Author: Cornish, Rick

Christmas in June

Good morning from Whiskey Creek, where the better part of the day will be spent on a massive, well-coordinated, take-no-prisoners campaign to return the Cornish home and surrounding property to the pristine condition in which it was left ten days ago when the boss left for her visit with family on the east coast. Yes, a professional has been engaged, as have a couple close friends. If it can be done, dammit, this crack team can do it.

So, I was at the grocery store a couple days ago when Sabrina, a young Hispanic woman who holds claim to the title of fastest checker at Sonora’s SavMart, asked me if I felt I was ready. I knew instantly what she meant by the question. Were it Christmas, it’s the question that half the people in our little town would be asking the other half in every check-out line in Sonora, Jamestown and Columbia. You know, ‘Just eight days to Christmas, are you ready?’ Of course it’s the beginning of summer and not Christmas at all, but it’s a question that folks have been asking me for the past week or so. Am I ready for Grass Valley? Even the checker at SavMart knows about my annual trek to Nevada County? Of course she does. (Even our mailman knows.)

“No, Sabrina, I don’t feel ready. You’d think that after 38 years I would have a system in place.”

“Well,” she said handing me my receipt and a fist full of coupons, “it’s not too late, Mr. Cornish. Just, you know, make a list.”

Ha, make a list. My Grass Valley list of tasks needing doing before I leave, things to pack, things to buy, broken stuff on the trailer to fix, people to call, emails to write is a growing, living document begun three decades ago. I remember the first…pencil scribbles on a Big Mac wrapper. In 2014 everything’s in a relational database capable even of sending reminders to my various email accounts. Not that reminders, emailed or otherwise, can help. Next Saturday morning I will be on 80, just approaching Rocklin, when the first, “OH, DAMN, DAMN, DOUBLE-DAM, I FORGOT THE…” happens. It was only the very first year, 1977, that I did not forget to bring something to Grass Valley, and that’s because, as today’s Grist implies, I had no idea where I was going and hence what I would need to bring along. Or at least not much of an idea.
For many years, I’d say about twenty, much of my Fathers Day Festival list was devoted to food and food preparation. I’ve always loved to cook for lots of folks and what better place to do it than at a campground where 80% of every friend I have is either there or on the way? I would prepare elaborate dinners for twenty, thirty, forty people. That all ended abruptly back in 2000 when I began serving on the CBA board; I tried the first year to juggle my culinary adventures with my new official duties and neither got done to my satisfaction. Now I don’t even bring a camp stove. (I have been cooking one big barrel roaster-smoker full of delectables on Saturday night in the Edes/Meiners/Evans camp, however—last year ribs for Rhonda and her band, this year culotte steaks marinated for an entire day in a red wine and garlic Basque concoction for the Lonesome River Band.)

The pre-festival countdown took on a whole new character last year when I hatched the crazy…CRAZY…idea of designing, making and selling buttons at the festival to raise money for the CBA web site re-design project. Bringing the whole thing off the first year and actually making a little money was a hellish ordeal, but at least I had some peace of mind knowing that all of the kinks in the process would be worked out by year two. HA! Four hundred and thirty different button designs, three made with a pin-on back, three made with a magnet on back. Let’s see, 435 times 3 times 3.

So that’s it. Welcome column over. 5:15 a.m. and major work to do, first for my darling Lynn’s arrival back home tonight, then for my departure a week from today. Ain’t life grand?

Posted:  5/31/2014

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email