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Friday, September 21, 2012

So Much Love

You may or may not already know this, but our precious Sunny Dog passed away this week. We are terribly saddened and totally devastated.

We didn't know she was so sick, see, Sunny was always a lady. She never complained, she never fussed. She was just a go with the flow kind of girl.

We knew she was getting older and slowing down. Her old joints were arthritic, it seemed. We could see the cataracts in her eyes, we knew she was having trouble seeing. But all in all she seemed pretty healthy, age considered. She ate well, drank well, and went potty regularly. Until Monday, that is. On Monday she didn't want to go out to potty when I called her. I really had to coax her out. And she didn't eat much even though it had extra special, yummy bits added in to entice her. And I really realized she wasn't feeling well when she didn't run to the back door with Sally Sue when The Wifester pulled into the driveway after work.
She's just resting up, I thought.
On Wednesday we knew we had to get her to the vet.
The x-ray seemed to show a mass that appeared where her spleen should have been. The danger of a tumor in the spleen is that you will bleed to death from it. With her blood loss, this fit together well and made perfect sense. The vet assured us that he sees spleen tumors in older labs quite frequently. And removes them quite frequently, as well. We were told that 85% of the time they turn out to be benign and the dog lives on for the duration of its life, and bounces back from surgery just fine. 15% of the time it is cancer, and the dogs life is only momentarily saved by the surgery.
Doing nothing at this moment was a death sentence, though. Slowly dying from internal bleeding is horrific, we didn't want to let that happen to her.
We decided we had to give our Sunny the best possible chance to survive. Even if that meant risking surgery.
We spent quite a bit of time with her, there in the vet's office in a private room. The staff was really nice about letting us spend our time with her before she went into surgery. I'm ever so grateful for that time, now.
We doted on her, loved on her, told her what was happening, and asked her to be strong. We reassured her that we would be there for her.
We didn't expect it would be our last moments with her. But it was.
Sunny didn't make it through surgery. Her heart was too weak, she had lost too much blood, and the tumor that appeared to be her spleen was actually all throughout her chest. Her heart, her lungs, and her liver were just encased with it. Sunny passed under anesthesia, and I take some comfort in that. She saved us from having to make that decision later. That was her style. All she ever wanted to do was to make life easier for us.

Sunny brought The Wifester and I together, you know. She really did.
We met online, but at first I didn't respond to the Wifester's requests for chats and emails. She kept requesting, and I kept ignoring them. I saw a profile name of Sunndogg and thought, huh, who is this chick calling herself a dog? Does she mean she's like one of those party chicks who has slept with everyone in town? I really didn't want to deal with that. Then finally she changed her picture to one of her and the Sunny dog. They were standing by a lighthouse with Lake Erie in the background. That's when I saw this happy, sweet face. And a beautiful, sweet dog next to her. They both were smiling so genuinely, and I knew immediately that Sunndogg was full of love. And so was her dog. That is when I responded to her request to chat, and that is when we began getting to know each other.
Sunny was just 5 years old then. The Wifester had adopted her from a shelter when she was only 12 weeks old. They were a bonded pair.
Sunny won my heart from that photo, but she really won me over the very first time I met her. She came right up to me, tail wagging, and sniffed me over, then kissed me. We were buds from that moment on. Sure, we had the obligatory test of wills and boundaries. I remember one evening, early on, when Sunny stole my steak right off my dinner plate!
And another time when she grabbed my sandwich right out of my hand. And that was so uncharacteristic of her, but she was testing me. And probably telling me, "Hey, lady, I've been here a lot longer than you. I'm top dog here."
But we came to an agreement that we both loved her momma and that we could share all the good things in life. With that, Sunny dog cozied right up to me, and to Max, my kitty.
Years later, Sunny comforted me when Max fell ill with cancer, and eventually had to be put down.
I think she knew how hard that was for us to do and this time, she decided she would do the hard part for us.

Sunny inspired us to live our lives with love, peace and acceptance. She exemplified a life of loyalty, love, and peace. Sunny inspired my art, and my business, Sunny Dog Snacks.
Sunny inspired and wooed everyone who ever met her. She taught Sally Sue a few lessons, too.

We are terribly sad to be without our Sunny dog, but we are grateful for the years we had with her. We know that we are better people for having known her, and that we are special because we get to keep remembering her and all the love that she brought to this world.
And so much love that was.
The Wifester said to me last night, "Just think about all of that love that has been released back into the universe."
You can't begin to know how much love that soul carried. No one can, not even us, and we lived with it every day. Sunny is now part of the cosmos, and her love is radiating back down on us all. This world is a better place now, having Sunny's love to spread around. And isn't that exactly what this world needs now, as the song says? Love, sweet love.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls, a How-To

Mmmmmmm! Cinnamon rolls, get in my belly!

I tweeted this picture of this gooey, yummy, cinnamoney goodness the other day, but now I'm gonna tell you how to make a batch for yourself. Because really, don't we all deserve to know how to make these things happen whenever we so choose? 

This recipe yields a huge return, so I like to divide it and let it do double time, half of it becomes biscuits and the other half becomes cinnamon rolls. 

Cast of Characters in this splendidly delicious play:


1 (¼-ounce) packet active dry yeast2 tablespoons lukewarm water 5 cups Southern soft-wheat self-rising flour*  ¼ cup sugar1/2 cup brown sugarcinnamon as much or as little as you want
1 stick melted butter, divided into half...mmmmm butter1 teaspoon kosher salt½ teaspoon baking soda1 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups buttermilk


2 TBSP milk

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 of melted butter from previous

* Martha White or Lilly White are the top choices 

First, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small cup or dish. Set that aside until it becomes nice and foamy. 
Stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, and white sugar in a large bowl. Cut shortening into the mixture until the pieces are smallish, but not quite all incorporated and mealy. Add the buttermilk to the dissolved yeast. Stir the buttermilk/yeast mixture into the flour mixture just until a dough forms.

At this point, I divide this dough in half. This way you can make biscuits with half and rolls with the other half. It's that easy. Just roll out this half of the dough on a well floured surface to about 1 inch thick, and then cut with a biscuit cutter or a round glass. Gather up the excess dough and repeat. Place these sides touching on a well greased sheet or in a well greased cast iron skillet, and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 2-3 hours. Once they have risen and doubled in size, brush melted butter over the tops and bake in a preheated oven at 425 for 15 - 20 minutes. These are the closest thing to The Loveless Cafe's biscuits I've ever sunk my teeth into. And if you've ever had The Loveless Cafe's biscuits, you'll be thanking me for this recipe in .2 seconds. 

With the other half of the dough, you have options-you can refrigerate this dough for up to 5 days, and it will actually taste better after being refrigerated a day or two. If you want to carry on now with your cinnamon rolls, by all means, do! 

Roll out the dough on a well floured surface, to about 1/2 inch thick. I try to get it nice and rectangular, but that's just me. Liberally brush one of the two halfs the melted butter over the surface then sprinkle heavily with cinnamon. I really pour it on. I also like to add some nutmeg and a dash or four of allspice and sometimes a bit of ginger. Put what you like. Then dump your brown sugar all over it.  I like to leave clumps of brown sugar, thumb size or smaller. They melt with the butter into such nice, gooey yumminess...
Now drizzle more melted butter over the top of the sugar. I could eat this just as is. But we really want to see the magic happen with these. Now start at one end of your rectangle and roll the dough into a log. Don't worry about being too tight, but don't let it get too crazy loose either. Once it's all rolled up with the cinnamon, butter, sugar mix inside, take a knife and slice this log into 1½ in. thick rolls. Lay these, sides touching in a well greased pie dish or again, in a cast iron skillet. I love baking biscuits and cinnamon rolls in cast iron. I love the almost crunchy outside with the soft, fluffy inside. 
Now drizzle more butter over the tops of these. Can you ever get too much butter? Well, my gallbladder says yes, but I say NO! Hell NO!
Now, set these aside in a warm location to rise for a couple of hours. Once they rise, preheat your oven to 425, and bake these puppies for 15 minutes, or until golden and fluffy. 

Now to make your icing-
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with the remainder of the melted butter. Add a splash of vanilla and a couple of teaspoons of milk. Add more powdered sugar for thicker icing, add more milk for thinner icing. Adjust it to your desire. 
Drizzle this over the tops of these rolls and enjoy! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Science vs. Religion

I had a discussion over the weekend with someone who told me they felt that religion and science were the same in that they both utilize a, "I believe it, so it is true" philosophy. I argued that in science, the scientific method is used to empirically test a hypothesis before it can be proclaimed to be fact, proven to be wrong, or determined to be a theory that still requires more testing. That in science, all possible alternative solutions must be exhausted before proclaiming an answer to be truth, whereas in religion, the only proof needed to prove any assertion is simply, "it's in the bible" or it's in whatever religious text that person holds as truth. I was shut down. "No" she insisted, "Science does the same thing." And this argument was presented not by a person who is defending their religious convictions, but by a person who claims to be an atheist, with no religious affiliation whatsoever. A person who I hold dear to my heart and who's intelligence is, in fact, rather high. So the usual explanations of religiosity or lack of ability to understand complexities don't suffice when attempting to understand how this person arrives at this idea of religion and science using the same methods to explain their truths.

In my mind, the truth is that science in fact does require rigorous testing and examination before a theory can be called a fact, and when it is determined that something that was once held to be known as fact is later determined to have a different explanation, science corrects itself and admits the error and states the new evidence that grants proof to a new answer. Religion refuses to acknowledge any possible answer or explanation that is not presented in religious text. In fact, many religions dictate that followers should not seek answers outside of the religious text, that to do so is an affront to the supreme deity of that text's choice, while science begs us to seek all possible answers and to test them over and over again to gain a better, more complete understanding.

Maybe I'm wrong. I'm not a religious scholar, nor am I a scientist. I'm willing to seek alternative theories.
What are your thoughts? Are religion and science intrinsically the same? Why or why not?