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t Ml". Today! iBttlkt Hloincs Kcqislcr Inside: T BOB SHAW, future tdrto 515-284-1211 Weather Comics TV listings Classifieds 2T 3T 4T 5T H I 3 i Thuisday,Junel3,1991 JO.'. TODDENDORFTTwRegisttr Aria ready to go for opera, lunch downtown today? "ow about a taste of opera and lunch, EL too? You can have it at "Opera for erybody" from 12:10 to 12:45 p.m. today at St Paul's Episcopal Church, 815 High st::;. The program by the Des Moines Metro Opera will include arias and scenes from some of the Folk remedies as bug repellent: The real stuff works better U' IS I world's most beloved operas, sung by some of the rising stars in the opera firmament. There will be wonderful music, costumes and special effects. Lunch of a ham and cheese sandwich, apple pie and beverage is $2. Doors open at 11:40 a.m. Questions? Call (515) 288-7297. Polly Flug Junction function. -. Rock band New Integra - A 4 I 1 i' . I '4 ' i Mllta-' iK dim TbM- - .?!, i-teas-iiirth V4r - Colleen Merk is a rat and mouse enthusiast who keeps several of the furry little creatures as pets. A new four-letter word for rats and mice: Pets By JIM POLLOCK RitltKr Staff Wrltw Go ahead and use Skin So Soft as a mosquito repellent if you want to. Just don't pester Dr. Wayne Rowley about it. "I've been asked about that so often over the years ..." sighed the Iowa State University professor of entomology. If you're hearing the Skin So Soft prescription for the first time this spring, as you struggle against the biting hordes, you're behind the times. The skin moisturizer from Avon has been a folk remedy against mosquito bites for a longtime now. "Like any oil-based product, it acts as an insect repellent," Rowley said. However, "It doesn't have much residual effect. You have to re-apply it quite often, while commercial repellents last for hours." This he knows for sure, because he has tested Skin So Soft at ISU. He also knows that, as with any other repellent, the Skin So Soft strategy depends upon The moral seems to be: Forget the folk wisdom and buy something that's actually intended to deter mosquitoes. complete coverage. "If you put a dime on your hand and apply repellent, take the dime off and put your hand in a container of mosquitoes, you'll have 25 of them on that unprotected spot," said Rowley. Women, who seem to be bitten more often than men, might also be more interested in combining some skin moisturizing and a nice scent along with their anti-mosquito efforts. Other than that, Rowley can't see any advantage in using the stuff instead of commercial repellents. OK, how about vitamin B 1 ? The story goes, if you take vitamin Bl pills three or four times a day, in two or three days you become unappealing to mosquitoes. "Bl is interesting," Rowley admitted. "For a long time, there have been advertisements in sporting magazines for pills that are miracle mosquito repellents, and these are believed to be Bl pills. But we've written to the companies that make the pills, asking for samples to test, and they never respond." Of course, Rowley mused, "I suppose I could write a check and have some sent to my house Not having gotten around to that, he knows of no scientific studies that have been done on the Bl concept. Informed that the drive-time disc jockeys at KJJY have experimented with Bl this spring and report that it seems to do the trick, Rowley was unmoved. "Of course, radio DJs are known for their scientific methods," he said, but he didn't sound like he really meant it. If you want to try vitamin Bl, you can do so without injuring yourself. According to Drake University's Dr. Russell Sexton, a biochemical pharmacologist, "Vitamin Bl, which is thiamine, is water-soluble. If you have an excess, your body just gets rid of it." So now we turn to garlic. Mosquito repellent or just another bad odor? Rowley said, "It's true that if you grind up : BUGS Please turn to Page 2T tion will play 4:30 to 6:30 today in the gazebo on Fifth Street in the Historic Valley Junction area ofWest Des Moines. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy the free concert. ; Thi Farmers Market in Valley Junction is from 4:30 to 7 p.m. today and every Thursday. Freshfruits and vegetables and baked goods will be on sale. Questions? Call (515) 223-3281. Teen night Celebrations Unlimited, located in PJaza Lanes, 270 1 Douglas Ave., is the place for teens. A dance featuring laser lights and a DJ is 8 p.m. to midnight tonight. Also featured are food and non-alcoholic beverages. Admission is $3. Questions? Call (515) 277-3446. Stargazing. Three planets will be appearing very close together in the summer sky this weekehd, and it's "a rare and beautiful gathering that will change night by night," says Sky and Telescope magazine. Mars, Venus, Jupiter and the Moon will all appear in the same part of the sky. Anthony Marston, associate professor of astronomy at Drake University, says the planets should be visible if you look toward the southwest. The brightest star you see will be Venus, which outshines everything else but the Moon. Mars and Jupiter should be visible close to Venus, aijd the crescent moon will appear to be nerth three planets. Although the conjunction can be seen with the naked eye as early as tonight, the peak time for viewing is Saturday and Sunday. ,, Mifi$trelS, mUSiC and more. The Renaissance Faire of the Midlands, three days of fun, feasting and frivolity, is Friday through Sunday on the polling, grassy meadows of Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs. Renaissance artisans, craftspeople and merchants will display and sell their wares in a re-creation of a Middle Ages marketplace. You can feast on food fit for lords and ladies and watch as knights joust and participate in other tests of courage. Test your own strength and courage with such games as drenching a wenchor bagging a cat. ' Admission is $6 at the Castle Gate for adults. Kids 5 to 12 will be admitted for $2. Questions? Call (800) 789-TOUR. ." it . ; .' lef I party. Jon Wing of Story City, a Tip-sheet jeader, sent this top 1 0 list of reasons for having a block party: 10. Mosquito repellent Is on sale. 9. It's a good time to compare lawn mowers. . , 8. )fou can get your rain gear out. It's sure to rain, i , i . 7. Vou can drink keg beer. ;' " 6. t's an opportunity to brag about your kids. S. Vou can put a new elastic bandage to good use on your ankle sprained in a gopher hole on the volleyball court. 4. You'll get plenty of exercise (running to the bathroom see No. 7). - 3, There will be no "no smoking" signs. 2. You can share your summer cold with all the neighbors. - 1 . You can strike up a relationship with your neighbor. - Vs if LefsWar from you with items for this column. Write Tipsheet, The Des Moines Register, Box 957, Des Moines, la. 50304, or call (515)284-8124. By JIM POLLOCK Ritlitar Staff Wrllw - ' , olleen Merk seems to have inher-- ited a love of small, furry animals, but sometimes heredity gets things turned around. Back home on the farm near Audubon, Merk's mother has about 50 cats. Merk, on the other hand, has about 50 mice and 30 rats. Mrt tttaca m'ra arA rate HiHnt Box 2 1 193, Des Moines, la. 5032 1 . If you can't imagine wanting to get in touch, it may be because you don't know that rats are intelligent, emotional and fond of human companionship. "Mice have more interesting colors, but rats make better pets," said Merk, 33, who works for Lortex Inc., a local textile company. "Rats are as much like a dog as you can get in a cage," said Liz Fucci, president of NRMCI. Speaking by phone from Herndon, Va., Fucci said, "They learn their names, they learn the word 'no' the first time you use it, and they're very emotional. Jealousy is probably their number-one emotion. They see their human as their territory. If you're on the phone during their playtime, they'll do anything to get your attention back." Still, you may have noticed that rats aren't all that popular, rank llllxatv H11VI IHli) U1U1I come from the landfill; no, they re not vicious little biters; no, she doesn't keep them in the city. Yes, she actually is fond of the creatures so fond that she and friend Steve Quest this spring formed a rodent club. In a stunning upset, Des Moines vaulted past Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City and the rest of those burgs to land what may be the only major rat and mouse club between the East and West coasts. "Fancy Rat and Mouse Enthusiasts" is technically a chapter of the Northeast Rat and Mouse Club, ing well below dogs and cats and only slightly above severe ankle sprains. "People who don't think rats can be pets are narrow-minded," Fucci said. "They think of disease and sewers and slums. Sure, you'll find them in areas that aren't clean, but that's because people throw garbage on the street, and rats Rats are intelligent, emotional and fond of human companionship. International, which has three other chapters out East and about 200 members in the United States and Canada. Another club in Los Angeles is affiliated with NRMCI, but independent. The Des Moines chapter, FRAME, is not large. It has about a dozen people on its membership list, including rodent fanciers from Chicago, Indiana and Arkansas. Merk is the president, reports to the parent club and edits the national newsletter. If you want to get in touch with FRAME, write to the group at are scavengers that help clean things up." Also, said Merk, "People don't like their tails," which are kind of snaky-looking. Up there in front of the tail, however, rats come in various colors and patterns and that almost inevitably leads to shows. Both rats RATS Please turn to Page 2T IOWA BOY And you probably never thought of a privy as being historic NTERSET, IA. There's the John Ml Wayne birthplace home here. There are all the covered bridges. There's the gorgeous Madison County Courthouse and one of Iowa's best county museum complexes. Indeed, this town of 4,200 southwest of Des Moines has enough serious history in it to war Chuck Offenburger June Kaser estate and took possession in 1 982. It's been completely restored. The outhouse has received proper preservation, too. Breeding said, "We dug out the pit under it it hadn't been used for 50 years so it wasn't all that bad of a job and we found all kinds of old whiskey bottles and medicine bottles and old broken dishes. We cleaned them up and have them on display in the museum." The late Henry Miller, who foryears was Winterset High School principal and was an avid historian, did the research and paper work that resulted in the Bevington home going on the National Register. And the privy went on in a separate listing. The certificate attesting to it is on display inside, "The CD. and Elizabeth Heath Bevington Privy, Legacy in Stone: The Settlement Era of Madison County, Iowa." I love history that grins. OoopS. They had the fifth annual Bike Around Carroll County Iowa last weekend. Saturday's ride was supposed to be 60 miles, but when the cyclists had their 60 in, they'd only reached Lanesboro with another 20 to ride to the overnight stop in Breda. Oh did they ever become a whiny bunch. Dave Olson, Carroll County Cnnsprvatinn director, told the Carroll Times Herald that organizers lost track of the mileage when they made some late adjustments in the route. Can you imagine such a thing happening on a big, organized bike ride? Why, that hasn't happened on a RAGBRAI since way back in, uh, 1989. Riders discovered it was 12 miles further to Dyersville than Don Benson said it was. It'll sure be quiet in Madrid. Friday is the last day for Debbie's Kitchen in Madrid, the town located just northwest of Des Moines. After six years in business, Debbie Maylone, 40, has sold out to Lisa Williams and Steve Klutz, who will remodel the cafe and call it Second Street Country Cafe. The gabby May-lone, I've always said, has operated as sort of ' the Babe Bisignano of Madrid. "I heard from Babe last night," she said Wednesday morning. "He was trying to talk me into buying one of his places." But she says she's going to spend the summer helping friends with some projects, then decide what she'll do next. We'U all miss her "Debbie's Delight" breakfast a bowl of eggs, hash browns and cheese all mixed together. "Oh, maybe the new owners will keep it," Maylone said. "Maybe like one of Jhflamemcuxoflhines Wayne Breeding, a Winterset antique dealer who is president of the Madison County Historical Society, helped me with the story. In 1856, wealthy pharmacist-banker CD. Bevington and his wife, Elizabeth, built the fantastic brick home that is the showpiece of the museum complex. And outside they added the privy, made from native limestone blocks. It's 8 feet long and 5 feet wide, with a narrow door and windows on both ends the north one has a great view of the courthouse dome uptown. And sure enough, it's a three-holer, which as a sign of affluence is sort of the 1856 version of the threear garage of the 1990s. "You look inside there, and you'll notice that all the wood is solid walnut," Breeding said. "It's really something to see. In fact, a couple of years ago, there were was a group from Illinois touring here. I got on the bus with them over at the John Wayne house for the ride to the museum, and I started talking about all the interesting museum exhibits. I happened to mention the privy, too. So we got there, got off the bus and guess where they all went first they ran right over to the privy. It's kind of become the highlight of our tours." The Bevington home had several owners before the historical society bought it from the -tk M.Mf m Mil 7Mni. Sura. h look! Mice rant a two-day look-around by any tourist. And there's also one delightfully funky historical stop and I just know it'll be a favorite when RAGBRAI brings its nutty crowd here July 22. "We have the only three-hole stone privy on the National Register of Historic Places," said Darrell Jensen, the Winterset Chamber of Commerce exec. "No kidding." Somehow it has escaped my attention over the years, but there it is, right on the grounds of the county museum on the south edge of town. Why, I haven't been so tickled by a piece of history since I found that tombstone shaped like a penis in the cemetery over at Creston. he's Jutt mindlno hit own buiinmt but h. ttwtyt t kpthtontytonmyhouM." ;Q TOMORROW IK TCDAY1 ' Critic Joan Eunke reviews one of the summer's hot fiim prospects, "Rosin Hood," starring Kevin Cestner. Jennifer Mitchell, back from maternity leave, describes childbirfii.