Friday, July 6, 2012

summertime, and the living is easy ...

4th of July ... oh, after the Bulls 3-peated ... Dad's wearing the shirt
The 4th already! It's always been a big part of our family's celebrations. For as long as I can remember, it has been a party. We've done the parades, the fireworks, the carnival, and always the sittin' in the backyard eating ... and drinking beer. Many traditions have come and gone, but that one of sitting in the shade, sipping a cold one never does.

My sister has moved far away from home, but she returns every 4th with her family ... and as the kids grow, so does their love of all things red, white, and blue. They embrace the traditions, and add to the mix ... we have missed a one ... well, I have when I've been on different trips out of the country ... but you get the gist.

making potato salad with my nephew
Used to having many over, we've found over the years that we have as much fun just being our family ... we ease into the day, not up out of the blocks in a dash as we have in years past. Now smaller, we aren't so hesitant to 'make' the food ... sometimes with a crowd, it's easier to buy at the store. This year, my nephew and I made the potato salad; a family recipe that hasn't been made in many years. He was peeling and cutting  cooked potatoes and I was peeling the eggs ... he had his IPOD on and I wondered what music he was listening to ... a podcast! I didn't mind the not talking ... sometimes it's just the being that is enough. Plus I loved watching him as he made perfect cubes of potatoes ... I'm not as ... oh, fastidious with the vegetable cubes.

Many years ago, a good friend of mine introduced fireworks into the mix. We had always gone to the local pyrotechnic shows, and would suffer through my Dad's love of firecrackers, which started early and lasted through his paper bag. He would set off bricks of the noisy buggers. God, that was annoying. He was like a kid ... and Kenny, my friend, was his match. Even after we started making the 3rd's downtown fireworks an annual tradition ... and oh what fun that was! Cheese, olives, wine, and the skyline. We'd sit on the lawn of the aquarium for hours before the first colorful air-bomb. I would bring paper bags to fit over all of the city lanterns that lined the walkways so that when the show began, the night would be minus the city's glow. Sadly, the mayor put the kibosh on that tradition by canceling it forever! Argh! But we still have our own show on the 4th in the backyard.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself as I put the fireworks on pause ... another tradition that has begun since the young ones have come to us ... Captain Scallywag. Kenny and I went to college together, and one birthday a couple of years ago, he decided that we needed to take the train down to visit! Now mind you, I never took the train to and from school or at least very seldom. Typically, I would find a ride on the board at the student center. But I went along and off we went. On the return trip, we drank Miller Lite in cans in the club car, and he reminisced about his visits to a dude ranch every 4th of July with his family as a child. Every 4th, the ranch would have a pirate treasure hunt for the children. He insisted that we put one together for the children of my family. We made funny videos, painted an old chest to look like a pirate's treasure chest, and dressed up as Captain Scallywag and his wench. The kids loved it! Last year he didn't have time to put it together, so I had my niece, who was 14 at the time, make one for him! The result was wonderful. She made her brother a Spanish pirate, and we all acted in it. For the kids, we put a pinata in the treasure chest ... for him, we put a nephew in it! When he opened it up, he had quite a fright. The above video are the bloopers from filming that my niece put together.

This year we are back on track and have made a pirate treasure hunt for the kids once again ... here are our bloopers!
We're actually doing it for my mother's birthday party, not the 4th ... more kids are coming over, and we need to terrorize them with our event!

the fire
As you can see in the kids' treasure hunt, the fire pit figured prominently and the kids, well one in particular, love the fire! Last year the weather was cool, and the fire was welcomed. This year as we have averaged over 100 degrees for the last three days, not so much. But my nephew insists that the fire be lit each night. On the 4th- fire lit, the boys set about lighting up the sky. Now that my nephews are old enough ... they love blowing everything up. And I have a brother-in-law and Kenny who do as well. At one point, I just had to go inside to get away from the falling debris and Ka-Booms! Alright already! They were a little too close for comfort.

backyard fireworks ... yes, in the backyard!
Oh, I'm not a party pooper! I think that the events of two years ago are just still too fresh in my memory! After the boys blew up the sky, it's the womenfolk who clean it up! My mom had been having some trouble with racoons, so it was imperative that the trash cans be placed in the garage at the end of the night. And for the first time, since my other sister had married and moved out, I was able to put my car in the garage! What a treat. Now when everyone is at my mom's for holidays, my bed space is in hers. I was sound a sleep ... probably passed out! At 3 a.m. I awoke ... hmmm, was I thirsty? have to go to the bathroom? I walked into the kitchen and uncharacteristically poured myself a glass of orange juice. I looked out of the kitchen window and ... oh my god! Flames! In the garage! I pressed the button for the door to open, ran outside, grabbed the hose and went to work putting the fire out. When the fire died down, I went back inside to get back-up. Do I wake up my brother-in-law? Nah, he might spaz. Get mom? Yes! I walked into her bedroom and said, 'Mom?' She bolted up and asked, 'What's wrong?' I said, 'The garage is on fire.' She said, 'I'll get my slippers.' The two of us spent the next hour putting out the fire entirely and cleaning up. The fire was so hot that 2 of the 3 plastic garbage cans had melted to the ground! The one was right next to my car and it was inches away from being torched. I wanted to call the fire department, but my mom was absolutely against it. She didn't want them to know that we nearly burned the garage down because a couple of bone-headed men had thought to make certain that the remnants of the fireworks were entirely extinguished.

Yeah baby I'm a firework, but ....

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