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...