Meet Sophie, Our 4th of July Mascot...
Sophie is my brother's pit bull. She's very sweet and loyal, but at night she becomes a watchdog and protector extraordinaire. More on her later.
My 4th of July family get-together was just lovely.
By now, my siblings, their partners and I know just what we like, so we've managed to pare holiday visits down to a science.
We got to my brother's lake house--so far out in the sticks the road actually ends and the final 1,000 feet is a dirt road.
We arrived at 1 p.m. and lunch was ready. No sitting around for us- we arrive and expect to eat.
Big Bro is a master griller. Everything he grills or smokes turns to culinary magic. Bobby Flay would bow at his feet.
We wanted babyback ribs and we got 'em.
Besides the potato salad and corn on the cob, Bro made a rack of ribs for each of us.
That's right, 17 inches of meaty, smokey babybacks per person.
"Uhh, Bill, I think a half a rack will do for me," I said, thinking I'd polish them off and go back for my second half later. Nope, these babies were so meaty and rich we were all too stuffed to even finish our corn.
After lunch we piled in their new Yaris up the road to where they keep their horse and donkey. Two miniature donkeys- brothers- live adjacent to them. They reminded me of Big Sis and me; one was neat and tidy like her and the other one was a little disheveled. Go figure.
We figured they'd all love our corn.
Calley the horse wasn't interested, but the donkeys loved it. They ate it like humans do, biting it off the cob section by section. Who knew donkeys were so freakin' dainty?
I was in charge of bringing munitions. They wanted fireworks down by the lake, and knowing they'd spare no expense on food and drink, I was determined to buy a nice selection.
At a little stand outside of Blanco, I encountered a beautiful woman behind the counter with her adorable son and nephew, both about 10. Her nephew was very sweet and he led me through the expected performance of each explosive like a patient salesman.
I asked for a volume discount and the lady promptly agreed.
At my family's request, I didn't piss away my money on baby stuff like sparklers or firecrackers--I went strictly for the Big Mamas. But then at the end, I had them throw in a little three-inch chicken with a fuse in her butt. We all love chickens, you see.
So at dark, we piled in the bed of Big Bro's truck and took the treacherous drive down to the lakeside.
The sky was clear and glistening with stars.
We scouted around for a launch pad and settled on the bottom of an extremely steep boat launch, paved with nubbly concrete that hurt like hell to sit on. But there we sat, waiting for Big Bro to run up and down the hill to light the fireworks.
I wasn't expecting those giant chrysanthemum explosions one sees at public fireworks shows, but that's what we got.
Teens across the inlet would shoot off their modest roman candles and we'd reply with a stick of sparkly dynamite that lit the entire sky. It was fabulous, except for one thing...
It seems Sophie the dog watches Bill like a hawk and when he runs, Sophie races toward him to investigate.
By the same token, she is intrigued by the ground sparks that large fireworks tend to give off, so we constantly had to yell at her to get away from the launch pad. And I mean constantly.
Anyway, our personal fireworks show lasted about an hour and we all were well pleased.
Lingering on the steep loading launch, I held up the little chicken and said, "Hey, Big Sis, you wanna see the chicken shoot sparks out of her butt?"
"Hell yes," she replied.
So we lit it, not expecting Sophie to run up as it started to whistle and shoot sparks.
She quickly grabbed it up in her mouth and held it as sparks shot out the side. We were panicking and moving in slow motion, hoping it didn't end in a loud bang.
Once the chicken quit shooting sparks and whistling, Sophie merely dropped it, then trotted down to the water and had herself a little drink. She was fine. We were relieved.
As we made our way back to the house, I was very proud of myself for making such spactacular firework selections. Fishing for compliments, I asked the group, "Which was your favorite firework?"
They all replied in unison, "The chicken Sophie had in her mouth."
Forget the 96-shot, three pound, grand finale unit that lit the skies for a full two minutes. Nope, my goofy family liked The Chicken n' Sophie Show best of all.
I checked her mouth carefully the next morning. There was no sign at all that she'd gobbled up an explosive the night before. My brother chuckled and said, "I bet she won't be doing that again."
I guess dogs are raised differently in the country.