasting. It was getting dark as they left, "another hour of sun wasted" I thought, but it was good to see them. It wasn’t the light that was lost, but water. In my rush to welcome them, I forgot to turn off the irrigation. The Queen called me at the office the next morning to report a flood cascading down the hill. There was no gopher in the trap – Mike’s hitting streak was up but we verified one in the area. Mr. Gopher back-filled the hole where we set the trap, so the hunt was on with me setting a trap, and Mr. Gopher back filling it. I set a good one yesterday, deep into the hole, and found a succulent root for bait. As Bluey and I made the rounds the morning, he froze in his "Gopher Dog" point and I suspected we caught one. When I arrived on the scene, Bluey had already pulled on the chain of the trap and there was Mr. Gopher, squeezed between the tongs. Without gophercide nor dynamite, so long Mr. Gopher! I throw him over the fence for the coyotes to snack on.

The saga of the 46 Phoenix Canarius palm trees (or, if you prefer the less scientific name, those [expletive deleted] palm trees) continued, with more digging, piercings and swearings. Merlot Mike called, "Can I bring over the Gator and help you move those trees up the mountain?" I explained to him no thank you, because this is my penitence, to atone for all the iniquities, sins and wrong doings during 20 years of marriage. It seems I am not the sole Martyr of the Palms. The Queen attempts to help me lift one of the trees into a hole, and her hand is pierced by a needle. Without a word she walks up the hill to the house, stoically bearing the sign of the "stigmata."

It’s been one year since we evacuated from the Great San Diego fires of 2007 and camped at Coyote Karen’s mom’s house. There were the Queen, Bluey & myself, Coyote Karen and her sidekick Pinot Noir "We’re Drunk" Sandra with her two shitzus, Merlot Mike’s cat (whom we called "kitty" and locked into the bathroom); Jack, Judy, Chuckie (the medical miracle with Down’s Syndrome) and their two golden retrievers (Max & Maggie) and a couple of cats. We were a mini Noah’s Ark – not having to worry about bringing a wine dog, Coyote Karen brought her wine collection and was very liberal with her libations. Might as well enjoy a good class of wine while your house burns. We sipped, and watched distant flames lapping hill tops.

Our houses didn’t burn this time (thanks in part to Sandra’s husband Jim who stayed behind to defend the neighborhood) – and this day, one year later, Karen called to say her brother (who co-hosted us refugees last year) was coming down for a visit. Would we join them for some brisket? Now the best brisket I’ve ever tasted was at The Salt Lick outside of Austin, Texas 11 months ago and the second best in the world is made by my cousins in Oklahoma. Ole Coyote Karen had lived in Texas herself a few years and must of learned a thing or two because I now declare her the Princess of Brisket, and I don’t say that just to flatter her in hopes of being granted privileged access to her wine collection or other hidden gems. "I added a can of coke and wine to the recipe," she explains, and I suggest that what’s good for beef should be good for gopher meat and I offer to go and find the carcass of the fresh one we caught this morning.

After the nourishment, it’s back to the "winery" and racking wines into the refurbished French barrel. I’m told there are two kinds of barrels: Burgundy and Bordeaux. I can’t tell you if the difference influences the taste of the wine – but the thinner barrel we got last year fit through the side door of the garage. The one we received on Saturday does not. But, this one doesn’t leak. The work begins at 2:30pm and finishes at 8:30pm, and the Queen starts singing some very melodic songs about how she never dreamed about "making wine" – that she only wanted a vineyard. I suggest that she go and plant a palm tree or something – which I’m glad NOT to be doing as I blend the Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot into a "Merleatage" (named after Bluey) wine. The Cabernet Franc tastes good for a 3-week old wine, the Malbec is surprising good and "spritzy" from malolatic fermentation, but the PV I’m not so sure about so we’ll see how the "2008 Merleatage" turns out. After that’s done – and I take a break from racking to plant a palm tree (which turned out to be our best financial investment of the week) – we rack "Bluey’s Blush", our first rose wine… and it tastes pretty good! (I’ll spare you the comments about how it has a "banana nose.") We come inside, enjoy the leftover blush topping wine chilled from the freezer, then open a bottle of 2007 Petit Verdot, which was just bottled a few weeks ago… and I’m thinking, what a difference a year makes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Making Fruit Wines by Amber Rounseville

(Written By Amber D. Rounseville for the Winemaker's Journal)

As a novice wino in the winemaking field, I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about fruit wines. Here in the Ozarks of Missouri, we are very simple people with very simple tastes. There are some advances in the grape growing industry here in the Show-Me-State. Now, I am not a winesnob but I have run into them in Missouri. In a discussion with a manager at a local wine shop in Branson, he is anti-Missouri grapes and wine. He will not touch anything from this state, only the eloquent wines of California satisfy his taste. I would love for someday to explore the vineyards of California but for now, I explore the small micro wineries of Missouri.

So starts my journey of fruit wines. It mainly started as experimental in learning how to make wine. My first batch was Raspberry. I bottled it back in August and it turned out to be a semi-dry light red wine. With some sampling among friends, most were pleasantly surprised by the lightly sweet, yet dry taste. The assumption was that it was going to be very sweet but it is not. My neighbors really enjoyed it and I took some on a camping trip this past weekend. Grandpa Bob had some for breakfast yesterday around the campfire and then took the rest home! This is what we do in the Ozarks, drink wine around the campfire!

The next batch I experimented with was Pomegranate and Blueberry. This wine turned out very successful. I lightly sweetened it before bottling and it's a hit. My friend Stephanie and her husband told me that they are addicted to that wine and is the best they have ever had. I have had other people comment that it is a very good wine.

This is what I have learned about fruit wines so far. For people who do not have a real taste for wine, I will start them on a fruit wine and slowly introduce them to the grape wines. Start with the blushes and move forward. It becomes a gradual process to acclimate the palate. I know fruit wines are not as prestigious as traditional Pinots, Merlots, Chardonnays, etc but I am more interested in developing a person’s taste for wine and moving them forward. In the process I am having fun with the native fruits and opportunities in the Ozarks. So, as I develop my style to make Pinots and other traditional wines, there will probably always be a fruit wine in the background to help a new wino develop a taste for wine!

Here are some pics of my wine work room: As you can see, I have the merlot, blackberry concord, and reliance waiting to be bottled. Also included Jake, the winemaster taste-tester. I am hoping to grow out of the room in 2009 and into an actual building!

Here's The Recipe:

For raspberry wine: 8 lbs of raspberries 12 lbs of sugar 6 tsp acid blend 4 tsp yeast nutrient 2 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme 5 campden tablets red star premier cuvee wine yeast *this makes 5 gallons of wine. You need to add 4.5 gallons of water. Please note, the first thing I do is dissolve the sugar into the water by heating the water, then put it in the fermenter. Do not try to dump the sugar into the fermenter without dissolving. You will have trouble. Then add your raspberries. I smashed them into a cheese cloth and let it ferment in the primary.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Art of Wine Blending & Another Disaster Narrowly Avoided

Definitions:

PV = Petit Verdot.
PS = Petit Sirah
Queen = the woman who runs this place, whose dream it was to own a vineyard
Phoenix canariensis = my favorite palm tree
Disaster = when you mistakenly turn a barrel of wine (street value $7,000) into vinegar
PP = Petit Sirah / Petit Verdot blend in approximate equal amounts
pp = what the dog does when he goes out, as in: "Le chien fait son pis-pis…."

(Editor’s note: I assure you there is no pp in the PP but we guarantee "hair of the dog" in every bottle.)

Since planning the layout of our vines, our rule for making decisions has been: "Vineyard is Art." More so for the blending of wines. For over a year I have been raving about the "floral characteristics" of this Petit Verdot (PV) we were fortunate enough to source from Gerry Meisenholder, owner of Arroyo Vineyard in nearby Bonsall, CA. I liked the fruit so much, we invested in a French-oak barrel for it. The general consensus about PV is it’s a great blending wine, but not strong enough to stand on its own. I thought we would buck the trend, and produce something different – a unique PV with enough character to star as the main attraction. What’s more, since PV is fairly uncommon, it would be a good marketing niche. In May 2008, just 8 months after harvest, I entered the PV into competition at the San Diego County fair. An 8 month old wine, mind you. Knowing full well that it had not fully matured, I added character to it by blending in some Nebbiolo – a prince of Italian grapes, which I nicknamed "Petit Verdot Plus." The result: a wine fit for royalty, and a 2nd place ribbon in the "blended red" category. (This for an 8 month wine that had no bottle aging…) I felt I was on to something. The plan was simple. I had 5-gallons of the 2006 Nebbiolo left, and decided to blend this with 15 gallons of PV. This would leave me 45-gallons of pure, 100% PV to market as a stand alone wine, and giving consumers a chance to sample a wine that normally they wouldn’t have an opportunity to taste. The problem was this: as good as the PV is, it just didn’t have the "complexity" that one would expect in a fine wine. The decisive moment came three weeks ago, when Mick from Belle Marie Winery, Coyote Karen, Merlot Mike and I met to discuss San Diego wine politics, and I pulled a sample of PV from the barrel to share. The silence was defining. I had hoped to share the PV with Mick to create a joint-venture "Opus One" – no such offer was forthcoming. Merlot Mike took me into his winery and gave me a jar of "tannin" – add this, he suggested, as if to spice it up. It was as bland to him as rice without sushi, as oatmeal without milk, as Merlot without the "fine."

Back to the drawing board. Once the decision was made that something needed to be added, the next question was what? We had some Brunello that would blend nicely – but from a marketing point of view didn’t make much sense. I tried blending in some 2007 Merlot – but the Merlot’s dominant characteristics overpowered the PV. And then there was the barrel of Petit-Petit, the 50-50 blend of Petit Verdot & Petit Sirah. That Petit Sirah, invented by Dr. Durif, so purple, so powerful – and that blended combination, so promising.

Saturday (September 27th) was the hottest day we have had in September, and was bottling day. The marathon started at 7am and continued until 10pm – requiring the stamina of a 26 mile race, but no need to throw-up. It’s a dreaded day…. Like driving from North Carolina to New York… but the rewards await. The first part was easy … use the siphon hose to pull 15 gallons of PV from the barrel into a storage container, then rack in the 5-gallons of award-winning 2006 Nebbiolo. 103 bottles produced … folks, this is a winner, as the judges have already declared.

If bottling were just bottling, it might not be so bad. But, there’s preparation, then racking. When you empty one barrel, you need to immediately fill it up with the new wine because empty barrels invite microbes. And, when it’s all said and done, there’s cleaning up.
Next, I pull 10 gallons from the Petit-Petit (PP) barrel (which was 50% PV and 50% Petit Sirah) for blending with the remaining Petit Verdot. But, in order to keep the PP barrel full, I pull out 10 gallons of PV, then siphon it over to the other barrel, to keep it topped. All of this takes time.
(Time for a math exercise: … 35 gallons of PV blended with 10 gallons of a 50%-50%- PV/PS blend results in 45 gallons, 5 of which are PS and 40 of which are PV, and 5/40 = 12.5%, except, it didn’t exactly happen that way and the actual mixture is one batch with 10% PS and another batch with about 15% PS and the batch with 15% Petit Sirah (PS) tastes better and we labeled that one PV (good) for internal purposes while the other is just PV. [Do all winemaker’s go through this?]
This is how I almost turned $7,000 of wine into vinegar. The pump is the greatest invention since the wheel, at least for winemakers. Using a siphon hose used to add hours to the bottling/racking marathon, but a pump can empty a barrel of wine in minutes (or fill a barrel up with new wine). As I was setting the pump up, I accidentally hit the on switch, which disgorged a reddish, brown liquid. "Vinegar!" Somehow, I had not cleaned it out properly the last time I used it, and had it not been for the accident of turning it on, that vinegar would have been injected into the batch of Petit Verdot, with unthinkable consequences.
In summary: This PV with a touch of Petit Sirah is better than 100% PV, while the PP (which is now about 60% PV and 40% PS is better than both) and the PV Plus (with 20% Nebbiolo is already a proven award winner. All of this is back breaking work and the Queen whose dream it was to own a vineyard never dreamed about this and is singing a lot of songs about how this is not what she dreamed about.

I am saved from a knockout punch by the bell. The door bell. It’s Lera from Colorado with her brother Micah and his fiancĂ©e Megan who’ve flown in for a "tour" of the little vineyard on the mountainside and the so-called winery in the garage on Sunday afternoon. Special guests deserve special wine and we open a bottle of the 2006 Nebbiolo – it has become silky smooth and it tastes great and I’m thinking that the price has just gone up another $5 to $39/bottle. We also serve some of the leftover PV from the night before, and I’m thinking the initial taste is good, but I’m not sure about the finish and we’ll need to see what 6-months in the bottle does to this. Still, the company is great and the wine is delicious and there goes Sunday afternoon and here comes the heat wave. Summer has arrived and it’s almost October. The chain saw will have to wait.

Fast forward to Friday …. The Queen said she wanted to bottle the PP on Friday night. We started at 7pm and finished at 2:30 am and got it all bottled, close to 24 cases and 280 bottles and Saturday started out as a slow day and turned into it’s own marathon, death by 1,000 cuts from palm trees.

The Queen is always singing a song about how the vineyard is her dream, not mine, and how dare me for usurping her dream. Well now we’re even, because since we moved to San Diego 14 years ago "my favorite palm tree" has been the Canary Island Date Palm and every time we drive by one I’ll raise my hand, point, and say, "That’s my favorite palm." The Princess will say, "Dad, you’ve told me that already," but it doesn’t stop me from saying it again when we pass the next tree. When we moved to Blue-Merle country and started clearing the land my parents offered to purchase us a tree as a gift. "Thanks dad – I’ll take just one of my favorite palm trees." I then told him they cost $10,000 (plus delivery, which requires a crane.) He sent a $150 gift card instead and we bought a dozen Macadamia trees (another dream and another story).

I’m going on and on about winemaking and blending and vineyards but we live in interesting times and we’re one whoops away from the Great Depression of 2008. Stocks have dropped 20% and college tuition has gone up to $50,000/year and there’s no money in my bank account and the princess calls from New York City saying there’s no money in her bank account, and Bluey the dog growls "hungry" and there’s no food in his bag and there’s no money to buy any today. It’s all the fault of our greedy mortgage broker who put us into a house we couldn’t afford so we could pursue the cock-eyed dream of a vineyard. Because of his greed the world economy is about to collapse. But, there’s hope (besides the fact that we can live off the land, have our guns to hunt game of rabbit, squirrels and gophers and there’s a church at the bottom of the mountain where we can cling to religion): The Queen saves money like a smart squirrel who hoards acorns. She has $1,677 in her savings account and she has taken that, plus my last $100 and assembled $1,777.77 which was the bill for 46 Canary Island Palm trees, given to our daughter on the joyous occasion of her 20th birthday. Does this sound like "Jack and the Beanstalk"? This is either extreme foolishness or genius.

"I’d go to Las Vegas," said the salesperson at the nursery who unloaded the palms for quick cash. "Buy a lottery ticket. It’s not every day that a receipt has five 7’s in a row." Perhaps a roll of the dice would have been a wiser investment?

The 46 palm trees are delivered on Monday and at $10,000 each (future value) we now have an additional $460,000 in assets (future value) less:
The cost of hauling them to designated points on the property
The cost of digging holes and planting
The cost of chiropractic care (for my back)
The cost of watering
The cost of making boxes (and of dirt) for those we don’t plant
And, 50 years from now, when our "bonds" have reached their mature "face value" of $10,000 each, the cost of building roads and renting a crane to pull these puppies out of the ground (this should be slightly less than drilling for oil in the Arctic wilderness)
Less the cost of sales (in case the Princess is unable to sell them direct to consumers and goes through a wholesale nursery)

After pulling a near all-nighter on Friday night bottling, I am pressed to plant palm trees on Saturday. And Sunday. I go to sleep with my clothes on. I plot on getting even: "These palm trees are my dream," I inform the Queen and, "They’re half mine." I explain how I’ve earned 50% sweat equity from planting them and suffering a thousand piercings from the needles. Given the fact that stocks are likely to go lower next week – at least our stocks --the palm trees, now worth more than our house, are looking like a pretty good investment, guaranteed to grow. Just add water.