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Pip had surgery back at the end of summer for canker in his offside front hoof. It went better than everyone anticipated but he’s still stallbound until the first of the year at least.  He will have another surgery at the end of this month to hopefully route out all the canker and we will be canker free. I can already tell that the hoof is feeling better as he’s quite boisterous on his short stints out to graze.

G is doing well. He’s got a funky abscess thing on his hip that is refusing to heal up properly. Most likely it’s due to the location on the point of his hip that is causing it to heal so slowly. However we will be exploring it more fully over the next few days. It’s very ouchy so I’m loathe to try to mess with it too much without back up.

Everybody else is doing pretty good.  Lucy and Jen are looking fat and sassy, probably the best they have ever looking going into winter which makes me super happy. We have been working very closely with the nutritionist at Tribute to work out a very specific feeding plan for all of them and the effort really shows. Also crediting them with Pip’s fast recovery after surgery as we had a very specific game plan for about a week before and then on going after his surgery.

We are nearing the end of the proverbial bad year. I’ve been counting the days until Thanksgiving when hopefully it will be over. There’s some amusement that I’ve been blogging long enough to see 3 “bad” years.  It’s very macabre amusement at best.

So I’m pretty much going insane from the lack of riding. My last ride was in February and it looks like it will be February or so before Pip is sound enough for riding. Of course I have G but we spent the better part of the summer getting G and his gastric issues worked out and now I have a fat and sassy nearly 18hh divo gelding that I sort of don’t exactly know how to ride. If Pip is the nice reliable, easy to handle Land Rover, then G is the high-end, finicky Lamborghini. Fun to ride, but he just might kill me over a subtle miscommunication. I was working on taking G to lessons with Amy but he didn’t fit on the trailer (1st world horse owner problems) and then L had to take a hiatus from lessons due to her dog’s battle with cancer (seriously… it’s been a bad year).

Come on Thanksgiving!!

So anyway… I’m hoping to do a pen post soon. I’ve kept myself pseudo-sane with a slightly unhealthy pen addiction. I think I’m single-handedly keeping several online pen shops afloat with my Japanese pen addiction. I’ve got a couple of journal related posts planned as well and hopefully I can get those queued up soon.

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  • It’s hotter than Hell and I’m pretty sure I saw one of the cats melt under the oak tree in the bottom pasture.
  • I spent about 15 minutes today trying to figure out if one of my cats (not the melted one) had been injured only to discover that the blood spatters around the car were from Serah (the evil cat) killing a squirrel.
  • I found a juvenile purple finch in Pip’s salt block this morning. It hopped up on my finger before flying off into a nearby tree. That’s as close to a Cinderella moment as I’m likely to ever get.
  • Pip has canker in his off front hoof.  It will require vet assistance to correct. I’m very upset about it.  He’s scheduled for a little later in the week and I’m hopeful that we can get it cleared up. He will be sidelined for a while tho.
  • M moved her garden from nearer the creek to up here near the house.  I think it was a smart move as it makes accessing the garden much easier. She has been a bit late planting this year but everything is coming up well.
  • Of course we are drowning in squash and zucchini.
  • I am waiting (not so patiently) for the okra. It’s the only thing that makes these hot days bearable.
  • We spent last Saturday down in Atlanta watching X’s friend Han in a yo-yo competition. I have a feeling X will be competing in the next one whenever that is.  He’s quite good with the yo-yo tricks.  His next “trick” will be putting all his tricks together with a bit of music.
  • Since we were in ATL that meant we were able to swing by the Duluth Hmart!!  YAY!!  So much wonderful! I needed to do some heavy restocking so my buggy was pretty much packed by the time we were done. I was getting dangerously low on pretty much all of our Asian staples so I knew it was going to be a near 2 buggy haul.
  • We had a delicious early birthday dinner at Chung Dam for J. It was divine. That place is well worth the expense for the dining experience and inspiration.
  • I’ve pretty much cooked some form of Korean food everyday since we went to ATL.
  • Dining has been excellent.
  • We started our school year at the first of this month.  We had our usual hiccups at the start but found a pretty good rhythm by the second week.
  • We are doing lots of fun and difficult projects this year (dissecting animals, writing research papers, learning French among other things) and the boys are embracing the new challenges with if not eagerness, then at least curiosity.
  • I’m personally enjoying this year as we are focusing on US history and state histories and studying biology… two of my favorite subjects and adding in a brilliant reading selection (we are doing a study on The Hobbit soon!!). This may be my favorite schooling year so far!
  • The boys have been binge-watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Amazon. It has been amusing as the boys are continually asking “why was that funny?” or “who is that?” because they don’t get the reference. It took a solid 10 minutes to explain why Danny Bonaduce sitting in a pear tree was funny. The show is loaded with similar bits so the questions are frequent and often amusing.
  • I’ve got a couple other blog posts in the works which should post in the next few days so maybe the next post won’t be weeks from now and in bullet form 🙂

Yesterday was M’s birthday.  We had originally planned for a whirlwind adventure down to Cola and then back up towards Charlotte but due to the gusting winds and generally ick weather yesterday we opted to just go out to eat at dinner time instead.

Now most of my readers know that M is an accomplished cook.  I learned my mad skills (modesty? pffft what is that?) at the apron strings of a master so a restaurant better bring their A-game when she sits at their table.

It doesn’t happen often and sadly did not happen last night either.

We are all still suffering from dinner last night.

Emphasis on suffering.

We went to a fairly well established restaurant, one that has put a great deal of PR into their charcuterie which is what hooked out interest initially.  I mean, I’m currently brining a hog jowl that I had intended to smoke later today but instead I will be using more of a non-smoked application… more on that later on.

Initially, things looked ok.  I did not care for the decor but to be honest my style is somewhere from log-cabin chic to Chateau de Versailles to minimalist Japan.  We were seated at what amounted to the kitchen-door table.  OK, fair enough, the place was moderately busy and we had the kids with us…. not a really valid excuse because my kids are like little restaurant reviewers on their own and at 11, 12 and 16 it’s not like they’re going to be needing high chairs and goldfish.

I digress.

Enter first nameless, wide-eyed, wait staff type person who was not really our waiter but was more of a paid greeter, filler of water-glass guy.  I had high hopes for him.  It was for naught.

Sophie went through her typical spiel of introducing herself and everyone at the table to which he replied (while pouring tepid water that tasted like Greenville City’s finest UNFILTERED tap) “I’m not your server.”

Well ok then.

We read over the menu, made initial decisions and then our actual waiter appeared.  I have a history of entertaining waiters.  It’s kind of my thing.  Some respond well to it (they are my favorites) and others just blink a lot and ignore me.

Guess which one we got?

So I opened with “this is our first time here and it’s M’s birthday!” Happy smiley face! He returned with “Great.” Zero affect, I hate my life face.

OK.

Me- “OK then, well… B will have the burger….” Here I’m interrupted with “You’ll want the kids menu?”

Me- “ummm…. no. He’s a cyclist, they are eating machines, he’ll want the regular size burger”

Blinky- “it doesn’t come with fries”

Me- “ok, we will order them as a side then”

Blinky “the kids version comes with fries”

Me- “ok… ummm… he really wants the bigger burger…..”

Blinky- blink,blink… and then proceeds to tell me what the kids’ burger consists of… which is sliders which B notorious does not like because they aren’t dressed like a burger which is what he wanted.

At this point B pipes up with “I really want the burger please, not sliders” so Blinky heaves a sigh and writes down the order, then in the most put-upon voice imaginable says something to the effect of “you want the regular sauces and stuff on it?” and B nodded indicating yes.

The rest of the ordering went ok until it got back around to me at which point I made another gallant effort to engage Blinky and failed once again.  I asked what he recommended after seeing the variety that we had ordered so that we had a good general idea of what the restaurant could do.

This should have clued him in that I do the occasional review.

It did not.

He pointed out the highest priced item on the menu, something else that I honestly cannot remember and a sandwich.

I went with the sandwich because at this point I was annoyed and just wanted the ordering nightmare to end.

While waiting on our food I had an opportunity to watch many orders being readied for service and also to watch other diners eating their meals.  I noticed that some of the servers took a lot of care in their presentation while others didn’t really give a flying…. well… you know.

I was just getting to a place of calmness when another waiter started screaming in the back. SCREAMING!!! Something about tea, something about coffee. I realize we were sitting in the galley for all intents and purposes but c’mon… people don’t play $12+ for a hamburger to hear screaming while it’s being prepared.

I digress… again.

The food came out and I was underwhelmed immediately with the plating.  The only “Insta-worthy” plate was Xander’s sandwich.  M’s plate looked like they simply slopped whatever available meat was handy onto a plate, Sophie’s as well.  My sandwich and B’s sandwich looked like lonely little satellites on their plates, especially B’s which was missing the fries that he had ordered.

At this point I was still, surprisingly, optimistic.  I can forgive a myriad of sins if the food is good.

My first bite of Reuben was potentially good. The flavor was intense but entirely too salty for my preference. The bread was good tho.  Sophie said she enjoyed her ribs, however she didn’t eat them all. I did taste them and the flavor was ok, not my favorite spice blend, but ok.  B said the flavor of the burger was good, tho a bit plain. X’s sandwich went soggy rapidly so the enjoyment factor waned a bit but he said it was ok. M’s meal tho… it was not good.  The brisket was predominately fat.  The pulled pork flavorless without the sauces which did not taste balanced at all to any of us. The hash which is my bench mark judge of any place that even tries to do a BBQ was horrible.

HORRIBLE.

It wasn’t so much hash as really finely minced pork in the terrifically unbalanced sauce over undercooked rice. Not crunchy like bottom of the rice steamer rice… but this-rice-has-had-about-10-minutes-in-rapidly-boiling-water rice.

That, my dear readers, is an unpardonable sin.

Blinky did come around several times and kept the drink glasses full, thankfully as our salt intake was sufficient enough to cause dehydration.

I tried to ask him about other items on the menu and I’ve never had a waiter undersell a menu as much as he did.

Me- “tell me about the popcorn!”

Blinky- “it’s just crackerjacks with bacon and grease mixed in” (yawn  implied by tone)

Me- “oh… well then… nevermind.”

And then he asked if we wanted dessert, we said no and we paid and we left.

As far as I know, M’s birthday went under the radar even though I mentioned it not only to the hostess, but water-pouring waiter and Blinky.

There did seem to be a lot of excitement (aka yelling) about one of the other tables so maybe they were distracted, I don’t know.

So, needless to say we left a bit unhappy.  M was not impressed and my birthday present to her is writing this review.  I’m leaving out the restaurant name as I honestly in my heart feel like maybe there is a management problem, maybe a staffing issue as I’ve seen posts on their social media that they are hiring all positions… that would indicate something not working exactly right to me.

I don’t like leaving bad reviews, likewise I don’t like that I felt like we were judged and minimalized as “worthwhile” guests when we walked in.  Had the waiter been upbeat about menu items we would have ordered them, but his “meh” attitude indicated to us that it wasn’t worth our money or his time to place the order.

We took our left overs to J who was stuck in the ED and even he had a hard time with the saltiness and the unbalanced sauces.  This morning found him green and queasy with a sudden dislike of all BBQ and more than once we feared that he would actually need that emesis bag that we kept in the backseat of Landy from when the kids were little.

That doesn’t tend to induce future visits.

So cross that one off my list of restaurants to try in G’ville.  It’s the first one that failed so horribly and cause our entire house of foodies to feel like we had been clearing trees and burning brush while snacking on salt licks in the pastures.

I’ve left enough unique descriptors in this post that locals should be able to easily figure out where I’m talking about and I’d like to leave it at that.  I like the premise this restaurant is trying to achieve with supporting local farmers but I feel that there’s a bit of the emperor’s new clothes effect going on.  Just because you are doing the trendy thing does not mean you can drop the ball because it’s a Thursday and you don’t think diners will notice. Calling yourself a “restaurant that just happens to serve BBQ” means that your BBQ game needs to be strong, otherwise don’t do it and stick to your charcuterie.

 

Planners and Journals

2017 Journals and Planners

I have always loved planners.  Way back in my hellish days at Erskine, I had a class with some forgettable professor who mentioned briefly that using a DayRunner was only for people who could be dedicated to using it properly. I was insulted that his tone indicated that no one in the lecture had that level of dedication and spurred to have the need to prove him wrong.

A couple of years prior to that I had briefly been an exchange student to Belgium and one of the things assigned to me at school was my first student planner. I loved it and used it even after I returned home for the rest of that school year.

During the time before I was married, when I trained and exercised horses and farm-sat locally, I relied on a DayRunner to keep me on track. I never needed all the features in a DayRunner, but I enjoyed having a planner to map out my day and keep up with my clients and expenses.

After parenthood I needed something smaller and moved into a Sanrio Hello Kitty planner.  It was just a little A6 size 3 ring binder but it kept me on track and it amused me with its bright colors and illustrations.

At some point I decided I needed to be a grown up and moved into a Filofax which I adored… until the elastic broke and it started to fall apart.  Then I moved into a Franklin Covey that also fell apart on me (curse you magnetic closures!). Somewhere along the way I used a couple different Moleskines for farm records and even used spiral notebooks at one point.

A few years ago I ran across Midori Travelers Notebooks and really felt like this was a thing I needed in my life.  It took another year or so to convince myself to purchase one and when I did I opted for a cheaper version just in case it didn’t work out.

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Thanksgiving 2015

Long story short, I love TNs. My brother is also a fan and we spent a recent Thanksgiving making various versions of notebooks and inserts. I was in love with the Tomoe River paper that Midori uses in their inserts so instead of buying the Midori inserts I bought a ream of TRP and made my own.  Aren’t I clever? I use many of these inserts in a year as I use my standard TN for art journalling and mind-dump journalling.  I use my larger B5 TN for all my farm and horse records.

However they still did not fulfill my planner needs.

Enter the Hobonichi Techo.
I got my first Hobonichi last year and because I was nervous about ordering something too expensive that I would not like, I opted for one of the cheaper iterations… the A6 English Planner with one of the simpler pink covers.

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2016 Hobonichi and TN journal (and a hatchet!? must have been a bad night!)

It was love.

I know most people who use the Hobonichi are quite talented artists and do these beautiful watercolors and stamped themes.

I am not that person.

I used my little A6 to simply record the things that were going on and to keep me on schedule… with the occasional sticker or washi tape thrown in for kawaii effect.

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2017 Hobonichi Cousin Sunflower

So for my birthday, J surprised me with the bigger A5 Cousin with the ohhh so lovely Sunflower leather cover.

I can’t even.

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Daily Spread Hobonichi Cousin

I have been in the Cousin since the first of the year and with it I have found complete planner peace.  I still use it primarily as a planner, but also as a way to record the highlights of the day and an expense tracker.  I have succumbed to the sticker frenzy and while my dailies will never be artist quality, they make me happy to flip back through and that’s winning right?

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2017 Hobonichi Weeks Meow Meow (gaaahhhh it’s so cute)

He also gave me a Hobonichi Weeks in the Meow Meow cover. It’s a week on one page with notes on the facing page. I use it to record farm expenses and important animal information.

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Weeks Interior

I think there is a lot to be said for liking the esthetic of a planner/journal and the feel of the paper and the look of the covers really feels all of my needs.  My family knows that my planner has nearly holy book level status as I use it to keep up with all the little minutiae that used to clutter up my brain instead.  It is, in effect, my external memory storage device of choice!

So my last farm post has been a few months ago.  Farm life has been tough as we are in the throes of “the bad year” and while I know having a farm means being close friends with Death it doesn’t mean I enjoy the visits.

We lost Bingley to a pasture accident and Rosalea and Maddy to old age and possibly a broken heart with Maddy… I knew she would not stay long after Belle as those two were closely paired. One of our oldest cats, Sheegwa, recently passed as well after an altercation with a couple of stray dogs that turned up in our woods. 

And then because that wasn’t enough, we hit the teenage years with the children.  SJ spoiled us with her easy waltz into the teen years.  The boys haven’t been so kind.  They are excellent kids mind you, but I was ill prepared for teen-age boy emotions and dramatics.  I feel sorry for them really. They managed to get a hyper aware mother, hyper aware grandmother and eccentrically attentive father.  They can’t catch a break.  SJ communicates tacitly more often than not, and years spent observing body language in the horses and other farm animals mean that I notice even the slightest “tell” in body language. And the boys’ “tells” are pretty easy.  And when they try to “pull the wool” as many teen-aged boys do… they run into J.

It’s been tiring.  I think I completely shut down all social interaction from January until recently because I just couldn’t deal.  I was using so much energy to just hold it all together that I didn’t have anything left.  Friends were going through their own personal hells and I didn’t feel like I could be there for them and save myself at the same time.  We finally worked out a code for “I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to say but I’m with you” by sending “…” just so we knew that some one was listening even though we didn’t have it in us to talk.
I have an alarming number of “…” messages.  It would appear that we weren’t the only ones having a tough year.

It’s my hope to work with the blog more this year.  I’ve found inspiration in helping one of my high school best friends start a blog to chronicle her life changing move away from corporate work. She and her daughter are embracing a more nomadic lifestyle in hopes of improving her daughter’s health.  As soon as her blog is up and running I will link to it as I’m sure their adventures will be incredible!

And then there are my friends with established blogs that just blow me away with their creativity.  I’m overwhelmed by all that they do and they inspire me to write more and find my old story-telling voice again. Be prepared for farm stories, life stories, hauls, hobbies, reviews and the ever popular rambles.  I hope everyone will weather this brief period of uncertainty with me as I find my blogging mojo once again.  I’ve missed writing so much and realizing how rusty I am is frustrating but I’m determined and that’s half the challenge sometimes 🙂

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