Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Eudie: The Raccoon Killer

I've heard stories of dogs tangling up with raccoons.  In each of these stories, the dogs end up with stitches, drain tubes and tremendously hurt pride.  The raccoons always have the last laugh.

Enter Eudie:

Matt and I were sitting on our deck, enjoying one of the many glasses of wine that was consumed that night, when Gumbo wandered over to us, mouth dripping with drool.  When Gumbo is drooling like this, its because you or someone else has something delicious that he's not allowed to have.  In this case, neither of us had anything Gumbo was interested in, which meant his sister must be the culprit.

I found her in "her" spot in the yard.  Its the one area of the yard where she goes when she's eating or playing with something she's not allowed to have or doesn't want her brother to have (i.e., my shoes, an aluminum can, or her rawhide).

At first glance, I thought the fluffy figure being tossed around like a rag doll was Chopper.  It was big, fluffy, and being chewed on and played with by a super-excited Eudie.  I looked a little closer and discovered that her new play toy was a raccoon.  A dead raccoon to be specific.  (I was terribly relieved it wasn't Chopper, but also truly freaked out that it was a raccoon.)

Matt didn't believe my blood curdling screams of "Its a raccoon!!!!  Its a raccoon!!!!"  He ran down to Eudie's spot to check it out for himself, and confirmed it was, in fact, a raccoon.

Immediately upon our discovery, we both went into parent mode.  We picked Eudie up, brought her inside and started inspecting her for bite wounds and scratch marks.  I was ready to load her up and take her to the emergency vet. But we found no marks on her.  There was no sign on Eudie of any fight at all.  The poor raccoon couldn't say as much.  He was dead as a door nail.

Upon Matt's inspection, we concluded that Eudie must have snuck up on him and crushed his skull.  Eudie never barked or growled and the raccoon never hissed or screamed.  There was no sound at all.

I couldn't believe it.  After all of those terrible stories about dogs having to be put down or spend several days at the vet because of a raccoon, my dog kills one in Olympic Gold Medal style. That raccoon never knew what hit him.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pissed Off With A Purpose: Pit Bulls In The News

I'm not quite sure how it happened.  Its really quite a blur.  One minute, everything is fine, and the next minute, I'm being contacted for interviews and have been labeled an "advocate."  

I never really considered myself an advocate for anything, but who am I kidding?  I get so spun up about things, and have a tendency to voice my opinion (quite loudly in some instances), it was just a matter of time before something like this happened. 

See, a local news station (who shall not be named, I refuse to give them more website traffic), continues to post derogatory stories about pit bulls.  

Now, this is really old news.  I mean, anyone who owns a pit bull is used to the stigma associated with them. But, the number of stories/Facebook posts in one night (four in one night!!) was unbelievable.  For me, and several others, they had gone too far.  

For me, the deal-breaker was when they posted the following poll question: "Cities across the country have enacted laws that make owning a pit bull illegal.  In Alabama, 8 cities have banned the dog. Do you think Mobile and Baldwin Counties should be added to that list? This afternoon our area saw its 3rd pit bull attack in less then 24 hours."  

At first, I was just bummed:

But when I saw the poll, I was officially spun up. Matt, my husband, likes to refer to my excitement (read: fits and tantrums) as being "spun up."  I prefer to think of it as "pissed off with a purpose."  And pissed off, I was.  

I read each article with an open mind.  I was looking for facts.  

For example, the first "attack" was on an 18 month old child.  Tragic, for sure.  I can't imagine what she must be going through and wouldn't wish it on anyone. Of course, the news doesn't want me to know what her parents were doing while she was unsupervised with three dogs.

The second attack was a dog-on-dog fight.  Dogs fight.  Is that actually considered news?  

The third incident occurred when a man tried to break up a dog fight, and was "hospitalized."  They showed a video of his "bite" and I swear, it looked no worse than a cat scratch.  I studied the video pretty hard, and I couldn't even see stitches.  Meanwhile, in the video that aired that night, the "vicious" dog is walking around the yard, obviously hurt and bloody, without a leash.  If he is so violent, why is he not on a leash when animal control is standing around with him in the un-fenced yard?  

So this is when I start getting twisted (another Matt term):  

I sent an email to the reporter listed on the story on their website.  I sent a private message through Facebook, asking for facts and the other side of each story.  I posted publicly to their Facebook page. I vowed to post a picture of my pit bulls to their page every day until they issued an apology. I sent post after post, to any email address or Facebook page I could find. 

And then it happened:

They actually contacted me.  I could not believe it.  Maybe I was getting somewhere!  Maybe I was actually giving these dogs a voice.  I was so excited!  

The reporter sent me a list of questions, asked me to video myself, then send the video to him, along with some pictures of my dogs.  So, I did just that.  The same reporter contacted a friend of mine, Eudie's former foster-mom, Ashley, and she did the same.  

We were so hopeful:  

Only about a 5 second snippet of my interview was used.  Ashley's video wasn't used at all.  None of the facts that we provided about pit bulls were included.  And the news station dug up a "professional animal trainer" who referred to owning a pit bull as having a loaded gun.  

Um, what?  Where's Cesar Milan when you need him?!

I knew I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up.  I knew my words would be edited or left out.  I just knew it.  But I had to try.  

So, I just kept emailing, posting, and advocating: 

The next night, they aired another follow-up story.  This time, an interview with a local rescue group who specializes in bully breeds.  It was a breath of fresh air.  It was wonderful.  This story included many of the facts that Ashley and I included in our original videos that were never used.  

They included things like testing a dog's temperament, never leaving children unsupervised with any dog (regardless of breed), and the loyalty that so often leads to pit bulls being targeted for fighting. I immediately shared the article on Facebook with a big "Thank you!" to the reporter who did the story. 

I even told Matt I would stop posting Gumbo and Eudie's pictures to their Facebook page.  They had redeemed themselves!  Hallelujah!

Not so fast:

But again, disappointment.  The positive story ran on the 10:00 news.  Then on the 11:00 news, the same old "pit bull attack" story ran again.  The same one where the man tried to break up a fight and was "hospitalized."   

Matt and I had a long discussion about it.  It was one of those talks where he tells me I did a great job, that I have done good things for our dogs, and that I shouldn't be disappointed, discouraged, or heart-broken. 

To be honest, this couldn't have happened at a better time:

Yesterday, I found out that this week is Pit Bull week at the Huffington Post.  An international news organization has dedicated an entire week to the same breed that this local news station wants to see banned and made illegal.  What what?!  

Now, I'm not sure if this qualifies as Karma, but I'll take it!  

So, along with posting adorable pictures of Gumbo and Eudie on the station-who-shall-not-be-named's Facebook page, I will also be posting links to awesome pit-positive articles provided by the Huffington Post. 

You guys are great, really:

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for all of the support I received through my Facebook page.  I am thankful for each comment, share, and like.  I received private messages and friend-requests from total strangers and fellow dog-lovers, and that is just wonderful.  Its great to know that so many people have my back.

I will continue to be an advocate for these dogs, even if I'm the kind of advocate that likes to spout-off at reporters and come across all hostile and bitchy. (I did manage to come across as diplomatic and friendly in my 5 second interview.)  Because, you know what?  I'm pretty damn good at it.  

To the local "news" station:

I will not stop. I will not forget this.  When I find something that I am passionate about, I get the same "locking-jaws" as my two pit bulls and I refuse to let it go.  

And most of all, I feel sorry for the person at your station who has a vendetta against these dogs.  It breaks my heart to know that they will never know the joy of slobbery pit kisses, and sharing your pillow with the world's biggest cuddle bug.  Its just plain sad.  Bless your heart. 

UPDATE:  If you would like to donate to Citizen Cain's vet bills, click HERE for his Go Fund Me page.  The other dog involved in the fight, belongs to the man who was "hospitalized" and has no injuries and was not taken to the vet.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Eudie's Story: Where'd you come up with that name?

I had really been wanting another dog for quite sometime.  I often tagged Matt in many Facebook rescue group listings, not that he ever acknowledged those posts.  However, he was paying attention, and actually, without my knowledge, he was doing some searching of his own.

Out of nowhere, he showed me a picture of this tiny little spit-fire of a dog.  She weighed about 30 pounds, was almost a year old, and was an American Pit Bull Terrier.  I'll be honest, at first glance, I thought she looked kind of like a gremlin.  She had a HUGE head, great big brown eyes, and a mouth full of teeth.  But there was something special about her.  We decided to meet.

See the resemblance? 

We contacted her foster mom, Ashley, and set up a meet and greet.  This dog was a firecracker!  Her energy knew no bounds, she immediately approached Matt and I, for hugs and kisses, but decided since we didn't have any delicious snacks, she would continue to play on her own.  She was chasing after balls, jumping for treats, and having an all-around fabulous time by herself.  After a few minutes,  we decided to introduce her to Gumbo.

I was a nervous wreck.  I was afraid, that because of her energy level, and his tendency to have only-child syndrome (that's my toy, and that's my toy, and that's my toy, etc.), they would clash.  But I was so wrong.  She immediately recognized his alpha-male tendencies, and she let him continue to be top dog.

But she didn't bow down to him either. They played so great together, and Gumbo actually marked her as "his" territory (he peed on her, how sweet, right?).  It was true love.

As well as they got along in neutral territory, many dogs act and react differently when one of them has a home-field advantage.  We decided to set up a home visit.

They did great.  Eudie was submissive to Gumbo on his home turf, but she wouldn't let him bully her, which was a huge relief.

The home visit went so well, that we planned a spend-the-night, and Eudie has been with us ever since.

This is the part where I get honest with you:

The thing that stuck out most to me about Eudie's adoption process was that after our first meeting with her, Ashley (her foster mom) told us to go home and sleep on it.  She said if we decided we loved her, that was great. But if we decided she wasn't for us, that was even better.

That one little part of our conversation made me feel so much better about the entire situation.  If she wasn't the dog for us, she was better off staying in foster care until "her" people came along, and we shouldn't feel guilty about not wanting her.  I was so nervous about not wanting to hurt Ashley's feelings, that even if I didn't want Eudie, I wouldn't have been able to tell her (I would have made Matt do it).  Ashley made it absolutely clear that she may not be the dog for us, and that's OK.

You knew this part was coming:

As it turns out, she clicked, she was the dog for us, and we did want her.

Matt knew it immediately.  I had a few reservations, and because I love her so much now, that is hard for me to admit.

I thought Gumbo would tire of her, I thought, because I loved Gumbo so much, I wouldn't be able to love her, too.  I thought about all of those long nights when Gumbo was so sick with  Demodectic Mange, and how his tummy was so upset from the mange treatment, and about how I scrubbed doggy diarrhea out of the carpet at 3am on several occasions.  I thought about how I called my sister at 11pm one night because I was at my wit's end, and she comforted me by saying "I hear human children are much worse."  (I'm sure she's right.) And I thought about how I didn't know if I was willing to do that all over again.

But then I thought about how I never thought I would bond with Gumbo, and how close we are now.  How he truly is my dog, and would move mountains to protect me and make me happy.  I thought about how I can't imagine my life without him.  And if Gumbo and I can bond (it took a while, trust me), then surely I can bond with Eudie, too.

After the first home-visit, I realized I was starting to become attached. After the spend-the-night, I couldn't imagine not having her in our family.

She is absolutely full of personality. She gives me a hug everyday when I come home from work.  I mean she literally, stretches her little body up and tries to climb me, so I just kneel down and scoop her up, put her on my hip like a toddler, and hug her back.   She hasn't mastered the art of kisses yet, like her brother, but she will lick you to death if you let her. When she gets sleepy, she wants to be in your lap, and she rubs her eyes with the back of her paws, just like a baby.  She is the ultimate snuggle buddy. And most importantly she makes us happy.

And that's how she got her name:

Eudie is short for Eudaimonia, which is the word Aristotle used to designate the highest human good.  Or more simply, Eudaimonia means happy.  Her middle name is Grace, and if you've met her, you know she is anything but graceful, but that's what makes it so perfect for her.

So there you go, that's Eudie's story.  And even just writing about her has made me happy.

There's one more thing I'd like to mention:

Before I let you dive into the most adorable pics of our sweet Eudie, there is just one thing I would like to address.  

More now than ever, I am aware of the stereotypes associated with Pit Bulls.  When we adopted Gumbo, we didn't know he was part Pit Bull, until our vet confirmed that he was definitely "something mixed with a whole lot of Pit."  And, to be honest with you, we were somewhat anti-Pit Bull before we discovered what an amazing dog Gumbo was.    

In fact, before we adopted Gumbo, Matt told me he didn't care what kind of dog we got, as long as it wasn't a Chow Chow or a Pit Bull.  (I happen to love Chows, but that's another story.)  So, when I discovered Gumbo's lineage, I wasn't too excited about what Matt would think when he figured it out too.  

But, we soon started to realize that Gumbo was everything we could ever want in a dog.  He is athletic, playful, protective, loyal, devastatingly handsome, and loves us with great intensity (OK, so maybe he loves the cookies we give him with great intensity, but you get the point.) 

I slowly started advocating more and more for this breed that is so misrepresented, so misunderstood, and so often shunned by those who only believe what the media tells them.  

One of my favorite things to do is to take Eudie (who is full-blooded) to the pet store.  She is so approachable, people stop us to scratch her ears, or give her a treat, and then they're shocked when they realize their hearts have just been melted by a Pit Bull. 

And yes, its true.  Pit Bulls have been known to bite.  But if you look at the statistics, you have a greater chance of being bitten by a Golden Retriever than a Pit Bull.  Don't believe me?  Look up the ATTS Temperament test statistics.  Pit Bulls ranked higher than any other dog, at 86%.  The next highest score was the Golden Retriever, with 84%.  

Now, I probably know some of the questions you want to ask, so I'll go ahead and answer them.

Q. Have Eudie or Gumbo ever shown aggression towards people?
A. The answer here is both yes and no.  Gumbo and Eudie are very protective of their territory (i.e. our house and yard).  If someone they do not know approaches me, Matt, or our territory with ill-intent, Gumbo and Eudie send very clear signals that that person needs to cease and desist. But if you've been introduced to them, the only thing you need to worry about is being pestered to death for kisses, cookies, or gravy bones.  

Q. How are Gumbo and Eudie with children?
A.  Wonderful!  They both love kids.  And we always supervise them with kids, as any dog owner (not just Pit Bull owner) should do. 

Q. Have you ever been bitten?
A. Yes.  Matt and I have both been bitten, but not by Eudie or Gumbo.  Matt was bitten by a Chow Chow and I was bitten by a Cocker Spaniel.  He's hell bent on never having a Chow and I'm hell bent on never having a Cocker Spaniel.  But neither one of us is on a mission to ruin the reputation of either breed.  

Q. Aren't you afraid of their "locking jaws?"
A. No, because that is just a myth.  Pit Bulls do not have locking jaws.  What they do have is great determination.  And if Gumbo or Eudie has a firm grip on a bone/toy/ball, its almost impossible to get it away from them, not because their jaws are "locked," but because they don't want to give it up!  

I hope that de-bunks some of the myths you have about our babies. 

Now you can admire the preciousness that is Eudie Grace Flynt:

She's just so tired!
More nap time!

Princess Eudie and I.

Daddy's girl!

Doing a perimeter check with her brother. 

There's nothing like sleeping in while Mom gets ready for work!

Eudie loves giving her Nana sugar!

If there's anything else you'd like to know, please don't hesitate to comment below or shoot me an email at I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to answer your questions about our sweet little pibbles! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

I'm The World's Worst Blogger: A List of Reasons to Believe Me

Wow, its been a while since you guys have been updated.  And there are so many things I need to write about!  I believe my last post was on April 1st.  I should have entitled it "The Last Post You'll See for a While: This Is Not An April Fool's Joke."

So, in an effort to bring you all up to speed, I'll hit the high points.

Matt finished building his boat:

Its been so long since the first post about Matt's boat, that I almost forgot I had written about it!  (Seriously, that post was written in July of last year...) But I am so very proud of him, that I couldn't leave it out of this update.  We've named her the Santiago (two points for you if you know why!).  She's a sea-worthy vessel that has been used to hang many limb lines in the last year.

Construction on the Bayou:

It all started with Matt's hatred for Popcorn trees.  No seriously, if you get him on the subject he'll tell you that all it takes is one drop of a limb, and that's reason enough to take one down.  He validates this by telling me that a Popcorn tree is an invasive species, and even his friends who are foresters have told him to "cut them all down!"  So, he cut down my favorite shade tree (I happen to like popcorn trees), and built a beautiful new deck extension over its sad little stump.

I have also been promised a hot tub to go on the new extension, which I quickly tried to upgrade to an above-ground pool.  Matt didn't take to that very well, so I'll just keep working on it.

Disclaimer:  If I actually get the hot tub/pool, you're more than welcome to come partake, however, guests will be required to be the lucky person to check for snakes in the hot tub/pool in return for the relaxation you're sure to enjoy.  Its a small price to pay, I think. 

Even Chopper pitched in. 

The newest addition to our Bayou family:

One afternoon, Matt tells me he's found us another dog, and she's a full-blooded Pit.  You have no idea how excited I was! We set up a meet and greet, then a few home visits and spend-the-nights through her foster mom. And then we all fell in love (except for maybe Chopper) and now she's officially home.

Her name is Eudie and she's a hot mess.  You've never met a dog quite like her, trust me.  She probably weighs 40 pounds soaking wet and with a full belly.  But this little girl is a firecracker!  She has eaten our coffee table, the cord off of two lamps, an air conditioner, a heater, a DVD player, and an extension cord in its entirety.  She's also the reason we had to install an electric fence.  She may be tiny, but she's a jumper.

Eudie also likes to lay in the water, not swim, just lay. She has certainly made life more interesting, and we've put off buying new furniture (or anything valuable, really) until she's completely out of the puppy phase.

No worries, Eudie will have her own blog post (with an explanation of her name), just like Chopper, Domino, and Gumbo, very soon.   

Kisses with Daddy!!

God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise:

We had an awful lot of rain last month.  So much rain, that I was actually happy to have renewed our FEMA flood policy the week before.  We know there's always a possibility that our property might flood, but the good Lord above made us aware of how easily it could happen.  Makes me think that Matt was channeling Noah when he built that boat.  

But the funniest thing about all of this rain and the flood water is brought is that Matt had planted grass and put a raised bed garden in the back yard. Quite literally, the DAY AFTER the grass was planted is when the flood came.  Well, after the water receded, he moved the raised bed garden (took it up completely) and planted more grass seed.

Well, wouldn't you flooded again.  This happened three times, and finally we came to understand that with two pit bulls and rising river water, we may never have grass in our back yard.

The water had gone down a bit by the time I took this picture.  See the yellow wheel barrow? Directly behind that is a roped off section for where the grass seed was planted, and the wooden box was supposed to be the garden.

Poor Eudie loves the water so much, that she found herself stuck on the boat dock.  I temporarily overcame my fear of water and came to her rescue.

Murphy Family Vacation 2014:

My travel-loving parents decided that we should all go on a family cruise.  So for Christmas, they paid a portion of our trip, and we booked a seven day voyage to Mexico, Honduras, and Belize.  The six month wait before we actually took the trip was excruciatingly long. We were all so ready to go!  

Of course, Matt's schedule is never set in stone, so we played a game of cruise roulette.  Will he be able to go?  Should we go ahead and cancel?  Claim our travel insurance and cut our losses? 

After being married to an oilfield man for a while, I've realized that when you're in this situation, you really should just roll with the punches.  We couldn't have gotten a full refund, but we could have called in our travel insurance and gotten a hefty portion, but then if he were able to get the time off, we would be stuck at home, when everyone else was cruisin'.   

So, I guess you know what happened next?  

Nochi Cocom (Cozumel, Mexico)

So, I was more than a little sweaty/salty/sandy, but I was having such a great time!
He stole my hat and ordered a Sex on the Beach.  

Duty Free Liquor!  We brought back seven bottles Johnnie Walker
(including John Blue and his friend John Platinum).

Bobby (my dad, AKA Cruise Director Murphy), Jana, Me, Matt, Susannah, and Shane. 
We really had a fabulous time.  We went cave tubing in Belize, did a tequila conga line at Senor Frogs (Shane described it as being water-boarded with tequila), ate till our pants wouldn't button, and drank more than our fair share.  It was fabulous.  If you're planning on a cruise in the near future, hit me up and I'll give you all the details!  

As always, please leave any questions or comments below! 

And share this blog with your friends, it validates my existence. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Asheville: A Drinking Town with a Mountain Problem

Matt and I had been planning on taking a trip (to somewhere other than New Orleans) for a long time.  He mentioned the idea of going to Key West about a year ago.  Then life happened.  We bought the house, he switched companies, I had an unfortunate new car then newer car situation, so our trip never happened.

About 4 weeks into Matt's 5 1/2 week hitch, he sent me an email saying he wants to take the long-forgotten trip and go to Charlotte, NC.  My thought was "Why Charlotte, when we can go to Asheville instead?"  And just like that, a trip was born.

I booked a room at the Hotel Indigo, and with the magic of a AAA discount, got us the Penthouse Suite for the same price as a regular room (thanks, Dad!).  (Matt gave me a budget for the hotel, I only went $100 over...and I think that's pretty good!)

If you're going to Asheville and want to stay downtown, close to all the shops and restaurants, I highly recommend the Hotel Indigo. The staff is friendly, the rooms are beautiful (and clean!) and its right downtown.  They also have a great little bar and restaurant.  We had breakfast there on Saturday morning.  Matt had the breakfast sandwich and I had the burrito.  Both were made with locally grown ingredients, and were excellent.  The raspberries in Matt's fruit salad were the best I've ever put in my mouth.  I'm not kidding.

Pics of Hotel Indigo:
Photo Credit: Hotel Indigo Asheville
Because I am terrible at remembering to take pics of everything. 

The bedroom of our suite. 

Little kitchenette with fridge, but no microwave.
I found that a bit odd.

Yes, that is Matt on the floor, inspecting the craftsmanship of the coffee table.

And the craftsmanship of the tray on the coffee table.
The fireplace is gas, operated by just the flick of a switch. 

And finally, the balcony, which I thoroughly enjoyed
until the weather took a turn for the frosty side.
We had a ton of recommendations from friends and family, and even a Pinterest board dedicated to this trip.  But what we found was to just go with the flow.  We're really good at that (actually, Matt's really good at that and I just try not to have a type-A melt-down).  We (I) kind of had an agenda, but Matt is a fly-by-the seat-of-your-pants kind of guy, so that's what we did.

Our recommendations on food and drink are:

Jack of the Wood - an Irish pub with serious pub food.  Not your average pretzels and chicken wings here, but Rabbit Ragout and Shepherd's Pie with lamb and parsnips.  Try the Green Man ESB, you won't be disappointed.

We met some really cool guys at Jack of the Wood, who own Hostel of the Mountain, which is where Matt says we're staying next time we go to Asheville. If you have a 4-wheel drive, you'll have easy access to the cabins, if not, prepare yourself for a 2.5 mile hike.  I'm sure its beautiful, but I'm very thankful for that F-250 4x4.  Hostel of the Mountain was the inspiration for this purchase:

Hostel of the Mountain does have bathrooms,
but Matt thinks it important to be prepared and informed. 
Wicked Weed Brewing - What can I say?  This place is awesome!  There are so many Wicked Weed beers that I wanted to try, and only so many that I could drink before getting totally schnockered. I'm pretty sure I had the Moasaic Saison and the Oblivion, and I know I had two more, but what they were, I couldn't tell you.  We also had some calamari, which wasn't the best I've had, but was pretty fabulous nonetheless.  They also have gourmet popcorn and pretzels on the snacks menu, and a whole host of delicious options for lunch and dinner.

*Word to the Wise:  high gravity beer + high altitude = much lower tolerance for alcohol. Just keep that in mind when you're throwing back your third Hop Burglar IPA and you'll be fine. This was our last stop for the night. Matt hailed us a cab because the three block walk (up hill) back the hotel was more than we could handle. Taxis hang out around this place, for good reason.

The Thirsty Monk -  We had some seriously delicious local food at the Thirsty Monk.  I had the Goat Lady BLT and Matt had the Lamb Sliders.  Both were excellent.  The Patton Ave location features a floor for American beers and a floor for Belgium beers.  We tried a few of both.  They feature a beer "flight," which is four 4 oz. samples of your choice.  Since there are so many to choose from, you could easily drink samples all afternoon and be totally satisfied.

Table Asheville.  Their motto is "from farm to table" and they mean it.  The most important thing you can do at Table is SIT AT THE BAR.  There are only four seats available, MAKE SURE YOU GET THEM.  The bar is situated right next to the open kitchen, where you will have the most wonderfully personalized experience.

Naomi, the bartender, is delightful.  Matt gave her full discretion on his cocktails, and she didn't hold back. They even age their own cocktails.  Not to be mistaken for distilling spirits, but actually mixing cocktails (whiskey, bitters, etc.) and putting them back in whiskey barrels to continue the aging process.  Unreal.

Megan, one of the chefs, was right in front of us pretty much all night.  We watched her create the most beautiful Charcuterie board, and decided we needed to order one of our own.  She personalized ours, asking us, as she made it, things that we did or didn't like (we like everything).  She filled our board with house smoked meats, freshly grown and pickled-in-house vegetables, house-made mustard, and delicious local cheese.  The almond butter is something that can only be described as grown-up Nutella on steroids.  Megan even told us how to make it at home.

She gave us little samples of things coming out of the kitchen, like the Atlantic Salmon Crudo. (Think you don't like radish? Think again.) And beef tar tar, from a steer that was butchered just hours before.  Amazing!

Our entrees did not disappoint.  Matt had the Monkfish, which was served with fresh English peas, rutabaga, seaweed, whey, and turmeric butter.  He thoroughly enjoyed it.  I had the pork hock with smoked gnocchi, gaujillo chili, sweet potatoes and queso.  It was a stick-to-your-ribs kind of dinner, and I enjoyed every bite!

And for dessert, Matt had bread pudding with bacon-coffee ice cream.  Did I mention they make the ice cream in house, too?  I had ginger-lime Semifreddo, which was the consistency of a cheesecake, with the tart and sweet flavors of lime and ginger, offset by fresh Marscapone cheese.

GO TO TABLE, trust me, just go!

We had heard excellent things about Tupelo Honey, which we did try to go to, but Matt has this thing about waiting for a table, so we politely declined their 45 minute - 1 hour wait.  Although I'm sure it would have been worth it, we had more than a few options for lunch without a wait.

We also didn't even bother with the tour of the Biltmore home and gardens.  We met a very nice couple at Wicked Weed, who suggested, at this time of year, to skip the Biltmore and focus more on shopping and exploring downtown.  We took their advice.  And although I really wanted to see it, I'm glad I didn't spend a solid 3 hours touring a house when I only had 1 1/2 days in Asheville.  For those of you who MUST go to the Biltmore, the insiders (really, this chick worked there) say the best time to go is July or August.

We did some exploring on our own, and drove some truly beautiful mountain roads, taking in a lot of scenery.  We also did a lot of sleeping.  That may not be your idea of a successful vacation, but hey, we enjoyed the hell out of our mid-Saturday afternoon nap!

One thing we weren't prepared for was the weather. We knew there was a good chance for rain, but the forecast said the temp would be in the mid 60s.  Don't trust your Weather Channel app! He lies! Temps were in the low to mid 50s on Friday and most of Saturday, until the blizzard brought 30 degree temps, snow and wind gusts up to 60 mph on Saturday night.  That was insane.

I woke up to the sound of our balcony furniture scooting around, doing a little snow dance.  The wind was so fierce that the potted trees at the hotel were bent over backwards.  We decided not to venture out downtown that morning, so we just packed up and headed home.

Damn you weather channel!  If I had brought my Uggs and parka (which I don't actually have, but now have an excuse to buy), we could have eaten brunch downtown!  

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Asheville, and we will most definitely be back.   If you're planning a trip there soon, I hope this helps you out!  Some of these places are off the beaten path.  We just happened to walk up on Table, and that was the best discovery of the trip!  So, do your research, look up a few addresses, then throw your carefully planned agenda out the window and just enjoy yourself!

The only picture we took of ourselves in Asheville.
This was after Table before cocktails at Hotel Indigo.
We were fat, happy, and more than a little wind-blown!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Frozen: Ice on the Bayou

I didn't really think that four inches (no really, we measured) of ice would fall on the Bayou. But alas, the good Lord above has always been really good at keeping us on our toes.Thank goodness I had already crawled under my house and wrapped exposed pipes during the "Polar Vortex" of early January.  (Yes, you read that right.  I was under the house.  Me, not Matt, not my dad, me.)

I should seriously earn a merit badge for my Oilfield Wife vest for that one, but, in all honesty, doing that kept me from having to deal with frozen or busted pipes, so I got over it real quick-like!  (I also used this as damage control for having to spend boo-coodles of hard-earned-offshore-cash on a sick cat that no one likes but me, but that's another story.)

So any-who, we knew this storm was coming.  But did we really believe it would snow in the greater Mobile area? No, we didn't. And in some aspects, we were completely right.  There was NO SNOW.  I would have gladly taken snow.  Bring on the SNOW!

But instead, we got ICE. What's the difference, you ask? Well, since you are probably a friend of mine,  you're probably also from the South and don't think there's a big difference, but let me just fill you in...

Snow doesn't hurt when it hits your face. Snow doesn't become one solid sheet of slippery-death-trap. Snow is pretty and fluffy and FUN!  Ice is not.  (OK, so it may be pretty, but it is definitely not fluffy or fun.)

And when you live in a Southern state, and I don't mean Google's definition where Maryland actually qualifies as a Southern state (because technically Maryland is below the Mason Dixon line, but so is Delaware, and they're NOT southern, OK?), but rather the states where its typically 90 degrees on a "cool" day, sweet-tea consumed from Mason jars is not a "redneck" thing, and pearl earrings are worn with t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. So, now that we've cleared that up, lets continue....where was I?

Oh, right, when you live in a Southern state, you don't see weather like this. Your meteorologist does not normally use phrases like "wind chill" and "black ice."  Your heaviest coat is camouflage and only used for deer hunting "up North" which is usually somewhere around Meridian, MS (>>read: that's still not very far north, people.)  You are more than prepared, at all times, for a hurricane, which includes a lot of boarding-up of windows, gassing up generators, and grilling hot-dogs and drinking beer with friends and neighbors, while waiting for the power company to make their way to your neighborhood. I mean, we hardly cancel schools for less than a category 3! But when the first ice pellet hits the ground, and the temperature dips below 32 degrees, we more or less lose our minds.

We don't know how to drive on icy roads.  And, more importantly, we do not own the equipment to prep roads for ice, we just don't have the need for all that junk.  We do, however, have the ability to clear 300 year-old oak trees from a road within a few hours after the last rain band of a hurricane moves out, but then again, that's the norm down in these parts.

I know several people who were asked to come into work anyway, and ended up with wrecked or abandoned cars on the Bay Bridge.  My college roommate spent the night in her office in Birmingham. It was like nothing we had ever had to deal with.  So why would we have been prepared for it?

Kind of like those folks in New Jersey and New York when Sandy hit.  They didn't have reason to believe it was going to be devastating, not that our little ice storm compares to the destruction of Sandy, it doesn't.  BUT, you didn't see us Southerners making fun of them after that storm, now did ya? (I'm pointing a finger at Matt Lauer with this one. I hope the TODAY show does that "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" segment again, and they actually lose him, or better yet, drop him off in Crawford, MS, when he has to take a poop.  Ask my husband about that next time you see him.)

You also didn't see us blaming the government or poor response from FEMA or whoever else for our misfortune.  Nope, you saw us in our four-wheel drives, pulling cars out of ditches, and checking on neighbors.  You saw us making "icemen" and sledding down the hill in our laundry baskets, and building fires and passing out dog crates so neighborhoods could corral their stray cats and dogs and keep them warm.  You saw us walking 7 hours in the ice to spend the night with our kids who were stuck at school.

That's what we do down here.  We take care of business.  Sometimes it may not make the most sense to Yankees, but that's just fine with us.  We didn't ask for their opinion anyway.

I really didn't mean for this blog to turn into a rant, but it's my blog, and if I can't rant here, I can't rant anywhere!

As for Matt and myself, there are many things that worked out for us during this ice storm, for which we are incredibly grateful.

One: Matt was stuck in Mexico for three days, finally arriving in Mobile, just about 24 hours before the ice started falling. Praise the Lord.

Two: We were proactive and made a grocery store trip on Monday night. (I suggested, as a joke, that we should buy food for the "Snowpocalypse" and Matt said that was actually a good idea. Its a good thing we did, because for three days, nothing was open, and you know I don't keep groceries in the house!)

Three: My boss is awesome and told everyone in the office to work from home, and under no circumstances were we to drive in if conditions were dangerous. (He actually got stuck in Chicago for a few days because of all the ice in Atlanta.)

Four: We found out that our fireplace/chimney really does work, and we didn't burn our house down.

Five: We spent an incredible amount of quality time together.  After a 5 week hitch, we certainly needed it.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of our Ice-cation. (I'm trying terribly hard to come up for a catchy name for what happened last week.  Feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments below.  A co-worker of mine suggested Icenado, and that's pretty much my favorite so far.)

Below are a few pictures of our ice-covered yard, and a video of Matt and Gumbo playing in the ice.  (Fortunately, you won't get a picture of my not-so-graceful fall while carrying firewood. It was comical, to say the least.)

This was Tuesday afternoon, around 5 o'clock.

Tuesday Afternoon.

Tuesday Afternoon.

Tuesday Afternoon Icicles.

Wednesday Morning.

Wednesday Morning.

Major Icicles on Wednesday Morning. 
Gumbo decided the best place for him was in his favorite blanket.

Chopper is NOT impressed. 

But he was curious about the camera!

I probably should have cropped out the blur that is my leg/foot,
but I didn't, so you could see how I was still wearing Matt's camo coveralls, inside the house.
It was THAT cold.  

Sending You Warm and Happy Thoughts From the Bayou!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Remi: Adventures in Dog Sitting

Poor Citronella plant!  Good thing it was dead already! 

For the longest time, I didn't consider myself a "dog person."  I was, and in some cases still am, much more comfortable with cats.  But things change, and those ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlan giving you her best sad eyes, while her most depressing song plays in the back ground, get to all of us eventually.  When I adopted Gumbo, we had a rough few months.

I had never, in my adult life, had to take care of a dog.  Cats are easy!  They're self sufficient.  Just put out a bowl of food and water and a litter box, and they're good to go!  Dogs, not so much...

Eventually, Gumbo got the hang of things, and the move out to the Bayou, with doggy doors, and a big fenced-in yard, made life much easier.  I almost forgot how much work a puppy was!  Almost...

Remi is our friend Ethan's five month old Chocolate Lab.  And Remi needed a babysitter for a few days.  I happily jumped at the chance to keep her.

She and Gumbo already knew and liked each other, they play well together, and she doesn't let him bully her (like he has a tendency to do with smaller dogs). And, she's adorable!

But I quickly remembered how much of a handful 5 month old puppies are.  She tries very hard to be potty trained...let's just say that the grass-green rug at the opening of the doggy door really confuses her.  I mean, I can understand why!  Its green like grass!  Its fuzzy like grass!  If I were a dog, I might think I'm supposed to potty there too.

Poor Gumbo, I mean, bless his little doggy heart.  That puppy has worn him out.  Remi does not get tired.  She will run and play, and chase and swim, and run and play, and chase and swim, until the sun goes down.  And even then, she's not entirely sure she's ready to give up and go to sleep.

Gumbo has phases, we call them zoomies, where he will run 90-to-nothing for about 3 minutes, then he's done.  He wants to chew his bone and chill on the couch.  Remi's zoomies last for hours, days even.

And as tired as he must be, Gumbo is still such a good sport.  (I know this because, if he were really tired of it, he wouldn't insist on playing, when she's content chewing by herself or fetching with me.) But he instigates the play, and its so sweet, until he realizes that she has no intentions of letting him win.  Ever.

And his jealous side has definitely risen to the surface. He typically likes to chill on the couch by himself, or when Matt's home, in his lap.  He isn't really a "momma's boy."  But he has made it known that if anyone's cuddling with me, its going to be him, not Remi.

Our sleeping arrangements have been pretty comical.  Because Matt's gone, I decided it might be a good idea to put them both in the bed with me.  And again, my typically independent sleeper has decided I'm a more comfortable pillow for him than the actual pillow. Sunday night, he slept with his nose on my shoulder, parallel with me in the bed (basically, he was so close to me, he might as well have been under me).  But Remi didn't let that stop her from getting her cuddles.  She spooned Gumbo all night.  (It was really cute.)

And don't even get me started on the breakfast/dinner routine! Remi is hungry.  She's hungry all the time!  And she's fed very well.  But, Gumbo has never been a fast eater.  I'll put his food in the bowl, and sometimes he won't touch it for hours.  Remi has made it known that if he's not going to eat it, she certainly will.  Just her presence makes Gumbo gobble down his food, like I've never seen before.  I guess he knows it won't be there in a few hours if Remi has anything to say about it!

Remi's dad came to pick her up yesterday, and I'm actually pretty bummed about it.  She has been such a joy.  Even at bath time, when Gumbo is cowering in the corner of the shower, Remi was happy as a clam.  (Must be a lab thing.)

I'm really glad we had the opportunity to babysit Remi.  Matt and I have been thinking, very hard, about becoming a doggy foster parents.  But I wasn't quite sure if I could handle two dogs, especially a puppy. But Remi has shown me that its definitely worth it.  And as hard as it was to let Remi go home with her dad yesterday, I know giving up a foster will be even harder.  But, if it means one more dog out of a shelter, into a forever home, I think I can handle it.  Pictures of Remi's stay with us are below.

Begging for some pizza crust. 

A rare 30 minute nap. 

Gumbo was actually trying to sleep.
Remi thought that was a terrible idea.

Daddy made them lay down and chill out for a bit.

Remi lost a puppy tooth!

She's giving him hell.  He probably deserves it!