Sunday, June 29, 2008

National Picnic Month

July is National Picnic Month! I discovered this fact on the website,

This caused me to wonder about other special days, so I checked Chase's Calendar of Events at the library, where I found the following interesting days coming up in July. You may want to note them on your calendar:

1. July 2 is "I Forgot Day." This is a day to make up for all the birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. that you forgot to acknowledge during the year. Personally, I'd be in trouble if I only had one day a year to catch up on all my "forgots."

2. July 23 is "Hot Enough For Ya Day." On this day, we are permitted to ask the following question when nothing of intelligence comes to mind: "Is it hot enough for ya?" I actually asked this question today, first because it really was hot, but also in the event it's not that hot on the 23rd, I didn't want to miss my once-a-year opportunity.

3. July 27 is "Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day." Supposedly, if they get to know their neighborhood, it will bring on wellness. They didn't say, but I feel sure this would work for humans as well.

Well, I'm not sure about the other events, but with the July 4th weekend, school being out, the first full month of summer, etc. there will certainly be plenty of opportunities to picnic.

So, in honor of National Picnic Month, anyone ordering a book from my website ( during July will pay just $12.00 rather than the retail price of $15.95. However, you must use the online order form for this offer. Just print the form and mail with check for $12.00 (plus tax) for each book, along with appropriate shipping and handling charges. Just write "Per Blog" anywhere on the form.

Speaking of all the birthdays, anniversaries, etc., at this price, why not order an extra book for a gift. Then you won't have to worry about "I Forgot Day."

Happy Picnicking!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Check Out These Upcoming Special Events

Many of the destinations in Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket offer special events during the year that should not be missed. I recently learned about the following:

June 21 from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. & June 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Haight-Brown Vineyard sponsors "Taste of Litchfield Hills" including "fine cuisine, upscale shopping, live entertainment, plus winery tours & tastings." I will be signing books on Sunday. Find out more at or call 860-567-4045.

July 17 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. the Mark Twain House & Museum presents "Twain at Twilight" on the lower lawn. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy their picnic supper while listening to New Orleans Jazz. I will be listening as well, and signing books. Find out more about this free concert and another on June 22 at or call 860-247-0998.

July 26 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Florence Griswold Museum takes part in the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival with the "En Plein Air" market on the grounds of the museum. Over 20 Connecticut vendors will offer fresh flowers, breads, cheeses, and specialty foods, or enjoy a prepared lunch under market umbrellas along the Lieutenant River. Find out more at (Click Upcoming Events on left; click July on right) or call 860-434-5542.

The last Sunday in June, July, August, and September, and October 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine opens its Viets Tavern for tours and skittles. In my book, I write that prison guards frequented Viets Tavern during their free time to "eat, drink, and play skittles, a game first introduced in England in the fourteenth century." At the time my book went to print, the tavern was open to visitors "occasionally." So, I was happy to learn of these specific dates. Find out more at or call 860-653-3563.

Be sure to check the above websites for costs and full description of these events. And, check the websites of the other destinations in Cruising Connecticut to learn about additional offerings throughout the year.

Have fun!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Connecticut Open House Day

What a curious day!

Having no commitments for a change, I decided to take advantage of Connecticut's annual Open House Day. Like a kid in a candy store, I poured over the 200 or so tourist attractions listed in the brochure. Many were offering reduced or free admission, complimentary product tastings, or special demonstrations.

I circled five possibilities, but as it turned out I had a few things to attend to in the morning, and with a couple of the venues having limited hours, I ended up revising my original list to just two destinations. I left home at 12:00 and drove to Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam for a free tour of the Victorian Theater, something I had been wanting to do for years. The hours listed were 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

During the drive, I listened to the rebroadcast of Faith Middleton's Food Schmooze, having missed it during the week and knowing there was a call-in segment for listeners' favorite picnics. By the time I got to the parking lot, it was 1:45, and I sat in the car to finish listening. At approximately 1:03 I walked into the theater and was told they had just ended the tours. When I questioned the fact that the brochure had said 2:00 I was told the reason for the change was that today's performance time had been moved up to 3:00 and the actors would be coming in soon to get ready.

Although I was disappointed, it was a lovely day and the drive was pleasant, so I simply set off for my next destination, Rose's Berry Farm in South Glastonbury. At least the pick-your-own strawberries, plus "free snacks, beverages and wagon tours of the farm" was offered until 5:00, although really, I was only interested in picking berries. By the time I arrived, my mouth was watering for the first native strawberries of the season. But, when I arrived, I was told there was no picking after all because the berries were not quite ready.

As I headed for home, I thought, so much for the information listed in that glossy colored brochure, until I remembered the quote in my own book by John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley, "What I set down here is true until someone else passes that way and rearranges the world in his own style."

Isn't that the truth!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Yale University Art Gallery Exhibit

I recently read that Vincent Van Gogh's 1889 painting, "The Starry Night" will be on display at the Yale University Art Gallery, as will his "Cypresses", both on loan from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The dates are June 15 through September 7.

"The Starry Night" is said to be Van Gogh's "most celebrated" and because of the anticipated popularity of this exhibit, crowds will be limited to insure that viewing will be the best experience it can be. Advanced timed ticketing is available online at

Folks who have my book, "Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket" already know that this art gallery is the oldest university art gallery in the United States, founded in 1832 with Colonel John Trumbull's gift of his paintings of the American Revolution.

AND, that all exhibits are FREE, all the time, not only at this gallery, but across the street at the Yale Center for British Art, which has the most comprehensive collection of British Art outside the United Kingdom.

What a wonderful time to visit these renowned museums. And, do take a picnic to enjoy at the lovely town Green, just one block away, either before or after your museum visit. For more information about New Haven, visit