Friday, August 31, 2007

What a Month (And a Return to Zippers)!

Well, it seems that dad's comments on my blah blah blaaahhging were just the swift kick in the tuchus that I needed. Can you believe - 20 posts in August (21 including this one).

That's the most post for a single month since I began this blog last summer. My second busiest month this year was when Nugget was born and half of those were pictures!

Now - in other If That Ain't Country news...I returned to Zipper's on Wednesday. It's been a while since I was there. We took Maggie when she came to visit in early August, but we stopped by for a quick beer at 9 o'clock on a Saturday night just so she could see it. Hardly anything worth mentioning.

But the other night we went out to grab a beer with our neighbor Carl and Marty was tired of Tradewinds and I was completely against returning to Lincoln House so we decided to pop into Zippers. Well, it happened to be Bike Night -which you think would make for some interesting stories. But unfortunately, all the bikers were out in the parking lot and Zippers has one of those bar top trivia machines that I am absolutely addicted to - in fact, they have the newest, shiniest, most up-to-date machine with a nice big flat screen and all of the newest games and so I got a stack of singles, a bottle of Bud Light and made a night of it. I was so caught up I didn't even notice the off-key karaoke in the background!

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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Would You Like Nightcrawlers with That Blow Out? (UPDATED)

I am flummoxed – nay stymied – by the preponderance of roadside “salons” that I see down in these parts. They typically don’t amount to much more than a trailer or a shack or occasionally a pre-fab home with a sign out front – sometimes hand-written, sometimes painted, sometimes with the little magnetic letters like they use at gas stations – advertising a variety of services from cuts to color to nails to tanning. I mean – really, it’s like Peggy Sue went to Mr. Rodolfo’s Beauty Academy in Smallville, got a certificate, and is now trying to outdo Elizabeth Arden with a full spectrum of beauty treatments –OUT OF HER HOME.

I don’t get it. Do people actually stop at these places? Is this a sustainable way to earn a living? Would you randomly go into someone’s roadside home and ask for a trim, a cut, or worse yet, highlights? I mean, we all know that I am nuts when it comes to my hair (although I did find a divine colorist in Charlotte), but I just don’t get this.

A friend of mine who lives in a small town in WV and can completely relate to this phenomenon told me about her favorite sign: Tanning, Hair Cuts and Live Bait.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

UPDATE: My WV friend just called to say that she was driving through the mountains and looking for the Tanning, Hair Cuts, Live Bait sign so that she could take a picture and send it to me to post. Unfortunately, that establishment is no longer in business (is anyone truly surprised) but across the street, there was a restaurant. There was no name or anything. But a sign out front read: Beer & Eat. That's right. Beer & Eat.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On My Playlist – Part II

I caved. I did it. I downloaded Tim McGraw. Please don’t hate me. Or disown me as a friend. It was simply inevitable. Every fifth song on the radio is a Tim McGraw song. Some of them are catchy. They stuck in my head. In my defense one of my 2 McGraw downloads was Live Like You Are Dying. I am sorry. I happen to like the song. I know it’s sort of cheesy but it makes me think of his dad, Tug McGraw, and their whole father-son dynamic which was well publicized by the media (well, People magazine anyways) when Tug was dying and then Tim wrote this song (well - he didn't write it but some songwriters in Nashville wrote it) and I mean, how can you not like it?

I also downloaded Don’t Take The Girl, a very sappy and cheesy ballad that I am sure I will hate in about 2 months but for now it's on the playlist.

I wanted to download Everywhere but I couldn’t bring myself to buy THREE Tim McGraw songs in one sitting. Aren’t you proud I managed to stop at two?

Speaking of Tim McGraw, has anybody heard his new duet with Faith Hill, I Need You? And can anybody explain the following lyric to me:

So I need you like a needle needs a vein

Ok – what’s up with this line? Needles and veins primarily make me think of strung out druggies in crack houses in the ghetto and prostitutes desperate for a hit and chasing the dragon and freebasing and overdoses and getting my blood taken at the doctor’s office and in general all sorts of things that I don’t want to be thinking about ever, at all, under any circumstance.

What’s even odder to me is that this line is juxtaposed with other “I need you” lines like Uncle Joe needing rain out in Oklahoma, a coast line needing a lighthouse, and the Father and the Son needing the Holy Ghost. Huh? From drugs to God in 4 lines? (BTW - if I am mistaken on my interpretation of this line please explain it to me. Please.)

Getting off the smack track, I also downloaded Trisha Yearwood’s Walkaway Joe. Talk about a melodic hook. And seeing as Garth Brooks is undownloadable and seeing as Trisha is his wife (or fiancé or girlfriend – I’ve lost track – all I know is that Garth left his wife of a bazillion years for Trisha) it sort of feels like the closest I can come to downloading Garth until he can come to some arrangement with Apple and make his music available online.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

School Days

Ok – so whoever heard of school starting BEFORE Labor Day, but it apparently it does – at least in North Carolina anyways. And yesterday was the first day which means school buses are back on the road, school zone speed limits are in effect, traffic volumes are that much higher and in general my commute is longer/more stressful.

PLUS – we are now more than 2 months beyond the longest day of the year which means that days are getting shorter and pretty soon, I’ll be driving home in the dark and you all know how I feel about that.

Even with the added bonus of 4 extra weeks of daylight savings time (1 week in the fall and 3 in the spring) I am still looking at 125 days of driving in the dark and it’s freaking me out.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

Monday, August 27, 2007

Snub You

I was snubbed. By a waiter. At breakfast. At a bed & breakfast on Lake Lure. That's right. Snubbed. By a waiter.

(Pause here while I do some deep breathing exercises and bring my flaring temper under control).

Seriously, the whole episode made me so angry. I stormed back to the room, roused Marty from his Sunday morning snooze-in and ranted and raved for 5 minutes using all sorts of expletives and language not fit to print in this blog.

"Why didn't you say something?" Marty muttered, still half-asleep and clearly annoyed.

"Because. It's his job to serve me. I shouldn't have to ask."

Anyways we debated the topic for more of the morning than I'd care to admit and we tried to figure out what I could have possibly done to annoy the waiter in question.

Was I rude at breakfast the previous morning? I don't think so.

Was he annoyed I asked him for water the previous morning because I didn't see it out on the buffet? What can I say, I didn't see it.

Was he annoyed when, the previous morning, after hurriedly eating my omelet and taking off because I was late for an appointment, I returned 5 minutes later, with Marty in tow, and Marty decided to toast an English muffin for the road while I grabbed a can of V-8 (conveniently located in a basket next to the heretofore unseen water)? Possibly.

I suppose it didn't matter really. I mean, I wasn't in the mood for any of the breakfast choices (eggs benedict and french toast) - although I had been thinking I'd maybe ask them to scramble me an egg and I was definitely flirtng with a side order of bacon. So while I waited to be waited upon, I served myself some fruit. Then got up again to toast an English muffin. I got juice. Coffee. I read my book. Nothing. For 15 minutes - nothing.

I'd like to give this young man the benefit of the doubt. I'd like to say that he didn't see me or was busy serving thousands of other people. But it's a small B&B. Less than 20 rooms. Less than 30 seats in the dining room. Plus, I rolled in on the late side of the breakfast window so it's not like I sat down at the same time as 10 other people.

It was, as far as I can tell, a clear and deliberate snub.

So why share this humiliating experience with you all? I honestly have no idea. It's just something I feel like writing about, something I suppose I may feel like looking back on one day many, many moons down the road, and sighing, and thinking to myself: "Ah...what a lovely weekend at Lake Lure...What a lovely dinner at Water Oak...what a lovely lodge - even though it's not the one where they filmed Dirty Dancing...and what an obnoxious, snot-nosed waiter who has no business being a waiter because clearly he has no interest in waiting tables...well, mine anyways.

Sorry...I feel like I've wandered off the deep end so I'll simply wrap it up before I do any further damage...

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

Friday, August 24, 2007

And You Thought I Was Crazy…

I know. I know. You all think I am crazy. First the move to NC. Then blowing off the high rise in Charlotte. Then the goats. The truck. The country music. Hell – even white water rafting had some of you scratching your heads, thinking to yourself – we need to get this girl back into therapy – pronto – before she goes off the deep end and chucks it all to get up and milk the cows at 4am (a fantasy that I do actually entertain…but that’s another story).

Well – I’ll have you know that some of my more…rural proclivities as it were, are not that far off the pop culture radar screen.

Apparently, Rob & Big, 2 guys with a show on MTV (a channel that I haven’t watched in 100 years since they stopped showing music videos and started showing nothing but reality shows – and let me pause here to ask the following question: what exactly is the difference between The Hills, Laguna Beach, and Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County? Because as far as I can tell they all look the same i.e. very spoiled, very blonde, and oh sooooo real)…anyhoo, back to my original thought. Rob & Big (not to be confused with country duo Big & Rich as I have now done twice while writing) apparently bought a miniature donkey as a companion for their dog (actually, it appears it was a miniature horse, but, close enough).

So, you see, our impending purchase of Donkey (whose name we’ve now selected but will keep under wraps until we bring her home) isn’t really that country after all. I mean, if they’re doing it on MTV…

So rock on dudes!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Che Cosa è una Ragazza da Fare

I suppose I am spoiled. Growing up in NYC. 5 years in Hoboken, birth place of Frank Sinatra. A semester abroad in Florence. What am I driving at? Italian food. How good it is. How much I love it. And how much I crave it these days since there is no good Italian food anywhere close to where I live.

How I long for our Hoboken days, when exceptional Italian food was ubiquitous (and even the un-exceptional stuff was better than average) and Marty and I felt frustrated at the notion of: Italian again? What I wouldn’t give for a plate of perfectly cooked broccoli rabe with lots of garlic, oil and red pepper. I used to by broccoli rabe by the pound at the Korean deli and cook it for myself at home. Go to the grocery store here and you’ll see plenty of leafy greens: collard, mustard, dandelion, kale. But no rapini.

I long for a plate of fresh mozzarella and thinly sliced prosciutto di parma. Or mozzarella and tomatoes. Insalata Caprese. It used to annoy me to see this salad on menus across NYC and NJ. No longer. Now, I’d kill for one.

Veal Picatta. Chicken Francese. Eggplant rollatine. Ahh eggplant. A misunderstood vegetable that the Italians figured out brilliantly.

Red sauce. Bar pie. Pasta in any way, shape or form. Fresh papardelle with homemade ragu. A side of spaghetti al aglio e oglio.

My mouth is watering.

Alas, I have found no way to scratch my Italian itch since moving here over a year ago. We had dinner a few months back at Volare, the best Italian restaurant in Charlotte according to Zagats. The food was overcooked, overpriced and underwhelming.

We tried Da Vinci up in Hickory. The Francese was a disaster (mushrooms?! Who puts mushrooms in Francese?) and I can’t even get into the red sauce. And this, from 2 men who are actually Italian and who if, memory serves me correctly, ran an Italian restaurant in the Northeast.

What really kills me about Da Vinci though is their signature dish. Marty and I went back for a second try not too long ago. We sat at the bar and asked the bartender what he recommended. You know what he said? Buffalo wings. That’s right. BUFFALO WINGS at an Italian restaurant. Seriously.

E se quello non è paese, bacerò il vostro...

p.s. By the way, we ordered the wings. And you know what? They were great. Better than great. Possibly some of the best wings I’ve ever had. Go figure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Heat Wave and Pregnant Goats

It seems that the extent of this current heat wave is unknown outside these parts. So let me further enlighten the unenlightened. IT’S HOT. IT’S TECHNICALLY BEEN HOT (I.E. OVER 90°) FOR 22 DAYS. WE’VE HAD 6 RECORD HIGHS IN AUGUST SO FAR. IT WILL CONTINUE TO BE HOT UNTIL NEXT MONDAY WHEN THE HIGH TEMPERATURE WILL ONLY REACH 89° AT WHICH POINT THE HEAT WAVE WILL OFFICIALLY BE OVER.




And in other news, it’s clear that Ann-Margaret is definitely pregnant. Based on when I believe Elvis took care of business, she is due some time between September 23 and October 3.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

Monday, August 20, 2007

Some Thoughts on What To Name the Donkey

The following is courtesy of dad. He thought that it might be too lame to post. I think it's hysterical.

Mom and I had lunch with some local friends and we kicked around (no pun intended) donkey names.

I came up with Hodey

My friend came up with Shane.

You may be wondering why.

You can ponder it.

Or scroll down


This is my Donkey Hodey (Don Quixote)

This is my Donkey Shane (Danke Schoen)

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

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Another Hidden Gem

Go figure, but there's fine dining in Rutherfordton, NC.

Imagine my surprise that there existed in the small (pop. 4000), historic town of Rutherfordton, NC, nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, whose semi-fraying downtown reminds me of Lincolnton to some degree (although Rutherfordton seems to be further along in its revitalization process), a restaurant with a menu with nary a chicken wing, jalapeno popper or ranch-laden salad in sight. It was like stumbling on Willow Creek Inn all over again.

I admit, I did not just happen to "discover" The Water Oak. I had a meeting in Rutherfordton not too long ago and we happened to have lunch there. I was immediately blown away by the decor - the blonde wood, the hardwood floors, the clean lines, the subtle photos on the walls and the tasteful bric-a-brac selectively scattered throughout the room. It felt like a bistro or cafe you'd find in Boston. New York. Chicago. Charlotte even. But Rutherfordton?

And while the lunch menu was your usual mix of salads and sandwiches, my chicken salad was well above average and the cream of yellow tomato soup that my lunch companion started with seemed like a clever way to put summer's tomato bounty to work. But let's not dwell on lunch, because, well, lunch is not particularly exciting. It was dinner that really stood out.

So it happened that we were out at Lake Lure this weekend. And so it happened that Rutherfordton is only 15 minutes away. And so it happened that we needed a place to dine Saturday evening. And so it happened that we found ourselves at Water Oak.

Bathed in candle light, the restaurant seemed even prettier than I remembered. The attentive service was the same. A list of specialty cocktails given to us when we sat down indicated that while the bartender wasn't going to give Dale DeGroff a run for his money, he/she was up on what's in the world of mixology. I had a mango mojito that wasn't too sweet and that, while gently kissed by mint, was missing the usual muddled puddle of leaves and lime in the bottom of the glass and instead sported a single sprig floating in the orange hued beverage. Score an extra point for artful presentation.

The wine list was not extensive, but offered a selection of well thought-out and fairly priced wines including some of our favorites like Murphy Goode fume blanc, Chalone pinot noir, and Rombauer zinfandel.

As for the food, it was amazing. I had a special appetizer to begin: 3 baby yellow peppers stuffed with organic herbed goat cheese and lightly roasted. They were accompanied by a salad of organic cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of balsamic and basil oil. All I can say is, Oh My God. This was one of the most delicious summer salads I have ever had. And forget that I am a sucker for goat cheese for just a moment. But seriously, I could eat this all day, every day, and never be bored. Marty started with she-crab soup which he swore was good enough to be served at Brennan's.

For my entree, I went with a rock-grilled Cornish Hen over mixed greens with tomatoes, olives and feta. Sort of a grown-up riff on a Greek salad. And while salad is salad, the game hen was delicious. Expertly grilled, well seasoned, crispy skin outside and tender meat in. Marty went with the local specialty, red mountain trout, which they grilled and served with a mustard-tarragon butter and a potato-corn cake that he couldn't get enough of.

We skipped dessert but they all looked delicious (the espresso mocha cheesecake in particular cried out to be sampled).

And here's the crazy thing. While you'd think that we'll never come back to Water Oak again because really, why would we schlepp out to Rutherfordton for dinner, it's only about an hour away. Seriously. It takes longer than that to get to some parts of Charlotte.

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

Saturday, August 18, 2007


So Marty and I went to visit our new miniature donkey earlier this week. Isn't she precious?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

She's only 2 - 3 weeks old and still needs to be weaned from her mom, so it'll be a few months before we get her.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We haven't come up with a name yet and I am not sure she fits into our traditional category of naming (classical composers) or our current livestock theme (Viva Las Vegas).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Suggestions welcome. I am leaning towards Sadie Mae.

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You’re Going What???

“You’re going what?”

“White water rafting.”

“You? Rafting?” The shock and awe were clear. People did not see me in a raft by choice other than perhaps a faint fantasy to pretend I was Meryl Streep in The River Wild (and note: I do not have that fantasy – although hanging with evil Kevin Bacon and somewhat-uptight-but-no-less-attractive David Strathairn wouldn’t exactly be torture.)

But in case any one hasn’t been keeping up with my life these days…um…I live on a farm in rural North Carolina, drive a truck, and listen to country music. Why should a new found love of the outdoors be so surprising?

Actually, I don’t have a new found love of the outdoors, but I do have a new found love of the new U.S. National Whitewater Center, a completely man-made creation that will thrill outdoor enthusiasts and more, high maintenance, indoorsy type folks such as myself.

The key thing is the pre-rafting information session. The guide spent ~ 20 minutes going through every worst case scenario that could possibly happen. Like: “When you fall out of the boat and…” And there were numerous scenarios here. You fall out and the boat is within reach. You fall out of the boat and it’s not within reach. You fall out of the boat and get stuck underneath the boat. You fall out of the boat and completely panic. You get the picture. The key, he told us, is to be an active participant in your own rescue. No problem dude. He also addressed the river-like aspects of the course (read: man vs. nature) even though it’s man made (so change to man vs. man) like the strong currents and the “we wanted you to think you were really on a river” rocks.

By the time he was done, every neurosis I had was on full alert. As I signed the waiver stating I wouldn’t sue if I was injured, maimed or killed, I wondered if it was “if you fall out of the boat” or “when you fall out of the boat.” I convinced myself it was “if”: even though he had emphasized “when.”

I’ll say this for our raft. We were the special needs raft. Lorraine, a solo rafter and slightly older woman, went over 3 times and lost both of her surf shoes in the process. My friend Karen also went over (further injuring her already injured knee and getting caught in a hard-to-reach location that required an additional raft to help pull her out) as did Chad, who incidentally got stuck under the boat (but thankfully, didn’t panic). We also got stuck in 2 eddies that took us forever to row out of, and despite our request for an aggressive ride, it was clear that our guide, Mark, toned it down making sure that we hit the rapids front on (hitting them sideways or even backwards being more challenging) and not with much speed.

This all said, it was a very fun 2 hours and a great way to spend a steamy Saturday morning in August. I highly recommend you request this as a stop on the J. Peterman Reality Tour when you come to visit.

But the best part of the outing? When Marty “There-Is-No-Way-I-Am-Going-Over” Paris fell out on the second run and in attempt to not lose his brand new Bolles floated halfway down the course (also requiring an additional boat to rescue him and thereby cementing our status as the worst boat on the 11am schedule).

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…
More Tips On How Not To Raise Goats

So here's the thing: you all know our goats are spoiled. Let's start with the 3 acres of pasture they have to graze on. I can't tell you how many goats I have seen penned up with little to no grass to eat and no room to wander. Then let's add the fresh water - there's both a spring in the pasture plus Marty and I keep 2 troughs filled at all times. Then there's the barn, providing shelter when it's cold, windy or wet. The picnic table, which they love to play on and sleep under. The straw we provide for them to lay on. The $20/bale, top of the line, alfafa hay we provide as a snack. The animal cookies they get as a treat. And the Goat Chow. Yes the Goat Chow.

It's funny. While my mornings are much more manageable these days (mainly because we no longer feed the goats), the afternoons have become miserable. Feeding the goats, which should take a minute or 2, takes 10 and here's why.

The first problem is that Marty and I have always fed Elvis and Ann-Margaret from 2 separate, side-by-side troughs. The second problem, is that we have always stood over them while they eat because Elvis has a tendency to get all Alpha and push Ann-Margaret out of her trough. Well - she was always so little and then she was pregnant and who likes to see a cute, little pregnant goat bullied by a Billy?

Then came Nugget. Well - there's no room for a third trough in the current set-up, and there's no way she can push her way into between Elvis and Ann-Margaret (horns being the biggest obstacle - they take up a lot of room), so now Elvis gets a big scoop in his trough, Ann-Margaret gets a big scoop in her trough, and then Nugget eats out of a bucket which we hold up for her (because Marty insists that we make it easy on her so she doesn't have to bend down on her knees to eat).

Still, Nugget takes her time eating (not yet realizing it's a competition), while Elvis and Ann-Margaret gobble up their feed at incredible rates and inevitably, Elvis will push Ann-Margaret out of her trough before she's done eating and so she'll come over and push Nugget out of the bucket and then I'll have to try and finagle a small scoop of feed from under Ann-Margaret's nose and feed it to Nugget out of the scooper while Ann-Margaret polishes off what's in the bucket. And frankly, Ann-Margaret has become quite bitchy while she tries to show that she's right below Elvis in the pecking order and she's taken to bucking and being aggressive and while I feel bad that she's permanently pregnant and it's hot, I don't appreciate her attitude at all.

We're working on a solution (something involving a proper trough that can accomodate a number of goats and where they have plenty of space to stand and eat because while we may be registered Republicans we seem to be rather liberal and democratic when it comes to our animals), but in the mean time, here's another tip in case you decide to raise some goats: they don't need to be fed individually. It's called a herd for a reason.

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Castrating A Goat*

* But Were Afraid to Ask

So, it's not exactly Sophie's Choice, but Marty and I are faced with a decision on what to do with Elvis.

The fact is, we can't have an unneutered Billy goat running free and wild through the herd anymore. Nugget is nearly viable and goats don't understand the concept of incest, not to mention that we'd like to give Ann-Margaret at least a few pregnancy-free months.

Our choices are as follows:

A) Paddock Elvis off in a separate part of the pasture and keep him removed from the female population of the herd. The problem with this is that Elvis and Ann-Margaret are inseparable - they grew up together, have never been apart - and I can only imagine what the separation might do to them.

B) Castration (I hear the sound of male readers everywhere crossing their legs). The problem is, that for some reasons, goats do not do well with anesthesia. It's why females aren't spayed. The neutering procedure itself is quite simple, but seeing as Elvis won't be sedated or drugged at all (with the exception of a local anesthetic where the incision is made), it requires a team of able-bodied, strong folks to hold him down and keep him still.

Dr. Mary (our vet) said she could do the procedure at the farm (where we'd be responsible for providing such a crew- ha! - we can barely hold him still to give him dewormer) or we can drive him to their offices where their entire trained staff (including 4 doctors) will be available to oversee the process. Even then I don't see how they can do it without some sort of restraint (or sedative). Elvis is large, feisty and full of testosterone.

The truth is, I don't think we have much of a choice in the matter. And while I can't process how we will maneuver (read: trick) Elvis into the carrier to even get him to the vet's office (or what sort of the loud racket he'll make on the 45 minute drive to Troutman), I suppose we'll figure it out.

But here's a tip kids, in case you decide to take up animal husbandry. If you want a stud, keep him separate from the ladies except for mating season. And if you don't, snip and clip early on when the animal is manaegable, and before he's gotten to attached to his bits and pieces.

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

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Little Bit of Lincolnton History

Lincoln County, incorporated in 1785 and the second oldest town west of the Catawba River, has 23 historic resources listed on the National Register of Historic Places (including six downtown church buildings) and has 24 historical roadside markers.

It is best known as the site of the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill. Considered a turning point in the war, 400 Patriots (Whigs) attacked 1300 Loyalists (Tories) and won. The speculation is that if the battle had not been fought, or if the Loyalists had won, they would have been with the British on Kings Mountain which leads to additional supposition as to the outcome of that battle, and what would have been the final outcome of the war if Kings Mountain had gone the other way.

Anyways, a few Saturdays ago, Marty and I found ourselves with about an hour to spare while the car was being washed, so we walked down to the cemetery on Cedar Street where Stephen Ramsour is buried, and walked around which was very, very cool. Afterwards, we crossed the street and tried to enter the Lincoln Cultural Center, home to the Lincoln County Museum and Historical Association, to learn some more.

It’s closed on Saturdays.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

Saturday, August 11, 2007

An Addition to Nightlife in Lincolnton

Yet another topic I mean to write about months ago, put off, but am finally willing to tackle in light of my promise to dad for a week’s worth of single screen shot (or thereabouts) posts.

Although the Lincoln House is listed in the Lincolnton Chamber of Commerce as a restaurant (and I know they used to be a restaurant because Mansour was the chef there for many years before leaving and opening up Willow Creek Inn), I know it as a bar, an additional spot where one can experience some Lincolnton nightlife action.

This is clearly a case of looks can be deceiving. On the outside, Lincoln House looks quite quaint – a white building with black shutters (sorry – I’d love to use more architecturally descriptive words here like clapboard, Shaker style and Georgian but I don’t know my architectural ass from my elbow). So basically, it looks like a cute, little house.

But inside…that’s a whole other story

I’ll backtrack for a minute and say the first night Marty went was Christmas. He needed to get out after a weekend full of family, feedings, and more family (meanwhile I needed to collapse in an exhausted heap). Obviously, not that many people were out on Christmas Day Night (is that what you call it?) so the bar was quiet and the soft lights of the Christmas tree lights seemed to give everything a peaceful glow.

When we went back on a random Saturday night in May, the place was packed with a rather rough-looking, karaoke-blaring crowd. It gave The Bullet a run for its money, and made the crowd at Zippers seem like a bunch of kittens.

The highlight of our short-lived visit to the Lincoln House was when 2 women nearly got into a brawl in the extremely-small-and-cramped ladies room while I was waiting.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Hickory Crawdads

I meant to write about the Hickory Crawdads ages ago. Marty and I attended a game on a whim back in May and had such a good time, that we bought a 6-pack of tickets to attend games throughout the summer.

“Minor league baseball. What a great thing to write about,” I thought.

I even took pictures with my cell phone to try and capture the essence of small-town-life-meets-America’s-favorite-past-time.

But then I procrastinated. And procrastinated some more. The post as I pictured it felt unwieldy and cumbersome. How to address all the subtleties and details I felt were necessary without writing a complete history of minor league baseball?

By then a week or 2 had passed and the moment was no longer fresh. “After the next game,” I promised myself. June came and went. So did July. I’ve now been to 3 or 4 more games and I still haven’t written a word.

But thanks to dad and my promise for a breezy, easy week of blogging, now I can. At our first game, Marty made the following comment with regards to Major League Baseball:

“I am sick of the egos, the attitudes, the overpriced tickets, the blowhard owners and the prima donna players.”

I suppose that’s why we find the Crawdads so much fun and so refreshing: Ego-free, attitude-free baseball. Just young kids playing for the love of the game (and a chance at ultimately becoming a prima donna) and families and friends out for a good time.

And while $10 won’t get you very far at Yankee Stadium, at L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory it’ll buy you a front row seat behind the Crawdads dugout.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I Think Al Gore is Onto Something with This Global Warming Business

While this blog is typically a way for me to a) chronicle my fish out of water experiences as a city girl in rural NC and b) efficiently keep friends and family updated en masse as to the goings on in my life it is also c) a journal to preserve memories so that many, many years from now I can look back on the iced coffee craziness or my first visit to a biker bar with extreme fondness.

As such, a note to my future self regarding the current heat wave:

It’s HOT! I mean REALLY, REALLY HOT. Ten days of 90+° weather. It’s been over 100° the last 2 days and today was no better. The mercury topped out at 104°. We’ve had record-high highs, record-high lows (there’s something SEVERELY wrong when it’s over 70° before 7am), and this is shaping up to be the hottest August since 1900. There are Ozone warnings, water restrictions because of the draught, and no amount of defrizzer/straightening balm/leave-in conditioner/axle grease seems to be able to keep my hair under control.

On the bright side, if anyone asks why my herb garden is looking so sparse, blame it on the weather (although my garlic chives did spring back from the dead).

Enjoy the rest of your summer.


And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…
From Diane Von Furstenburg to Donkeys in Just Over a Year

It used to be that major acquisitions in my life centered around fashion - although, a $500 pair of Christian Louboutins are more than just a purchase and should truthfully be thought of as an investment.

But life on the farm changes all that. And while I haven’t lost my love for couture (or expensive shoes), Jimmy Choos aren’t on my mind these days. No – these days I think about things like tractors. Fencing for the paddock. Lumber for the deck. Light fixtures that need to be replaced. I am more likely to blow a bundle at Lowes than I am at Neimans.

And at the forefront of my thoughts these days? A miniature donkey. Marty and I had seriously been contemplating getting more goats. Despite all of the drama we’ve been through with the goats in the last year, we were determined to have a proper herd.

But then (and here’s where I normally go off into extreme detail about who said what when and what I thought about it but in honor of my father will get right to the point) it was suggested to us that we get a miniature donkey instead. They are apparently quite docile, graze a lot, and keep out predators such as wild dogs and coyotes. Plus – they get along with the goats.

We wanted to see one first to make sure we liked it so we paid a visit to Marty’s uncle Ken who has a miniature donkey named Millie. She’s extremely cute. We were sold. A calf is due at the breeders any week now. We are just waiting to hear whether it’s a boy or a girl – the only possible snag in whether or not we actually get it. If it’s a boy, we’ll have to pass as one testosterone fueled farm animal is all we can handle.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Blah Blah Blaaahhging

So it seems that my own father could not get through my last post.

“Was it poorly written,” I inquired, dreams of a book deal quickly crumbling.

“No. It was just too long,” he said. “You were blah blah blaaahhging.”

“But that’s because I don’t post all that often. I feel compelled to give my readers something to really dig their teeth into."

But his comment got me thinking. So in honor of my dad, an accomplished writer in his own right, If That Ain’t Country will feature a week of short, sweet, to-the-point posts that even the most ADD-addled minds can get through.

First topic on the agenda: Livestock.

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Smalltown Steakhouse

Remember me? Your long lost blogger? It's nice to be back...

So steak - and by extension steakhouses - have always been a part of my life. I forget when exactly we got introduced to Peter Luger's but from the time I was a little girl, I remember annual trips to the venerable, Brooklyn-based steakhouse - usually for Mother's Day.

Get me going and I can wax prophetic on the differences between The Palm, Ruth's Chris, Morton's and Smith & Wollenksy. I think I've been to just about every major steakhouse chain out there - and usually in more than one city. For example, the bext sliced steak I ever had was at the Palm in Houston, but the Palm in Charlotte has been somewhat of a disappointment (although their lobsters are terrific). In Charlotte these days, we prefer Sullivans.

And while I'll always have a soft spot for the gruff waiters, lack of decor and inconsistent service at Peter Luger's, these days a trip to NYC is more likely punctuated by a trip to Keens or Wolfgangs, which like a number of other NYC steakhouses was started by some ex-Peter Luger's staff who captured the best of Luger's (mainly the food), plunked it in a swanky decor, conventiently located in Manhattan and enhanced it with things like table cloths and a decent wine list.

I have even grown fond of Outback, in its own way, as to me it epitomizes how a massive chain restaurant can successfully churn out above average formula food.

Which brings me to Tuesday night. Marty was craving steak. Typically we get our steak fill either at home (I don't know anyone who grills a better steak than Marty) or at Mansour's. However, neither was really an option.

Months and months ago, I had asked my mother-in-law about Linebergers, a steakhouse out towards Denever (Denver, NC folks) that we had eaten at years ago on a visit. We pass it on our way out to Tim Schafer's and it's always crowded.

She told me that there had been a change in ownership and since then, she had not been a big fan (though you'd never know it from the parking lot on Friday and Saturday nights - that place is always packed).

However, she did mention The Woodshed, a steakhouse in Stanley known for its prime rib.

After driving through Stanley numerous times during my winter driving routine and en route home from the airport (usually on Sundays when the restaurant is closed), we finally, finally had the perfect opportunity to try The Woodshed.

Thank goodness they have a website because we were able to glean some pertinent information in advance - like their hours (the kitchen was open til 10), the fact that they didn't serve alcohol but you could BYOB (they even provided set-ups), and the menu (in addition to their much discussed prime rib, they served rib-eye, Marty's favorite).

Marty & I rolled in at around 8:30pm on a Tuesday. It was - not surprisingly - pretty quiet.

The decor was a combination of dark wood and more dark wood - sort of Western in style (including a train running on a track overhead) but not overly themey.

We were seated at a large booth and our waitress promptly appeared with 2 wine glasses and a corkscrew as well as 2 glasses of water. She handed us menues which didn't require all that much perusing since we had already seen them on line.

I'll say this for the Woodshed: there's not a whole lot of frills. All entrees come with a salad from the salad bar (a topic I can't get into in this already off-track, meandering chapter/post but which I touched on in another form in an earlier post) and either baked potato, baked sweet potato or fries. Vegeatbles don't feature prominently (oh well).

Marty opted for a rib-eye. I tried the prime rib. Neither will put Peter Luger's out of business any time soon, but both were delicious, better than expected and honestly, a bit surprising to find in a small town like Stanley.

The best part of the evening though was without question the service. Our waitress, Phyllis, was super nice, called us kids (as in: "can I get you kids anything else with that?"), and at the end of the evening, asked us if we had enjoyed ourselves and was there anything that she or the restaurant could do better.

You've got to be kidding me? A restaurant actively soliciting feedback from its patrons? Marty and I were stunned.

What was even more delightful was when a white-haired man with a big beard and a warm smile approached our table as we took our last sips of wine. It seems Phyllis had mentioned to him that this was our first time in the establishment so he wanted to come over and introduce himself as he was the owner, Bill Withers.

He sat down in our booth and we chatted for a few minutes about this and that - how long the Woodshed had been around (since 1969), his catering facility in Dallas (NC not TX), his other business (accounting). Marty and I talked about being from NY and how blissfully happy we were here in Lincolnton.

As he got up to leave, he followed up on Phyllis's question and asked if there was anything he could personally do to make our experience at his restaurant better. I'd like to see Danny Meyer, Hospitality King and winner of the most Service-Oriented-Restaurateur award, top that.

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