Mistress of the Mix: Pudding & Fireworks

Chocolate Pudding. Raspberries. Whipped Cream. Tradition.

Chocolate Pudding. Raspberries. Whipped Cream. Tradition.

Since the dawn of time, my parents have celebrated the 4th of July with chocolate pudding and fresh raspberries topped with whipped cream. I don’t know how Jello pudding became a family tradition, only that for the past umpteen years, that’s how we roll at the Ing Ranch.

My parents have had a spectacularly positioned home for viewing the fireworks display in Ashland, high up on the hill overlooking the university football stadium where pyrotechnicians are hard at work creating a light show for the city. But after 35 years, the trees on the downhill side of their house have crept up higher and higher, so that you really have to stand in just the right place on my parent’s deck to get a partial view of the festivities.

Back in the 90’s, my parents even went to ridiculously great extremes to secure the opportunity to thin out some trees that were endangering their view of the valley below. Extremes that I won’t even go into here, not because they were illegal or anything, just forehead slapping extreme in that my-parents-are-crazier-than-your-parents kind of way. These days, they would probably have to resort to something illegal to get their view back, like introducing some kind of invasive tree-eating beetle or Sudden Oak Death, because the whole hillside has simply grown up.

What I’m getting at is that there’s not a whole lot to see from my parent’s deck any longer, but every year when I make a pilgrimage back to the cultural Mecca of Ashland for the holiday, the fridge is completely packed with an entire flat of raspberries, a huge mixing bowl of chocolate pudding, and about 6 cans of whipped cream. Once upon a time, there were so many people on the deck for the 4th of July that I worried about the integrity of the cantilevering. Nowadays, as my parents have been blessed with longevity and have reached Octogenarian status, fewer and fewer friends show up each year.

Another family tradition that goes back to the days before there was a Starbucks in downtown Ashland is putting on a big floppy hat, and drive down the hill, parking as close as one can get to the aforementioned Starbucks (which is about a half mile), and congregating either on the deck of the coffee shop or on the sidewalk in front of the coffee shop in blistering heat for 3 hours to watch the 4th of July Parade. The only years I have not participated in this compulsory event since 1981 are the years I spent in Alaska, and the year I was (ever so thankfully) living on a Greek island. I was ever so thankful that year not because the Greeks don’t celebrate the 4th of July, but because that was the year that my former boyfriend through most of my college years decided to get married on the 4th of July. On a float in the parade. Can you imagine anything more uncomfortable than getting hitched while standing on the flatbed of a semi going about 2 miles an hour in 100 degree heat in front of 20-thousand strangers? I can. Imagine if you were that guy’s ex-fiancee, standing on the sidewalk in a floppy hat watching it happen. So I’m glad I didn’t have to see that. But I heard about it, oh I heard about it. All the way from Greece.

Moving on…

My husband – the newest member of this family – is kind of known in my family for pulling the pin & tossing a conversational hand grenade into the room. He has made the bold suggestion that we throw tradition to the wind this year, and change things up a little bit. He has offered up the idea of the whole family trekking up to Diamond Lake, where it’s ten degrees cooler, where we can rent a paddle boat, swim and fish in the lake, then sit on the deck at the Diamond Lake Resort, eat prime rib and watch their fireworks display while listening to a live band, and sleep in our 28 foot travel trailer in relative comfort.

He had me at ‘ten degrees cooler.’

Diamond Lake. Ten Degrees Cooler.

Diamond Lake. Ten Degrees Cooler.

My dad, who would rather have his toenails pried off by an Air Force Master Sergeant with a pair of pliers than attend another 4th of July parade in 110 degree heat, is all for it. My sister and her husband really like to create new family traditions, so the idea of doing something – anything – different than the way we’ve been doing it for 35 years is tantalizing. And their 7 year old daughter Lena loves a parade as much as any 7 year old, but I kind of think she might like swimming in the lake, bicycling on dirt roads and playing in the grass with my puppy and being right underneath the fireworks a little bit more than frying her bottom on the concrete curb of East Main Street and reapplying sunscreen every half hour while watching some other kids ride their bikes in a parade. I bet if I tell her there’s face painting up at Diamond Lake that I can seal this deal.

The only person left that I really need to convince…the only person who really truly matters, is my mom. But I have 3 pieces of ammunition in my arsenal that I might be able to use to sway her:

#1 Pudding can travel

#2 My trailer has air conditioning

#3 And a memory foam mattress.

I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s quite possible that the fireworks this year will be going off inside my mom & dad’s house.

In the meantime, I’ve got the music to bring to this party. Feel free to stream today’s 4th of July playlist at your party as well, no matter where you are. And a big thanks to my summer intern, Jackson Whitmore, who helped me immensely in moving this playlist over from where it used to live to it’s new digs at Spotify. All you need to do is click the play arrow on the box below and enjoy!

  1. Katy Perry – Firework
  2. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – This Land Is Your Land
  3. Straight No Chaser – America The Beautiful
  4. James Brown – Living In America
  5. Neil Diamond – America
  6. Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA
  7. Lenny Kravitz – American Woman
  8. John Mellencamp – R.O.C.K. In The USA
  9. Chuck Berry – Back In The USA
  10. Grand Funk Railroad – We’re An American Band
  11. Neil Young – Rockin’ In The Free World
  12. Don McLean – American Pie
  13. Elton John – Philadelphia Freedom
  14. The Beatles – Revolution
  15. Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA
  16. Shooter Jennings – 4th Of July
  17. Toby Keith – Courtesy Of The Red White & Blue
  18. Randy Travis – America Will Always Stand
  19. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – An American Dream
  20. Steve Miller Band – Living In The USA
  21. Martin Sexton – Free World
  22. Keb’ Mo’ – America The Beautiful
  23. Glenn Miller – American Patrol
  24. The Impressions – This Is My Country
  25. Johnny Cash – Ragged Old Flag
  26. Jimi Hendrix – Star Spangled Banner
  27. Lee Greenwood – God Bless the USA
  28. Kate Smith – God Bless America
  29. James Taylor – On The 4th of July
  30. The Presidents Own United States Marine Band – Stars & Stripes Forever
Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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11 Responses

  1. EasternCounty says:

    “It’s a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” always make my feet want to march.  Let us know if you convinced your Mom to try Diamond Lake.

  2. cheyenne says:

    On July 5th each year our relatives would gather at the Hayfork Fair grounds for fireworks.  As the fireworks company resided in Hayfork, the town got the same fireworks show that Redding and Anderson got free but without the crowds.  Alas the event became too successful as it started drawing crowds from as far away as Eureka.

    Those are pleaant family memories.


  3. A. Jacoby says:

    Don’t have a thing to add . .. mark that in red on your calendar! I tho’t there, just for a second, I might have to add some Sousa, but no . . . right there at the end of the play list is Stars and Stripes. Now I guess it’s indicative of my advanced years that I get a lump in my throat just reading that title.

    And, let’s hear it in caps for any tradition that includes chocolate pudding and ten degrees cooler!

    Write on, my friend!

  4. Steve T Steve T says:

    During the last “Freedom Festival” I attended a few years back here in Redding, someone yelled “F*** you, Obama!” during the grand finale, and the people all around me cheered.  Inspired by that moment, here’s my dozen anti-patriotic/anti-jingoistic songs:

    “Bored in the USA” — Father John Misty

    “8 More Days ‘Til the 4th of July” — The Ike Reilly Assassination

    “Aftermath USA” — Drive-By Truckers

    “God Bless America” — James McMurtry

    “Sinaloa Cowboys” — Bruce Springsteen

    “Ashes of American Flags” — Wilco

    “The Revolution will not be Televised.”  — Gil Scott-Heron

    “U.S. Blues” — Grateful Dead

    “Uncle Sam Goddamn” — Brother Ali

    “Fortunate Son” — Creedence Clearwater Revival

    “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” — John Prine

    “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.” — The Clash

    “United States of Whatever” — Liam Lynch


    • EasternCounty says:

      All that certainly makes a guy proud — said dripping with sarcasm.

    • Breakfast Guy says:

      Bravo Steve!

      And here are a couple from my Independence Day playlist:

      “Alabama” — Neil Young

      “This Land Is Our Land” — Todd Snider

  5. Thank you, Val. You don’t just share music, but you share yourself and your family’s unusual traditions.

    And I love the easier way to listen. Just one little click. (Three cheers for summer intern Jackson Whitmore.)

  6. Valerie Ing says:

    Thanks Doni!

    I’m happy to report that we successfully lured my parents up to Diamond Lake, it was an absolute blast, best fireworks display I’ve ever seen (really!) and although we brought the chocolate pudding and raspberries, never got around to making it because we ate prime rib on the back deck of the resort and were too full for dessert. Definitely one of my top 5 4th of July’s of all time. Hey Steve, maybe next year I’ll put together a MotM with your anti-Independence Day songs…especially if it looks like Donald Trump has a snowball’s chance of winning the election.

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