Sunday, May 5, 2013

Crying At The Drop Of A Cap. And Gown.

I can cry at the drop of the hat.

That’s not always been the case. At least, not since I was a hormonal teenager and could cry over spilt milk, Coca-Cola commercials (remember Mean Joe Green?), unappreciative siblings, unthinking classmates, and the possibility that I’d somehow disappointed my parents. Even 30 years later, navigating the wretched waters of divorce and single parenthood, I wasn’t much of a crier. (Which is a good thing, because although my beloved fiancé can handle many, many things, tears aren’t among them.)

But that was then. This is now. Now, now, now, now. NOW.

Carter graduates in a few weeks. (Eighteen days and 22 hours and 56 minutes, because, yes, I’m counting.  And because, yes, there’s an app for that.)

To be certain, Julia and DB and I are over the moon to know that Carter will attend the University of Georgia this fall, particularly when the deal has been sweetened with a scholarship. I’m in awe that Carter earned the rank of Eagle Scout in this, his senior year. I’m grateful that he’s handling this period with grace and diligence and, more important, patience and humor. Our home bubbles with laughter. I should be reveling.

But then, I look out my bedroom window, and glimpse a shiny-eyed Carolina Wren cautiously flitting into the eaves of my back porch with tidbits of mown grass and dog hair, and my eyes well. As she prepares for her babies, one of mine prepares to leave.

So yes. I can cry at the building of a bird’s nest. And that’s not all. In recent days, I’ve cried at the addressing of graduation announcements. At the humming of Pomp and Circumstance. At the purchasing of graduation gifts. And at the dropping of a hat. Particularly when that hat is part of a cap and gown.

As Julia once said, I need to “build a bridge and GET OVER IT.”  There is, after all, an upside, right? ‘Cause let’s face it, when a hat drops, I am the only person in the family trained to pick it up. One fewer person in the house probably translates into me picking up 13 fewer hats.

When Carter goes off to college, I’ll only have to run the garbage disposal for one other person, not two, because, after 18 years, I remain the family member who has unraveled the mystery of how and when to flip that switch.

When Carter goes off to college, Julia and I will be able to speak freely about “girl” stuff, like who’s going to prom, who wore the best dress to the Oscars, who needs to put down the hummus and eat a cheeseburger, and who is plainly having “that time of the month.” OK. Truth be told, we do that already.

When Carter goes off to college, DB and I won’t have to keep count of the beers in the fridge. (If you have to ask, please don’t.)

And let's not forget that, when Carter goes off to college, so will his friends, whom I’ll no longer have to simultaneously regard as fun-loving-18-year-old comics with fabulous taste in music and potential-18-year-old predators in a house with my 16-year-old daughter.

Sigh. Who am I kidding? I can’t “build the bridge,” much less “get over it.” I love these guys. I love my son. I love witnessing this time in his life.

Eighteen days, 22 hours and 42 minutes to go.

Anybody have a Kleenex? And for Pete's sake, can't somebody pick up that hat?

Cream Of Cauliflower Soup
Although Carter is an adventurous eater (octopus sashimi comes to mind), vegetables in general, and cauliflower in specific, are not his favorite. Julia and I, however, love this soup and will enjoy it much more often -- when Carter goes off to college.

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot chopped

3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf

1 quart of chicken broth

1 head of cauliflower, cut into bitesize pieces
1 potato, peeled and diced

½  cup cream (optional)
Fresh chives, minced
Curry powder (optional)

In a large, lidded saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Lightly sauté onion, celery and carrot until softened, but not browned.  Stir in flour and seasonings. Sauté a few minutes, until thick and pasty. Gradually stir in chicken broth. When fully incorporated, drop in cauliflower and potato, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender.  Remove about a cup and half of cauliflower florets and set aside.  Use an immersion blender to purée soup. Taste for seasoning. Return reserved cauliflower florets to pot, and stir in cream, if using. Serve hot, garnished with fresh chives and (optional) curry powder.
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