Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Call to Step It Up...and Thoughts on What to Name the Baby

Ok - I just discovered that I have more non-friend and relative readers which means I have to step up my postings. My goal is 2 - 3 a week, including at least one that doesn't have to do with the goats. I guess that means I have to finish that long overdue post on salads...


Dr. Mary came out to examine Ann-Margaret yesterday. I wasn't there for the examination but she seems to think Ann-Margaret is carrying 1 kid. It's the size of a grapefruit and she could feel the skeletal structure.

Dr. Mary said both goats seem exceptionally healthy which is a refrshing piece of news given all of our previous health struggles.

She estimated delivery in about 4 weeks - which means I can stop watching Ann-Margaret obsessively. She also gave us some physical signs to look for (I'll spare you the de-teat-ails) that will indicate the baby is on the way.

As for the baby name, Marty & I have always named our pets after classical composers, but we strayed off track just a bit with Elvis (who was singing non-stop from the moment we got him) and Ann-Margaret (which seemed like an appropriate name for his saucy companion although I realized after the fact I spelled it wrong).

I have never seen an Elvis movie and my Ann-Margaret viewings are limited to later classics like Grumpy Old Men, Grumpier Old Men, and Santa Clause 3 (yes - I saw it. Paid actually to see it in the theater!). I certainly never saw Viva Las Vegas which I believe was the one flick they starred in together.

So I open it up to you, my few but faithful readers, to suggest what the offspring of Elvis and Ann-Margaret should be named. No guarantees we'll pick from the public comments, but if we do, and you're the lucky winner, a bucket of Prices is on me!

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

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pregnancy Update

Ann-Margaret is extremely pregnant. Extremely. Her nipples have now fully dropped and you can see where she is making and storing milk for her babies.

I spend countless minutes - when I get up in the morning, when I come home, whenever I can - watching her, waiting for her to drop to the ground and start pushing.

The suspense is killing me - especially because I have no idea when she is actually going to give birth because I have no idea when Elvis knocked her up. I see goat babies running around in other pastures, and it is after all, spring, so I suspect it's soon. Plus, if she gets any fatter, she'll be so top heavy I'm afraid she'll tip over.

Marty & I agreed to have the vet come out this week and check on Ann-Margaret and try to give us a clue as to how far along she is and how far she has to go.

I am so excited for our little goat babies - I can't wait til I am a goat granny!

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...
BBQ and Ice Cream - If That Ain't Country Style

Lunch yesterday was BBQ. Thank goodness because frankly, I haven't had enough BBQ in the near 11 months we've been living here (wow - has it been that long?)and I keep meaning to eat more of it. You'd think with a place in town called BBQ King or RO's so close, that it wouldn't be an issue, but somehow, we just never make it out for BBQ.

So yesterday's BBQ came at a benefit held at the volunteer fire department to raise money for one of the volunteer firefighters who has cancer. The VFD was definitely hopping. Several large smokers were set up out back and our friend Richie told us the guys had been at work since 8pm the night before. Richie was among a group of volunteers whose job it was to hack the meat off the bone and chop it up.

Several long tables were set up inside the station and a mix of family, friends and hungry folks were all enjoying the 'cue (Richie even said that several truckers pulling off 321 had stopped on the side of the road to grab a plate).

Marty & I ordered 2 plates to stay and a few minutes later we were handed a styrofoam container containing a healthy serving of chopped pork shoulder, a small cup with NC-style, vinegar based BBQ sauce (apparently, courtesy of the BBQ king), a small scoop of slaw, a small scoop of baked beans, a soft bun and a piece of pound cake (in a small plastic bag so as not to get commingled with the rest of the goodies). It was all homemade and it was all delicious. I don't know if I enjoyed it more because we were helping raise money to pay for this man's medical bills or because we were sitting in the VFD with our neighbors and townsfolk - many of whom we don't know. But it felt great to support and be a part of the local community.

After a vry satisfying lunch, we got in the car and went for a drive. You can do that in North Carolina you know - just get in the car and drive? The threat of traffic is limited and the scenery is just so pretty.

We headed Northeast and found ourselves in Newton, where Marty's grandmother used to live. We drove around her old neighborhood and then found ourselves in downtown Newton. Anything I ever thought about Lincolnton being old and dusty faded because Newton is even older and even dustier. Our eye was caught by a bright, bold restaurant, Artist's Cafe, so we parked to check it out and walk around town.

The Artist's Cafe and neighboring Artist's Loft seem out of place in a town where most everything was closed on a Saturday afternoon. The menu featured a mix of mainly Greek and Italian dishes rounded out by Southern staples like Buffalo wings and French Onion soup. A sign in the window adveryising an upcoming French wine tasting. It certainly looked charming, and it's on the list to try in the future.

There wasn't much else going on. A drugstore with an old fashioned soda fountain was closed (which was a bummer because I really wanted ice cream). We passed a pool hall whose windows were lined with trophies. When I pressed my face up against the doors to get a better look, stale cigarette smoke seeped from the door frame. For a county seat, I was surprised by the overall lack of activity on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon.

The drugstore had spaked a serious desire for ice cream so Marty headed Northeast towards Catawba. I had never been this far Northeast before and so it was a little bit of an adventure. Marty remembered a Dairy Queen in town and I got very excited. Alas, we could find no ice cream in Catawba. So we got on 70 heading west, heading home.

It was a sheer stroke of fortuitous luck that as we drove through downtown Claremont (similar in many respects to downtown Newton) that we caught sight of Hewitts - advertising soda, candy, ice cream, antiques AND, more importantly, a sign reading OPEN. Hallelujah!

Walking into Hewitts was like taking a step back in time. I felt like I was at a penny candy store in the 1950s. The walls on the left were lined with antiques - old spice tins, Prince Albert in a can, neon signs, an old phonograph, dolls. On the right, buckets and bins of penny candy were everywhere. A balcony displayed mannequin heads sporting a range of gorgeous hats and toppers.

The ice cream was in the back and as it turned out, it was Blue Bell. So I confess, I am not much of an ice cream aficionado, but Blue Bell is apparently a Texas thing and Marty was thrilled to discover it had made its way to NC. The lady behind the counter told us she was the only person in the area to carry it (besides what you can get in the grocery store which according to Marty, isn't exactly the same thing).

We got our ice cream and talked to the woman who runs the store. Although it looked like she had been there forever, she had only opened in October - and then promptly closed down because business was slow. Yesterday was her first day open for the season and she was hoping the warmer weather would help.

I guess that explains why the listed hours were "til 6:30ish" on weekdays and why on Saturdays, she was open "unless there was a yard sale." Literally - that was on the sign.

She was delightful to talk to and she walked us around the store, pointing out antiques of interest, showing us a doll she had recently made. It was so - neighborhoody. We were there for about 10 minutes when another couple walked in. Turns out - they are from Lincolnton. So we made small talk about life in Lincolnton - they seemed shocked we actually lived there. Most people usually are.

All in all, it was a lovely filled with sunshine and neighbors and community and most importantly - BBQ and ice cream.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I’m Not in Lincolnton Any More…Or Am I?

Saturday morning, mom and I got up. We went to the bank. The drugstore. The grocery store. And then, as we were headed home we ran into the garbage man, George. And stopped. To chat. Extensively. Because mom and George are friends.

No – I wasn’t in Lincolnton. I was in New York City . My mom is indeed friends with the sanitation workers who rumble up our street every morning. In fact, our whole family is friendly with George and we have been for some time.

I just thought it odd, or perhaps ironic, that here I was in the big city and I found myself experiencing something I’ve come to associate with small town life. I doubt many New Yorkers could claim to know their garbage men or even their postmen or paper delivery boys. Perhaps the guy who delivers the Chinese food maybe…

But in small towns like Lincolnton, you know everyone. You stop and say hi. You gossip. You can’t avoid it. That’s how life is lived. And on Saturday, it was nice to see that’s how life is occasionally lived on East 73rd Street in Manhattan too.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…
Looks Like I Made It

I am not one of those people to complain about the early advent of Daylight Savings Time. I have heard them on NPR, read their quirky and offbeat musings online and in newspapers (including our own Lincoln Times News) - people who bemoan losing an hour of sleep, the incredible impudence with which man has decided to manipulate time, vampiresque nocturnes who prefer the long, dark nights. Nonsense. That's what I say to them. Utter nonsense.

I am celebrating the early arrival of DST for it means one thing: I am no longer driving home in the dark! My days (or nights) of nighttime driving have come to an end - at least until fall...

And while I don't like leaving my house in the dark in the morning, I do so knowing full well that I am heading towards the light (literally - I am driving East) and the darkness will quickly fade away.

I don't know if that's country, but I'll still kiss your...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Are You Smarter Than A Farm Animal?

A pesky little thing called life has kept me from posting so apologies to my readers (if I have any left) for the long delay in between posts

Now - onto the subject at hand. I've got some clever pets.

Take Tony. He's got the unfortunate habit of waking up at around 5:00am and the even more unfortunate habit of waking me up too. Either he starts to roll around on the bed (and his collar clinks) or he starts to play with the string from the blinds (and his collar clinks) or he tries to chase his tail (and his collar clinks). It's something.

And since I don't usually get up until 6:00am, I want those last 60 minutes. So I pick him up, plunk him outside the bedroom and shut the door.

Then the other week, I woke up at about 5:30am and saw Tony resting quietly and calmly oustide the bedroom at the top of the stairs. He didn't budge until I got up at 6:00am.

It's not a perfect science - in Tony's case I give him maybe a B for smarts as he only behaves like this 1 - 2 mornings a week and there are 7. But he seems to be picking up on the fact that quiet and calm in the morning is the way to go.

Now - the goats. Darling Elvis and Ann-Margaret. Once upon a time, they were spoiled. Chow twice a day. Cookies twice a day. Alfafa hay (at $20 a bale). I won't go so far as to say that they are no longer spoiled but, a few weeks ago, we decided to cut back to Chow once a day.

It doesn't matter what time of day it is, anytime someone steps outside of the house, the goats come running. But in the morinngs, they are expecting Chow. In fact, there were mornings I'd peek out the window at 6:15am - a full 45 minutes before I normally fed them, and they'd be standing at the fence, waiting.

The first morning I didn't feed them, it pained me to hear them cry. I assured them I still loved them and that they would be fed later on. The second day, more of the same. By the third day, their cries had grown slightly less pitiful and the ache in my heart had somehwat subsided. Within a week, they were no longer standing around, waiting to be fed in the mornings. In fact, I'd look out the window and see them grazing in the pasture or eating some hay from the feeder (granted, the hay was gourmet...)

It doesn't mean they didn't come running when I walked out the door. They did. But their expectations seemed to have shifted. And then one day, they didn't even run. They looked up from their grass or their overpriced hay, belted out a few bleats, and when I walked directly to my truck without stopping to give them anything, they went on about their business.

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

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Chicken Wars: Part II

Bo-what? Colonel who? There's a new player in the chicken wars and it's kicking ass.

Price's Chicken Coop in Charlotte - is nearly that: a coop. Located in a non-descript building, on a non-descript block, in a neighborhood that was probably once sketchy but thanks to some new, hip apartment complexes and a handful of quirky and offbeat shops is now merely edgy, Price's is a Charlotte institution.

There is no place to dine at Price's - it is strictly to go. If you want to place a to go order, call before they open at 10am (they start answering the phone at 7am) otherwise it's harder to get through than to a reservationist at Joel Rubochon or Per Se.

Beware the decor - or lack thereof. White walls, white counter, no photos, no flowers - it feels very institutional. In fact, I thought I was walking into a butcher shop at first - a notion enhanced by the servers' uniform of white jackets - the type usually favored by butchers (and lab techs).

But don't let the decor or perpetually busy phone deter you. The chicken at Price's is delicious. Cripsy skin without too much batter. Juicy, moist meat. An all around victor in the chicken wars.

But even better than the chicken were the hushpuppies. As the scent of chicken fat, grease and fried cornmeal overpowered me in the car ride home, I could resist no more and shoved my hand into the first box I could reach. Out came a cripsy, golden brown hushpuppy the size of a meatball (and I got 2 orders?). Ohhhhhh....heavenly. Delicious. It was all I could do to devour the entire box.


Sorry folks. Once again, the chicken wars will have to wait.

As I write this post I am watching Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader simply because it came on after American Idol and Grey's Anatomy is a repeat. I actually think the premise is quite brilliant. The things we learn in elementary school text books are hardly relevant to the things we do in grown-up life - unless of course we teach elementary school.

I won't go into details, but essentially contestants have to answer 11 grade school questions in order to win $1mm. So far, I've heard 5 questions. The contestant, Larry, has gotten help from his 5th grade "classmates" on 3 of them. He's now reached a $25,000 threshold which means the money is his to keep. I have a hard time with this seeing as he relied on a bunch of 10 year olds to help him win it.

At one point, host Jeff Foxworthy asked Larry what he would do with a million dollars? Larry said he's always wanted a Lambourghini - which he would custom paint camouflage (prompting Jeff to make a redneck quip). My suggestion? GET A DEGREE.

Sorry. Stupidity irks me.


So hushpuppies. Yeah. 'Nuff said.

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