Monday, July 23, 2007

My Cousins in Mundelein, Illinois

"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves." ~Lynn Hall

July 21-22: I had not seen my Mundelein cousins since my cousin Pam's wedding in 1990. It's tough to visit when you live on a far distant coast and you have college loans to pay back.

Our mothers are sisters, so my siblings and Wisconsin cousins saw a lot of them when we were children. They were our favorite cousins because they were so daring and adventurous; nearly dangerous in our minds because they so easily and carelessly flaunted authority. As you can guess, my siblings and I loved to visit them and run wild.

We played Red Light-Green Light at midnight, played music too loudly, caught fireflies by the dozen, snuck out the boys' window and climbed down the tall fir tree to escape to the nearby lake at night to drink beer.

They're all grown up now, and some of them have their own kids. And they still know how have a heck of a good time. I arrived just as my cousin Kyle and his wife Jenny's party was at a full rolling boil. About 75 family members from Jenny's side of the family were gathered to celebrate life, family and summer fun in the midwest sun.

With virtually no humidity or mosquitos, this was not the midwest of my childhood, but everybody along my route has been saying that this is a very unusual summer in that the lack of rain has adjusted the humidity-mosquito more to my Oregon sensibilities. Everybody at the party took advantage of the perfect weather, enjoying a game of softball, swimming in the pool, and eating lots of delightful summer potluck food.

Kyle lost a couple of brownie points when I saw he only stocked the beer buckets with MGD and Miller Lite. I supplied a mixed 6-pack from the breweries I had visited, beer not currently sold in Illinois. Jenny's cousins discovered "The Brewmaster's" beers right away and talked me into another 6-pack and a 22-oz bottle. They joked about raiding my trailer for more good beer, but I only have about 1.5 cases of beer left and I need that as gifts for the breweries I visit.

I wanted to get a photo of my cousins Kyle, Kerry, Kip, their dad Al, and their families but the party was a bit of a zoo. Instead I now have fond memories of my cousins, now in their 40's, doing crazy twisting dives and cannonballs off the diving board into the swimming pool.

The next morning dawned slowly and late as the sleepover-partiers reached for Ibuprofen and coffee. I did get a photo of Kyle, two sons and grandaughter. (Photo above, L to R: Michael, Kyle, Teri, Ryan and Kylie.) I wish I could have got all my cousins and their kids in the photo!

Then Kyle earned back his brownie points when he drove me to his sister Kendall Ann's new hot dog stand, Country Dog. Kendall is waiting for her final permit and was working on paperwork. Her dad Al and brother Kip have been instrumental in helping Kendall convert an old burned-out train caboose into a compact modern restaurant kitchen with outdoor seating.

If you find yourself in Grayslake, Illinois on Hwy Rt 120/Belvidere Road, be sure to stop in and buy a dog and coke from Kendall and say "Hi."
P.S. Thank you to Flossmoor Station for their free wireless Internet in their pub.


Steven said...

The sign on that porch says, "Country Dogs Hot Dogs, Grayslake, IL" I live in Grayslake, work in Lake Forest, and have never heard the name! I'm on a hunt!

Glad to see (thanks to Stan Hieronymous) your trip is going well.

Steven said...

Okay...some quick investigation, and based on the Arby's clue, your cousin's hot dog stand is right around the corner from my house Teri!

It's Rt 120/Belvidere Rd., Grayslake, IL.

I love a good dog, I'm headed in as soon as I know they're open -- I'll say hi!

Anonymous said...

Hey Teri,
I just came across your business card and had to check out your blog. We missed you at Aunt Bonnies funeral. It was great to see you and hope you're enjoying being back at home. You are amazing!
Jenny and Kyle