Backyard Cookout

Last week, Justin and I hung out at Pontiac for a few after-work drinks and decided we wanted to throw a party this weekend. Fast-forward through a day of errands and shopping, and this is where we’re at – Justin’s place, supplies coming out of our ears, and a whole lot of prep work to be done.

The guests show up around 6PM, and folks meander outside. Dave and Jonathan try out the badminton set that Kari and Doug set up.

This was my big idea – carving out a watermelon for use as a punchbowl. I had a hard time finding any good recipes online for this, but made do. My original hope was to shove a spigot in this guy and use it like a tap. Alas, we settled on a hole in the top and a ladle.

On a related trivia note, there is an actual National Watermelon Promotion Board website. Who knew?

Chelsea gives the punch a little test-drive.

She, along with Will, were inside helping me prep the melon.

Doug and Howard, getting the grills going. I got to see Doug’s charcoal chimney in action, and it’s by far one of the more useful outdoor grilling devices I’ve seen.

Greg and Justin, lounging by the music. Greg was kind enough to lend some of his equipment (and his porch), allowing Justin to work his DJ magic all night.

Sadly, I spent a good portion of the night doing a lot of prep work, running inside often. While I wanted to spend more time with my friends who showed up, I found myself inside, working in the kitchen for at least the first half of the evening. I really didn’t get to mingle and hang out as much as I wanted.

In addition to the watermelon punch, I wanted to try out a recipe for Blueberry Crumble that I had seen on Stephen Raichlen’s BBQ University.

If you haven’t seen this show, definitely check to see if it’s on in your area. I’m not a big cook or BBQ person really, but Raichlen breaks down a lot of the steps and makes a lot of outdoor grilling look remarkably easy.

Kari and Doug, posing for the camera (I’ve forgotten their dog’s name). Note that Kari is sipping on a glass of their home-brewed melon-tini.

Mel, Chris, Leslie, Chelsea and Will, kicking back in the backyard.

As the night wore on, we slowly began to hear (and see) more and more fireworks. This is a quick shot of what sounded like a small display going off right next door.

Soon after this, we all gathered out back in the alleyway, and set off some of the fireworks I purchased in Indiana.

A bunch of us, sifting through the bag of fireworks.

Someone snagged my camera at various points while we were out back (I think Justin snapped this one).

Kristen lights a bottle rocket, then quickly retreats.

Before we were done with all the explosions, the light drizzle turned into a pretty heavy downpour. A lot of folks ended up braving the rain, grabbing what nearby shelter they could.

It might very well have been the alcohol in me, but the rain made this part of the evening that much more enjoyable. I loved it that folks stuck around in the rain, despite the fact that everyone was getting more or less soaked through.

It’s a very adult-like thing to seek shelter once the rain starts. Every once in a while, it’s nice to do the opposite and ignore the fact that you’re getting drenched.

Amidst all the smoke and noise, Dave brings out our sacrificial watermelon. We promised everyone an exploding melon, and by god we were going to do all we could to make that happen.

Chris lights up an M-70, as everyone watches. What I love about this picture is how everyone has their own definition of what constitutes a “safe distance.”

Back inside, Doug and Will contemplate the bottle of Hypnotiq that my friend Kim brought along.

Kim and I are old friends – we go way, WAY back, to our days as undergrads at IU. Back in the days when email was all VAX-based, we somehow met online. I’m not quite sure exactly how we met, but this was back in the BITNET days, sending one liners back and forth.

And over the course of our college careers, we’d keep in contact. When school was out over
the summer (and for a few years after college, when I moved to Ohio), I’d get these great letters in the mail from her. Letters full with stickers and pages cut out from books and magazines, postcards, drawings. Tons of stuff.

We somehow found one another again a few years back, and to my surprise I learned that she’s living just outside of Chicago. We’ve since talked over IM a bit, and send emails back and forth. It’s amazing to think that after all this time, we’re still talking.

Tonight, she showed up with her friend Gina and Gina’s boyfriend, Max (both Gina and Kim are apparently big fans of the blog). It’s pretty amazing to see Kim again tonight. I think it’s been about 10 years since we’ve seen one another.

Hula gal. This might look like an artsy shot, but…

wait for it…

Yeah. Let’s file this one under “Felix is drunk.” For god’s sake, is this an actual lampshade?

Apparently, this is me trying to show everyone that I’m the life of the party. This just screams class.

Brook, Kristen, Hillary and Jonathan, chatting on the couch.

Brook and Kristen – I can’t remember if they’re picking at some apple pie, or doing a shot.

Me and Kim, circa midnight. Notice the now-empty bottle of Hypnotiq, my thoroughly-soaked shirt, as well as an Uncle Sam pen that Kim and Gina brought as a gift.

I told you they were fans of the blog. :)

Todd and Gretchen.

Huzzah! Drinks were had, food was grilled, and though no watermelons actually exploded, no one lost a finger and nothing caught on fire. All in all, I’d call tonight a succesful party.

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

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