Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Guess We Were Wrong

Ann-Margaret is NOT pregnant - or at least not as Dr. Mary can tell. If she is pregnant, she's early on. Same goes for Nugget - thankfully.

And today was the day. Elvis is now a Soprano...and I don't mean Tony.

He came through like a champ, although, as you can well imagine, he's a bit despondent. We kept him up today so he could recover but I'll let him out tomorrow and hopefully things will be back to normal before you know it.

Apparently, even though Elvis has been castrated, he can still impregnate Ann-Margaret or Nugget for the next to 7 - 10 days (I'll spare you the details) so Dr. Mary suggested keeping the girls separate. But Marty and I both agree Elvis will be happier with his family. And after all he's been through, if he still has it in him to knock one of them up...well, then...he really is a stud!

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Is it Elvis or is it Us?

Ok. I am feeling frustrated. And funky. So my blog now becomes my journal and a forum to vent.

It’s gotten bad with the goats. Very, very bad. So much for Elvis knowing when to back off. As I wrote yesterday, he’s been out of control for nearly a week. I won’t go into graphic detail, but if you’re interested in some of the mating behavior of pygmy goats click here.

We put him up in the stall on Saturday afternoon. We tried to let him out a few hours later, which was a mistake, and Marty literally had to wrestle him back into the stall. He stayed penned up all day Sunday, doing nothing but butting the walls of the stall (and chipping his magnificent horns in the process) and bleating non-stop (you could hear how hoarse he was by Sunday afternoon). Feeding him Sunday proved nearly impossible as he was so hostile.

Marty and Steve went out yesterday and got a collar and a chain so we could at least let Elvis outside for a bit. By the time I got home in the evening, he was chained up to a tree in the middle of the pasture, where he’d spent most of the day. Marty said when they first put him up he jerked so hard on the chain, he nearly snapped his neck.

Despite being outside all day, he wasn’t a happy goat. We unchained him and tried to feed him at the fence as is normal custom. I coaxed him about halfway there but then he backed off and ran back to the other stall where the girls were penned up and started doing the sort of things that male goats do that make me think of lascivious old men and flashers on the subway.

We ended up herding him back into his stall and left him there, bucking and bleating.

Marty’s observations were that we can't let the animals run our lives and we do. They are spoiled and it’s our fault. We need to break them. This is how it’s done. Well, I am a softie at heart and all of this hurts me. A lot. And so I ask the question: is it Elvis or is it us?

I was so worried about Elvis (because we left the rope chained to his collar and I thought he might strangle himself or choke on it as he tried to chew it off) that I went out to check on him this morning before I left for work.

Of course, it was dark out and so I tromped through the pasture, flashlight in hand, and when I got to his stall and peered through the slats, he was just standing there, silent, looking forlorn and beaten down. Despite all of his frustrating and out of control behavior recently, I felt bad for him and wished more than anything that things hadn’t come to this; that Marty and I had had the foresight to neuter him early and send our females out to be bred – if and when we decided we wanted to breed.

But it is what it is. And so Elvis will spend another day penned up, angry, scared, confused, hurt, lonely (wow – am I projecting onto this goat or what?!). And then Dr. Mary will come tomorrow morning and slice, slice, snip, snip and it will be over. I hope. And then we can put this all behind us and go back to being the family we once were.

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

Monday, September 24, 2007

You've Heard It All Before

Ok. I’ve been a bad blogger. I seemed to have used up all of my creative juices in August which has left September rather…well…lacking. Truth be told, there hasn’t been much to write about. Things that seemed so interesting and blog-worthy a year ago, are now old hat.

Actually, the goats have provided some fodder…and I have been crafting a post in my head since Saturday (when Marty literally had to wrestle Elvis to get him back into his stall after he got violent with the girls…long story…ok, quickly…Elvis is “rutting” which I take to be the male equivalent of being in heat…he’s all crazy and testosterone fueled and swollen and smelly and well, he’s being a general pain) but then time passed and there’s been more drama and well…suddenly the drama side of things feels too weighty to contend with at the moment and so I’ll leave tales of goats and Elvis’s impending castration to another day.

However, I will say this. All animals are a responsibility. Think seriously before buying. And always, always, neuter your boys early.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2007

An Apple A Day

Yesterday was the Apple Festival and this year we didn't miss it.

We didn't miss the fried apple pies. Or the apple fritters. Or the apple dumplings. Or the apple butter. Or the apple ice cream. Or the apple cider. Or the apple cider slushies. We didn't miss the BBQ, burgers and dogs. We didn't miss the scuppernongs or the muscadines.

We didn't miss the farmers market - complete with lots of fresh tomatoes, okra, squash, and of course, apples. We didn't miss the fresh honey or the honey tasting (we opted for blackberry honey - quite tasty).

We didn't miss the arts or the crafts or the local folks hawking their wares.

We didn't miss the local high school marching bands or the local beauty queens.

We didn't miss any of it!

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

City Mouse vs. County Mouse

So, as it turns out, my not being able to vote in yesterday's election had nothing to do with my political leanings and everything to do with where I live.

Apparently, while I live in Lincolnton, I don't actually live in Lincolnton i.e. within the city limits so I can't vote for city officials. Ok.

I admit, I was a bit frustrated about this at first until I realized what exactly the mayor of Lincolnton does. As per the city's website:

The Mayor is the chief elected official of the City of Lincolnton. The Mayor is elected, at large, for a two-year term. The Mayor is the presiding officer of the Lincolnton City Council. The Mayor votes to break a tie vote and does not have veto power. The mayor appoints members to various municipal boards and commissions, issues special proclamations, meets with citizen groups, and represents the city at various local, state and national meetings. The Mayor serves as the City’s Chief Ambassador, meeting with dignitaries and business representatives. The Mayor plays an important role in the development of Lincolnton’s municipal policy.

Not exactly like being mayor of New York City...

That said however, I am pulling for David Black - who came in first (with 377 votes) although didn't win the 40% required which means a run-off is possible.

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tales from the Archives: September 11th

I thought long and hard about what to post today. In the end, I decided to share an essay I wrote in the days following the attacks on September 11th, 2001. It's a little long for a blog, so click here to read in full.

Since the post is so long and since I couldn't figure out how to create an expandandable post (despite my best efforts), I am hosting the text on a temporary "mirror blog" until I can figure out another solution.

Additionally, click here to listen to Tears of Heaven, a song inspired by the events of that day. I hope it inspires you too.

God Bless America.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Good News, Bad News & Frankly I’m Not Sure

We’ll start with the bad news: I saw on the news this morning that it’s been 90° or hotter for 40 of the last 42 days. The 2-day respite we had was Labor Day weekend when I was in Texas where it was…you guessed it…over 90°. I am tired of the heat. It’s making me cranky. I am ready for fall. Boots. Sweaters. Coats. Fireplaces. French Onion Soup. All of it.

Now for the good news. While Elvis is still a testosterone-feuled pain in the ass (and we can’t castrate him yet because…you guessed it…it’s too damned hot), at least he’s learned that if he’s acting aggressively towards Nugget (and I hope that’s all he’s doing) and Ann-Margaret starts crying at the top of her lungs and I come out of the house and walk towards the pasture (as I did at 5:55am this morning in my robe and slippers) that he best stop what he’s doing and run towards the barn because otherwise he’s going to get pelted with rocks. I mean – at least I don’t have to venture out into the pasture and beat him off with a stick (which is what I used to have to do).

Lastly, you all know I love Carrie Underwood – she’s one of the reasons I got into country music in the first place. And I am excited about her new album coming out some time in October. However, I am not a fan of her new single, So Small, which is apparently breaking all kinds of download records and popularity contests on iTunes. I just don’t know what to think because usually you release your biggest hit as the first single and if this is the biggest hit – well, let’s just say I am concerned.

Hoping for the best, expecting the worst and in general wishing Carrie Underwood would eat some BBQ – the girl’s starting to look skinnier than those African children she was singing for this spring.

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

Thursday, September 06, 2007

And the Winner Is…

I love awards shows although that doesn’t mean I am particularly knowledgeable in whatever it is that is being honored. For example, for last year’s Oscars I had seen none of the Best Picture nominees, not to mention any of the actor-nominated performances with the exception of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. To this day, the only movie that’s moved off that list is The Departed, which came to cable about a week ago. The Emmys, coming up in 11 days? Of the 10 Best Shows nominated (5 comedies, 5 dramas), I watch one on a regular basis: Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve seen none of the other 9. Acting awards? I can’t tell you anything about the lead actors, although I can comment on 3 of the nominated lead actresses: Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Sally Field (Brothers and Sisters) and Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU). Oh – and I can tell you everything you want to know about American Idol.

So I suppose I was a bit surprised – possibly more than a bit truth be told – when the nominees for the 41st Country Music Association Awards came out and I knew/had listened to/felt invested in just about every category.

Entertainer of the Year? Give it to George Strait– if only because I can’t stand Rascal Flatts, I think Brad Paisley has gone of the deep end (Have you heard Online? Who’s writing for this guy anyways), Kenny Chesney is so much less interesting now that he’s divorced from Renee Zellweger, and while Keith Urban does have some delicious arm candy in the form of Nicole Kidman, he’s still never going to be the King of Country Music. He’s Australian for Pete’s sake!

Female Vocalist of the Year? Hands down Carrie Underwood. Partly so that the good folks at American Idol can feel like they are actually churning out some decent performers and partly because I am not that familiar with any of the other nominees.

Male Vocalist of the Year? See comments on Entertainer of the Year only replace Rascal Flatts with Josh Turner and watch me scratch my head and go, Josh who?

Horizon Award is tough. I have a soft spot for Taylor Swift, but I also like Rodney Atkins – if only because he managed to work an entire Happy Meal into a song. I’ll tell you who I am not pulling for – Kellie Pickler. We’ve got to keep the folks at American Idol (and the general viewing public in general) focused on finding talent.

Vocal Group of the Year has to be Emerson Drive. No arguments (even though I do like Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks). If Rascal Flatts wins, I think the Earth may spin of its axis.

Vocal Duo of the Year? I am hoping Montgomery Gentry or Sugarland. I mean, haven’t Big & Rich and Brooks & Dunn won enough?

The fact that Ticks is even nominated for Single of the Year makes me question sanity levels in Nashville (in fact, the fact that the song was even written makes me think they need to dump some Lexipro into the Nashville water supply pronto). So I vote for Before He Cheats, the best song to shout out loud at the top of your lungs while you’re driving and no one can hear you or Wrapped, if only because it’s George Strait. I also give BHC Song of the Year award. I mean – have you seen the other nominees?

Album of the Year also goes to George. How can it not?

I find Musical Event of the Year an interesting category title. I’d hardly call Reba McEntire’s remake of Kelly Clarkson’s Because of You featuring Kelly Clarkson an event. Still, forced to choose at gun point I’d have to give the nod to Tracy Lawrence’s Find Out Who Your Friends Are over Jimmy Buffet with George and Alan simply because I never understood Hey Good Lookin’ as a song.

I haven’t seen any of the videos up for Musical Video of the Year but I am pulling for Moments by Emerson Drive because a homeless man stopping a down-on-his luck dude from committing suicide feels so much more meaningful than a jilted blonde smashing up a Chevy or Brad Paisley getting down and dirty in cyber space.

The only category where I am really at a loss is musician of the year. But I am giving my vote to Randy Scruggs on guitar because I like his name.

Tune in November 7th to see how I did.

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

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Commenting on a Subject I Know Very Little About

I don't know a lot about college football. I can't tell you who won the Heisman last year (apparently Troy Smith of Ohio State) or who played in the 1969 Rose Bowl (Ohio State again, defeating USC and that year's Heisman winner O.J. Simpson). But I am married to an Aggie, and college football is sort of a religion in our house, so I know just enough to be dangerous. Which leads me to my commentary on this weekends Big Upset at the Big House.

Lets start with Michigan. They were ranked #5 in the pre-season poll and considered contenders for a possible national championship. But should they have been ranked #5? After all, they lost their last 2 games. And despite returning most of their offense, they had lost quite a bit of their defense. Was that 5 ranking based in reality, or was it steeped in myth and history of college football's winningest program?

Speaking of winning, I dont know how you can consider a football team that wins back-to-back national championships (and incidentally are heavily favored to win again this year) a cream puff. So what if it was Division I-AA. I went to Duke. Our football team is Division I-A. Trust me. These guys would pound us into the ground. They are the best of the best in their league and in my mind that's enough to make them contenders.

And yet everyone seemed shocked at the outcome of the game. They're calling it the biggest upset in college football. Little App State from little Boone, NC comes into big ol' Michigan and wins? Preposterous! And yet in my mind, it wasn't so shocking. But then again, as I said before, I don't exactly know a whole lot about college football.

I think what tickles me the most about the whole thing is that the App State kicker, Julian Rauch, who kicked the winning field goal under tremendously pressure-filled circumstances, is a member of the congregation I go to in Gastonia.

Never let it be said that Jews can't play football.

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

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Election Rejection

So as it turns out, I can not vote in the upcoming mayoral election for Lincolnton.

Who knew that Lincolnton was a completely Democratic town? Certainly not me, otherwise I would have registered as Unaffiliated rather than a Republican (pause here while all NYC relatives and friends gasp in horror).

You see, our 3 candidates for Mayor are Democrats. The primary is on September 11th and the date has passed when I could have changed my registration from Republican to Unaffiliated or Democrat. So I can not vote in the primary and whoever wins the primary is running uncontested.

I am particularly bummed out because after the last election, I realized that it's at the local level that my vote truly counts.

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