Chicken Fried Vogue

For 15 years and most of her adult life, Bubblez lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. She enjoyed taking her children to museums, parks, and dates at Starbucks. Then Bubblez moved to the country and her En Vogue attitude got chicken fried. Her yard is a park where the neighbor's rooster won't stop crowing, Starbucks is almost an hour away, and her large collection of fancy shoes is worthless. But, living in the acres of green has presented more opportunities for living "green" as Bubblez travels the path toward self-sufficiency (and bitches ((and prays)) along the way).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Big Fat Chicken Fried Summer

Hey. Have you seen that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Yes. Yes. No? Ok, you hold on a minute while I talk to these people.

You know that scene where Toula is telling her hot new boyfriend, Ian, about why they shouldn't be together, and she asks him how many cousins he has? Right. And he says that he has two cousins. Then, she proceeds to tell him about her huge ass family with the "27 first cousins, alone?"

Yep. 26, here. I have 26 first cousins. But, today I'm only talking about my Dad's side, so that makes 12.

You take 12 first cousins, add in a handful of second cousins and first cousins once removed, plus all of their parents, and one very tolerant Grandmother, and you've got a party.

Now take all those people, throw in several coolers full of pop and beer, add explosives, and a dash of redneck.

Yeah. Big party.

We used to all get together at Grandma's house for the 4th of July. One of my uncles would fire up the old brick grill that Grandpa had built in the back yard, and start cooking up the dogs and burgers. A couple of others would set up the extra long Slip'N'Slide and the volleyball net.

Everyone was invited to play. Young and old would take turns seeing who could slide the farthest. Volleyball games got kind of rowdy sometimes, and the big people would take turns picking the little people back up off the ground.

Whoever wasn't playing games or chasing kids around the yard would begin waging war on the neighbors across the street. Bottle rockets flew back and forth over the roofs between them, and everybody laughed as we listened to the shouts and cussing from the other side.

One of my uncles had a particular fondness for half sticks of dynamite. At some point during the day, after everyone had eaten and was starting to get bored, the big boys, meaning full grown men, would sneak off toward the river bridge a few blocks away on the edge of town.

Grandma would shake her head and mutter about how she just knew they were going to hurt themselves or get into trouble of some kind. After while we'd all hear a big boom as they dropped that dynamite off the bridge and into the river. They'd coming running back laughing and proud while the women gave disapproving looks and the kids talked excitedly about how that one was so big it made the street lights go out.

My Dad and his brothers planned the fireworks display for months in advance, each year trying to make it bigger and better. They built special launch pads and worked out the order and the timing. As evening fell, we'd all set up the lawn chairs auditorium style and get ready for the show. Ooos and ahhs erupted from the lot of us as each pop lit up the sky in an array of sparkles and light.

When the show was done, our mothers would hug and congratulate our fathers on a job well done and begin the process of packing us kids off to bed. There were cribs set up in Grandma's living room for the babies and at some point, before it got too dark, tents were erected in the yard for most everyone else, even though some of us only lived a block or two away.

With the children safely tucked away, some with glass jars full of fireflies that they'd watch blinking in the dark as they all slowly took turns giggling and then drifting off to sleep, the adults would gather their chairs in a cluster together to drink beers and shoot the breeze in the cool night air.

When morning arrived, we'd pack up our belongings and clean up the yard trying to find as many burnt out rocket sticks as we could so that none of them would be in the way for next week's mowing. We'd say our goodbyes, hung over adults and whiney kids, and all take off for home to work or rest as the need required before settling back into the daily routine of life.

We were best friends, my family. The amount of love that was shared between us on those occasions was insurmountable. I can't imagine a life with only two first cousins, and although in my grown up days, there have been years when we couldn't be together, the memory of those wonderful summer days in Grandma's back yard is part of who I am.

My greatest wish is that my children and their children should get a taste of that wonder that is family and hold onto it for the rest of their lives, for friends do come and go, but family is forever.


  1. I absolutely LOVE this! Makes me wish I was one of the 26.

    Independence Day is my favorite holiday. Sounds like your family celebrates it proper.

  2. I see what you did there, followed the Blogger Idol prompt there without saying so. Very nice. I don't follow other bloggers on the "followers" thingee, but, I bookmark the ones I like and come back.

    You simply MUST post more often. I would personally like to hear more from you. Don't get discouraged, do it for a few people who care, just keep writing.

    1. Was I supposed to tell? I'm not good at rules.

      And thank you!

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  4. SUHWEET!! Sounds like country living at its finest.

    1. Those were good times, alright. You should have seen the Halloween parties!

  5. Chicken Fried Vogue...LOVE it!

    When F & I first got together I found it difficult to fathom that he only had 2 used to make me feel so sad for all he missed out on. I have 52 first cousins (3 whom are first cousins AND first cousins once removed...and one of those is now also a first cousin twice, along with 3 others who are also first cousins twice; plus a first cousin who is also my gets very confusing and makes my head hurt). But I knew each and every one of them growing up and have such incredible memories of all the love, laughter and good times. Though time and distance have separated us I still feel that love. Lots of love in these large families! Great made me smile as it brought back lots of great memories.

    1. So, what you're saying is: you're your own Grandpa? ;)