Tag Archives: picnics

No matter where we are.

GL P1020989 ivy

The air above the beach was cold and still Saturday afternoon when I drove over with a collection of family members for a picnic and a stroll. Our shadows were long, because in the morning I’d kept everyone busy doing repairs and assembly and various other jobs for me. It’s not often one has two handy and willing sons-in-law on the property at once, not to mention their wives whose presence holds me up in every practical way.

GL 2015-11-28 14.58.25 bluffs

But get away we did, and the first order of business on arrival at the coast was to eat our late lunch of sandwiches and Jelly Bellies, on this promontory along the Kortum Trail in Sonoma County.

GL P1020925 crp bluff plants


About seven bodies were squeezed on to a little picnic cloth, so I sat nearby on something passing for a tussock and examined the tiny vegetation around me, plants that get walked on frequently, and have to make do with fog for precipitation these days. Their roots must be even sturdier than their micro leaves.


green leaves on bluff 11-15

Thin blue sky, the open and fresh air, wide sweeps of dry grasses and bushes leading up to the hills and down to creek beds….the children scrambling on rocks and cliffs, a centipede in the path, the gorgeous ocean….We walked along the bluffs trail for a while, then returned the same way, and even little Ivy didn’t need to be carried, though she often liked to walk along with me and hold my hand. In her aqua fleece (as at top) she makes a bright spot against the grey-brown landscape in many of my pictures.

gl P1020992 M & P sunset glow

Before we got back to our cars, the sun had set.

2015-11-28 17.03.43 sunset

I used my camera liberally all day, then came home to discover that my lens had a smudge on it, smack dab in the middle where I focused most of my shots. I’ve done a bit of cropping, but that doesn’t always work, so I am sharing some of the smudged pictures anyway. If you see something fuzzy just pretend it is an unseasonable wisp of fog.

GL P1020865 table with decor

Yes, we had gathered for Thanksgiving and this was the overflow. It was the happiest of long weekends, stretching out for me from Wednesday through Sunday, with Kate and Tom coming from D.C. first, and most of the other children and their families gathering for at least the day at Pearl’s new place in Davis. She hosted 22 people for a fine dinner. Kit was with us, and two other extra guests on top of the kinfolk.

Her tables were beautiful, with fresh lemons and limes from the garden, and the lemon tree shining through the window, too.

GL P1020856 lemon

Before we sat down to dinner Soldier and I stood and read alternate stanzas for the group, selected from the Orthodox hymn of thanksgiving, “Glory to God for All Things.” It made me very happy to read verses like the following with my friends and family who are all of this mind and heart:

I was born a weak, defenseless child, but Thine angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now Thy love has illumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of Thy providence have been marvelously showered upon me. I give Thee thanks, with all who have come to know Thee, who call upon Thy name.

Thou hast brought me into life as into an enchanted paradise. We have seen the sky like a chalice of deepest blue, where in the azure heights the birds are singing. We have listened to the soothing murmur of the forest and the melodious music of the streams. We have tasted fruit of fine flavour and the sweet-scented honey. We can live very well on Thine earth. It is a pleasure to be Thy guest.

Another highlight of the holiday was gathering in the living room after dinner to talk about the dear person who was missing this year, and share stories about him, stories from his sister,  his children and their spouses, and from me. This was my idea, because I knew that many of us would be acutely aware of his absence, and it seemed only right and helpful to bring that part of us into the open — I think I’m not the only one who is comforted by hearing other people talk about my husband.

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sugary crust from the past

One of my stories was about the apple pies I had baked this Thanksgiving. After we married, it was probably in the 70’s that I made my first pies, for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Early on my husband had told me about how his grandmother, just before she put her fruit pies in the oven, would sprinkle sugar on the tops. So I did it as well, always, and he liked that I kept the tradition.

Last Wednesday I had been running all day, cooking and greeting guests and making gardening decisions. The pies were the last thing to get done, and by the time I was assembling them everyone else in the household had gone up to bed. When I came to that last step, it crossed my mind that the sugary finish didn’t matter now, he wouldn’t be eating the pies. Maybe I shouldn’t bother.

But it only took a split second for me to know that I did want to bother, for his memory and for him. “This is for you, Mr. Glad,” I said, as I brushed on some water, and then scattered sugar from a spoon.  When we bit into them the next afternoon we found them to be really good pies. They were a bit lopsided with drooping crusts, but that is also traditional with me.

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From Wednesday to Sunday I got help with a slew of household tasks — or more precisely, my family completed these tasks without any help from me! Some of the work that was done:

  1. Watering new plants.
  2. Assembling tricycle.
  3. Assembling quilt rack.
  4. Assembling a floor lamp.
  5. Hanging mini LED light strings.
  6. Rearranging bedroom wall decor.
  7. Troubleshooting my laptop, desktop, phone, and Kindle — yes, all of them!
  8. Drilling 2-inch holes in half barrels for strawberry plants, then moving dirt and filling the barrels.
  9. Repairing the curtain rod in the playhouse.
  10. Fixing a door latch.

I’m sure I’ve ungratefully forgotten to list just as many other tasks that they did. In recent weeks friends and family have accomplished many more jobs that could fill out a very long list, too.

Other satisfying recreational and/or heartwarming and bonding activities we enjoyed:

  1. Six women cleaning up the kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner – so much fun and togetherness!
  2. Ten people sleeping in my house for a couple of nights, and children’s happy voices.
  3. Introducing Scout and Ivy to the playhouse. Ivy was overheard saying, “Grandma built this playhouse just for me!”GL 2015-11-28 19.54.33 sticky snowman
  4. Pulling the children up and down the street in the new cart, because the back yard paths aren’t ready yet for the kids to play with it there.
  5.  Cooking more meals together, and picnicking on the bluffs at the coast. I made another batch of sticky rice and Kit whipped together a rice snowman to delight us and to decorate the table.
  6. Reading before sleep with Maggie beside me in the bed, each of us engrossed in her own book.
  7.  Playing dead bugs: When I reminded Kate and Pippin how to do the dead bug position for back health, I demonstrated with my calves resting on the couch. ( I just learned by way of images that no one else does it this way.) Soon the children joined in and lined up next to the grownups. Ivy couldn’t do it properly that way because her legs just stood straight up with knees locked against the front of the couch.dead bug
  8.  Playing the spoons, with inspiration from Deb “Spoons” Perry. The children continued with the spoons into the next day, and Scout almost took a pair of my best teaspoons home with him.2015-11-28 21.56.04 Ivy spoons
  9. Clapping: Kit taught us the cups-and-clapping game, which was very satisfying to play or merely to observe. I could have watched all night. The little children were mesmerized by the cups game, but found it far easier to keep clapping their spoons together trying to keep time.
  10. My favorite video that inspired us that evening doesn’t even have cups. It is a clapping song that was very satisfying to me because the message of its lyrics seemed to sum up the net positivity of my first Thanksgiving as a widow. The  celebrations were both harder and easier than I expected. If you watched the YouTube video I linked to above you’ve already heard the words, in their upbeat musical context, but here they are plain for posterity.

I’ll think of you as I go, so when I leave, you’re not alone;
and no matter where we are, we will never be that far
‘cuz I will think of you as I go.

I’ll think  of you as I dream,
so when it’s dark, you’ll be with me,
and no matter where we are, we can look up to the stars
and I will think of you as I dream.

I’ll think of you when I’m down,
when my heart is on the ground;
and I will never lose my way even when the skies are gray,
‘cuz I will think of you when I’m down.

(refrain) O it’s a long and winding road, but you don’t have to walk alone,
‘cuz no matter where we are, I will keep you in my heart
and I will think of you as I go.

GL 2015-11-28 15.42.45 Kate & Ivy beach

Florentine picnic food

Pippin and family were in town for a day. In the evening I went to a birthP1000393crpday party for The Professor that featured a wild cake. Scout decorated it in a fashion that made lighting the candles a little challenging.

But before that, in the afternoon Pippin and I took the kids to the beach for the kind of bread-cheese-grapes picnic that can be thrown into a shopping bag at the market and taken as-is to dig into on the beach blanket.



This is what a June afternoon often looks like on our North Coast beaches. At least the wind wasn’t blowing, until later when it was time to leave anyway, so as we ate we didn’t consume too much sand. Pippin had to reassure Ivy several times, “At the beach, sand is o.k. on your bread.”

Though it wasn’t ideal picnic weather, it reminded me that I’ve been wanting to Florentine pasties 09post this recipe that is one of my favorite things to take on a summer outing, though maybe not to the beach, where the fruits of my labors always risk spoiling by incoming grit.

The source of this recipe is unusual: a newsletter that our power company used to send with the bill, and which always included a recipe or two. They stopped this practice 20 years ago, but these pies became a tradition for me. They keep well and I think they taste best at room (or picnic cloth) temperature.

Florentine pastie bitten

Changes I made to the recipe below: Use butter, of course, never margarine, and add some salt to the pastry dough. Or just use your own recipe for pie dough. I like to make the filling the day before assembling the pies. I thought of trying to use fresh spinach next time, but I don’t know how I would figure out the conversion ratio.

Also, I would never say “pah-stees,” because my husband’s Cornish ancestors made pasties nearly every day for the men to take into the mines for their midday meal, and they pronounced the word “past-ease.” Are we to think that Florentines would say anything different?

Florentine Pasties crp

Evening fire by the river.

Scout's map 5-15On outings with Pippin’s family, I insisted on sitting in the “way back” of the van they call Batvan. That way I had a close-up view of the map that Scout had made, which he used to show me the route from my house to his house to Montana to the river…this map covers just about anywhere you might want to go – or at least, where he wants to go.

I had (all without any map whatsoever) just arrived inbilly bluesage book my car Billy Bluesage via Pathfinder’s place in Oregon (home of Annie the photographer) in Siskiyou County where this family of my middle daughter lives. It was their baby Jamie who was born the day after his grandpa’s funeral, bless him. I have posted many pictures of their place and environs over the years, here and here, and here for example. P1130472

The first morning I woke up I took some pictures off the balcony of the room in which I had slept. It’s nearly 4,000 ft. elevation there and the chill still comes on in the evening at this time of year, but I had been cozy in my flannel, under a down comforter. The lows had been predicted to be in the 30’s F°. Tomatoes must be kept under cover for a few more weeks.

During that day I guess we mostly got ready for our picnic-and-campfire outing that was to be that evening. I must have been very lazy. I saw some deer in the back yard, but I never did go out and take the tour of Pippin’s garden. A fire was burning in the wood stove and I was like one of the cats liking to hang out in that room.P1130557


While the sun was still up and the sky blue, we packed all our food and baby gear and The Professor drove us to a spot on the Sacramento River where the North Fork comes in. You’d never dream that this little stream goes on to gather water from tributaries for more than 400 miles to become the longest and largest river in California.

The map below shows its course; we were sitting near the top where the two lines come together from the left, the North and South Forks of the river joining in a happy song running over the granite stones. Sacrivermap1

Anyone interested in a more thorough explanation and less reduced graphic of these Sacramento River headwaters would do well to check out this blog post I ran across, which almost makes me want to put on my waders and go slogging through the waterways, further up and further in to the highest lakes and springs.

Almost. But realistically, who I am is this sluggish woman in the photo below, standing in one place as I look out at the little North Fork across the way, and wishing Mr. Glad were with us, or that he would be waiting at home for me, and I would soon be with him again and telling him what I saw and learned. Many of my joys on this trip were muted by not having him to share them with. He loved looking at maps, too, and planning trips to new places.

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Well, this was a new place for me, and I did love it. What is more refreshing than being on the brink of frothing waters and breathing the clean air they stir up?

The older children scrambled over the boulders to find the best stones, and threw hundreds of rocks of different sizes into the river; they are hard workers when it is that much fun, and every rock plunging in plays a different note and tone.

It was cold – brrrr – and some of us added layers to the fleeces we already had on. I had been wearing a turtleneck with a chamois shirt I inherited from my husband on top of it, and I soon added a fleece jacket. Pippin and I took turns with a blanket that looked like something an Indian squaw would have appreciated down there by the river at night. Scout leap Sac R 5-15

Scout and Ivy hopped and leaped and only fell a few times; they never cracked their noggins or landed in the river.

Notice the matching John Deere boots? I don’t know how they can navigate the rocks in those!

< Scout didn’t fall that time.     P1130540

Pippin and I took lots of pictures of veins in rocks.

Sac R veined slab 5-15

The Professor took pictures of his family and larger landscapes. The sun set and we lit our fire. We ate wraps and chunky s’mores.

the whole crew Sac R 2015-5 cbs P1130592

The light faded from the sky, but the firelight made it possible for Pippin and Jamie to look into each other’s eyes adoringly.

We didn’t really want to go home, but there was not a comfy place to sleep, either, sooo… We got out our flashlights and headlamps and picked our way over the stones back to Batvan. The grandma waited in the car with the children while the parents loaded up, and then we drove back home, so refreshed and worn out that we were quite content.

A favorite picnic food.

IMG_6467As Jane Brody wrote about the original version of this recipe in her Good Food Book, Middle Easterners don’t really eat anything along the lines of our potato salad, but if they did, it might taste like this. Of course, she wrote that a long time ago, so for all we know, they may have adopted the tradition by now.

This dish is very convenient for picnics, because it contains no mayonnaise to worry about. Its creaminess comes from sour cream and yogurt, which along with the mint and vegetables make it refreshing for summer meals. The warm spices balance everything out. I’ve made only minor changes.

Middle Eastern Potato Salad

about 6 servings

2 # small to medium red potatoes, skins on, steamed or boiled
5 green onions
2 T. minced fresh parsley
2 T. chopped fresh mint leaves
Paprika for garnish

2/3 c. sour cream
1/3 c. yogurt (or you can use all yogurt, or any proportion of the two ingredients.)
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters or halves or 3/4-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients.  Add the potatoes to the dressing and toss lightly to coat. Taste and add more salt or seasoning as desired. (At this point I often refrigerate the salad several hours or overnight.)

pot salad 09

Within an hour or two of serving, chop the mint, parsley and onion, and gently mix about half of it into the potatoes.  Arrange the potatoes on a serving platter, sprinkle the rest of the vegetables opotato saladn top, and then sprinkle on some paprika if desired. Be sure to take the salad out of the refrigerator a little while before serving so that it is not too cold to taste all the flavors.

I usually make a triple batch, which amounts to a little more than a gallon of salad.  If you make the smaller amount it may not be necessary to mix some greens into the potatoes; they could all go on top.

Thanks to Lorrie who asked her readers about their favorite picnic foods, because she reminded me that I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for a long time.