Monday, December 29, 2008

Pet Parenting Problems

I have a problem. Ok – I have several problems, but I truly have a problem when it comes to explaining to people how to care for my animals.

A friend of mine planned an impromptu trip to Florida the other day and literally emailed me right before departing for the airport asking me to check on her kitties while she was away and explaining what to do if I could. Of course I would help her out – I am a pet parent and I know just how much anxiety one can have when it comes to the care of their children. The guilt you feel in asking someone to check on your babies – because it’s more than making sure they have food and fresh water and a clean litter box or a clean stall. It’s more than making sure they aren’t trapped in a closet or their head is stuck in a fence or that they accidentally turned on the faucet in the kitchen sink. It’s about spending time – and loving them (like you do) and comforting them in the absence of their owners.

Ironically, the first day I stopped by my friend’s house to check on her 2 precious little furry bundles of joy, was also the day we were at the football game, and somewhere around the 3rd quarter we called our neighbor and asked him to feed the goats and Dixie for us. He’s fed them before, but it’s been a while and so Marty did his best to try and remind Carl who goes where and gets fed what. You see – it’s complicated. Sort of.

“Doesn’t Carl have the instructions, I gave him?” I asked Marty.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “What instructions?”

“You know – the ones I typed up for your parents when they house-sat over the summer?”

“You mean that 4 page mini-novel you wrote this summer? I doubt Carl read the first paragraph.”

He had a point. Four pages was a bit excessive. And his point was only further cemented when I got to Karen’s and her kitty care instructions were succinctly typed on 1 page. I had to streamline.

If you want a glimpse into the sickness of my mind, you can take about 15 minutes and read through the original instructions here. As you can see, I attempt to share every nuance of our relationship with the animals in the hopes that whoever cares for them will try and do the same. I now see the foolishness of my ways so here is the new version:

FEED AND CARE OF DIXIE AND THE GOATS

1. Put Dixie up in her stall and lock her in.

2. Feed Dixie: 1 cup (~ 8 oz.) of Bartlett horse feed (in the black barrel with the wooden top) – the plastic cup is in the feed bag.

3. Dixie eats locked in her stall alone.

4. Prepare the goat food: 1 scoop of corn (blue barrel) and 2 scoops of Goat Chow (silver trash can) mixed in the red bucket (on the shelf in the feed closet).

5. Feed the goats at the fence first - ~ ¼ - ⅓ scoop per trough.

6. Call for Lucky or nudge her (if she is at a trough already) and walk back to the barn. Also, bang on the scoop on the bucket handle to get Surprise Steve’s attention. Lucky and Surprise Steve eat in the second stall. There are 2 black rubber dishes in there and they each get a generous ¼ - ⅓ scoop. Lock them in their stall.

7. Nugget usually comes back to the barn as well. She goes in the first stall and she gets ¼ - ⅓ scoop in the white plastic dish. Lock her in her stall.

8. Check all 3 water troughs (fence, barn, Dixie’s stall) and change/top off as needed. You can use the blue bucket hanging in the barn.

9. Once all the animals in their stalls finish eating, let them out.

It probably won’t surprise you that this is slightly edited from what I originally wrote (I had a bullet point in there about treats which Marty removed). But it’s concise and to the point and easy for anyone to understand whether they have fed our animals before or not. I slipped it in a plastic sleeve and nailed it to the barn wall next to the feed closet so that anyone can fill in for a day or 2 should we need them to.

I also couldn’t resist labeling the stalls:





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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Trip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl

the weather – cold, wet and damp. I was cranky about sitting in the UNC section although for a while I debated about who to cheer for. I mean, I should have rooted for UNC since they’re in my conference (I went to Duke). But then again, this is UNC and I have a hard time cheering them on for anything. Then again, it was West Virginia who unceremoniously knocked us out of the NCAA Tournament last year. In the end, I decided I was rather apathetic about the whole thing and didn’t care either way who won or who lost.

I perked up at halftime – maybe it was the marching bands or the sun trying to poke through the clouds – and by the 3rd quarter I was feeling slightly less edgy. All in all, it was a great game – maybe one of the best Bowl match ups this year – and I was glad I got to be there. And in the end, I was secretly happy that UNC lost.

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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Trying To Be a Better Blogger

After months of not giving it hardly any thought at all, recently I have spent a lot of time thinking about my blog. It started when my dad re-launched his new website and blog and there were 2 things I noticed right off the bat. First, at the end of his post he announced when (and what) he would be posting next – the following Wednesday. Wow, I thought. He’s managing his readers’ expectations. No checking every day to see if there’s something new. No disappointment when there’s not. Readers know to check back in 7 days and they will be greeted with a new post. Also, he’s being reasonable and realistic about how much he can contribute. Clearly, he’s choosing not to write daily and he’s ok with that.

The other thing I noticed was that he ended the post with a question, meant to draw readers in and encourage them to comment. Now while I do get the occasional comment, even my attempts at delurking only drew 9 comments. So this got me thinking about my blog, what it was, what it has become and what it could potentially be.

Originally, this was a way to communicate en masse to family and friends about all my crazy fish out of water experiences (remember the iced coffee incident or my visit to The Silver Bullet?) as a city girl transplanted to the country. It was meant to be a combination of funny and shocking and surprising, but somewhere along the way I got acclimated and things that once seemed so interesting, no longer seemed blog-worthy. And while I have written on other random subjects, somehow in my own head I have never gotten quite comfortable with things that don’t tie back to the original mission of the blog.

My other problem is time. Some months are good. Some not so good. Recently, finding time to blog has been near impossible. The combination of being busy and not feeling like I have anything to write about has meant only 6 posts in August, 6 in September, 2 in October and 6 in November (December appears to be slightly better). So this raises the question – who said I needed to be posting every day? Is there anything wrong with only posting once a week, but making it a meaningful post? Or posting twice a week? Should I be feeling so guilty when I neglect my blog (and by extension my readers) for 8, 10 even 12 days? Just how often do I need to post?
And what should I be posting about? Y’all know that I have goats and a donkey and that I go to the farm supply store (3 of them actually) and that I drive a pick-up truck and listen to country music and that I eat BBQ etc. etc. etc. Y’all get it.

If That Ain’t Country has clearly evolved and I am not so sure that the original mission necessarily applies. So I ask you, dear readers, what should my new mission be?

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

Friday, December 26, 2008

Spending to Save

Ok - I will admit. I have a serious shopping problem. And it’s not just a – well let’s go to the mall and spend hundreds of dollars on a lot of stuff. I get a thrill going to buy toothpaste at CVS. Seriously. Even the other day – at Wal-Mart – picking up gifts for the kids of the people whose house I was going to be at on Christmas Eve and knowing that I had tons of gifts for me under our tree – I still got distracted. A sweater here. A t-shirt there. I literally had to be pushed to the cash register to check out otherwise I am sure I would have bought something. Anything. Just because…

So today I went up to Hickory. Ostensibly, my mission was to return two sweaters at Old Navy - sweaters incidentally bought in a moment of pre-Christmas shopping hysteria - $30 cashmere!! – sweaters which turned out not to fit too well and frankly – how many cashmere sweaters do I need down here? I mean – it was 60 degrees out yesterday! So that was the plan. Return the sweaters. And then maybe – just maybe see if they had that charcoal wrap cardigan which was the sweater I had really wanted all along and which really, at 55% cotton –was much more useful year-round. And also – maybe see if the $30 cashmere was still $30 (or even less) and see if there was something that was better fitting.

I walked into Old Navy. Seriously – the entire store was 60% off. I found the sweaters and sure enough there was the charcoal cardigan I had been coveting. I found my size and tried it on. Perfect fit. I was relieved – because I had looked online last night and it wasn’t available….. Plus, online it was only reduced from $39.50 to $35.00. Here it was 60% off (which turns out to be $15.80). What a deal. A steal. My patience was paying off. Big time. Then I spent another 10 minutes rummaging through the still-$30 cashmere – finally convincing myself that I really didn’t need another sweater (hadn’t I unwrapped 4 yesterday morning?) although secretly telling myself that when I come back up to Hickory next week to get a pedicure (Hanukkah present from Aunt Pearl) – that I might pop back in and see if the $30 cashmere is even cheaper.

So with my “real” errand done, I should have gotten into my car and gone home. But I didn’t. I went to Target. Now I love Target 365 days a year. But I have always had the fantasy of going to Target (or anywhere really) the day after Christmas to get all those wonderful Christmas decorations and d├ęcor at ridiculously low prices. I never have. Usually I am working. But not today. And really, as I said, the Old Navy errand was a guise. This was my true mission.

I told myself I wasn’t going to go crazy, I didn’t even take a cart or basket because I didn’t want to yield to temptation. I zig-zagged through the aisles (staying away from clothes), heading to the back corner where I knew the holiday headquarters was probably already ransacked (they had opened at 7am. It was now almost 10am). Then I saw it. The first “At Least 50% Off” aisle. It was holiday linens. Tablecloths and runners. Placemats and napkin rings. I eyed some very cute holly napkin rings and contemplated. They were $2.99 for 2. At half off that would make them $1.49 for two. Six napkin rings would cost me less than $6. That seemed like a good bargain. But then I thought about the lovely green and gold napkin rings I use now for the holidays which I had picked up last year at Old Time Pottery. And then I thought how I would be at the beach next week that I’d probably go to Old Time Pottery if there was a need. And how if I bought these napkin rings today, there would be no need. But if I didn’t, there would certainly be a need – especially because I discovered that one of my green and gold rings is starting to come undone and I need to replace it. Honest.

So I passed on the napkin rings but then I saw gold napkins. A 4-pack normally cost $7.99 so buying 8 altogether would normally cost $16. But at half off, it would only be $8 – $1 per napkin. And let’s be honest- napkins are a year round thing. And I have white and gold dishes. And I have these beautiful gold chargers. Gold is a major theme in my dining room. This is a purchase for life I tell myself. I grabbed 2 packs and headed on my way.

I went straight for wrapping paper next. I haven’t really bought Christmas wrapping paper in years (except for the 2 rolls I bought the other week) and in all honesty I wrapped many presents this year in scraps of paper from my childhood (why I have them is another post to be sure and I used them more for resourcefulness and nostalgia than anything else) but seriously – you can always use wrapping paper – right? I wound up with 4 rolls – 2 of which can be used year round on wedding gifts and anniversary gifts and birthday gifts….and so the justification continued. I also grabbed Scotch tape because Scotch tape is something you can use ALWAYS so why not buy it at 50% off? At this point, my decision to not get a cart seemed like a foolish one. Between my Louis Vuitton dangling awkwardly off my wrist, the napkins clutched in one hand, the wrapping paper constantly slipping out from under my arm as I went to examine another potential purchase…so I grudgingly made my way ALL the way to the other end of the store (seriously – the holiday headquarters are catty corner from the entrance) to get a cart. Along the way I picked up a beautiful gold and black serving bowl (a steal at $4.99). Another purchase for life.

Wrapping paper aside, what I have always fantasized most about the “Day After Christmas Sale” is the ornaments. Not that I need them. I have too many as it is. I have 2 trees this year and there are probably a box and a half of ornaments I didn’t use. But still…they are so pretty and sparkly and shiny and by this point, I am in that manic state – the euphoria that comes from knowing I am buying (or maybe spending) – and nothing will slow me down. I try to be thoughtful about my purchase but frankly, it’s a little bit difficult, mainly because there are so many people and carts trying to navigate through a small and crowded space. I grab what I can – what I like, what I think I need or at least what I think will enhance what I already have and then my claustrophobia drives me to check out.

So here’s what I ultimately wound-up with:

* 8 gold napkins - $7.98 (A life purchase most definitely. I will use these ALWAYS.)
* 1 large gold & black serving bowl - $4.99 (Another life purchase for sure.)
* 1 pack of holiday tissue paper - $0.89 (I mean – less than a dollar. And I can use the solid red tissue year round.)
* 4 12-packs of holiday gift tags - $1.49 each (Ok – so maybe I didn’t need 4 packs, but I haven’t bought gift tags in years and clearly I won’t need to again for a while.)
* 2 boxes (4 in each box) of beautiful gold and black Christmas balls - $6.98 (you can NEVER, EVER, EVER have too many balls for your tree – just ask anyone.)
* 4 gold tapers - $1.99 ( At this point you know how I feel about gold and really, candles are like Scotch tape. You can never have too many because you use them all year round so why not buy at half off? In fact, I probably should have got another box.)
* 30-count gold tealights - $1.99 (Ditto to what I wrote above and frankly, I have never found gold tealights anywhere else before.)
* 2 boxes of beautiful snowflake ornaments in assorted bright shades - $5.98 (I love sparkly snowflakes for my tree. I have 5 or 6 that I got years ago at Crate and Barrel pre-Christmas so you can imagine how much I paid for them. But now I have 16 more to add in beautiful bright shades like lime and turquoise and orange. These alone made the trip worth it.)
* 2 4-packs of glitterly gold snowflake ornaments - $0.98 (That’s like, $0.1225 per ornament!)
* 4 rolls of wrapping paper - $8.46 (And 2 of these can be used all year round.)
* 2 rolls of ribbon, total 125 feet - $7.48 (Ribbon is like wrapping paper – it’s a staple. And while red and gold is festive for the holidays, it can be used all the time. Really.)
* 2 rolls of Scotch “gift wrap” tape - $1.98 (I just used my last piece wrapping the last present on Christmas Eve so I need this. Absolutely.)

Total Spent: $59.56 (including tax)
Total Saved: $55.90

So tell me – am I crazy to spend $59.56 in order to save $55.90?

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

Testing 1 2 3

Duh...how can you tell if an RSS feed works if I don't post....got so busy yesterday opening presents and then cleaning up and then breakfast (latkes for Hanukah) and then cleaning up breakfast (because frying 3 lbs. of potatoes is messy) and then napping and then more cleaning and then cooking an incredible traditional English roast supper (prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, peas & onions - the works!) that I never got a chance to post.

So now I am posting. If anyone has "subscribed" please let me know if it works!

Off to Target for the post-holiday sale (because I really need anything....)

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Simple Stupid...

So I can be technologically challenged in certain areas (the stupid in the title refers to me) and I have been meaning to figure out how to add an RSS feed to If That Ain't Country and as it turns out, I think Blogger makes it very simple by offering you a "Subscribe To..." gadget you can add to your home page.

So I added it the other day but have no idea if it works. Will one of my few remaining readers "Subscribe" and tell me if it works? I know I haven't given you much reason to subscribe lately but I am officially on vacation for the next 10 days and will be posting a lot between now and the end of the year. In fact - I have so much to comment on I'll probably write enough posts to carry me through til January.

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

Monday, December 22, 2008

Over the Hump

The worst is over. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year which means that every day, minute by minute, we get a little less darkness and a little more daylight to look forward to. At least until June.

Just had to comment.

More on my first Lincolnton haircut, the dead mouse on my steps, Dixie and RSS feeds (among others) coming soon.

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

Come Stroll With Me



All y'all are all invited to come to Lincolnton and join in the Art Stroll in Downtown Lincolnton featuring the work of over 70 artists in 15 locations on 1 special night.

Date: Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Time: 5:30pm - 9:00pm

Why: Because you love art. Because you know nothing about art but you are interested in learning more. Because you want to be a part of the community. Because you like live music. Because you like wine tastings. Because IT'S FREE. Because you enjoy beautiful, downtown Lincolnton. Because IT'S FUN. Because January is such a BLAH month and this will certainly add a little ZIP to things. Because you enjoy meeting new people. Because you like complimentary refreshments. Because you've never been to Lincolnton before. Because you like to stroll. Because you just saw your post-holiday credit card statement but can't stand the thought of a Friday night at home. Did I mention because it's FREE and FUN?

To me, the most amazing thing about this event is that no one owns it. The Art Stroll in Downtown Lincolnton is a truly collaborative effort comprised of professional and local artists, downtown business and property owners, select city, county, and non-profit agencies, and even a church. No single organization is in charge and everyone participating is responsible for the event's success.

I am but a humble volunteer, helping with some publicity efforts, and it has been a truly incredible experience so far. The interest people have in what we are doing is overwhelming and the buzz on ASDL is growing. Want proof? Check out Sarah Grano's article in today's Lincoln Times News.

So what can you do?

1) Spread the word, near and far, to friends and enemies, relatives and neighbors, colleagues, boyfriends, girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, the vet, your hairdresser, your favorite bartender, the UPS guy - everyone and anyone you know. Don't have your own Blog to post about this? Simply send them to our website - it's got all the info people need.

2) Strap on your strolling shoes and come to Lincolnton on the 23rd for an incredible night of art, fun, friends and all the rest of that good stuff.

Hope to see you there!

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Look How Far We've Come

Dr. Mary was here this morning to give their goats their quarterly dewormer and to give Dixie her shots. She was very complimentary on how healthy and happy all the animals seemed, how good they looked - she even said that the weren't as fat as I had feared!

All in all, given everything we went through with Claudette and the ensuing outcome it makes me feel good that I finally got my shit together where farm animals are concerned.

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not Quite Rockefeller Center

So it's not quite Rockefeller Center, but the Christmas tree in downtown Lincolnton is very lovely and on Sunday, Marty and I went downtown for the annual Christmas Parade and tree-lighting ceremony.



Because you have to have a horse



The LHS marching band



A bell on wheels



The LHS Marching Band Trailer



A Christmas parade isn't complete unless it's got a tractor...



...pulling Santa Claus.



The tree before it's lit



The grand finale


Two things I'd like to share about the actual lighting itself. The first, is that since that day they have indeed fixed the strand of lights that's out right in the middle of the tree. And second - and I am not joking - when the woman who was responsible for actually lighting the tree (thankfully not Britney Spears) flipped the switch - the lights did not come on!

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

Sunday, December 07, 2008

What's at Westside

A few weeks ago Marty and I were driving out to Mansour's and stopped to get gas at the Westide Mart.

Here's what was listed for sale on the sign on the window:

Pre Paid Phone cards
Clear kerosene
Hunting and fishing liscense
Ribeyes 5-lb. box $21.99

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

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Now That's What I Call Breakfast

So speaking of gluttony, because Marty and I had not quite eaten enough over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we drove up to Boone on Sunday morning to have breakfast with some friends who were staying up there. We dined at the Daniel Boone Inn, famous for it's family style, country cooking. Here's what we ate:

Scrambled Eggs
Bacon
Country Ham
Sausage
Grits
Fresh Stewed Apples
Biscuits
Redeye Gravy
Cream Gravy
Cinnamon Bread
Black Cherry Preserves
Orange Juice

Because it's family style, they just bring everything in bowls and as soon as you run out they bring you more. All I can say is that it was delicious and I am still having dreams about those cinnamon biscuits.

They also serve up lunch and dinner:

Fried Chicken
Country Style Steak
Country Ham Biscuits
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Green Beans
Cut Corn
Fresh Stewed Apples
Coleslaw
Biscuits
Dessert
Soup or Salad

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gluttony

A picture is worth a thousand words.



And that's just the leftovers.

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

So - I was all set to write about the Stuffing Wars, but apparently, I wrote about it last year.

I was also going to share my cranberry recipe - but apparently I did that last year as well. Does this make me some kind of hack blogger that I am inclined to recycle last year's posts (and speaking of recycling, my efforts to be more green continue - it takes a few extra minutes at the Dump but I feel so much better about my small role in helping the environment. Ditto when I remember to bring my reusable shopping bag to the grocery store.)?

Anyways - back to Thanksgiving. Having covered stuffing and cranberry, I suppose I will share a recipe for a light & fluffy spiced pumpkin pie I came up with last year. Even Marty liked it and he's not a fan of pumpkin pie. Anyways, it's super simple to make for even the most challenged of bakers. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
Sarah’s Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from Food & Wine’s Spicy Pumpkin Pie recipe

1 15-oz. can of pumpkin
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
Pinch salt
Extra ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1 pack Pet-Ritz pie crusts

Mix together the pumpkin, sugar, egg yolks, spices, salt and milk.

Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold into pumpkin mixture.

Pour into 2 crusts and bake ~ 30 – 35 minutes (until set) at 425.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Honor of My Uncle Icky

My Uncle Icky passed away on Friday. Ninety years old, he had lead a rich and wonderful life and touched thousands of souls in the process. He was an amazing man - thoughtful, compassionate, positive in his outlook - an unstoppable force who brought joy and love to all who knew him.

I wrote about Uncle Icky last year on Veteran's Day and it's worth reading (or re-reading) the post to get to know a fraction of this incredible man.

I am also going to share some photos from his 90th birthday in May of this year. It was held at Belmont Stakes (to say that Icky liked to play the ponies is an understatement) and in my mind, that day was the greatest tribute we could have given him.


Me and My Uncle Icky


Uncle Icky and the Bugler (or is it Trumpeter?)


Uncle Icky in the Winner's Circle


Uncle Icky with His "Kids"


Uncle Icky - Everyone's Hero

This ain't country - this is a legend.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Who Knew?

So - as it turns out, I live in a pretty cool county. I mean, who knew that in Lincoln County we manufacture everything from Gatorade and licorice to auto parts and a special bulletproof material that can be woven into suits and is sold exclusively to the government and the armed forces? Who knew that we have companies from Germany, Australia, Israel, Singapore and Brazil (to name a few) headquartered in our county - creating jobs and producing such a wide array of goods? Who knew, that despite recent closings of several factories and plants, over the last 5 years the Lincoln Economic Development Association (LEDA) has seen more than 20 expansions of industry totaling more than $242 million and resulting in the creation of more than 1,400 jobs in the county?

So where did I learn all of these interesting facts? On Thursday I attended the Chamber's monthly Business After Hours meeting which was co-hosted by LEDA and the Lincolnton Downtown Development Association (DDA) - a group for which I already volunteer. The event was held at LEDA's new headquarters and in talking to LEDA Executive Director Barry Matherly, I began to discover some pretty cool things about the county (and town) I live in.

Even cooler - the theme for the evening was "Racing" and on hand was drag racer Doug Herbert (who lives and runs his shop in the county); Jan Crawford - a former racer who along with her husband Max runs several businesses that manufacture parts and cars for the racing industry (seriously - she is this tiny little lady from New Zealand and she looked so proper in her black suit and pearls but she is a serious heavyweight in this industry); and Ray Evernham. You may have heard of Ray or his NASCAR team, Gillett Evernham Motorsports which is home to NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger, Patrick Carpentier, and Elliot Sadler (among others). Ray was on hand to announce that his is leaving NASCAR and buying the East Lincoln Speedway - a fairly significant announcement I thought for a local Business After Hours event.

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

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Madness Has Begun

The madness has begun...

Truth be told, I could have written this post several weeks ago because I saw the first signs when I was in Home Depot in Hickory back on October 17th. It was abundantly clear when I went to Wal-Mart last weekend and the Garden Center had been 90% converted. But I felt like it was critical to get through Halloween - to have some respect for autumn before announcing that............
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CHRISTMAS IS OFFICIALLY HERE!!!!

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

Saturday, November 01, 2008

22 Pounds of Candy in Less Than 3 Hours

So here's the thing: I don't think that in 33 years I have ever really participated in trick or treating from the giving end. Certainly I went trick or treating as a child (although growing up in NYC going door-to-door involved elevators and stairwells rather than sidewalks) but once I outgrew trick or treating, I never lived anywhere where we had a steady stream of children knocking on the door, asking for candy.

So when we were having dinner a few weeks ago with our friends Bob and Sara, and Sara said that she had tons of trick or treaters every year, I said: what time do I show up?

We arrived at Sara's house, located in a prime trick or treating neighborhood in downtown Lincolnton, at around 6:30pm. There were 3 large bowls on her coffee table - all filled with candy. As it turns out, it was roughly 22 lbs of candy, but I didn't know it at the time. I just got to work giving it out every time the doorbell rang.

At first, I was conservative. I would hand out 1 piece - or let the kids pick 1 out themselves. But then it was suggested that maybe I was being a wee bit stingy given how much candy we had, so I started handing out 2 pieces per child and then letting them pick a third. Of course, I should clarify that with 22 lbs of candy - there was a wide assortment: Tootsie Rolls of varying shapes, sizes and flavors; Butterfingers; Snickers; Milky Ways; Hershey Bars; M&Ms; Skittles; Tootsie Pops; Double Bubble; Dum Dums; Whoppers; Dots; Starburst; Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; chocolate pumpkins - the list goes one. So it wasn't enough for me to simply grab 2 or 3 pieces - I had to think it through. They had to get a mix - something chocolatey, something fruity or not chocolately - and if they got something big, like the mini bags of Skittles or M&Ms, that had to be countered with something small, like a Tootsie Roll midgie. Also, if they got something we didn't have a lot of, say a Snickers, it had to be balanced by something we had in abundance, like the Dum Dums.

To say I took my candy distribution duties seriously is an understatement. Of course, as the stream of kids picked up, I could no longer afford the time for them to choose what they wanted. So I took over handing out, still trying to make sure that whatever I gave out was "balanced." And somewhere in there, I went from 2 or 3 pieces to 4 or 5. In fact, we went through so much candy, that at around 8:00pm, we were down to the bottom of the barrel. So I had to cut back to 2 pieces per kid - of course we only had small items: the midgies, Double Bubble and Dum Dums so I felt really bad. What can I say, I blew my wad early. But we did manage to conserve enough to get through til 9pm when the trick or treating finally died down.

Anyways, handing out candy was a total blast and definitely the highlight of my Halloween. It may have also helped that for the first time in I don't know how many years, I was in costume:









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

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wild Turkeys and A Bonfire

This week we had some visitors to our pasture - a flock of wild turkeys! They showed up on Tuesday and Dixie and the goats were not happy. They took refuge by the barn while the turkeys wandered around and ate. I wish I had taken a picture because they all seemed relatively out of sorts - actually, it reminded me of when we brought Dixie home and Elvis, Ann-Margaret and Nugget seemed dumbfounded:



Anyways, the turkeys eventually took off and the animals went back about their business. The turkeys returned the next day - in fact they increased from 3 to 6 and once again, Dixie and the goats kept their distance.

By Thursday though the novelty had worn off and the arrival of the turkeys was hardly noted by anyone.

And on another note, we had a big bonfire on Friday night to burn a large pile of vegetation that's been accumulating the last few months:







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

Friday, October 10, 2008

Goat Drama

I don't know what to tell you about my lack of blogging...sincerest apologies...nothing has seemed worth sharing. All those cute and quirky experiences from my early days in NC are now old hat.

Still - every once in a while something happens. Like tonight. Got home after picking up Mexican take-out. Went to the pasture to put Dixie up and give the goats their treats. Did just that and was looking for Peanut (who is always last to get a treat) when I saw him over by the hay feeder and heard him hollering. Turned out he had gotten his head stuck! I called for Marty who by the grace of God was outside and heard me. He came out and we tried to free Peanut to no avail. Fortunately he wasn't thrashing or twisting too much. So we held him and petted him while we waited for Steve to come over with his crow bar.

In a matter of minutes he was free with little to no damage to the hay feeder. Peanut seemed no worse for the wear and even took a treat from me.



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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

There's a Feeling In The Air

There's a Feeling In The Air

Well, there's a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.

So go on, let it be.
If there's a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it's always understood this time of year.


I don't know why but these lyrics from the Better Than Ezra song This Time of Year keep running through my head but they are.

It's fall - officially of course as of 9/21 but also spiritually and psychologically and emotionally. I don't know if it's the cooler weather or the shorter days or the fact that my poison ivy is finally, finally gone (it only took 1 shot, 6 days of heavy steroids, half a dozen Benadryl and half a bottle of calamine) but it's defniitely fall.

Maybe it's the fact that I wore my first sweater the other day, or jeans for the first time in months. Maybe it's the fact that it's dark by 7:30pm. Or the fact that my cat is getting fat again. I don't know what it is but it's definitely fall.

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

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome Back Peanut!

It had to be over a month ago that Peanut suddenly stopped eating apple and oat treats. At first I thought it was a phase because every once and a while the goats get finicky about the treats - I don't know if they smell funny or taste bad - but at one time or another all of the goats have spit out a treat or two. But with Peanut, it got to be a chronic problem. Every night I'd go to give him a treat, and every night he'd spit it out. It didn't help that Elvis would butt at him but one night I even got him alone in a stall and he still wouldn't take it. So I simply stopped trying to give him treats.

I don't know why but for some reason tonight I thought I'd try again. I took a small piece of a treat and held out it for Peanut after I had fed everyone else. When Elvis came to interrupt, I held him back by the collar. Peanut took the treat, put it in his mouth, chewed and swallowed! I don't know why but I was ecstatic. I tried again with another little piece - he took it as well and didn't spit it out!

I don't know what he'll do tomorrow night, but all I can say I was happy to see my Peanut back.

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

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Actually Pretty Easy Being Green

I'll admit it, I am not the most environmentally-minded girl in the world. I never saw An Inconvenient Truth. I still use Lysol to lean my kitchen instead of some product with fewer chemicals. And I have never been one to recycle - that is, until now.

Recycling where I live is a choice (as opposed to being mandatory like up in Ulster County where trash and recycling rules are so draconian it's enough to make your head spin), and being outside the city limits (i.e. I don't have anyone picking up my trash so dump runs are something I have to plan for in the course of my week) it's not a choice I have made. Oh sure - when we have a lot of boxes I'll separate them out and recycle but everything else I sort of ignore.

I should also note that I am kind of neurotic about my trash (given that I am neurotic about everything this shouldn't surprise any of you). Ever since we had our visit from Pepe Le Pew I have been very careful to keep all of our trash in bins with lids. The problem is, half of our trash is perishable, while the other half is not, and at the rate we produce non-perishable trash (empty bottles and cans, junk mail, magazines and newspapers etc.) we've been generating a full bag of trash a day. That's a lot. And we only have 2 lidded trash cans which means by Day 4 we are full up. It's less of an issue in the winter, but when it's summertime and 90+ degrees - it can be rather unpleasant.

So last weekend when we had a house full of guests and were going through even more water, soda and beer then usual, I started recycling. I started stacking empty water bottles on the counter in the kitchen. I'd rinse the cans and line them up next to the bottles. And every time I went outside, I'd toss the bottles and can into the one unlidded trash can we have. It was genius! Instead of taking the trash out every day, we started going 2 - even 3 days before we had to change a bag.

And while it took a little longer to sort through everything before heading to the dump and also at the dump getting everything distributed in its proper bin, a) I was less stressed about the trash in general because I knew we had plenty of room in our 2 lidded bins for whatever perishable trash we did generate and b) it felt really good being environmentally conscious.

Next stop on the Green Train? COMPOST!

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later

I guess I have been faced with bloggers-block as of late. I just haven't felt that inspired by anything...not farm life...not life in NC...not the impending season change (although will it please hurry up and get cold so all of the poison ivy/oak/sumac on my property and everywhere else dies? I had to get a shot today - a SHOT PEOPLE - just to deal with the mess that is eating up the back of my left leg).

I was thinking that today might inspire me...it being September 11th and all. But I had the opposite reaction. I stayed as disconnected from "9/11" as possible. It wasn't a conscious choice I don't think...I don't even really know. But I didn't turn on the news at all today. I avoided coverage. And I am not sure if it's because it was 7 years later and I was just too far removed...or if it's because it was 7 years later and I was still too close.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Real Country Girl Saturday

So I sort of cheated just a little yesterday in that I ended my post by saying I had to go to the farm supply and buy all sorts of farm girl items just because a post on Mark Paul Gosselear isn't actually "country" and I wanted to try and stay a little bit on topic but the truth was I'd been thinking about going to the farm supply and had in fact made a list of all the items I actually needed so it was sort of a half truth - half lie...

Anyways...drove up to Duan Farm Supply in Maiden this morning and stocked up on all things farm-related: 2 bales of straw, 5 bags of shaving, 2 bags of whole corn, 1 bag of apple and oat treats, 2 mineral blocks, a new pitchfork (with smaller, tighter tines so that I don't lose so many shavings when I am mucking Dixie's stall), and a can of wasp/hornet killer since I used up our entire other can demolishing nest after nest that has sprung up in the barn the last few weeks.

Got back home and of course it's never easy driving the truck down to the barn because you have to open the big gate and Dixie and Lucky both have a tendency to want to be wherever we are which means they are liable to escape unless we have them locked up - which I didn't - so there was lots of running around trying to get them secure so Marty could drive into the pasture.

Then the next 90 minutes were spent working my tail off - Dixie's stall got a thorough cleaning with my new pitchfork (which someone told me is called an apple picker) and then I spread 2 bags of fresh shavings. I had to spread straw in the other two stalls as well as under the picnic table and extra straw went into the hay feeder (where I discovered yet another wasp's nest - you've got to be kidding me!).

There was sweeping to be done and water to be changed and feed to be put up...

I haven't had such a farm day since the day I stripped Dixie's stall.

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

Friday, September 05, 2008

Delinquent...I Know

Ok - so I have been the most delinquent blogger ever - I know. No excuses. I promise my return to the Blogosphere this weekend will be well worth the wait. In the meantime, the only thing I seem to feel like commenting on is the fact that Mark Paul Gosselar went from sandy-haired, mischevious, California dude on my favorite morning TV show ever - Saved By the Bell - to this...

Thank you Fug Girls for putting it into such perfect words.

Now I am off to Duan Farm Supply because I need shavings, straw, corn, apple & oat treats, mineral blocks, an "apple picker," and wasp/hornet spray.

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Charlotte's Web

Yes - I am alive. But I didn't blog much while on vacation last week and then post-vacation has been the usual hectic craziness and I have so much to actually blog about and pictures to post and what not but just don't quite have the time so please be patient with me...

But -

We have a spider. He/She (I think it's a she so I'll call her Charlotte cause I am feeling oh so original) lives outside our parlor window. She's been there a while and over time she spun a massive web. While normally spiders freak me out, she's on the outside and so I have been more in awe of her than anything as she's quite large actually and rather magnificent.

Anyways, I checked this afternoon and Charlotte and her web were gone. Not surprsing given the intense rain we've had over the last few days. But then a few hours later I caught sight out of the window and there she was - back in her spot, rebuilding her home. Have you ever seen a spider spin a web? It is the coolest thing ever. I wanted to videotape it on my camera but the picture quality through the window wasn't that great and while I am in awe of Charlotte and all, I didn't have the guts to actually go outside and get all close and personal.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sweet Sweet Caroline

The hair is thinning. There are no sequins. And the 67-year old face appears to have had some work done (and I only say that because no one looks that good at 67). But the pants are tight. The lights are bright. And the voice....the voice is as good as it ever was, maybe even better having softened and mellowed with age. There is no question that Neil Diamond is a star. A Superstar!

Despite the older age of the audience (as dad said think Metamucil and prune juice), the crowd was on its feet, singing, screaming, hollering, cheering, dancing, and in general getting their groove on as Neil worked his way through a 2-hour set of many of his most cherished and greatest hits. Of course, when your career spans 40+ years and 35+ albums, how do you narrow it down? This was a topic we debated before the show. What exactly would he sing? How many songs off the new album which he is out there trying to promote? How many old favorites? And which old favorites?

I think in the end, no matter what he sang, it would have been hard for Neil to disappoint. But as it was - he sang many of my favorites including Love on the Rocks, I'm a Believer, Solitary Man, Kentucky Woman, You Don't Bring Me Flowers, America, Crackling Rosie, I Am...I Said, Hello Again, Cherry Cherry, Play Me, Beautiful Noise, Song Sung Blue, Forever in Blue Jeans, and Crunchy Granola Suite. He also sang 3 songs off his new album, including the title track, Home Before Dark; the first single, Pretty Amazing Grace; and Don't Go There (I think - I haven't listened to the album all that much). He closed with 2 songs off his 2005 album, 12 Songs (which is one of my favorites): Man of God and Hell Yeah - which is the perfect song for Neil at this stage in his life (just check out the lyrics here.)

And in answer to the most important question - does Neil Diamond still sing Sweet Caroline? The answer is Yes. Yes, he does. Twice.

And if that ain't a 67-year old Superstar who still knows how to get a crowd of 20,000 geriatrics on their feet, I'll kiss your...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Apples on the Brain

It wasn't enough for me to bake 3 apple pies last weekend...I have serious apples on the brain. Why? Because the Lincoln County Apple Festival is coming up in 5 weeks and part of the Festival is a recipe contest.

There are 6 categories:

Main Dish (must contain meat or a meat substitute)
Cakes, Breads & Cookies
Pies, Pastries, & Tarts
Apple Jelly
Butter & Jams
Miscellaneous (includes beverages, appetizers and low-calorie)

Since I read about the contest on Thursday, my mind has been whirring with apple recipe ideas for at least 4 of the categories (jellies, jams & butters just aren't my thing). With last week's pies fresh on the brain - I had no trouble coming up with a recipe for the Pies, Pastries & Tarts category. Actually - it turned out to be a tart - but it's a variation on one of the pies I made last weekend and I was so excited to test the recipe I was up at 6:30am this morning and in the kitchen baking by 7:00am. It looks and smells delicious. I am holding off on posting photos or describing in detail until AFTER I submit the recipe and find out if it qualifies but let me just say - I might be an apple tart genius!

After I made the tart, I had some leftover apples and some other stuff and so I threw that in a pie crust and it's baking right now. Could be delicious too (smells mighty good) but I could in no way duplicate the recipe as I didn't take any measurements so I hope it's not that good...

As for the other categories, my mind is going 100 miles per hour. Would love to share all of my millions of ideas but I am a little protective of my apple intellectual capital and so I will hold off. All I can say is I hope that Marty likes apples because we are going to be in apple country for a while. Meanwhile, would love to hear about your favorite apple recipes.

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



As for the other categories, I will hold off

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Keeping Me on My Toes

So, it has been awhile since one or more of the goats has escaped.

You would think, that with all of the goats being at least 6 months old (Lucky & her brothers turned 6 months last week, Prisey turned 6 months on Tuesday) they would be too big/old/jaded/uninterested in venturing outside of the pasture.

But today at ~ 5:30pm I heard that once all too familiar cry - the cry that says - something is not right in the world. I pressed my nose up against the door and sure enough there was Buster, running back and forth on the wrong side of the fence.

It was almost easy enough to get him back in. I mean, he wanted to get back in. But as soon as I got to the gate I was swarmed by Lucky & Dixie both of whom seemed more interested in joining Buster on the wrong side of the fence then they were in stepping back from the gate and letting him in.

It took a little head holding and prodding and evenutally I got Buster back where he needed to be. Nothing like a little excitement on a Thursday afternoon.

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

Saturday, August 09, 2008

An Abundance of Apples

So I have told you about our friend and neighbor Steve – he who brings me blackberries and peaches so I can bake pies. Well – the delivery of bounty continued all this week. It started when Steve showed up with probably close to 10 lbs. of tomatoes fresh from his garden a few days ago.





I happily took them because I can always put fresh tomatoes to work. My favorite thing to do is to make tomato smoosh – I chop up fresh tomatoes and toss them with lots of garlic and olive oil and then I season with salt and pepper and herbs and roast at 450° until they are nice and smooshed. Then I drain the oil/tomato water and use it to make a delicious salad dressing.

It’s a very good system for using up fresh tomatoes but even after making a big batch of tomato smoosh on Friday morning, I still had pounds and pounds of tomatoes to use up so I decided to make a tomato pie. Using Diane Mott Davidson’s recipe for tomato brie pie from The Main Corpse, I came up with the following:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place 2 ounces of cubed Emmentaler cheese in a Pillsbury Pet-Ritz deep dish pie crust.

Slice, quarter and drain 6 ripe tomatoes (I used 3 red, 3 yellow). Distribute over the Emmentaler. Season with salt, pepper and herbs (I am a fan of Penzy’s Fox Point seasoning). Sprinkle with ¾ cup shredded cheese. I used Sargento’s Bistro Blends which was a blend of 2 cheddar cheeses and bacon.

Beat together 3 eggs, 1/3 cup milk and 1/3 cup heavy cream and pour over the tomatoes/cheese in the pie crust. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of grated Parmesan cheese and bake for 45 – 50 minute or until the center is set. Let cool for 10 minutes and then serve.


The result is both gorgeous and delicious:



After making tomato pie, I tackled the pounds and pounds of apples we picked this morning at Steve’s.



I baked 2 whole pies (i.e. peeling & chopping 18 cups of apples) and I still have an entire bowl of apples still to contend with.



\

I should also add that while I was at Steve’s, I got to take pictures of his peeps born just a few weeks ago and drive his lawn mower.





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

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Cooler Up There



What does one do when it is 97 degrees out and oppressively hot and unbearable for the umpteenth day in a row? Well, Marty & I escaped up to the mountains yesterday and it was heavenly. It was - and I am not kidding - a full 32 degrees cooler up at Julian Price Park. We did the 2.5 mile trail around the lake and it was gorgeous.






























With Blowing Rock only an hour or so away, there's no reason why we won't be doing this more often.

Of course, the day started off divinely too. My neighbor brought over a basket of fresh peaches and I baked a homemade peach pie.



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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Live for Lifetime

So a shout out to the genius folks responsible for programming at Lifetime. I find myself tuning into Channel 27 more and more these days and the stuff they are promoting looks fab!

I was so excited for Poison Ivy IV: The Secret Society although I wondered how it could possible compare to the dreamy drama of the original Poison Ivy: Drew Barrymore - so evil, Sara Gilbert - so glum, Cheryl Ladd - so frail and Tom Skerrit so paternal. Of course, I may never now because PI4 aired on LMN - a channel I don't get BY CHOICE. Well - sort of. The package that includes LMN also includes SoapNet and I CANNOT under ANY circumstance subscribe to SoapNet otherwise I will sit around all day and watch 90210 and Melrose reruns (yes I am soon to be 33) and if I intend to have any sort of a life whatsoever I need to not be hooked on the teen soaps of my youth. Of course, I am terribly excited for the new 90210 and found myself looking online at the cast photos posted on Yahoo recently. All I can say is that I am so glad they found a reason to put Rob Estes back on TV (I've loved him ever since Silk Stalkings although one has to wonder what ever happened to Mitzi Kapture?) and Kelly Taylor is no Mrs. Teasley. Anyways, I have not seen PI4 yet but I keep hoping it moves from LMN to Lifetime eventually so I can relish in it.

Then there's the Fab 5 about some Texas cheerleading scandal. Seriously - how many cheerleading scandals can they have in Texas? I remember the one from ages ago where the mom of one girl who didn't make a squad tried to kill another girl who did and HBO made a movie starring Holly Hunter and it was highly entertaining. Nonetheless, the previews for this seem to be highly entertaining as well and so it's all set to Tivo this weekend.

Then the other day I caught sight of a new preview for a movie coming in September starring Shirley MacLaine as Coco Chanel. SHIRLEY MACLAINE AS COCO CHANEL PEOPLE. It doesn't get any more genius than this!

Not to mention the endless re-runs of Fraiser, Will & Grace and Golden Girls. I just love that Rose and all of her goofy St. Olaf stories involving vikings and farm animals.

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To Bee or Not To Bee

Ok - so I JUST watched Bee Movie on Sunday and as far as I am concerned, all bees can talk and are funny and loveable not to mention critical to the environment. And in real life, I am well aware of what's going on with honey bees dying and the fact that Haagen Daaz created Honey Bee Vanilla ice cream to thank the bees for all of their hard work. So let's just say - I am sympathetic to bees. Except when they start nesting in my donkey's stall.

I noticed the hive when I went to put some vaseline on poor Dixie's nose (which is newly raw in other places leading me to believe that she is not suffering from bridle rash but rather some other sort of ailment). It wasn't there yesterday but toay it was - a small little hive with about 10 black & yellow striped insects buzzing around.

So here was my dilemna - Kill the bastards (natural instinct) or let them live (curse you Jerry Seinfeld)?

In the end, instinct won out. I grabbed a can of wasp & hornet killer that you can spray from up to 27 feet away, and I hosed the hive. Of course, I don't even really think they were bees...they were too big. They were probably yellow jackets. In which case I don't feel quite so bad.

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tire Pressure and Bridle Rash

So I had a very interesting morning which started at 6:40am when I went out to the garage to check the air pressure in my tires. Why you ask? Because I am 100%, completely paranoid about not having enough air in my tires and when I was driving home from Spartanburg yesterday my car felt kind of "wobbly" or at the very least "wonky and not right" and I always tend to attribute that to air pressure. Plus, I drive on radials which have a tendency to look "flat" even though they really aren't.

Of course, last time my car felt "wobbly/wonky" my tires were indeed low - in fact 1 tire only had 10 psi (they are supposed to have 40). Amazing I made it home from Greenville that day without a blow out.

Anyways, after that incident, in order to take control of my paranoia, I got a quick lesson on how to use a tire gauge. So I went to the garage this morning and checked the 2 tires that looked low and what do you know - they were both at 20 psi. Given that I just had them filled about 4 1/2 weeks ago, that was an indication to me that they both had a slow leak.

So I hopped in the car and drove up to the tire place in Maiden, assuming they would be open at 7am. They weren't and after waiting for 10 minutes I drove into town and found myself at Griffin Tire. They took me at 7:22 (even though they didn't open until 7:30) and Terry accompanied me to my car where he checked my tires with my gauge. Oops - apparently I didn't press the gauge quite hard enough and in fact all of my tires were over 32 psi. So much for low tires and slow leaks. Still - after listening to Terry's sales pitch, I am considering switching to nitrogen in my tires because the smaller molecules make for much less contraction and expansion and therefore less leakage.

Then, I got home and went to let Dixie out and noticed a big raw sore on her nose. I panicked because I didn't know how she got it or if it hurt or it was infected or anything and so I ran into the house and woke up Marty who sleepily but calmly told me that it was probably a little irritation from the bridle and to put some Vaseline on it and not to worry. I did and then called Carl for a second opinion because even though I am Country, I am also neurotic.

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Know It's Supposed to be Dark at the Movies...

So last night Marty and I went to see the 7pm showing of Mamma Mia at the 8-plex we love so much in Lincolnton (So as it turns out - I have never written about the genius of going to movies in Lincolnton. I was all set to link back to earlier comments but none seem to exist!).

The first problem was that when we arrived, a sign on the box office window apologized for the broken air conditioner in the Mamma Mia theater (as well as one of the Dark Knight theaters). Given the extreme heat, Marty and I were reluctant so I quickly pulled out my Blackberry to see if we could catch an alternate show in Hickory or Gastonia. There was a 7:40 in Gastonia but I really love the Lincolnton theater (it's virtually empty and they have really good popcorn and sodium-laden flavored salts and seasonings like ranch, white cheddar, and nacho that you can sprinkle on your popcorn). We debated going to see Dark Knight instead but I kind of had my heart set on Mamma Mia. We debated blowing off the movies and going to dinner, but I really had my heart set on popcorn as an entree, and so we asked the girl behind the window just how hot it was in the theater.

She assured it wasn't that bad and even offered to let us step inside and feel for ourselves. We did and it wasn't that bad. Seriously. It just wasn't completely frigid (so much for the sweater I brought) so we bought tickets, a large popcorn, and settled in for the show.

Now one of the genius things about going to the movies in Lincolnton is that the theaters are rarely crowded. Even when we went and saw Shrek 3 and Harry Potter 5 on opening day, the theaters were maybe at 60% capacity. Usually, there are less than 10 people in the theater when we go - I don't know if it's the movies we choose to see or the times of day we go but it's a highly pleasant experience. In fact, when we went to see Ratatouille back when it was in the theaters, we went to a 9:30pm showing on a Sunday night - not a popular time for an animated film. We were nearly the only ones in the theater -there was one man and his daughter.

Still, Marty and I have never been completely solo in the theater until last night. Between the film and the lack of a/c, I wasn't surprised.

Early on in the film, we heard some rumbling. Marty thought it may have been thunder. I wasn't aware we were expecting storms and thought maybe it was something else. Guess who was wrong? A few minutes later the lights flickered in a power surge and then.....the theater went completely dark. First time ever that's happened to me. Given the severity of the storm, we had to restart the film twice (not restart as in from the beginning but restart as in get the power back on and get the film up and running).

All in all, it made for an interesting night at the movies.

As for the film, I have seen the musical at least twice on Broadway and listen to the soundtrack on my iPod occasionally so I enjoyed it. Plus, it has goats.

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

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sophie's Choice: The Sequel



So I don't believe that Meryl Streep ever made a sequel to the critically-acclaimed, 1982 film that landed her an Oscar (her only one as far as I know) but today I once again found myself in the position of having to make a difficult decision.

Meet the newest visitor to the Paris farm:



Isn't he sweet looking?



He showed up on Saturday night but I didn't get my hands on him until this morning. He might be 4 weeks old and he probably weighs less than 6 oz. Seriously - he fit into the palm of my hand. Way too young to be separated from his mama and his litter mates...

Anyways - it was in my compassionate nature to care for him for a little bit - give him some milk, some food, and try to find him a good home. Or at least get him to where he was big enough and healthy enough and strong enough to survive outdoors as a barn cat because seriously - doesn't every farm need a barn cat?

But Marty would have none of it. He said we didn't need another cat - frankly we didn't need another animal of any sort - and that while he would support a barn cat, he didn't think that I had the emotional stamina. Something about 6 months from now, below freezing temperatures and this little one meowing at the door looking for a warm place to sleep.

I asked everybody I knew if they would take him but nobody would/could. I tried to find a no-kill shelter that was accepting strays - none were. They were all full. At the end of the day, my only choices were:

1) to send him to Lincoln County Animal Control and hope that he got adopted otherwise he would be "humanely" terminated (talk about an oxymoron)

2) to keep him here until I could find someone to take him

3) to keep him here until Marty fell in love with his sweet face

I was going to push for option number 2 but then I made the mistake of calling my large animal vet. The receptionist there told me that you have to beware of stray cats and kittens because they can have rabies...among other diseases. It is rare but a few years ago, a stray kitten showed up at their door. They took it in, gave it shots (after all, they had resources) and everything was fine until one day this sweet, docile kitten went crazy and died. Turned out it had rabies.

"But don't you have to be bitten or scratched in order to get rabies?" I inquired.

Apparently not. Saliva is sufficient. So suddenly - the threat this little, harmless, innocent looking furball posed to me, Marty and our entire family (2 cats, 7 pygmies and 1 miniature donkey) became significantly more meaningful. The fact that I had picked him up and held him in my hand, carried him into the house - all seemed potentially hazardous.

I dropped him off at Lincoln County Animal Control at around 4:40pm. I hated to do it. The sheriff on duty and I even talked about it because it is my dream one day, if I ever have enough money and can find the right piece of property, to open up an animal rescue/shelter for all of the strays and unwanted animals in the world. Seriously. But I couldn't take the risk with this little one and our family, and Marty and I just aren't able to commit to any more kids right now.

I confess, I don't feel good about my decision. I am just hoping that because he is so cute he finds a family soon. Any local readers out there - stop by Lincoln County Animal Control and take a look at this fella and take him home:



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

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gastronomy in Gastonia

As it turns out, this past Tuesday night, Marty and I had one of our best meals ever since we moved down here and it was at a restaurant in Gastonia of all places.

Not that this should be a huge shocker because Gastonia is a decent sized city and is considered part of the Charlotte MSA. But 2 years ago when we first moved down I Googled "fine dining AND Gastonia" and pretty much got zero results and then never really gave it a second try. But some people I met at a work event mentioned Lotus to me a few weeks ago and Marty and I finally gave it a whirl and it was worth it.

It's definitely fusion with lots of Asian influences (they even have a sushi bar)and some Italian and some American locavore/fresh from the farm touches. In fact, my only complaint was that it was a little too fusion - I would have liked to have felt like it took one direction more than any other, but everything was delicious.

I started with pork and chicken potstickers which were leaps and bounds better than any Chinese take-out dumplings around these parts. Marty started with a tempura softshell crab which he said was delicious (I'll take his word for it - I don't like crab) and a California roll which he said was good enough to inspire him to order only sushi the next time he came.

I had the Ashley Farms chicken as an entree - although the summer version is served with a pea and carrot risotto and honeyed pearl onions (as opposed to the version on the website). Marty had a Kobe-style filet with grilled asparagus and butter & herb roasted potatoes. That all said - there were about 12 other things we both wanted to try.

Dessert was homemade doughnuts with a trio of dipping sauces. Yum.

I give them a lot of credit for their wine list. Not too many obvious choices from California. Instead they had an eclectic list with selections from Chile, Argentina, and South Africa to name a few.

Our waiter was good in that he was earnest and knowledgeable and tried hard. But in his attempt to "space everything out" our simple Tuesday night supper turned into a 3-hour epic meal. Dessert alone took 40 minutes to appear.

Also - Marty was not fond of the decor - high ceilings, lots of open space - which he found too casual for the caliber of cuisine. I didn't mind so much - I think there's little room in the world these days for white tablecloths and traditional French service.

Still, at the end of the day, it was a delightful surprise, completely unexpected and utterly delicious. When you come for a visit, just remind us to take you to that restaurant in Gastoney.

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

Sunday, July 13, 2008

If That Ain't Country: Photo Chronicles




So I was asked about miss Dixie Mae and I guess it has been a while since I have written about my little mule. Hard to believe but she will be 1 year old on August 1st and she has really grown up and shedded out i.e. shedded the fuzzy hair she had when she was a baby so that she is now all sleek and smooth. See?





And since I was out there this morning with the camera, I snapped some shots of all of my babies:


Little Lucky looking like her precious little self.



Elvis and Nugget eyeing me for treats.



Peanut and Buster - 2 little rascals if there ever were....



My handsome Prisey.



Ann-Margaret will always be my little girl even though she is a mother of 4.



Elvis still rules the roost.



Lucky stops to scratch.


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