Crater Lake

me and ginny linden

Due to some mother-daughter friction that I was never privy to, I didn’t get properly introduced to my Granny (that’s what we called her) until I was around ten years old. Our family would be taking a long European vacation and my mother needed cat care. So, we shipped our two Siamese and old alley cat Hangover off to Granny and Homer’s house.

My grandmother could not be without a man. At least that is the story. And sometimes she was shady, leaving a man behind for another. One that got left behind was the grandfather I would never meet. Frederick. I was named after him long after he had committed suicide over my grandmother’s betrayal. She was much older (and was, in fact, a bit of a cougar) when she found Homer — and this one would stick. Homer was a simple man; a handyman or contractor who wore tight T-shirts that barely covered his enormous beer belly. In other words, a real find. I never saw Homer without a beer in his hand and a six-pack close by, so he could spring another one loose quickly, as needed. When I was a passenger in his truck, the beers sat between us on the front seat.

Crater Lake.  Stunning.  Unreal.

Crater Lake. Stunning. Unreal.

The summer before I turned eighteen, I headed to where Granny and Homer were now living: Medford, Oregon. I asked my friend Ginny, as adventurous as I was, to go on this trip with me. We purchased one-way plane flights. We were planning a bus or train trip that would stop in San Francisco on the way back. I’m not sure why we didn’t get round-trip tickets, but that is the way we rolled. Ginny and I were free spirits, at times reckless, finding ourselves camping in some spot near Oxnard, and then hitching to show up uninvited at friends’ homes in Newport Beach or Laguna. She was a year younger and we both looked around fourteen or fifteen years old. So, yes, pervs would pick us up and drive us hundreds of miles, and just as we were ditching their car they’d try and cop a feel. And I will get back to this but first … Medford.

We would wake up to the smell of bacon and freshly baked biscuits, which is the secret reason I liked my Granny so much; her biscuits. First day we were there, we headed out to Crater Lake. I’m not sure I have ever seen such majestic beauty in my life. It was like witnessing the 7th wonder of the world. Crystal clear, bluer than a sapphire, and formed by glaciers thousands of years ago, it beckoned me to jump in. All bodies of water beckon me, to be honest, no matter how cold. And Crater Lake was COLD. In fact, signs everywhere said no swimming. Our guides — young local friends of my grandparents that drove us to the lake — screamed when I dove in.

And then everything fell silent as I held my breath, plunging deeper and gliding quickly along, seeing rocks below me. I never heard the screams or knew that these dudes were just about to jump in and save me, when I finally popped up very far from where I dove in. I climbed out and stood on a boulder, taking in the experience – then realizing I needed to swim back in that cold, nearly hypothermia-inducing water.

I became somewhat of a freakish local hero for the rest of my stay. Everywhere I went, people were talking, “She’s the one that dove into Crater Lake”.

When it came time to leave, Ginny and I were offered an extra-long ride by those local dudes that escorted us to the lake that day.   Twelve hours round trip for them. It was the foggiest, scariest ride. We weren’t sure they didn’t want to kill us. Since they worked days, they took us in the middle of the night. I was happy not to have to deal with trains or buses, but I also thought there must be an agenda for these guys. Like maybe they thought we were now two couples and we would put out in some random motel along the way. But once we reached San Francisco, we just hopped right out of their car – yelled, “thank you,” and off we ran – because we didn’t want to pay the fare in sexual favors, thank you very much.

In the next few years both Ginny and I would become actresses. I was grateful that we attended the Oregon Shakespeare festival in Ashland that summer we visited my grandparents. Just one year after this adventure, Ginny and I showed up, uninvited – of course — to the apartment of two boys attending UCSB.  It pays to show up without an invitation.  That weekend one of them ended up becoming my first real boyfriend.  Read that story here if you want:


My Granny's diner in Texas where she honed her biscuit making skills.

My Granny’s diner in Texas where she honed her biscuit making skills.

I have yet to find my Granny’s buttermilk biscuit recipe, though I used to know it by heart.  I keep trying to recreate it.  Here is a recipe you can use and change up as you like to get a biscuit you  might like.

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons (125 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk

Heat oven to 400 °F and cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large, wide bowl. Using fingertips or a pastry blender, work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, Add buttermilk and stir until large, craggy clumps form. Reach hands into bowl and knead mixture briefly until it just holds together.

To form biscuit rounds: Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick (err on the thin side if uncertain, as the tall ones will literally rise and then tip over, like mine did the day I photographed these). Using a round cutter (2 inches for regular sized biscuits, 3 inches for the monstrous ones shown above), press straight down — twisting produces less layered sides — and transfer rounds to prepared sheet, spacing two inches apart.

To make drop biscuits: Drop 1/4-cup spoonfuls onto baking sheet, spacing two inches apart.

Both methods:Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 12 to 15 minutes. I like them piping hot, the very second they are out of the oven.  Don’t cool.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses to “Crater Lake”

  1. Madeleine Gallay says:

    You tell the greatest stories!! Love this.

  2. Debra Schellenberg says:

    Great story Fredde. A fun read and you brought everything to life.
    Funny, it may be a BH thing but I have the same temptation every time I see a body of water. Did you ever dive into the reservoir at Franklin Canyon?


  3. Bonnie says:

    huffpostReally! They’re soooo lucky:)))

  4. Laura Plotkin says:

    Another great story, you wild child! Sometimes I think it is amazing that you lived to tell these great stories! I rarely eat biscuits these days (carbs turning into sugar and all that), but nothing is better than a hot biscuit, just out of the oven with a pat of butter melting on top! At least I have my memories–and the occasional chicken dish my husband Tony makes, where he cooks up what tastes a lot like the filling for a chicken pot pie and then tops it with a freshly made browned biscuit! Yum.

  5. Linda says:

    Quickly jumling out of the car and yelling “thank you” or “merci” or “grazie” … been there, done that. Thanks for a nice reminder of my youthful adventures …

  6. gari says:

    love this story fredde~you have the most wonderful way of describing things so that i feel like i am really there in the midst of your adventure! love reading anything you write!
    i will be making these for my mom the next time in am in los angeles~
    thank you giving me a wondeful story to read~

Leave a Reply