On Pasta Salad and Dogs

I’m going to start with the pasta salad, because the Dog bit of this blog might make you sad. I’ll give you a spoiler alert, so you can stop reading, and just use this week’s entry to go make yourself a tasty side-dish or wowza contribution to your next potluck gathering.

The Facebook algorithm delivered this recipe to me. Now I will say, I often find the algorithm spooky on a good day, obnoxious on a bad one. For instance, the algo decided I must have gone to Camp Lejeune and gotten horrible diseases. I blocked about fifteen variants of that particular ad, and I am still getting it in my spam email.

Other times, it can be amusing. As in, I’m thinking about doing a SwimTrek trip to Indonesia. On this one, along with swimming in gorgeous waters with sea turtles and colorful fish and sharks (I know, I just don’t have a big fear of them, not like I do, say, going to the car mechanic on my own), you visit an island Komodo dragons live on. I did zero research online about the reptiles, other than going to the site and checking out the trip. Next day, Komodo Dragons littered my feed. Everything from where to see them to movies about them to pictures of them. Totally obscure, although I did learn the government has recently hiked the price to step foot on the island from $65 to $250, so all the folks who make their living preventing people from being eaten showing people the Komodo dragons are mad.

Another friend looked at one bra and then had to weed through bra commercials for weeks. I’ll let you know if that happens to me after I publish this.

I do like to try the occasional recipe that the algorithm serves up. This one was very easy. I only watched the video once. A few little notes before I give it to you:

1. Dice instead of chop. It all melds better with smaller pieces. As one of my sons says, that shows the love. He likes chopping though.

2. Amounts of each ingredient are really up to you, except with the dressing. If you love black olives, put more in. Hate green pepper? Don’t add it. I don’t care for spicy things, much to the chagrin of my children (although I remind them, I liked spicy/hot things before I was pregnant with them, so they only have themselves to blame for my pallid palate), so I keep my red onion to a half one, instead of a whole one. You do you.

3. This is best made ahead of time. Just seal it up in Tupperware and let it sit in the fridge.

4. This is just as delicious with regular pasta. I just use brown rice pasta because we are trying to be better about gluten.

5. I know we can’t all get organic food, or care to. I would try to get organic tomatoes for this, though.

PASTA SALAD (This makes enough to serve 10-12 as a side dish.)

1 bag brown rice pasta. Cook and rinse and cool. Tip: Heavily salting your water really makes it taste better.

Green onion, red onion, green pepper, black olives, cherry tomatoes—chop up and add to cooked pasta.

Toss in dressing: 4 cloves of garlic minced, 1 T Dijon mustard, equal parts red wine vinegar and olive oil, 1 T oregano, 2 T parm cheese. Whisk until it melds. You’ll know you have your proportions right if the color turns creamy. Taste it and see if you want it tangier (add more vinegar), or if it needs be more mellow (add more olive oil).

When getting ready to serve, add a bunch of tiny fresh mozzarella balls… or go crazy and add chopped meat too. It’s your pasta salad. Enjoy!

Now, if you’d like to just be happy with a recipe this week, I bid you adieu… the next bit about Dogs makes me awfully emotional, and I wouldn’t want to ruin your coffee time.

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So, a few days ago was National Dog Day, and FB had oodles of cute pictures of pups. Don’t get me wrong, or think I’m ready to sit on the porch and wave my cane at people. I wasn’t resentful at all. I LOVED seeing everyone’s pictures of their doggos. It stabbed me in the heart at the same time, because after over a year, a month, and a handful of days, I still miss our beloved rescue dog. Like, I still cry weekly that we had to let her go.

Yes, it was the right thing to do, yes it was time. Yes, she let us know she was ready.

I wasn’t ready. None of us were.

I’m still not ready.

Most of you know our story of Keisha, who was a rescue who rescued us, or you can read about it in this blog, or in the book I wrote about her and us. My husband has nearly convinced me she was a Beauceron.

So now we are on all these Beauceron websites looking at them, getting to know where to find the breed. We will 100% do a rescue again. We are not puppy people anymore. We are NOT READY for another dog yet, mind you. But we are super wistful for the one that is gone. I also torture myself by having friends who rescue animals (I donate proceeds from the book) so really, I should be used to seeing all the cute noses and perky ears and that soulful way dogs gaze at their person.

Whew, howdy. After about the tenth picture, I had to close the website. I know, I know. I AM grateful we had her. I’m relatively sure my heart is mending from the loss, and very sure that I’d like to have a dog or two again.

I like the walks too, amiable pup by my side, or just ahead, sniffing things. I love the way dogs’ tails wag when they walk. Letting you know they are happy.

That’s the other thing. Where I walk in the mornings is the same route we used to walk with our dog. It got shorter as she got older. And then recently, when I was back visiting where we lived when she had lots of energy, I walked in those spaces as well. It was very emotional.

I have to believe that loving something that much is good for me. It better be, because this broken feeling is hard to take some days.

Please give your pup an extra snuggle from me, and a biscuit. Our dog loved biscuits. She was a such a good girl.

On the Life Expectancy of Dogs and Marco Polo

I am worried about our sweet rescue dog, Keisha.  She’s the Good Dog who woke us in time to escape The Fire that robbed us of our possessions and tactile memories. Keisha isn’t doing so well these days.  It’s full on summer heat and humidity here in Dallas, and she often looks at us imploringly, begging us to find the zipper on the permanent fur coat she wears so she can take it off.  That fur is sporting lots more grey these past three months, and she has also developed an allergy to something that is making her itchy and miserable. We are doing what we can to alleviate it.  On the bright side, she still wags her tail when we announce a walk, and gladly prances out the door, tail wagging and ears perked up. Her pace slows more quickly these days, and her once-favorite activity, chasing a ball until our arm falls off isn’t happening anymore.  Her spirit is willing but Keisha isn’t seeing as well as she used to.  She can’t neatly nip the ball out of the air and then gallop back, drop the ball at our feet and look up at us expectantly as she did a few years ago.  I find myself gazing at her as we walk and tearing up that we just don’t get to have her much longer. I think that inevitable journey to go catch all the squirrels she wants to over that Rainbow Bridge is coming sooner than we realize.  I need to stop the maudlin projecting, and just enjoy her while she is still with us.  I am petting her more often these days, and telling her she is a Good Dog, and that seems to make her happy. 

We don’t know how old Keisha is, or even what breed. She is a twice-surrendered dog to the shelter, and any sort of paperwork was lost.  We think she was maybe 2 or 3 when we got her, skinny and trying her very best to be adopted.  She had lots of energy, but we soon discovered that while she had been taught to sit, and was housebroken, she had never been walked on a leash. She learned with us. Craig had the brilliant idea of starting her secured on a long clothesline, throwing that ball, letting her run and then gently reeling her in as we told her to come.  Eventually being on a leash and going for long walks felt normal to her. Now the leash is a technicality. She just wants to be next to us all the time.  As I google dog life expectancy stats, I am sad to see that Beaucerons (which Craig thinks she is) live between 10-12 years, and that Shepards and Cattle Dogs (I think she is a mix) only get one year added to that.  I don’t want that to be true. Craig and I have had enough emotional turmoil this year.  Her aging is creating some interesting choices for us. For instance, we have opted to drive to Boston for our vacation so we can take her with us. She seems to enjoy car rides, and hates being left behind.  We think at this point in her life, a stint in a boarding facility would break her heart.  So, we are driving for two and a half days so our Good Dog can have a last big road trip and see her boys and her girl one last time.  I do think this is the last trip for her, so I am glad it’s going to be a good long one.

As I write this, some young girls are enjoying the pool that sits just outside our living room window in the apartment complex. I want to take this moment to do two things: A. To publicly apologize to all the people who wanted to enjoy laying out by swimming pools when I was young in Wichita, Kansas but couldn’t because my friends and I were playing “Marco Polo” in the pool for hours and hours and hours.  I am very sorry, I had no idea how truly awful this game is if you are not playing it.  B. Whoever the bastard was who invented this pool game consisting of shouting ‘Marco” and then “Polo” followed lots of splashing and screaming should be strapped down on a chaise lounge, covered in baby oil, forced to drink old-formulation saccharin-laden warm Tab, and think about the error of their ways.  Perhaps they would rename the game ‘Unique Audio Torture by High Squeaky Voices and Insane Repetition”.  I know, I know, it’s not a catchy title, and they are just having fun.  I’m just going to go over here and grab my curmudgeon stick, sit on the porch (which fortunately faces away from the pool), and pet my sweet Keisha and tell her what a Good Dog she is. She really is, you know.  Just the best dog.