Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Moon Is Shiny.
And Josie Is Josie.

I am dog tired, tuckered out, and doing the 12-second blink. I daydream about sleep.  I crave it, plan it, fantasize about it. But I’m not getting nearly enough of it.

It’s not just because this 50-year body is built for eight-hours a night. And it’s not because I lay awake thinking of my high school senior marching across a stage to the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance.

It's because of our four-legged family member, Josie. J-Dog. Simple Dog. Josie-The-Rescue-Dog. Or most often "Just Josie."

We “rescued” her some three years ago. Ours was the first home she'd ever been inside, and we suspect that we were the first humans who, in her memory, didn't starve or strike or otherwise abuse her. We give her food and water. We give her attention and love. We’ve even given her training. Not once, but twice. Not that it took, but still. Twice.

Josie has never had it so good. But from what we can tell, she doesn’t how to give back. So she repays us with what she has to offer: uncertainty, disregard, and barking. Barking, barking, barking. Bark, bark, bark.


But only at night.

1:30 a.m. is her time of choice. And why does she bark? Well, if we had to guess, we'd say her thought process runs along these lines:

“Is that the moon?
I think it’s the moon.
It’s bright and shiny and, wait, is somebody calling me?
Hey, there’s the moon.
Where are the lizards?
There was a lizard here earlier today.
Maybe if I bark, the lizard will come back.
And bring his lizard friends.
I like lizards.
Wait. Is that the moon?  
Why does that person keeping hollering?
Who is Josie?
Ooh. A raccoon. Do I like raccoons?
Where is that lizard?
 Is that the moon?
I wish that person would stop calling and whistling.
It makes it hard for me to focus on the moon.
 And the lizards.
See that moon? It’s shiny.
Lizards are not.”

Pretty much sums it up. The moon is shiny, lizards are not, and Josie is just Josie. Repaying us with everything of which she is capable. And hopefully, much better for it.

Zucchini Crisps
For dinner tonight, it's just me and Josie, so I'm having zucchini, which I will share with Josie, and pinto noir, which I will not.

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 medium zucchini, cut in thickish rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil (break out the good stuff)

kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
lemon wedges

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (which makes cleanup a snap). Combine bread crumbs and cheese on a large dinner plate. Toss zucchini slices with olive oil, coating well. Place zucchini slices on crumbs, and press extra crumbs on top of each slice. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Season well with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve, with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ready Or Not:
Pomp And Circumstance Is About To Play

Carter graduates in five weeks. OK. If you do the math, he graduates in five weeks, three days, 11 hours and 30 minutes.

I know.  There’s an app for that. But I’m doing my level best not to keep track. What possible good could come from remembering that he leaves for college in precisely three months, three weeks, and one day?

I don’t want to know. Despite my role as family planner, overbearing maestro and queen bossy-pants, I’m doing my level best to avoid “knowing.” Let the court consider this the prime piece of evidence: Did I not manufacture the ultimate distraction by packing up and moving to the Lake smack in the middle of Carter’s senior year?

As I deal with the aftermath of moving – the lost and misplaced items, the never-ending stream of household repairs, my struggle to understand the inner-workings of new appliances and systems, and the boxes, the endless stacks of still-packed boxes -- these past six weeks have bubbled over with even more distractions.

In March, we hosted a French exchange student, celebrated Carter’s 18th and Julia’s 16th birthdays, and traveled with 26 other families to spend Spring Break in the Dominican Republic. So far in April, we’ve celebrated Carter’s Eagle award and hosted 30-some kids for an after prom party. Today alone, my car broke down, the septic system alarm sounded, the icemaker broke again, and the garage door refused to close. Still, I know I’ll wake up tonight, just like nearly every other night, with the same mournful thought: He’s almost gone.

I didn’t see this coming. In fact, I’ve always claimed I’d celebrate as my kids scoot the coop. For me, parenting teenagers isn’t merely challenging and thought-provoking, it’s flat-out wearying and exhausting. I, for one, am tired of staying awake ‘til my chickadees get home from the game on Friday nights. I’m worn out from riding herd on hormones and keeping up with social media. I’m tired of talking about colleges and testing and AP exams. And talking about which classmates have the most fabulous clothes, cars, houses and trust funds? Don’t get me started.

But as we hurtle toward graduation and college, I don't want this time to end.

I’m going to miss Carter. Julia and I both will. For all his hard-headed habits and maddening methodology (did he really think that putting his shoes in the freezer would make them smell better?), Carter brings levity and mirth (now there’s an SAT word!) to our home. Carter is, in fact, an entire test-full of SAT words: obstinate, persistent, petulant, disdainful, belligerent, mercurial, contrary, truculent, vociferous, ingenious, assiduous, sublime.  He makes me think, and he challenges me. He harasses Julia, and he supports her. He teases us when we watch “Crazy Stupid Love” nearly every weekend, and then, he watches it with us. He takes out the trash. He makes playlists for me to listen to at work. And this week, for the first time ever, he included a photo of me on his Facebook page.

Out of nowhere. Which made me cry.

Whatever will I do without him?

Rosemary White Bean Dip
One thing Julia and I agree on is that, when Carter leaves for college, we'll eat a lot more "chick" food, including this super-easy, super-tasty, and super-cheap dip!

1 can of white beans (cannellini) drained
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
3 tablespoons (good) exra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor, or, even easier, blend with an immersion blender until mostly smooth. Serve with chips.