Our Guts

We have mice, you know this. There are mice, they are all named Howard. They haven’t been coming out into the open for the last few months and I don’t mean that we just haven’t seen them, I mean they aren’t coming out. Because, I’ll be honest, I am not a tidy person and sometimes in the kitchen I’ll find Cheerios that I must have spilled weeks earlier still there under the edge of the cabinet or behind the recycling, completely untouched. They haven’t been around the dog food and the peanut butter filled traps are untouched.

But we hear them in the walls. They scuttle around and gnaw and gnaw and gnaw and gnaw on everything. We hear them, we smack the wall, they stop, they start again, we smack the wall. We’re like a shitty modern art slooooooow percussion band enlightening no one.

And again, AGAIN, again, Chester is terrified. My rat terrier/beagle (RAT TERRIER AND BEAGLE FFS) is terrified of the noises in the walls and alternates between digging a hole in my abdomen and hiding in the bathroom. He doesn’t even want to investigate. It wouldn’t matter, I’ve seen him lay on the floor and just watch a mouse run back and forth from his own food bowl. Every instinct in that dog is so wrong. It’s like he got the stupidest features of both breeds and is completely useless.

Goodnight my sweet girl

My Maddie has passed away.

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She beat auto-immune disorders and totally defeated bladder cancer. She was a tough little dog. In the end, though, she developed a brain tumor that we could not fix. She was old, she was 16 years old, she had a wonderful long life full of chicken dinner and dog ice cream.

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She was sweet and almost entirely without guile. She just wanted people to love her, to tell her how sweet she was and then give her a peanut butter biscuit. She kept me safe, she comforted me, she listened to my stories and complaints, her fur could absorb an almost infinite number of tears.

She put up with me

She was an accomplished community college professor, a princess, a butt doctor and tax assessor. With Chester they ran their own action news network. We played Huffle Huffle Belly and Good Time Spin Around. She loved the dog park and when we moved to Vermont she loved Vermont. All those hiking trails and mysterious things to quickly chew and swallow before I could get to her and pull it out of her mouth.

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She loved camping, protecting the campsite and snuggling with me in my sleeping bag, eating bits of marshmallows and hot dogs

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I love her. I love every single sweet, snuggly, soft, puff snuzz part of her. I miss her and my heart aches when I reach over to pet her and she is not there anymore. I am so so sad and the worst part is that it is usually her who comforts me when I am so sad. She’s the one that leans into me, pushes her head under my chin, and makes her quiet sigh. I need her comfort so much right now and not having her comfort is exactly why I need it.

I miss her so much.

Snuggling by the fire

Chester misses her

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David misses her

Maddie Snooch

Anyone who ever met her misses her.

My sweet and beautiful girl. She passed quietly and calmly and I held her throughout. I wrapped her in my Pantsghan, all of my friends were with us in spirit.

This pain in my heart, it hurts so much but every single second of it is worth it.

Election 2016

Meet The Candidates:

Maddie Boombalattie: Maddie is running as a candidate for the Safe Lady Party. She supports complete safeties for the lady and promises to initiate programs that all dogs can use to keep their ladies safe. Maddie also supports large scale availability of chicken dinner and getting snugs in the morning.

Vote Maddie: She’s good.

Chester 12Pound: Chester is running as the candidate for the Peanut Butter Biscuit Party. He supports large scale legalization of peanut butter biscuits and an end to thunder storms and shots from the vet. He wants to make sure even the littlest of the dogs has a voice in today’s government.

Vote Chester: He’s the little dog that knows the thing that is all of the stuff.

 

The Issues
#1 Illegal Immigration – Where do you stand on illegal immigration of mice from the outside?

Chester: OH MY GOD!!! No! No mice! They come inside and they eat ALL OF MY DOG FOOD!! Can you even believe a thing? And they run around and do poohibbities INSIDE THE HOUSE!! You don’t do poohibbities inside the house. And my food is DOG food! It is not stupid mouse food. They don’t even know a thing and then they come inside! I support the total rounding up of mice and putting them outside but over by the train depot so they can’t come back.

Maddie: This one time I was by the lady and there was a mouse that was in the bedroom and he was eating the food and the lady watched the mouse and then later the mouse was put outside. We don’t give chicken dinner to mice and also the mice don’t go on me or the lady.

 

#2 Foreign Policy – Where do you stand on relations with foreign nations?

Chester: For too long Fat Squirrel and Mail Man have trampled our borders, mocked our decency and shown that we can not do the thing that is trust them! Fat Squirrel and Mail Man want only to kill our freedoms and create a world that can have no happinesses for dogs. I have a plan that has 7 points and all the points will make it so Fat Squirrel and Mail Man will never be a threat to the thing that is our way of life.

Maddie: Fat Squirrel and Mail Man are just clowns without shoes. They can do things but they can’t come inside. The real problem is the cats because sometimes they are inside a place and they go by the lady and they have claws and teeth and I have to bark at them and let them know the lady is safe. I think we need to do the focus inward and deal with the cats.

 

#3 The Environment – What is your opinion on the proposed Kibbley-Chunk Dog Food Pipeline?

Maddie: Well, the thing is that I like dog food and I like to eat it but I think this pipeline should have chicken dinner in it because I like chicken dinner. It has chicken in it and also it has my special pill and the lady makes it for me except for the times when the Food Guy makes it.

Chester: A vote against the Kibbley-Chunk Dog Food Pipeline is like a vote against all of the things that are good. With this pipeline dogs can do a thing that is eat all of the times that they want and also it would be so good. There are the people who say the thing that the Kibbley-Chunk might have a break and go in the lake but then we can just go to the lake to have dinner! I love the things that are picnics because sometimes there is cheese and I get to run around a lot.

 

#4 The Media – Media coverage in this election cycle has been contentious, what is your opinion on the media’s role?

Maddie: Sometimes the lady takes a picture of me and she lets other people see it and they say nice things that like I am so sweet and that they like my face.

Chester: Do you want to hear a thing? I will tell you a thing that is Bick Stickerson of W-Peef-Poff-N is a super jerk and he thinks he knows all the things and that he can say things like I do nudity dances in public. I DON’T DO NUDITY DANCES IN PUBLIC!! Bick Stickerson is a 12jerk and his whole face is dumb and W-Peef-Poff-N is the stupidest place for dumb news.

 

#5 Education – What does the state of education look like in your future

Maddie: Oh! I know about this! I teach classes at the Greater Bathroom and Hallway Community College and people come to my classes and I teach them things like how to make peanut butter and how to do computer things. Sometimes Food Guy visits the classroom but mostly he does piwi and leaves.

Chester: The number one best part of education is the treats! One time I had to go to classes with other dogs and I got SO MANY TREATS that I puked in the car on the way home!

 

Final Words

Maddie: One time the lady was sitting there and she was quiet and then a spider when on her and she did so many screams. She sounded like a baby caterpillar that was pooping out 2 new caterpillars that were the same size as her. That was weird. But what is important is that one time a cat went to the lady and hit her and I yelled so hard at that cat and now the lady is safe. I know how to make a lady safe and lady safety is a fundamental constitution. We can do this. Sometimes I get egg dinner and not chicken dinner and once I got stuck behind the table in the living room and a lamp got knocked over. My leash is red.

Chester: How many times a day should you get a peanut butter biscuit? Some people with smartnesses say twice a day, another person said 3 and Bick Stickerson said he should kiss my muscularly taut ass! That’s right, Bick Stickerson! When I get elected I’m going to pass a law that is that W-Peef-Poff-N SuperNews can’t say any more lies about me!! You hear that? See how many Flaming Biscuits for Journalistic Excellence you win next year!! NONE!! Because I am Chester 12Pound. A vote for me is a vote for Bick Stickerson to shut his STUPID MOUTH!!

……..

Thank you to everyone who followed last night’s PSANN election coverage. The Puff Snuzzle Action News Network had a lot of fun and we hope you did, too. Votes are still being counted and the results are murky at best. A roll of toilet paper has got a high number of write in votes and one ballot doesn’t have any candidates marked off. It is covered on both sides with a poorly constructed rant about Bick Stickerson and W-Peef-Poff-N SuperNews.

An Order of Protection pt2

From Maddie’s perspective she has 2 jobs. One is to get as many be-bys (as in be by me. be-bys) as possible with me and to keep me safe. She guards me, she puts herself between me and the world and she does an excellent job. She has earned many peanut butter biscuits for her efforts. And this is what I see…

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I see her little piggo tail, it’s how I know I am safe.

This is what I see when I build a blanket fort in the living room
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This is what I see when I am cleaning the kitchen
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This is what I see when I am cooking dinner
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This is what I see when Maddie isn’t quite sure about what’s going on
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This is what I see when I am peeing
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This is what I see a year later when Maddie suddenly got old and her skin super rumpled
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This is what I see when I take too long in the bathroom
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This is what I see when I go camping
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This is what I see when I am spinning yarn on Kristen’s back porch
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This is what I see when we go on a picnic
Maddie guards our most precious campsite

This is what I see when we move into a brand new apartment
Maddie doing what she does

This is what David sees when I take a shower
The Guard

This is what David sees when I take a shower while on vacation
Maddie guarding the bathroom as I shower

A year ago we found out Maddie has cancer in her bladder. I expected it would happen sooner or later, she’s an old dog. We took her off the prednisone put her on piroxicam because it’s good at reducing inflammation. The tumor in her bladder was causing constant bladder infections and piroxicam can sometimes reduce the size of the tumor. I read up on it, it seemed like a 50/50 thing for shrinking the tumor and it would be good with her arthritis. Much to everyone’s surprise the piroxicam didn’t reduce the tumor, it got rid of it. She still has the cancer in the walls of her bladder but the tumor is gone.

I AM NOT in any way touting piroxicam as a miracle drug. It had a 50/50 chance and it worked out for us. I did a lot of research and I tried to be very realistic about what might happen on the piroxicam. I was not keen on switching her off the prednisone, which had kept her healthy for many years, and putting her on a new drug. I did a lot of research and worrying. But it worked and I am grateful.

Maddie is 14 years old. She’s headed to 15 years. She is 14 years old and she has cancer in her bladder, she is losing some control over her back legs, she a little noodly in the head sometimes. She is Maddie

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Pillow talk

I have a hand crank pasta roller that I thoroughly loved but I cannot use it anymore. Two surgeries on my wrist have caused their damage and cranking that machine would leave my hand numb for 2 days. I love my roller but it did not love me so much. A friend had the attachment roller and the 2 cutters for the Kitchen Aid and she was getting rid of them. I promptly bought them! Much excitement!

I used it a few times and then it was time to practice my ravioli skills.

So, first we have the cheese. If you recall I did try to make ricotta from the whey of the mozzarella I made. My intention was to use the ricotta for the raviolis and that would have been some sort of hardcore food ownership magic something something. But it didn’t work. So, what was I to do? I definitely wanted that specific ricotta texture, it was the mostly correct filling. So, I noodled on it and had an experiment idea.

I make paneer pretty regularly, it’s cheap and easy and pretty foolproof. Half gallon of whole milk heated to a soft boil (make sure it is a soft boil, not just simmering or scalding and certainly not a hard boil) add 1/3 cup lemon juice. Stir gently, watch the curds come together. Strain it through butter muslin, rinse, suspend and drain. But…but what if I added flavors to the cheese between adding the lemon juice and draining the cheese?

I don’t know, let’s find out.

For the ravioli I wanted to make an orange and parsley flavored cheese filling. I zested and squeezed a fat orange, finely chopped some fresh parsley and added salt.

Orange zest, orange juice, parsley, salt

Heated the milk, added the lemon juice, waited about 30 seconds and gently stirred the mixture into the cheese.

Paneer with orange zest, orange juice, parsley and salt

It worked! It actually turned out better than expected. It was pretty dry but we can deal with that. Off it went into the fridge for the night and I went to bed visualizing rolling pasta sheets.

The Science of the Best Fresh Pasta. I sat down with this and read it through a couple times. I’ve made pasta a lot with varying degrees of success and I figured it was time to come up with a solid plan based on knowing things instead of always sort of winging it. I had to futz a bit with the recipe because I suddenly found I did not have the number of eggs I thought I did and also it is just David and me and I didn’t want some huge amount of leftover pasta (and, yes, I know dry it or freeze it or whatever…). I cut the recipe in half and there was not nearly enough moisture in there at all (sometimes egg sizes are not consistent here). It was just crumbles so I added another egg. That helped but it was pretty stiff dough. I could make it into a ball but it was never springy or elastic, just stiff. And though I had the pasta roller to save my hand from the cranking pain I did not have enough pasta dough volume to be mixed together in the stand mixer. I had to knead by hand and that was not awesome, my hand ached. A friend pointed me to mixing the dough in my food processor and I will definitely do that next time.

Still life with flour

I let the dough rest and then I rolled and rolled and rolled and I paid attention and I took notes in my brain. I was serious about getting this into the smart part of my brain, not the inattentive and winging it part of my brain. The first few sheets were okay but as I went through they got better with more consistency and cleaner edges. I rolled 8 sheets from the dough. I didn’t have a good idea at all what size wrapper to cut from the sheet to make a balanced dough to cheese ratio for my raviolis. I ended up cutting them way too big. Lesson learned and noted in the smart part of my brain. I rolled the pasta down to level 6 on the rollers and I think next time I will only go to 5 and see if I like that better.

Sheet o'pasta

You will notice that there are no pictures of the actual ravioli. They were ugly, insanely ugly.

For the filling I threw the orange and parsley paneer into the food processor with the egg whites leftover from making the dough. That worked out well, no extra egg whites shoved to the back of the fridge never to be found until we need that one mustard that we never use and we find it and see the egg whites and feel sort of bad about them. So, cheese, egg whites, more salt and some black pepper. Zoom the food processor and then what came out was really exactly what I wanted. The texture was actually even better than what I had imagines, and the fat in the cheese drew some of the orange flavor from the zest and it had an excellent orange flavor. Needed more parsley and salt though.

I was not going to sauce these in spaghetti sauce. Instead…

I chopped up half a green cabbage, a big apple and a sweet potato
Cabbage, sweet potato and apple

Then I toasted up a bag of walnuts in obscene amounts of brown butter. I cook up brown butter a pound at a time and keep it in the fridge along with the fatback, bacon grease and leaf lard, I do a lot of fat type experiments.

Walnuts toasting in unhealthy amounts of brown butter.

Then I added sage, rosemary, cinnamon, allspice, ground coriander, garlic…um and some other stuff I don’t remember right into the hot butter and let that cook a bit with the walnuts. I emptied that into the big bowl of veggies, mixed it up and threw in onto a jelly roll pan and roasted it in the oven until it got suitably crispy. Boiled up the ravioli and served them with the roasted cabbage mix.

The filling in the ravioli was perfect, it was even better than ricotta (in my own wienery opinion). It was creamy and not sticky and the orange flavor was evident without being overwhelming.

There was not enough cheese for the amount of pasta that I made, I ended up cutting the leftover pasta into fat noodles and boiled them up with the ravioli. The individual raviolis had more noodle than they should for the amount of cheese in them. So, this means next time I do this I will double the cheese and cut smaller wrappers.

The whole thing could have used more salt in any of the components. I fear over salting things but I pull back too much sometimes. Also, a good dose of red pepper flakes would have been welcomed somewhere in there, but I am out of red pepper flakes (but my Penzeys order just shipped today.)

And here is Maddie in her special underpants!
Maddie in her special 'nunders