Monday, July 31, 2006

P.S.

P.S.

We buried Claudette's ashes yesterday. The blisters on my hands and the sore muscles in my arms (from digging the hole) have been a reminder all day. Now she is now resting peacefully under a tree in the front of the pasture where she can watch out over us all.

God bless.

It's Been Pretty Quiet...

It's been pretty quiet hence the lack of posts (actually - last Wednesday night at Tradewinds was pretty interesting but it's a night I'd rather forget which is why I didn't write about it).

Of course, there is always news about the goats.

I have been worried about Ann-Margaret. She is looking a little pot-bellied which is never a good sign.

I had planned on bringing her out to the vet with me on Saturday when I went to pick up Claudette's ashes, but then I pictured her crying as soon as I picked her up, seperated her from Elvis, and put her in the carrier. And crying for the 45 minute drive with the carrier strapped in the bed of the pick-up. And crying when the doctor poked and prodded her. And crying for ride home. And after all the trust we've built over the last few days, I couldn't stand the thought of her hating me.

In truth, it's much how I feel about bringing Sebastian to the vet (which is why I never really bring him).

By the same token, I instinctively knew she wasn't 100% healthy.

So at 8am Saturday I called Dr. Severt who understood my dilemna and suggested I simply bring a stool sample of both goats for analysis. That could tell him a lot.

I spent Saturday morning on Poo Patrol. That translates to me hanging out with the goats for an hour or so, keeping them close to the fence line with the occasional handful of Goat Chow and mentally willing them to poo.

I got the necessary samples and drove out to Cornelius where analysis showed that both goats were still infected with worms despite a double dose of dewormer. In addition, little Ann-Margaret has another parasite which can contribute to anemia and overall digestive issues.

I left Cornelius not only with Claudette's ashes but with multiple syringes of dewormer and antibotics.

My task? Elvis and Ann-Margaret both required another dose of dewormer immediately and yet another dose (their 4th) in 2 weeks. Additionally, little Ann-Margaret requires an oral antibiotic twice a day for seven days.

Are you kidding me? This is not what I signed up for and I thought Marty would lose it when our "alternatives to a tractor" turned out to require so much work.

As it turns out, things have so far been manageable. It is quite easy to lure Ann-Margaret and Elvis to my side with a dish of Goat Chow. She is small and slow enough that I can grab her when she gets close and get the meds in with little problem. I couldn't catch Elvis so we just squirted it onto some Goat Chow (the answer to everything) and he gobbled it up.

I am determined to save these 2 goats no matter what. I know I failed the Nanny with my ignorance and to some degree, I feel like I failed Claudette even though we did everything possible to save her.

So, just consider me a hedge fund marketing queen by day, and farm girl at night (and early in the morning).

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Friday, July 28, 2006

An Ode to Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese was until recently, something I avoided at all costs - mainly because the pimento cheese I saw in the supermarket was actually labeled pimento spread, was a frighteningly flourescent shade of orange and was packed into suspiciously large tubs.

I didn't know what was in pimento cheese. I didn't really care. It seemed like yet one more Southern bastardization of cheese (see also Port Wine cheese balls).

But there's a little lunch spot by my office called Something Classic Cafe and spicy pimento cheese is one of their specialties so one day I gave it a whirl.

It turns out, that spicy pimento cheese is not much more than grated cheddar (the cheese), roasted peppers (the pimentos), cayenne (the spicy) and mayonnaise (what holds it all together). And it turns out, it's actually quite tasty. Whether spread on crackers or served on a salad, Something Classic's spicy pimento cheese has actually become something that I enjoy...and even crave every once and awhile.

I still won't go near the tubs of pimento spread at the grocery store (let alone those port wine cheese balls) but Something Classic's spicy pimento cheese - that I can handle.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

(Night)life in Lincolnton...

Ever since I posted Tales of a Karaoke Sandbagger, I have been meaning to come back and clear up some misconceptions about Lincolnton nightlife. After all, I wrote that post back on May 29th, with just 3 weeks of Lincolnton living under my belt. Having now been here for nearly 3 months, I feel like I am better able to speak on the subject.

Ok - so Lincolnton is a far cry from Hoboken which has some 70+ bars within a single square mile and where liquor licenses are so abundant, you can no longer get one without bribing a government official (hey - it's New Jersey) or hoping that someone who has one dies so you can buy it from their estate.

That said Lincolnton nightlife is not without its charm.

By my last count, we have 3 bars in town.

Zippers, which you are already familiar with, appears to be open 7 nights a week and hosts karaoke 6 of those nights, with the 7th being reserved for Bike Night. It's more like a stripbar, and I wouldn't drink anything other than bottled beer - but it's nice to know there's a place you can go to at 10pm on a Sunday should you feel so inspired.

Fatz, which I have also mentioned in other posts, is more family dining establishment but it does have a bar - also open 7 nights - and according to the owner who we met a few weeks ago, the bar business is better than any other bar business in Lincolnton. Not sure that's a massive accomplishment, but hey - somebody's got to be the best. I won't lie - Marty and I popped in one Saturday at around 10:30 for a quick drink after dinner. It was sort of entertaining to sip mediocre white wine and watch the waitresses hit on the 2 single guys at the bar while NASCAR played on every available TV screen.

Tradewinds restaurant and lounge is only open Wednesday through Saturday - as Marty and I discovered when we showed up on a Tuesday night for dinner. It's a seafood place that reminds me of the type of restaurant you'd find down in Key West - all faux nautical theme and plenty of fresh fish. They too have a bar (hence the "lounge" in the establishment's name) which was hopping on the Thursday night we finally went. Thursdays also happen to be karaoke night. Are you seeing a theme here?

There was a fourth bar - the previously mentioned Rock Garden Private Club and Sports Bar - but it closed. They kicked off their work week on Wednesday nights with karaoke (do people not go out in the beginning of the week?). They are apparently relocating and should be reopen in 3 months or so, but I did have the opportunity to go a few times before they closed. It wasn't nearly as sketchy as I thought it would be (Marty claims this is because he was with me so no one bothered me. I say Zippers was sketchier) and apparently the "private club" part was akin to some sort of membership fee to avoid paying a nightly cover. I'm not sure how that played in a small town like ours and we will see if they continue that policy when they re-open.

Most other joints in town don't serve alcohol at all or don't offer a bar to go have a drink, so that sums up what we've got to choose from one any given night (short of getting in the car and driving somewhere).

So we're not exactly bustling when it comes to bars but at least we have liquor by the drink (still unavailable in some neighboring counties) and on the bright side, I'm getting better at karaoke.

Still, I am holding out for a trip to the Silver Bullet, a country & western bar out on Route 10 that my friend Richie tells me I can not - under any circumstance - go to because of the sketchy goings on with tons of slutty women and rowdy men. He doesn't realize that I've already been to Iron Thunder (twice).

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Wal-Mart: A Cure For What Ails Me

I was feeling a little blue yesterday. A little restless. I needed to get out of the house so I hopped in the pick-up with the intention of losing myself in some winding, back country roads. But I wasn't finding the solace I was looking for in nature. I needed something greater. I needed something more. I needed to shop.

In Lincolnton, there aren't too many options. So I found myself on a path headed straight for Wal-Mart.

I know what you are saying. You are trying to picture me in the Lincolnton Wal-Mart (pound for pound one of the fattest Wal-Marts in America), Louis Vuitton dangling from my wrist as I stroll the aisles looking for Sam's best, and somehow the image doesn't compute.

But let my tell you something dear reader - an addict will take it any way she can get it and in my current situation, Wal-Mart is about the only retail therapy I am going to find these days.

For years, my shopping habit has been easy to feed: trips to swanky department stores, strolls up and down Madison Avenue, lazy Saturdays spent wandering through a very gentrified SoHo, lazier Sundays spent exploring a nearly gentrified East Village – these excursions would typically leave me psychologically and physically rewarded (if not financially damaged).

But where does a girl get her fix in Lincolnton?

Well, we have a single outpost of Belk’s – a department store chain unfamiliar to those of you outside of the southeast.

How do I describe Belk’s? It’s an OK department store – but not great. I’d rate it above Sears but below Macy’s and certainly below a Barney’s or a Bendel’s. It’s probably in line with J.C. Penney although this is based soley on the J.C. Penney commercials I have seen recently on TV as I haven’t been into an actual J.C. Penney store in over 10 years.

I have been to other Belk’s locations before – in Hickory and Charlotte. They carry Tommy Hilfiger and Nine West and some of the mass produced Ralph Lauren lines but you aren’t going to find Chip & Pepper jeans or Gucci loafers.

I have yet to go into our local Belk’s. This is partly because if I am going to shop, I'll make the trip into Charlotte to South Park (our answer to the Mall at Short Hills). But it’s also because the store seems depressing to me.

When I think about department stores, I think of the hustle and bustle of Bloomingdale’s and the grandeur of Bergdorf’s. I think about 5151 in the Saks in the Houston Galleria where I could pop in for a glass of wine (or 2) and perhaps a steak salad after browsing the new collections. I think about the dizzying array of shoes sold in Nordstrom’s and the pure luxury at Neiman Marcus.

I don’t think about a solitary storefront sandwiched between a Cato Fashion (won't even go there) and a grocery store. As I said – it just seems depressing.

For a while, when we first moved down here, I was finding comfort in Lowe’s. Ten trips in 20 days was pretty much proof that even picture hangers and wire cutters can satisfy a shopaholic's deepest need.

But eventually the home improvement projects come to an end and a girl's got to turn elsewhere.

For me, that elsewhere was Wal-Mart, a store I avoided for a long time because it seemed...overwhelming.

I went to a Wal-Mart once in Kingston, NY. I have never wanted to flee any retail establishment as much as I wanted to flee that one. Poorly lit, sprawling, disorganized - it was a miracle I found what I was looking for.

But one Sunday, early on in the NC experience, I braved Wal-Mart because frankly, I had nothing better to do.

I discovered some wonderful things that day. Like they were the only place in Lincolnton to carry my special Chairmin Plus toilet paper - and they carried it in bulk! They had a wide variety of Atkins bars even though Atkins seemed to have gone out of favor and most drug stores stopped carrying their products. They had the label maker I couldn't find at Staples. They had the Reynolds Wrappers I couldn't find anywhere. Wal-Mart was like the answer to my most basic retail prayers.

And so now, when I need a pick me a up and I don't want to drive 45 minutes to the mall, I take a quick trip to Wal-Mart to soothe my soul. So I am getting Harry Potter and not Harry Winston. So it's a case of Diet Sundrop and not a case of sun-kissed chardonnay.

Just call it retail therapy - Lincolnton style.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

p.s. We went back to Iron Thunder Saloon last night to satisfy the curiousity of a visiting friend. Sadly - Sunday nights do not seem to yield nearly as much wonderful content as Thursdays...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Goat Whisperer

After Claudette's death, I felt like I needed to spend some time with Elvis and Ann-Margaret. So this morning, while they were up by the fence, I went out with a small scoop of goat chow and the goal of establishing trust.

I approached gently and slowly, heading for an area a few feet away from them so that they wouldn't feel attacked. Clever idea, but no luck because as soon as I was withinn a few feet Elvis bolted to my right. This left a terrified Ann-Margaret by herself in the corner.

The 2 engaged in some furious bleating and I finally backed up from the fence to let little Ann-Margaret pass. She went straight for her boyfriend and the 2 of them stood their ground, watching my every move.


Still determined, I put some goat chow in my hand and held it out. I spent several minutes crouched, my hand stuck through the fence, trying to coax them to come to the Chow. The fact that they didn't bolt for the barn seemed to me to be a sign of progress.

So I sprinkled some chow on the ground and pulled my hand in.

They approached - warily at first because I was still near. But hunger won out and they began to lap up the little pellets on the ground.

For 10 or so minutes I would hold out my hand with feed, they would ignore it but as soon as I sprinkled it on the ground, they'd come eat. After about 20, they wouldn't mind my hand (still full of chow) sticking out through the fence, but they would only eat what few bits they could get off the ground and not from the pile in my palm.

I made one final effort with the last little bit of feed. I palmed it and gently reached my arm through the fence. Sure enough - tired of picking at scraps on the ground, Elvis came to me and lapped every last bit out of my palm. I was so happy, I cried. We were finally communicating. Just call me the Goat Whisperer.

Of course, I immediately got a big scoop of chow and went back to the fence where I let Elvis continue to eat from my hand. Ann-Margaret wasn't having any of it, but she did let me gently touch her head while she was eating - another milestone.

Why today and why not some other day? Was it because I had the patience today? The determination? Or did Elvis and Ann-Margaret - sensing my grief over the loss of Claudette - realize that I needed a little goat lovin' to get me through the day.

If that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Friday, July 21, 2006

In Memoriam

In loving memory of Claudette - a wonderful and sweet goat who brought happiness and joy to all who knew her. May she graze in green pastures forever.











And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Have I Failed as a Pet Parent?

I ask myself this question often these days. Many of you have probably been asking yourselves that very same question when you come to my house and Sebastian tries to bite your arm off. Where did I go wrong? What did I do? Why does my cat hide when you rustle paper? Why does he not like anyone but Marty and me? Why did he spend his first 6 weeks in NC literally under the covers in an 80 degree room? It was so disconcerting that visitors would ask if he was alive (he was).

I did nothing but love and nurture Sebastian the best I knew how. And yet, look at how he turned out.

I find myself once again in the same boat (although in 2 different regards) with the goats (sorry for those of you who are goated out. I can't seem to help it).

Today, a gentle rain storm turned into an all out downpour and Elvis and Ann-Margaret got caught out in the pasture. Elvis made a run for it but little Ann-Margaret can't go so fast. She sort of walked/stumbled to the barn and got soaked. Her being so little, I was worried. So when the rain stopped, I went out to the barn with a towel to dry her off and some goat chow (she loves the stuff).

As soon as I walked into the barn, Elvis made a dash for it. But Ann-Maragret is not so quick so she got stuck in the stall. Elvis of course started bahhing frantically from outside of the barn and Ann-Margaret responded with equal emotion. I of course was not there to hurt them. In fact, I can't think of 1 thing I have done (other than pick 2 ticks off Ann-Margaret and give them each an oral dose of dewormer) that is remotely threatening. On the contrary, I have brought them away from the other goats, given them a huge pasture full of yummy things to graze on, given them shelter and fresh straw to sleep on and as an added bonus, they now get goat chow. So why is my presence so alarming?

Even on my knees, goat chow in my hand Ann-Margaret would not budge. I got as close as my hand literally under her mouth, but she would not eat. So I scooped her up (she made a fuss), toweled her off as best I could, and then watched her scramble off the find her boyfriend. And the whole time I am wondering, why does this little goat not like me? Come to think of it, perhaps she blames me for the mysterious disappearance of her sister. Even so, I am beginning to get a complex.

As for Claudette, she took a turn for the worse on Tuesday. So much so, that the doctor told me to keep my cell phone close by in case he needed to get my permission to put her down. But she has improved over the last 2 days. They forced some milk on her and she's back to bottle feeding 4 times a day. Someone takes her home at night to keep an eye on her. Sally - who I met last Saturday - has had her at home for a few nights and has put Claudette with her little goat which seems to be working well. And one of Sally's cats has taken a shine to Claudette as well and can be found curled up next to her on the pile of towels.

While this warms my heart, it makes me a little sad too because that was supposed to my Christmas card picture. Not someone else's.

Dr. Bob knows I want to bring her home, but he gently suggested we let them continue to care for her. As he put it, he did not think our schedules would allow us to care for Claudette in the proper manner that she currently requires. But it's not about schedules (well - it is, but not 100%). It's about something more and it's that something more that has me so wrapped up in thought on this.

Should Claudette fully recover, I wonder if it is fair for me to take her from the people who nursed her back to health? Yes - it is their job but they have gone above and beyond the call of duty on this one.

Anyways, that's what's on my mind tonight. Not exactly a barrel of laughs...and maybe not all that country...but then again, did you ever think I'd get so wrapped up in livestock?

Just wait til we get chickens...

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Archive III - You Wan't An Iced What? (A true saga...)

Guys - so tired can't think enough to be creative and I know you don't want to hear about me deworming my goats...so it's another archive.

Promise to add something fresh in the next day or 2.

What I miss most down here is the coffee. Ok – I miss my family and friends more – but coffee runs a close second.

I have over the last year, become a total Starbucks junkie. There was a time when I could take it or leave it, but Starbucks has become so ingrained in the fabric of my life, so much a ritual for me – that to leave it behind was devastating.

My drink of choice in the summertime is iced decaf coffee. I don’t like to pour hot coffee over ice because of the water-down factor, so I am always thrilled to find a coffee place that actually has cold, brewed decaf on hand. Both Starbucks in Hoboken kept it in stock, as do most of the branches in NYC. Still – occasionally you run into a smaller branch and they don’t have cold decaf so they foist an Iced Americano (decaf of course) on you, which is espresso over ice cut with cold water. The thought is that because the espresso is so strong, the water and the ice mix with it to give you regular tasting coffee. That’s not exactly true, but I can tolerate an Americano every once and a while.

I spent my first week down here without any coffee. But a trip to a large shopping complex in nearby Mooresville led me to a Caribou Coffee where the nice barista told me they didn’t have iced decaf and instead recommended a Sugar Free Vanilla Iced Decaf Americano. I ordered it, added a healthy dose of Half & Half and Oh My God – it was the best coffee ever. Or at least – it tasted that good seeing as I had been deprived for a week.

The following day I found myself in Charlotte. Charlotte is peppered with Starbucks outlets but sadly the one I went into did not have iced decaf coffee. So I found myself with an Americano – which frankly, without the sugar free vanilla and Half & Half – was significantly less satisfying then my Caribou experience.

Still, coffee was now back in my veins and I knew I would need more. Seeing as I don’t feel like driving 25 – 35 miles every time I wanted a good cup of coffee, I decided to check out the coffee scene in Lincolnton.

Lincolnton has 3 coffee places that I know of: Morgan’s, Fausto’s and Witch’s Brew.

When Marty lived here over the summer, he would go to the Witch’s Brew quite a bit. He’s not much of a coffee drinker but if you add some Irish Cream syrup and a lot of milk he seems to like it (so would a 6-year old – it’s like drinking a milkshake). The Witch’s Brew is charming – with a nice sized space to hang out, work, or play board games (which are stacked neatly in the front). Some times they have live music and the overall vibe is hippie chick/goth coffee house. How they survive in a town like Lincolnton is beyond me – especially since I have been told that the owners are Wiccans (and I thought being Jewish down here would be an issue). I went there once when we were down here visiting. I of course ordered an iced decaf coffee, which they didn’t have so I had to settle for hot coffee over ice. To make matters worse – they put my iced beverage in a Styrofoam cup. Now – not to be difficult, but everyone knows that cold coffee beverages go in the clear, plastic cups (By the way - that’s why iced coffee is twice as expensive as regular coffee. It’s all about the cup.) I can’t explain my fanaticism on this point but I firmly believe that cold coffee goes in a clear plastic cup. Plain and simple. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to running back to the Witch’s Brew.

Sandwiched in a shopping center between a Lowe’s and a Staples, Morgan’s Calf-A is actually an ice cream parlor cum coffee shop. They don’t open until late morning, which means this is not a stop for an early morning java fix. One could deduce from this tidbit that they take their ice cream more seriously than their coffee – which it turns out they do.

I have been to Morgan’s once before – I ordered a regular decaf coffee. It was Ok. Not great. Southerner’s don’t seem to like strong coffee and being used to the power of Starbucks, the Morgan’s decaf seemed like Screech from Saved By the Bell – scrawny and pathetic.

Still, last Sunday I found myself at Lowe’s and desperately craving a coffee. So I went to Morgan’s (which by the way – is the only one of the three shops open on a Sunday. Gotta love life in the bible belt.)

A sweet young girl behind the counter asks me what I’d like.

“An iced decaf coffee please.” I know they aren’t going to have it, but I figure it never hurts to ask because one day I will get lucky.

Still, I am surprised when she asks: “What flavor?” Flavor? You mean I have a choice? Ok – so there’s a little red warning light going off in my head – there’s no way they have a choice of cold, brewed, flavored decaf coffees but wait – maybe they do. Maybe it’s like Dunkin Donuts? No. It can’t be. Maybe she means the syrups.

“What are my choices?”

“We have decaf vanilla and decaf mocha.”

Ok – so it’s definitely not about the syrups because those aren’t decaf. I hesitantly select the decaf vanilla.

“Would you like whipped cream on that?” Here’s where little red warning light turns into full-blown alarm system. I am picturing an iced coffee (in a nice big, clear, plastic cup) and then I am picturing a big blob of whipped cream floating on top. The image doesn’t gel in my mind – it’s as if she’s asked me if I’d like ketchup on my Rocky Road.

I try not to be too New York (despite the Louis Vuitton purse dangling from my arm and my metallic green Siggy Mo heels) when I say: “I’m sorry? What do you think I ordered?”

“An iced coffee.”

“Yes. An iced coffee.” I pause, waiting for a flicker of recognition. There’s none so I continue. “So why did you offer me whipped cream?”

She goes to get a menu and brings it back to me. All I see under iced coffee are about 40 flavor choices (including decaf vanilla and decaf mocha). I see no beverage description.

“Iced coffee,” she says, trying to be helpful. Yeah. And Who’s on First.

“I just want an iced coffee. You know – cold coffee over ice.” The blank look has now turned to confusion. “You know how iced tea is hot tea, that’s then cooled and poured over ice?” I figure a tea reference will go far here. Not quite.

At this point, the other woman behind the counter – who I presume to be more senior – comes over to assist.

“Do you mean like a latte?” She says latte “laaaahhhhhhhhhhtaaaayyy.”

Now it’s my turn to look confused. Who said anything about a latte? That’s like ordering macaroni and cheese and having the waitress say: You mean the spaghetti and meatballs? They are both pasta but that’s it.

“No. I mean iced coffee.” My frustration level is rising but you can’t be rude down here so I try to keep it all in.

“Do you mean espresso or brewed coffee?” I fear this is a trick question that will land me with an Americano but then it occurs to me they probably don’t know what an Americano is seeing as they don’t know what iced coffee is.

“Um….brewed coffee. All I want is cold brewed decaf poured over ice. Just plain. What exactly do you mean when you say iced coffee?”

It turns out that “iced coffee” at Morgan’s is flavored coffee powder blended with milk. Sort of like a frappucinno. Or a shake. How silly of me. Iced coffee equals frozen blended flavored coffee beverage.

Although it’s taken several minutes to bridge the communication gap, they finally process my drink order. There’s another small moment of confusion when the girl tries to figure out what cup to give me (thankfully plastic) and how much to charge. Then she hands me the cup.

Apparently, I have to add my own coffee so I go to the pot of decaf and press down. Wouldn’t you know I’ve gotten the bottom of the pot.

So now I have the dregs of hot wimpy coffee poured over ice. I drink it only because it feels like I’ve been through Hell to get it. My only solace is the plastic cup.

This was obviously written a while back and I have since solved the iced coffee dilemma. Between the iced coffee maker I purchased and the fact that I work right near both a Starbucks (have to settle for an Americano and the parking lot’s a zoo) and a Caribou (where they actually have iced cold pressed decaf), my java joneses are always addressed.

Hallelujah!

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What's in a Vegetable?

Craft Restaurant - NYC (selection)

Vegetables
Baby Turnips
Salsify
Baby Carrots
Cauliflower
Jerusalem Artichokes
Cippolini Onions
Baby Red Mustard Greens
Swiss Chard
Escarole
Baby Fennel

Mushrooms
Velvet Piopini
Porcinis
Hen of the Woods
Black Trompettes

Potatoes
Ruby Crescent Fingerlings
Puree
Gnocchi

Beans & Grains
Heirloom Hominy
Housemade Bacon & Egg Risotto

Aunt Bessie's Home Cookin' - Lincolnton, NC

Vegetables
Mashed Potatoes
Baby Carrots
Rice
Fried Squash
Onion Rings
Cole Slaw
Cooked Cabbage
Grean Beans
Pears
Fried Okra
French Fries
Creamed Corn
Pintos (with or without onions)
Turnip Greens
Candied Yams
Tropical Fruit Salad
Fried Apples
Jello
Cottage Cheese
Bread 'n Butter Pickles
Potato Pancakes
Potato Salad
Macaroni 'n Cheese
Fresh Fruit
Sliced Tomatoes

Note: A Baked Potato is available instead of a vegetable for $0.50

Hmmmm...I am wondering...when did Jello, cottage cheese, rice, macaroni & cheese and fruit began to qualify as vegetables? And why is a baked potato not a vegetable, but potatoes mashed, fried, in a pancake or in a salad are?

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Diary of a Country Girl

6:45am Wake up. Spend a few minutes playing with Sebastian.

7:05am Finish downloading old country songs from iTunes. Now the songs that I love listening to on cassette are updated on my iPod.

7:10am Head out to watch the goats graze along the fenceline. But as soon as Elvis spots me, he goes galloping off to the middle of the pasture. He sends a warning bleat to Ann-Margaret (whose head is literally buried in the grass) and she runs off to join him.

7:12am Ponder goat psychology. Wonder if Elvis was abused or tortured before we got him since he seems so afraid/wary of us and we've done nothing but give him a wide open pasture to graze in and lots of love. Realize it's too early for goat psychology.

7:45 Hop into the Volvo and head out to Cornelius to visit with Claudette.

8:40am Arrive at the North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital Large Animal Practice. Walk into the office and see Claudette on a towel, wrapped in a blanket, with a pile of grass and leaves for her to nibble on and a small water dish at her head. She seems so domestic, she might as well be a house cat.

8:40 - 10:00am Spend well over an hour sitting outside on a grassy knoll with Claudette. I scratch her ears and her neck and her back. I massage her bony little legs. I try to feed her some grass but she seems uninterested. When I pick her up she nuzzles my neck.

It becomes clear to me after witnessing her care first hand, that Marty and I could absolutely bring her home and care for her here. I mean, if people can keep large dogs in small New York apartments, why can't we keep a small goat in a large farmhouse?

I still believe that she will learn to walk again, but I think after all of the trauma she's been through (ticks, worms, polio, a dead mother)it will take time.

Plus, Claudette seems lonley. I think she'd like being back with her sister and Elvis.

(p.s. Doesn't she look adorable?)


















11:15am Meet up with Marty and Richie back at the house. The 3 of us climb into the pick-up and head out to Southern States, the farm supply store in Waco, NC.

11:45am Make first of goat-related purchases for the day: a small feeding trough that hooks onto the side of the fence, a larger hook-on trough for water, a salt mineral block and a bale of straw.

12:15pm Stop in the Shake Shop in Cherryville for the world's best cheeseburger. Sadly, the Shake Shop no longer serves shakes so I have to settle for a Diet Sun Drop.

1:00pm Stop in the hardware store in Cherryville where a boy who's as country as grandma's chicken dinner sells us a 50lb bag of feed and a large bin to store it in. Discover that in addition to Puppy Chow and Kitty Chow, Purina makes Goat Chow, Pig Chow, Rabbit Chow, Pigeon Chow. Only the best brand names for our goats.

1:25pm Get back to the house and eagerly set up the goat's new troughs. They are far out in the pasture and don't come over, but Richie assures me they will smell the feed and the salt block. I feel skeptical that they'll figure it out on their own, but thn again, they are goats. They seem to have gotten this far without much guidance.

2:00pm Hop into the pick-up and head to the grocery store.

2:30pm Hop into the pick-up yet again and head to the dump.

2:50 Get back home and post.

Still on the agenda? Clean out the stall in the barn and lay down the fresh straw so the goats have a comfy place to sleep.

And then it's off to Charlotte for a Def Leppard/Journey concert.

Because even a country girl's got to get in touch with her inner rocker.

So rock on...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Help! I'm Trapped in a Biker Bar!

For those of you who like the image of Sarah sipping on a glass of over priced white wine in some plush hotel lounge, stop reading immediately. Go check out the latest Celebrity Gossip. Or simply close your browser window, shut down your computer and walk away - images of me in my natural habitat intact.

Ok. For those of you still here, don't say you weren't warned...

Last night started out innocently enough. A late dinner (well - late by NC standards. It was only 8:45) at McElrath's, a new American restuarant up in Hickory. Afterwards, the plan was to meet up with our neighbor Carl and his friend. They had gone up to a bar in Hickory to pick up women. Ok - so right then and there I suppose warning lights should have gone off in my head. My neighbor, who drives an 18-wheeler for a living and who introduced me to Zippers, was going out to pick up women. But I suppose I am a little off my game these days. And besides, I am always up for checking out local night life. It makes for good writing.

We met up with Carl and Bruce at a bar called the Iron Thunder Saloon. It's in Hickory, located next to the Harley-Davidson dealership.

For starters, there were more bikes in the parking lot than cars. And I am not talking about overflow from the dealership.

So I've told you about Zippers. Imagine Zippers times 50. That's what Iron Thunder was like. In a weird way it reminded me of a 50s style diners with lots of white formica and strangely blue lighting. But Iron Horse was no Al's and the patrons were not exactly Richie, Potsie and Ralph.

Let me start with our bartender. She was wearing a denim bikini. Well, actually, they were micro short shorts and a bra top (which showed off ample cleavage - one of many accessories most women were sporting last night) but it might as well have been a bikini. In fact, I've seen bikinis with more coverage than what she was wearing. I have to giver her credit - for someone in her 40s, she had a rockin body. But really, a denim bikini? A bleached denim bikini at that.

Besides her boobs, she was sporting a super tan (no doubt hours spent in the tanning bed) and a pair of granny half-moons which she would knock from the top of her head to the bridge of her nose when she rang up checks.

Tans and boobs. That's what many of the women had in common last night.

I would also comment that there was a preponderance of rather large women there. And that the men seemed to be attracted to them. I don't mean that in a mean way. It's more a statement of fact - and continued evidence that this part of North Carolina has more in common with Disney World than most people think.

We managed to get seats at the bar. I didn't even contemplate asking for wine (and that was before I realized all of the drinks - including shots - were served in plastic cups). Instead, I opted for an Absolut & soda - something I was sure wouldn't kill me or make me sick.

My Jackie-O-as-interpreted-by-the-East-Village look definitely stood out in the sea of ultra short skirts and low cut and cropped tops.

I don't know what else to tell you all other than the fact that I was hanging out in an honest-to-God, real life biker bar. And not a little sliver of a place like Zippers. But a biker bar warehouse. A biker bar as interpreted by someone with a marketing degree.

And, to top of the surreality of the evening, en route to the men's room, Marty ran into someone he knew. Yes - we actually knew someone at Iron Thunder. Todd was his name. An old friend of Marty's from growing up in Hickory. All I can say about Todd was that he gave new meaning to the word mullet and I am fairly sure that his hair - bleach blond, flat and spiky on top, long and kinky curls on the tail - had not been updated since some time around 1983.

If that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Little Trucker Lovin'

I had my first truck-to-truck flirtation tonight....If you can call a wink through the window flirtation...

Let me back up by saying that I love the truck! I was - as you can well imagine - nervous about buying one. To be honest - I love the little Volvo (well - it's not so little, it is a turbo). And a truck seemed so...big. So...hard to maneuver. So...country. So...not me. Although I could see the value of having a truck. After all - it makes things like running to the dump or picking up a medicine chest at Lowes relatively simple versus trying to cram a bunch of shit into a sedan (and believe me - I loaded up the Mercedes for dump runs on countless occasions when we first moved in.)

Anyways - Marty and I spent DAYS looking at trucks. We drove up and down I-70 going to all the car dealerships debating things like push bars (I hated them), size (we both agreed we DIDN'T need a full size), and color (I was firmly in favor of black). We also hit a number of out of the way dealerships in places like Conover and our own Lincolnton.

The truck we wound up with was actually found on eBay. When Marty showed me to picture, I immediately grimaced. I hated it. I had my heart set on a charming black little Nissan we'd seen in Hickory. This was white and had a big ZR2 on the side (note: I have a thing about writing on vehicles. I hate it. But apparently all trucks have some sort of writing or design so this is something I have had to make peace with). It was way larger than the Nissan. I gave it a big thumbs down.

Nonetheless, Marty placed a bid, assuring me his bid was so under the true value of the truck that we'd never get it. Famous last words. A few hours later we had won the auction and were searching for someone who could haul the vehicle from PA.

I quickly grew to love the truck. At first, I loved the fact that the truck had a tape deck and I could listen to old mix tapes I still actually had. Particularly some old country mixes my dad had made that I remember listening to as a child. Although why you expose a child to songs like "If That Ain't Country, I'll Kiss Your Ass," "Take This Job and Shove It," and "Colorado Kool Aide" (about a mean drunk in a bar who gets his ear sliced off) is a question for me to sort out with my therapist. But back to the truck.

Then, as some of you read in an earlier post - I intimidated my first drver - a puny little Audi TT who promptly got out of my way.

And then, I got into the rhythym of driving the truck. Sure - it doesn't handle the curves of my back roads as well as the Volvo. And it takes more than 10 seconds to get to 60 mph. And it can be a bit bouncy when you go above 50 mph. But you can also see above (most) cars when you are in traffic (save for 18-Wheelers and obnoxiously large SUVs). When I go to the drive-through ATM, I can easily reach the keypad without having to half hang out the window. And there's always the thrill of watching a smaller car get out of the way because he thinks I may run him over...

So, while I give the Volvo a breather (3000 miles in 2 months is a lot for ANY car), I have been driving the truck.

And tonight, on my way home, a driver in the cab of an 18-Wheeler winked at me. I don't know if it was the Megan Kinney pencil skirt with the suggestive front split or the drapy Helen Wang scoop neck shirt. (What can I say - I busted out a cadre of East Village designers today). Perhaps it was the Jackie O sunglasses and the casual french twist. Or the Marc Jacobs peep toe heels and Louis Vuitton Alma on the front seat next to me (so adorable). I certainly hope it wasn't my slightly off-key rendition of Lee Greenwood's "She Had a Ring On Her Finger (and Time on Her Hands)" which I was belting out at the top of my lungs.

The wink wasn't lascivious. Or scummy. Or skeevy. At least I don't think so. It seemed to me that something about my image was so charming, so endearing, so out of place - that it had to be acknowledged by this truck driver.

So what did I do? Why I smiled and waved - like a polite Southern Belle - and drove on my way.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Archive II: Karaoke Sandbagger (or Stories from Lincolnton Nightlife)

Short of goat news (and I think y'all are probably goated out by now) I don't have much to contribute creatively so I'll reach back and pull an archived essay from Memorial Day.

One of the things I have noticed about Lincolnton is that there is not much nightlife. When I pointed out the lack of bars, clubs & lounges to Marty one night, he pointed out that we were deep in The Bible Belt. And not just The Bible Belt. But The Baptist Bible Belt. Churches – we got. But bars?

Up until last night (May 29th) I knew of 2 “bars” in Lincolnton. One, was at Fatz – a restaurant chain akin to Applebee’s or Chili’s. I don’t know about Fatz’s in other parts of the world, but the Lincolnton Fatz is quite the hot spot. Seriously. Several years ago, we were down visiting my in-laws and Fatz had just opened. My mother-in-law pointed it out and commented on how popular it was. Marty & I rolled our eyes in the backseat of the car. We were from New York. Chain restaurants like Fatz were not popular and packed on a Saturday night. Babbo was. Grammercy Tavern was. Le Bernadin was. But Fatz?

I figured Fatz was not in my future but on our second night in town (incidentally a Saturday) we found ourselves in need of some place to eat at 9:45 p.m. Short of driving 20 minutes to Hickory or hitting the McDonald’s drive through, Fatz was the only place open until 11 p.m. in town. So we went. And ate dinner. And it was…fine. There was no culinary revolution, but after a long day of unpacking, the fact that I could get a glass of average wine and a Cobb salad was a welcome relief. I didn’t check out the bar at Fatz, but Marty went to grab a beer when the waiter forgot to bring the one he ordered (let’s just say these guys didn’t graduate from the Danny Meyer school of service). He indicated that the bar was probably a better place to eat than the tables and so it seemed that the bar was more of a dining alternative (with potentially better service) and not a place to come party.

The second bar is actually a bar. It’s called Rock Garden and it’s located in a small shopping complex about a mile down the road from the house. Marty told me about it and when I found out that our sleepy little town actually had a place where people went for the purpose of drinking and hanging out, I told Marty I was going to check it out one night. “Research,” I called it.

“I wouldn’t go alone,” he said. Apparently Marty had been to Rock Garden when he stayed here a few weeks last summer. He said it was sort of divey, perhaps just a little seedy, and not a place where a pretty girl like me sits at the bar by herself and nurses a Chardonnay. Unless of course I was looking to be picked up. By some country boys. Or bikers. Or both. So I asked if he would take me one night and he agreed but one night never came and I feared that I would never experience what little Lincolnton had to offer in the way of nightlife.

Monday. Memorial Day weekend. Marty & I had been out all day. We had driven up to the mountains and then stopped at the local brewery in Hickory for a few drinks and an early dinner. We had no intention of going out, but our houseguest, Kelly, had been cooped up for 2 days straight and wanted to grab “a beer or 2” to clear his head. Our neighbor Carl was over giving me a lesson in Hickory geography (which I will save for another tale as frankly, it’s too painful to address) and Kelly invited us to join. So at 9:30pm on a Monday night of a holiday weekend, the four of us piled into the car and headed down the road to Rock Garden. I confess that I was anxious with anticipation. What would this adventure yield in terms of material? Was Rock Garden really that scary?
Rock Garden (which is officially called Rock Garden Private Club & Sports Bar – I am not sure what about it qualifies as private) was closed. Not a total surprise seeing as this was after all a holiday weekend. People were home with their families. Barbequing. Memorializing. And this late – probably sleeping.

Carl – who has lived in the house next door for 50 years said that he had never been to Rock Garden – but that there were 2 bars he liked to go to. One – was a Country & Western bar called The Silver Bullet that’s only open on Friday and Saturday nights. Not an option for us that Monday. But he said Zipper’s was pretty good.

Zipper’s? That little hole-in-the-wall grill in the parking lot in front of Wal-Mart? The very same one according to Carl. They serve a good breakfast, he said, and there’s apparently a bar attached to the side. So it was off to Zipper’s. There were a handful of cars and a larger handful of Harley’s in the parking lot. The place was surprisingly packed.

We walked in to a smoke-filled strip that instantly made me long for the no-smoking laws of New York and New Jersey. The strip –was just as Carl described – attached to a little grill with plastic tables and chairs that reminded me of a place called Dewey’s I used to go to in Woodstock when I was a kid (I know that doesn’t help any of you but it gives me a good frame of reference).

There wasn’t much to the bar. The bar itself. A dozen or so stools. A trivia machine on the far end. All I can say it was a far cry from the bars I tend to frequent in New York.

We drew stares as we walked to the end of the bar – maybe because we were strangers. Maybe because we were thin. Maybe because I had my 3-carat engagement rock glistening on my finger. I felt better that we were with Carl who is definitely a local.

Ninety-percent of the time, when I go to a bar, I order white wine. I’ll even drink white wine at Fatz. But Zipper’s isn’t exactly a wine bar. In fact, when I looked at the selection of booze behind the bar, I couldn’t spot a recognizable brand of vodka anywhere. As far as I could tell, it was mainly Well brands on the shelf behind the bar with a few familiar faces – Beam, Malibu, Wild Turkey – thrown in.

We ordered 4 Bud Light bottles and settled into a corner of the bar. I surveyed the patrons. Mostly men. Many who looked they belonged to the assorted motorcycles parked out front. A few women – maybe 6. One or two with boyfriends. The rest seemingly single. They had spent too many hours in the tanning bed and had fried hair styled circa 1986. One of them could have used some upper body support. The crowd was older – 40s, 50s – maybe 60s.

It didn’t take long to figure out that it was a karaoke night at Zipper’s. As we sipped our beers, we were bombarded with one worse song after another. These people – were for the most part – a terrible bunch of singers (save for one guy named Joe who sounded exactly like Johnny Cash). Simon Cowell would have had to walk out of there. People were off key. Off pitch. Off tempo. Out of tune. It was bad. Worse than bad. It was offensive to the ear. Even worse was that I didn’t know the majority of songs being sung. It was all Country music – which I like by the way. It was just Country songs I didn’t know.

I should pause for a moment to bring you back to our houseguest, Kelly. The one who wanted to go out in the first place. Kelly is a professional singer. He has been in bands, performing and on the road for the better part of the last 30 years. He has 20+ albums to his credit and has worked with some real talented musicians in his life. He is currently the vocalist and second half of Paris Keeling – Marty’s band – and he is living with us for a few months while they work on the album.

I asked Kelly a few weeks ago if he ever sang karaoke. He laughed at me. I suppose it’d be like asking Wolfgang Puck if he ever gets the urge to go behind the counter at McDonald’s and make himself an Egg McMuffin.

Still – as soon as we discovered it was karaoke night – we started to needle him. “Come on Kelly – just sing a song.” Kelly – who has no problem getting on stage in front of thousands of people – clams up in smaller settings. Too intimate for him. He doesn’t like to be face to face with his audience. And Zipper’s was intimate – no doubt.

But Carl plied him with a shot of Wild Turkey and we begged and pleaded and maybe after hearing so many bad renditions he decided he had to do it himself. So Kelly put his name down to sing the Beatle’s song “Oh Darling.” It’s not a Beatle’s song I know – and I was pretty sure the song choice would not sit well with the locals who seemed to favor Hank Williams and LeAnn Rimes. But it was a song Kelly knew well and one he liked to sing.

About 10 minutes later, Kelly was up. He was handed a microphone. When most people were handed the mic, they slunk back against the wall and waited in nervous anticipation for their song to begin. Not Kelly. He introduced himself. Mentioned Paris Keeling. Talked about the album he was working on. He was working the room. In fact – he was talking so much he missed the opening line of the song. But he slid right into it like Cinderella into her glass slipper.

A karaoke sandbagger.

At first, the bar became eerily quiet. No one else’s performance had commanded this much attention.

As Kelly hit each note with force and perfect pitch, people responded. They whistled. They whooped. I even heard one man exclaim: “He can sing for a white boy.”

One of the permed and tanned single gals sat down next to Kelly and leaned against him while he sang. If he noticed (which later he told me he did) he didn’t let on. Ever the professional, he put heart and soul into that performance, and when it was done, the bar rewarded him with a round of raucous applause that had heretofore not been heard. The woman running the karaoke handed him the book of songs, flipped open to the Beatles section. “Anything you want,” she said.

Kelly sang three more songs. When he sang Hey Jude (another favorite) he got the entire bar involved and we all joined in on the Na Na Na Nas and the Hey Judes.

You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC did not seem to move the crowd as much although Kelly sang it brilliantly.

And his final performance was a duet with me. Unforgettable. And while Kelly did Nat King Cole proud, let’s just say my performance was fairly unforgettable. In fact, it was less of a duet and more of a solo as I let Kelly sing most of my part too.

But Zipper’s has karaoke every night but Wednesday’s. So I’ve told Kelly I’ll practice and we’ll try again next week.

If that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

P.S. I have since actually been to Rock Garden (now closed for 3 months while they relocate) and have a new outlook on Fatz (for another post).

Monday, July 10, 2006

An Update on Claudette

Dr. Gochnauer left us a VM that Claudette seems to be on the road to recovery. She can stand for 4 -5 minutes at a time although she still can't walk without falling down. She's been grazing on grass, eating feed and something else called Quick Start. She's not taking to the bottle of goat's milk - which may be a good sign. Perhaps she's weaned....In any event - her belly is full.

Happy to hear my kid is healing and continue to hope for her full-on recovery.

Thanks to all for your well wishes.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

And the Goat Drama Continues...

The last 36 hours have been a roller coaster. Marty and I gave Claudette her second injection yesterday morning. She seemed so terrified of us (she would literally lose control of her bowels and/or bladder whenever we approached) that we made the joint decision to give her some space. Which meant no Saturday night injection. We thought we'd let her heal on her own.

This morning I went out there and saw Claudette laying in the grass. She wasn't moving or making noise. I naturally assumed she was dead. I probably should have gotten a little closer to double check - but given all of her health issues, I just naturally assumed....(lesson 1: don't naturally assume anything...)

I was of course devastated and came back to the house sobbing. I spent much of the morning in a funk. (Oh yeah - and I posted an in memoriam message on this site)

Not exactly wanting to deal with the situation, we waited a few hours. But in the early afternoon, Marty and I drove out into the pasture to dig a hole to bury Claudette. But the ground was too hard. So Marty went to Lowe's to buy a pick axe and a better shovel.

On the way he picked up our friend Richie to help.

We all went back out into the pasture where Marty and Richie dug a grave. Then they drove over to the barn to pick-up Claudette.

As I am wandering around looking for dandelions and buttercups to pick to lay on the grave, Marty starts hollering at me across the pasture. She's not dead. She's collapsed in a heap and bleating - but she's alive.

Of course I feel like an idiot for having assumed she was dead (and having already eulogized her). And while I am glad she's alive, I am also freaking out that she is in pain and suffering.

So I jump into action mode calling the emergency number for the vet. I have the doctor paged and we wait impatiently for him to call back.

Marty and Richie debate just bringing Claudette to the grave and putting her out of her misery, but in the end, we wait for Dr. Gochnauer to call back (Thank God).

My story when the doctor calls is that we have a dying goat in pain and suffering and he needs to come put her down. He's based out of Cornelius so it's a full hour before he'll get here.

It's a long hour spent pacing and worrying. I worry even more when I see Elvis and Ann-Margaret head out to the pasture to graze. They've been by Claudette's side all day - protecting her, loving her, nurturing here - I don't know. But when they leave her, I know it's because they are either hungry or she is now really dead.

Dr. Gochnauer arrives at about 4:30. I walk him out to the pasture and point to the grey heap barely visible in the tall grass. He nimbly scoops her up and places her in the bed of our pick-up (which Marty had left out). She is bleating and I am wincing in pain (there is nothing more pitiful than hearing a sick goat bleat). Dr. G tells me that I don't have to panic every time she makes noise. He examines her and then carries her out to his truck which is a mini vet practice on wheels.

The big problem now is that Claudette has no strength - she literally cannot pick or hold herself up and that's why she's been laying in a heap. The root of the problem is probably the 10 or so ticks clinging to her body and posioning her.

Dr. G picks the ticks off, gives her a round of shots and some sugar water which seems to help. I can tell because her little tail is wagging.

The good news is the thiamin shots seem to have staved off the goat polio and her gums have some color which means the de-wormer is working.

The worst part of this all (other than that I thought my goat was dead and we had dug a grave) was that I felt so inadequate as a goat parent.

I explained to Dr. G that I was from NYC and we had got these goats not realizing how much work was involved. So we got a little Goatanomics 101. And Dr. G was sweet - although I think he was frightened when he asked if we planned to raise goats and Marty said yes. It's sort of like when a crack whore says she plans on having more babies. You worry.

Anyways, he took Claudette back to the hospital to recover - and while being caged up is less ideal than leaving her in her natural habitat - Marty and I are simply not yet ready to tend to sick goats. Not yet. But we did fill in the hole - because I am not ready for any more dead goats either.

Claudette is by no means out of the woods, but she's way better off than she was and I pray that being in a safe, clean, nurturing environment allows her to heal and regain her strength.

Meanwhile, there's a whole host of things we need to do a buy in order to properly keep and raise goats (top of the list? buy a feed trough they can't poop in). I am sure the trip to the feed store will be a post worthy in its own right.

As I wrap this long post up, I am thankful tonight that Claudette is still part of the family and for the patience and kindness of the doctors and staff at Large Animal Practice in Cornelius, NC (Dr. G gave me a hug as he drove off - I guess signifying that even though he knows I know nothing about goats, he knows I am trying).


And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Archive I: We’re Moving Where?

I always knew that Marty and I would not remain in the Northeast long term – the main reason being that he does not like living there. When we moved there from Houston in February 2001, I was hoping to get 3 good years. I got 5 and am grateful.

I should clarify by explaining that I grew up in New York City. Yes – in the city. On a quaint street named East 73rd. While most kids were learning to ride bikes, I was learning to jaywalk without getting run over. While most kids were learning to drive their first cars, I was learning to hail a cab in midtown at rush hour (although I did learn to drive on the West Side Highway).

New York is in my blood. It always will be. It’s how I identify myself. Who are you? I’m a New Yorker.

At the end of August in 1999 I moved to Houston, TX to go live with Marty (then boyfriend, now husband). Before I moved, I went to a trendy boutique in Nolita and purchased a pink felt “cowboy hat” (cowboy hats were very trendy at the time). I proudly showed it to my man – who promptly laughed.

“That’s not a cowboy hat,” he snapped.

“Of course it is.” I didn’t mention that it was a very expensive cowboy hat and he better damn well like it.

“No it’s not.”

We argued for a while about the true status of my hat before I gave up. I didn’t get it.

Six months later I attended my first Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. I showed up the first night to the BBQ Cook-Off sponsor dinner in a black strapless dress, satin wrap and 4 inch heels (a sponsors dinner seemed no place for a cowboy hat – even one as charming as my pink beauty…). I was greeted with stares. I’d like to think it’s because I looked gorgeous. But in reality, I stood out like a sore thumb on that rain-soaked, wind-whipped campground. Apparently – no one had told me that the uniform was Western wear. Real Western wear.

So what does a faux cowgirl do? She goes shopping the next day and buys Wranglers, Ropers, a REAL cowboy hat and a Western shirt that was so stiff with starch, it was nearly impossible to wear.

What’s my point (besides the fact that I’ll use any excuse to go shopping)? I embraced the culture. Granted – the Rodeo in Houston is a once-a-year, 3 week long event and all of my cowgirl gear is promptly tucked away at its end. I mean – it’s not like I’d wear this stuff in public.

Still, life in Houston was tolerable. In fact, after a period, I down right loved it. Say what you will, but there are other cities besides New York (Gasp – have I just lost my New Yorker status by uttering such a comment?). And Houston is one of them. I think the only time I missed being in New York was at 10pm on a Wednesday when we were trying to find a post-theater dining spot and our choices were limited to 2 trendy Italian restaurants that Marty hated.

When we moved back to the Northeast, we moved to Hoboken, NJ. Yes New Jersey. That seemed almost as offensive to me – if not more so – than moving to Texas, but I actually fell in love with Hoboken (which is – despite being in a different state – akin to being the 6th borough of New York City) and stayed there happily for 5 years.

Two years ago we bought a farm in a little town called Lincolnton. Why? Well, for one thing, my mother-in-law was selling it. The home on the property had housed her business for many years but she was getting ready to shutter the business and retire. Additionally, the farm was across the street from where my in-laws lived and it seemed like owning a home nearby would give us the proper impetus to come down and spend time with them several times a year. I think we also may have discussed this becoming a long-term destination in the grand scheme of our lives, but I don’t recall. I was too busy picking out new paint and wallpaper.

Of course the best laid plans sometimes go astray. For starters, my in-laws moved to Myrtle Beach a few months after we purchased the house so suddenly traveling to Lincolnton to spend time with them was no longer an option.

Secondly – despite being only and hour and ten minutes in the air from Newark to Charlotte, we never had an easy breezy trip. Delayed equipment, delayed crews, countless ground stops at Newark – what was supposed to be a 2½ hour trip in totum often stretched into 5+ hours. Much of it spent sitting on a runway or waiting at the airport. Not to mention that prior to Jet Blue announcing that they were picking up a route to Charlotte a few months ago, UsAir and Continental both charged exceedingly high fares for what in reality could be considered a commuter flight.

So traveling to the farm 6 – 8 times per year was in reality more like 2 – 3.

And then one day Marty could take it no more – it being life in the Northeast. He wanted out. He wanted peace. He wanted traffic free roads. He wanted land. He wanted to be surrounded by polite people who said “excuse me” and “thank you.” He was tired of being whacked in the head with briefcases by people pushing past him on the bus. He was tired of being herded each morning onto the ferry like cattle. He wanted to wake up and look out over the pasture and see cattle. He didn’t want to be cattle.

And so we made the decision. The inevitable decision. To move to Lincolnton.

I had always said that I had 2 criteria for where we ultimately settled. One – there had to be a decent school system. I didn’t care if it was public or private, but I want my children to go to a school where the end game is a traditional 4-year college. Not vocational school or community college or worse – straight into the workforce (Or worse yet married and pregnant). I know people who come from small communities. My cousin’s boyfriend grew up in the back woods of Michigan and he is the only one in his class that went to a 4-year school. I don’t want that to be my kid.

Second. I am Jewish. So there needs to be some semblance of a Jewish community. I don’t expect that it will be like New York City. But I don’t want my children be ostracized for being Jewish in an area that’s got more churches than Imelda Marcos has shoes.

We never had to discuss the school system because I am pretty sure I am the only Jew in this town. And I hardly constitute a community.

So I suggested that we live in Lincolnton for a year or so, get familiar with the area and then buy a home in Charlotte – which is quite a lovely city (did I mention that Neiman Marcus is opening up in the fall of 2006 plus they’ve got a Dean & Deluca?). Marty pushed back. What was wrong with Lincolnton? He had grown up there (sort of – he went to high school nearby in Hickory) and turned out fine. Plus, he assured me our children wouldn’t be the only Jews attending St. Steven’s (where he had gone to high school). At this point I fainted.

Still we pushed forward with the move even as we were unsure of how long we would stay here.

Our original move date of autumn 2005 was postponed when we couldn’t sell our house in Hoboken and I am grateful because in those extra few months, my husband became friends with a colleague who started sending him links to new real estate developments in Charlotte and pretty soon he was on the bandwagon to buy an apartment in a brand new, full service amenity high rise going up in uptown Charlotte.

So we moved to Lincolnton, NC. Or as my father lovingly tagged it Donna Karanless, NC. Population: 9,965 (80% white).

The plan is to stay here a year or so until the high rise in Charlotte is ready for occupancy (although there’s been some debate on that recently because management in the building is being a pain in the ass on several issues) and then keep this place as a weekender.

*****

I started writing this piece a while ago – probably in the first week or 2 that we lived here. I got as far as that last point and then stopped. I couldn't quite figure out how to end my thoughts on being a fish out of water and what it might mean.

Well, I have since been living in Lincolnton for ~ 2 months. And while I am still a fish out of water (the fact that I don't weigh 400 lbs. is reason enough to be noticed when I walk into Wal-mart), I have to say I love it here. I truly do. I don’t think it of it as a long term living situation (which may be why I am so happy in the here and now), and despite a shortage of iced decaf and only 3 bars to choose from on any given Wednesday night (that number cuts down to 2 on Mondays and Tuesdays), I have found life here to be pleasant, peaceful and satisfying.

Who knew? Maybe it's all the trees.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Friday, July 07, 2006

One Injection Down...

I can't tell you all how anxious I was driving home from work tonight. Even belting out Johnny Paycheck and Lee Greenwood couldn't keep my mind off Claudette. What's worse - I was dreading the thiamin injection - especially since Marty is needlephobic. But I thought of my friends who are diabetic and who have gone through fertility treatments and I knew that we could do it.

When I got home I waited patiently for Marty to finish hanging blinds on the studio door. Then the 2 of us - properly attired in goat wrangling gear of jeans and sneakers - syringe in hand, headed out to the pasture.

I of course was worried about injecting her wrong - putting the syringe in the wrong place, getting air into her blood (you think I have seen too many episodes of Law & Order?)...

Elvis and Ann-Margaret were out in the pasture grazing. Little Claudette was sitting in the barn. The good news is that she looked better than she did this morning. Her eyes seemed clearer and she didn't look dazed. Hopefully the thiamin is working.

She didn't run when Marty and I approached her. She stood still while my needlephobic husband injected her. She didn't bleat. She didn't cry - well - not until after.

And I didn't panic about doing it wrong...or right.

One injection down. Three to go.

Say a prayer that little Claudette makes it through another night. She's now part of the family...

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...

Welcome to If That Ain't Country I'll Kiss Your....(I've kept it G-rated just in case...)

Also known as Experiments in Country Living.

This is after suggestions from so many of you to turn my sporadic email updates into something a little bit more structured.

So I finally succumbed and registered with Blogger this morning.

What happens when you take a born and bred NYC shopaholic and deposit her in rural North Carolina on a farm with a herd of goats?

Find out.

Look for posts on farm life, the joys of living in a small town, what it's like to drive a pick-up, country music, and and plenty of news on the goats.

I am starting with current posts but will periodically post archived items (everyone's favorite iced coffee saga - and yes, it was a saga) and previously unpublished musings on everything from Lowes to what really makes a salad in NC.

In the words of David Allen Coe:

THERE WAS FIFTY HOLES IN AN OLD TIN ROOF
ME AND MY FAMILY WE WAS LIVING' PROOF
THE PEOPLE WHO FORGOT ABOUT POOR WHITE TRASH
AND IF THAT AIN'T COUNTRY, I'LL KISS YOUR ASS

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...