Over the river and through the woods

For my 32nd birthday, my Grandmother flew to Olympia from Buffalo to spend some time in the woods with me. We took a small hike in an area of the Olympic National Park, hand made 120 homemade pierogies for approximately 20 people, went on an overnight expedition to Astoria, Oregon where we visited Cannon Beach, and spent an afternoon in Portland. It was a wonderful visit and it was pretty awesome to spend my 32nd birthday with my 75 year old Grandma.

Gram at Lake Cushman outside of Hood River. We took a small hike in the Staircase area in the Olympic National Park where we marveled at the snow capped mountains, moss covered trees and raging Skokomish River.

Back in Olympia, we walked around downtown. In Heritage Park, we passed a Native ceremony honoring the first day of spring, complete with two huge horses,  one white, one black, placed facing east and west and painted with white and black Salish imagery. It was beautiful. Then it was off to the co-op to get ingredients for the pierogies. Trying to explain the idea of a co-op was difficult, at best, for my price-sticker-shocked Grandmother but I think she finally understood why purchasing our food at a collective run local grocery store was better than a Safeway. We made the fillings for the Polish dumplings the night before mixing and rolling out the dough. We made sweet cheese, sauerkraut and potato pierogies. The next morning, as we were rolling out the dough, I asked my grandmother when the last time she made pierogies from scratch was. It had been over 50 years! She said the last time she made them by hand was before she was married because they take so long to make. I had unknowingly grown up on the local Polish Deli’s pierogies purchased for special occasions!

Before the pierogies are fried, they’re boiled until they float. We made a test batch to make sure the recipe was up to snuff.

Later in the day, I tidied the house while Gram tossed together a salad. I took lots of Fuji Instamatic photos at the potluck and eventually I’ll scan them in and post ’em. It was a really fun night! It was awesome to have a big house full of friends!

Gram frying the last batch of pierogies! We made over 120 and they were gone by lunch the next day.

Al and Mo inspect my Birthday Avocado from Calvin Johnson.

The next day, we drove down the Washington coast and across the beautiful bridge over the Columbia River to Astoria, Oregon. We stayed at a tacky but lovely Bed and Breakfast for the night. Grandma loved Astoria. We visited a local museum before heading to Cannon Beach for the afternoon. Back in Astoria, we ate a lovely dinner on the pier overlooking the river. The next morning, we went to the Astor Column and climbed 164 stairs to the top overlook. A pink-haired teenager with braces told my grandmother how awesome she was for making it to the top and that she was very inspiring!

Yeah, my Grandmother is an inspiring lady. That’s just how she rolls.


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