I’ve been traveling this week. Yesterday I spent the day with my daughter in her day care. For me this is always a treat, but I can imagine on a day to day basis it must take a great deal of patience and dedication to keep up with the six little pirates she cares for every day. The baby of the group, just a year, is so cute. It would be difficult to be mad at her. Funny isn’t it how babies of all species are precious no matter how cute or not cute they might be considered. To a mother wart hog, I’m sure her little one is the pick of the litter, so to speak. Aside from the children present, three dogs make their home at my daughter’s along with one huge orange tabby cat answering to Cassanova. Cassanova weighs in at twenty-five pounds. Pita, the largest of the three canines is a golden lab. Ebony, a chow mix and the middle in size of the group, is a sweet animal suffering from dementia. Jasper rounds out the trio, a small hyper hybrid who requires a daily dose of Prozac to keep him from dancing on the ceiling. The noise level, as you might imagine, can keep your ears ringing.
My mother has announced she is lonely for animal companionship since her cat, aptly named Susie, passed away. The thought of finding another feline with a similar disposition may be a difficult task. The two of them cohabited well together. As with humans, simply getting another like being doesn’t often fill the void of the one no longer there. However, with so many cats needing homes in shelters, I will endeavor to find the perfect match adding this to my growing summer list of to-do’s scrawled across my calendar.
Susie, a rather self-centered cat I must say, whiled away her days seated atop her “princess pillow” waiting for her minions to do for her. In her defense, she never wasted enough energy to scratch the furniture or jump up on things, preferring to keep her fat and sassy behind as inactive as possible. When moved to ask for treats she truly could be the cutest animal on earth, rolling about the floor or sitting up on her hind legs looking beseechingly at the Kitty Treats bag sitting on the counter. I encouraged my mother not to overdo the treats as they are fattening and most certainly Miss Susie needed no help in that area. Ah well. She lived out the last days of her life in the lap of luxury and passed on at the ripe old age for a cat, sixteen, so I guess it wasn’t all bad.
Kids are looking towards school again. How quickly this summer is flying by. I can’t keep up. I have gifts I’m working on that sit half made for parties I’ve been asked to attend for which I haven’t shopped for anything to wear. Ach. This morning I heard that Target has come up with a terrific marketing strategy for making parent’s jobs easier when shopping for school supplies. You enter your kid’s school and class schedule and they come up with a supply list. Somebody was wearing their Tom Terrific thinking cap in their marketing department.
Looking back with my kids, school shopping was always tinged with angst. New clothes needed to be bought, shoes purchased, along with the basic things a kid needs like backpacks, paper, writing utensils and notebooks. My son was always involved in one sport or another so this usually meant hitting Big 5 or one of the other sports suppliers for cleats and whatever else he needed. Cleats cost me a fortune over the years. Naturally you can’t wear soccer cleats when playing football or baseball cleats for soccer. He would end up with a variety of different types of cleats sitting in his closet which he would grow out of before the next school year rolled around.
As for my daughter her interest lay more in equestrian lessons or ice skating. I guess I should consider myself lucky. These days my son pays something like $2,500 for his thirteen year old to participate in a seasonal volley ball league. Whew. That would have been out of my league, pardon the pun, for sure. My grandchildren are involved in so many activities. This is good for them, I believe. Busy hands, etc. When my daughter’s girls were younger she participated in a pioneer camp of some sort for two years in a row. The idea was for the children to learn how things used to be done before we had the tools available to them now. The parents were asked to dress in pioneer garb and live like pioneers for the three days they attended. From what I hear it was hot and wearing those hats that tie under the chin tantamount to water boarding. Sounds like a fun time.
I went to Girl Scout camp when I was little. Two weeks of glorious water and sun was how my parents sold it to me. For them I would suppose it was a kid-free zone for fourteen days. For me it was a ride up a mountain in a rickety old bus singing camp songs for three hours. At first we were all so homesick everybody laid on their beds writing letters to our parents begging to come home. Soon, however, we were seduced by the glorious lake beyond our tents, the canoes available for our use, endless craft classes and nature walks, and the surprisingly excellent food served in the camp cafeteria. As my mother always says, I remember everything as to how it relates to my appetite. In hindsight it was one of the highlights of my transition from elementary to middle school.
At any rate. Soup is served at our house no matter what the weather. Having a lot of summer squash on hand, this was a nice way to put it to work.
Summer Squash and Orzo Soup
2 Italian sausages, cooked and sliced diagonally
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups beef broth
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 large yellow summer squash, sliced 1/2″
1/2 large zucchini, sliced 1/2″
1/2 cup orzo pasta
Cook sausage in bottom of stockpot. Remove and slice. Add olive oil to same pot and heat over med.-low heat. Add onion and green pepper and cook 6 mins. or until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 min.
Add broth, tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Bring to boil. Add squash and orzo and continue cooking for 25 mins.
Serve topped with cheese if desired.