Friday, June 27, 2008

Weenie Call

JenniferLast night, I set my alarm clock to go off at 00:30 (a.k.a 12:30am) so that I could make a phone call to a longstanding family tradition: the Summer Weenie Roast.

Since well before I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my family has had at least one Weenie Roast in the summer. When at all possible it has been held at the beach, although in cases of bad weather, it has been held at the Farm instead. Ideally, family from out of town are around for the Weenie Roast, and family friends who happen to be around sometimes attend as well. The absolute and unvarying staples are weenies, buns, big bags of various kinds of chips, and the raw ingredients for s'mores: graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars. In the old days, bottles of pop were kept cold in the lake water, but the more sensible and sanitary coolers have taken over. Most times we remember to bring ketchup and mustard and relish (a couple years ago, when Joe and I were in charge of the dogs and their fixin's, we forgot the condiments, and Aunt P. (whose house was closest to the beach) went back to get hers (we're still embarrassed about this, by the way)). In the old days, we used to cut branches from trees for roasting things, but nowadays the eco-friendly but devilish steel implements are used instead.

In recent years, the Weenie Roast has included the Utah relations, who come to visit for a week in the summer: Aunt J.B. and any of her children (my cousins) who can get a week off, and their children (my first cousins once removed, or FCOR). This year the cousin list included A. and her daughters C. and R., and D. and her daughter S. and son Z. It is unclear to me how many of my in-town cousins were there, but at least my other youngish FCOR G. and J. were there. Of course in-town aunts P. and J.A. were there, uncle R., and my parents, and Gramma, who had her 92nd birthday earlier this month.

Apparently it's hot and muggy in Michigan, but the water must be good, because everyone except Aunt J.B. and Gramma was in the water (and reportedly performing some sort of impromptu ballet) when I called their mobile. The modern miracle that is Skype is not infallible—I could hear everyone perfectly, and even the kids all shouting in the background, but I guess everyone was hearing me with a bad echo. I tried to fix it by putting a blanket over my head, to reduce the echo in my bare-walled apartment, but to little avail. So mostly they talked to me, and the fire was going so people took turns roasting weenies while the phone was passed around. The day before, some number of them had gone into Chicago to see "Wicked," which everybody enjoyed. Gramma blamed the Dramamine she took against the train ride for putting her to sleep during the show; she protested that she has never ever fallen asleep in a theater before. Aunt P., just back from California, reported that cousin C. and my newest FCOR A. are doing well. Cousin A. was disappointed that they had to fly to Michigan instead of taking the train, due to the flooding in the Midwest. FCOR Z. says playing the net is the best part of tennis.

Of course Michigan is 6 hours behind Sweden, and you can't start a weenie roast in the early afternoon, so it was going to be a late call for me, with work to go to the next day, so at about 10pm, once it was clear that Spain was going to beat Russia in the semifinals of the European Championships, I headed for bed. Now waking yourself up in the middle of the night is never fun, but once I stumbled out of our heavily insulated bedroom, I just stared out of a northward facing window for a few minutes, where the sky looked like dawn (see picture to the left), and this woke me up pretty well, I think.

I don't yet know too many particulars of this Weenie Roast, but here are some good bets: By the end of the night all the the chip bags were opened and half full of sand; at least one bag of marshmallows got the same treatment; Gramma finished off the Doritoes when no one was looking; my father made several freakishly perfect toasted marshmallows; oddly, the chocolate bars were the first s'mores ingredient to run out but my mother disclaimed all knowledge of this; at the end of the night, the kids had fun putting out the fire with pail-fulls of lake water because of the great gouts of steam and wonderful hissing noise. Hope you all had as much fun as it sounded—thanks for the "wish you were here" hollers—I wish I had been there too! Happy Weenie Roast!

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