Saturday, January 13, 2007


This story stretches all the way back to October 2000, when I discovered that, contrary to nine-years' worth of presumption, rum was incredibly good liquor. I guess this story actually starts whenever it was I first tasted the crappy Puerto Rican and Jamaican rums exported into the US, declared them undrinkable, and shunned them for the rest of the decade. Oh, I tolerated occasional Captain Morgan cocktails, but tended toward finer horizons: select tequilas and single-malt whiskies. Then came that fateful birthday vacation to sunny Haiti where I, for the first time, tried Barbancourt's* five-star rhum on the expansive balcony at the Hotel Oloffson.* It was a revelation. I suddenly understood why pirates loved this stuff. The drink was subtle, woody, interesting. Barbancourt bottles three qualities of aged rhum: three-star, five-star, and fifteen-year reserve. I managed to sample all of them before returning home from Haiti. My new love for rum was steadfast: not only did I now know the good stuff existed, but available bad stuff became far more tolerable. I was ever on the lookout, but the only place I found imported Barbancourt was New York City. Meanwhile, I discovered the British Navy's peaty Pusser's rum,* excellent Nicaraguan Flor de Caña,* better Venezuelan ron Santa Teresa,* and even better Guatemalan ron Zacapa.* Some were probably better than, but none were preferable to, my sweetheart Haitian Barbancourt. Just before Christmas 2005, one of Sunshine's coworkers, recently returned from Hispaniola, gave us a bottle of fifteen-year reserve--our second ever. Today, Sunshine and I found all three types of Barbancourt available in Lexington, Kentucky at the vast new Liquor Barn on Man-O-War just off I-75. This is wonderful news because that thirteen-month-old Christmas bottle we've been traveling with is getting empty. Now we have our third bottle ever. [Cavin]

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The snow didn't last long. By Tuesday around twelve pm, after hours of precipitation, the flakes got big and stopped. The temperature had never fallen much past thirty-eight degrees F, and the whole little carpet of white was gone in a half hour. It snowed on an off until the mid-afternoon, but there was never any further accumulation. By Tuesday night it was sunny again, with puffy pink clouds. Only then did it finally get cold. Throughout yesterday the temperature hovered just shy of thirty-one, and the puddles of snowmelt froze. Meanwhile, I am having a daylong moment of serenity. I have finally gotten all of my pictures loaded up onto Flickr, including the rest of my photos from Monterrey and some that I took just yesterday. At present, the batteries in my camera are dead, so I cannot even take any more pictures just now. I am finally, at long last, caught up on at least one thing. Interested parties can find new photos at the link above, but everything I added can also be found either at the end of this set from Monterrey, or contained in this set of random pictures taken since I returned from México. Now that the uploading project is finished, I can maybe head back a thousand photos into the past and start typing in captions again, but I feel this daunts my serenity, and I might have to put it off a little bit longer. Say, have you heard of this author? She works freelance pitching interesting essays for well-known magazines. She has been at the farm for a week, interviewing the folks here on veteran-related post-traumatic stress disorder for an article that will appear in GQ. She leaves today. I have no idea when the article itself will appear. [Cavin]

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Well, this didn't take long. For a week I have been telling everyone, out of faith I guess, that I would return home from Kentucky in a week only if weather conditions were okay. I suspect weather conditions will still be okay, my week has barely begun, but the point was that I damn well hoped it would snow while I was here, and that hope was slowly warming into an expectation. Southern Ohio told me in my last Update that it might very well happen, up to an inch of accumulation, and despite some nay-saying from the folks at NPR about global climate change, the snow I desperately wanted to see was already falling all over everything by the time I was awake this morning (shortly before eight thirty). Since I'm such a newshound now (when I bother to post at all), I'm bringing this to you less than forty-five minutes later, and it is still snowing. As I have mentioned, this is my one chance for some winter before we move to tropical ten degrees, forty-six minutes above the equator next fall, and I am happy to take any cold weather I can get. But that is the problem with today: cold weather. Sure it is snowing; snowing hard actually--settling into some steady and small flakes that could very well come down for the next few hours. But the temperature remains where it was last night when it got dark: a chilly thirty-six or so degrees F. This is not cold enough for the snow to stick around for long after it finishes falling. And sure enough, after coming down for an hour, the world here looks wintry as hell, but the effect is to stipple the ground rather than accumulate a blanket on it. [Cavin]


Greetings from Trent Ridge in beautiful rural Kentucky. When we got into the car to come here the temperature was just a little over sixty degrees, the sky was as cloudy as the apocalypse, and it was raining just a little. On our six-and-a-quarter hour drive we passed through sunny thundershowers, undercranked clouds of various colors, and some actual snowflakes. The pretty yellow sunlight gilded the hills while clouds brindled them with streaking shadows that made the pasturelands and leafless mountain passes along the Turnpike look like they were in an aquarium. Not all that wind was in the sky. Sometimes I had to fight to keep the little car on course, especially along the tops of the Appalachan Mountains. It was such a nice drive that we took an extra hour to make it, today. In Kentucky it's about thirty-eight degrees F, and it's wendy at the top of this ridge, too. There aren't many clouds left in the sky, but the southern Ohio forecast we heard in Charleston, West Virginia seemed to indicate there was a chance for some snow tonight, and a bit more tomorrow. I have my fingers crossed, but I don't know if this will help. It doesn't seem adequately cold or dark for snow. NPR told me back in Wytheville, Virginia that, what with El Nino and the rapidly disappearing ice caps, 2007 is predicted to be one of the warmest years recorded. I had to throw a little fit about this because, well, damn, I've been in the Northern Mexican desert for two years, and will soon be in the equatorial jungles of 'Nam for two more. 2007 is my one chance of some cool weather in between. Damn you global warming and cyclical Gulfstream pressure trend. This time it's personal. [Cavin]