Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: A Look Back

I arrived in North Carolina on May 5th of this year - so while I wasn't here a full year, I figure 8 months of Country Girl living warrant a look back.

The truth is, that much of what I write about has to do with challenges and how I cope or find a solution. Whether it's where to find iced coffee (no honey, I don't mean like a latte) or rearing 2 pygmy goats, my move to North Carolina has presented me with a plethora of challenging situations to deal with - some more humorous than others.

In no particular order, here are some of the highlights of 2006:

* While getting goats was a sheer joy, it has not been without its difficult moments. Obviously, the deaths of Nanny and Claudette were tragedies that highlighted there was going to be more responsibility than we originally anticipated. However, despite their deaths, the never-ending worm problem, and the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy, I wouldn't trade Elvis and Ann-Margaret for anything. And I hope that 2007 brings some new members to the herd.

* Iced coffee was an early Achilles heel. It seems that the concept of brewed coffee served cold over ice is a hard one for the residents of Lincolnton to grasp (which is odd because iced tea is like the national beverage). Still, solutions were to be found. It started with a conversation explaining exactly what I wanted with one of the local coffee purveryors who kept me fueled for a week. Then there was the discovery of an iced coffee maker at our local discount store which allowed me to take matters into my own hands. And finally, by June I was driving into Charlotte on a daily basis where the concept of iced coffee wasn't so hard to grasp.

* Being behind the wheel again has been both thrilling and nerve wracking. There was the mysterious pothole I hit early on which ripped through the underside of the Mercedes and sent a piece of the fan through the radiator. Then there was the time I backed out of the garage (also in the Mercedes) and didn't cut the wheel and slammed the front left wheel into the side of the garage, leaving a big dent (among either things). Thank God we sold that car and got the Volvo - although the pressure of being behind the wheel generally requires I pop a Xanex. There was of course the "fender bender" which proved just how kick-ass my truck was and the second accident when someone tapped me from behind (while in the precious Volvo) while parked at a red light (no damage - Phew!). Debating about weaving in and out of lanes to keep moving forward while in rush hour traffic or the struggles of driving at night have been other driving issues. I don't know that I can say firmly all of my driving mishegas is behind me though - so add it to the list of "Areas to Improve" for 2007.

* Rumors abounded that Lincolnton was getting the world's largest Bojangles. Well, the new outpost has opened and while it does not appear to be the world's largest (there is one in Charlotte that appears to be significantly bigger), it may be the busiest. I counted 20+ cars in the drive through line yesterday at 12:30pm - and the parking lot was full! Honey - you wanna go get you a chicken biscuit?

* Tony Baloney showed up in our garage on a rainy Wednesday and became the newest member of our clan. He slowly graduated from an outdoor cat who occasionally came in the house, to an indoor cat who likes to go out. He and Sebastian seem to peacefully co-exist (although they aren't exactly friends) and Tony has even carved out a spot on our already over-crowded double bed (the new king bed arrives in 2 weeks - I can't wait!) - right smack in the middle!

* We managed to discover a few local watering holes - although they tended to be more of the biker bar variety. Still, I miss the smoke free environment of NY and NJ - you know it's bad when you come home and your socks reek of smoke...

* I learned to shop at Wal-Mart and Lowes. Actually, I didn't learn to shop anywhere. Shopping is an innate act for me - sort of like breathing. I can have a good time at CVS. But I learned to feed my habit in new and lower-priced ways.

* After struggling with my morning routine (remember the gate, the coffee, the too small bag?) I took care of the problems. The gate has been fixed - it is now close enough to the ground that there is no threat of Ann-Margaret slipping through (although her growing belly helps there too). We have a new latch that requires the simple flip of a pin. And under the tree I found that Santa had left me a beautiful new bag that is big enough to hold all of my crap and comfortably fits over my shoulder - leaving my hands free to carry my coffee.

* I found out that there are other Jews in Lincolnton- although Hanukkah candles were harder to come by.

* Lastly - I found that I love living in the country. When we first moved down, I made Marty promise that we would plan to move to Charlotte by next year. We went so far as to put a deposit on an apartment in a high rise in Uptown Charlotte that is currently under construction. But as can happen in this life, plans change. We discovered that while all is not perfect, we like where we are and don't want to give that up. Plus - I'd miss the goats too much.

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

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

So...Cats Really Do Kill Mice

How do I know this? Because I just saw Tony carrying a dead mouse in his mouth. Ok - so I didn't witness the actual killing. But when you see a cat with a dead mouse, you make certin assumptions.

In my case, I went to bring Tony in from the rain, and when he emerged from the crawl space under the house where he likes to hang, he had a big grey blob in his mouth. At first, I thought it was a giant dust ball. Then I saw the tail. And the ears. And then I screamed (how un-Country Girl of me) and ran back into this house and left my cat and his prey to their own devices.

Now I am wondering, if he killed it, does that mean he'll eat it?

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

Stayed tuned tomorrow for the If That Ain't Country Year End Review.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sophie's Choice

Although I have never read the William Styron novel or seen the movie starring the incomparable Meryl Streep, I know the basic premise of Sophie's choice (or at least I think I know): a mother can only save 1 of her 2 children - how does she choose?

Well, I know find myself faced with a similar dilemna.

Consensus is that little Ann-Margaret is pregnant. We aren't sure - after all, we never caught Elvis and Ann-Margaret in flagrante delecto. But there was a period where he was obsessively grooming her and following her around the pasture (much to her displeasure) and my mother-in-law commented that Ann-Margaret was looking a little wide. I think she always looks a little wide so I am not convinced. But we should know something in the next few weeks - a dead giveaway will be if her nipples drop.

Assuming Ann-Margaret is pregnant, it raises some serious questions in terms of how to let the goats interact going forward. Marty and I have not exercised any discipline with these goats - they have been free to roam whenever, whereever and with whomever. In fact, every time we've tried to separate Ann-Margaret and Elvis, they have both been devastated.

But once we have babies it all changes. First and foremost, you want to avoid in-breeding . And apparently Elvis can be a serious threat to the kids - to the point where he may try to kill them because he feels threatened.

According to my father-in-law, who successfully raised over a dozen goats, we have several options.

1) After the babies are born, get rid of Elvis and bring in a new billy goat who is unrelated for future breeding. This is apparently a standard course of action for serious breeders. To me, getting rid of Elvis is like breaking up a family. I just can't do it.

2) The other option is to section off the pasture in paddocks and keep Elvis separate from the rest of the herd. He and Ann-Maragret can interact, but we have to keep him away from the babies once they get old enough - especially during mating season. We may be Southerners now, but that don't mean we want them inbred goats.

No matter what, we have to keep Elvis away from the babies in the early days. Apparently, he may either intentionally or unintentionally attack/injure/kill them because he feels threatened - or because he doesn't know what he is doing. I don't know what we'll do there - I can't imagine keeping him locked in the stall.

The thruth is, I hope Ann-Margaret has just put on some holiday poundage (like the rest of us) and is not pregnant because having to choose between Elvis and the babies - well that's just a choice I am not ready to make.

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oh Hanukkah Candles, Where Art Thou?

Some time Tuesday night, it occured to me that Hanukkah was coming up and I didn't have any candles. While 3 days might seem like plenty of time to buy candles, We are actually leaving this morning on vacation so that left Wednesday to track down the festive lights.

One day - no problem. It's times like this that I am glad I work in Charlotte. Surely it should be easy to track down something simple like Hanukkah candles in a large, cosmopolitan, urban environment like Charlotte - a city which is home to the largest reform Jewish congregation in all of the Carolinas?

When I lived in NY, Hanukkah candles could be puchased at numerous locations. Overpriced, hand-dipped beeswax candles were standardly available at everything from overpriced stationery and gift wrap stores like Kates to your basic Hallmark. Even generic candles were available at the drugstore. You didn't have to think about it.

Not so in Charlotte. I called 3 Hallmarks in the vicinity of my office (which is an upscale part of town). All 3 had no candles - although one did have a menorah (why you have a menorah and no candles is beyond me). I didn't know where the equivalent of Kate's was in Charlotte - not that they were guaranteed to have candles either. I had a brief moment of panic while I racked my brain trying to think of an easy solution that didn't involve me braving the South Park mall (would Neimans have them and if so, would they be affordable?).

Then it occured to me. Charlotte has the largest reform congregation in the Carolinas - surely the temple would have a Judaica shop and surely that shop sold candles?

As it turns out they do and they did. So I drove out to Temple Beth-El tp buy candles. I was disappointed that the only overpriced, hand-dipped candles they had were in an odd shade of purple. I prefer mutli-color so I can plan out elaborate color schemes over the course of 8 nights. But straight purple? Not for me. Perhaps the prettier ones sold out weeks before to more forethinking people who don't wait to the last minute.

As for me, I drove out the Judaica shop and all I got was this box of plain old generic Hanukkah candles.

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Roadkill in the Driveway

Ok - given the subject, I'll keep it brief. But in a true "If That Ain't Country" moment, I went to pull out of the driveway yesterday morning only to discover roadkill blocking my path.

Roadkill down here is common. In fact -it's almost grossly prevalent. I unfortunately see it everywhere. Dogs. Cats. Deer. Racoons. Squirrels. Occasionally a skunk. It's pretty nasty. And I've always wondered about that poor schlub who winds up with a rotting/splattered animal corpse along his driveway/yard/trailer. Do they remove it? Call someone to remove it? Do they even care?

Well - yesterday, I was said poor schlulb. And I cared.

I confess - when I saw the dead animal on the road, I hoped it was Pepe Le Pew (who has still been hanging around our property trying his darndest (and unsuccessfully I might add) to get into our new, locked-lid garbage can.). Alas it wasn't.

I guess I haven't spent enough time down here to truly develop my dead-rodent-identifying skills although Marty (who eventually disapposed of the creature) said it was a possum.

Whatever it was, it was roadkill in the driveway.

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