Saturday, February 03, 2007


The snow came back again last night, powdering roads and yards. By the time I went to bed, there was a dusting of white falling in a fine crystalline mist. By the time I got up everything was white (but not more than an inch so), and large wads of wet flakes were falling from the sky in audible little splats. It's risen to thirty-two degrees (F) outside by this writing, intermittent patches of sunlight are warming the roofs enough to make icicles but not to reveal any grass. With respect to a lazy, mostly homebound snowy day, here are some links I should have shared before now. A few weeks ago, Sunshine flew to Chicago for the opening of an anti-war art show featuring a quilt her mother had made. The show, From Sham to Shame, can be seen advertised on the Chicago Artist Coalition webpage here, and then head here for a look at the actual quilt (you will find you can click to other pieces in the show from that second link). The Sunday we arrived in Kentucky Sunshine discovered, while rooting through her accumulated mail, contributors copies of two new publications including her work. Here you can view, and someday purchase, Crossroads, a Southern Culture Annual (2006), including an autobiographical essay about Sunshine's teeth. Or here you can find the first issue of Cave Wall, a poetry revue zine including three of Sunshine's poems. Related: this issue of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (number 18) also includes some of Sunshine's poetry. You can purchase that at the official website, or, just wait around until the end of the year when Lady Churchill's... will publish a trade paperback anthologizing the best speculative fiction and poetry from their first ten years, including Sunshine's stuff. Watch this space. [Cavin]

Friday, February 02, 2007


In honor of yesterday's road trip to Lexington, Kentucky, I've distilled the following three-act play entitled NUTS.


EXTERIOR, late afternoon, parking lot. CAVIN, BET, and SUNSHINE stare at BET's CAR, among many in a CROWDED LOT.

BET: Is that tire flat?


SUNSHINE: [looking for her phone] I have Triple-A.

BET: I have Triple-A, too. [Opens trunk] Let's just change it ourselves real fast.

CAVIN: [looking around] This car is parked awfully close.

BET: [stands up with jack] Let's just do it fast. We still have to get your wedding present later. Triple-A'll take an hour.

BET: [hands the jack to CAVIN] Here, I've never done this before.


EXTERIOR, later afternoon, parking lot. CAVIN has removed four lug nuts and jacked-up the car. Sunshine is holding the lug wrench.

CAVIN: [holds up lug nuts] Somebody take these.

BET: [pockets the lugs] I got them.

CAVIN strains to remove frozen-into-place tire. Tiny Japanese holes in the wheel aren't much bigger than their screws in the assembly. In the small space between cars, CAVIN beats the rim with the wrench, and then his boot. There is little headway]

BET: I'll walk to the Shell and get a can of Fix-a-Flat.

CAVIN: [panting] The car's already jacked-up.

BET: Be right back.


EXTERIOR, dusk, parking lot. CAVIN hasn't given up: he's kicked the screeching tire with his foot, while propped against the other closely-parked car, until it finally comes off.

CAVIN: [rolling the flat around to trunk, out of breath] Okay, one down.

CAVIN, after a little more effort and extra noise, manages to get tiny-holed mini-spare onto the wheel assembly, where he has to hold it in place.

CAVIN: So, does Bet still have the lug nuts in her pocket?

SUNSHINE: Yes she does.


Thursday, February 01, 2007


For days I haven't been getting a Kentucky driver's license. My own North Carolina license expired the day I turned thirty-five (in Honduran jungle ruins), and being unable to drive abroad anyway, well, there was no hurry to replace it. Since I returned--heck, even during the process of returning--I've discovered a burning desire to be a licensed driver again. Well, Sunshine heard from her mother, who heard from somebody, that getting a Kentucky license was as simple as showing up with birth certificate, social security card, and proof of residency. The marriage certificate connecting me to a card-carrying ol' Kentucky homegirl proves that adequately. My only real hurdle was having to take the driving test. The local state licensing authority only provides examiners on Mondays and Tuesdays. I imagined testing something that I've been doing for twenty years would be a cakewalk, actually, but wasn't loving the packed snow all over the roads Sunday night when I went to bed. It got down to twelve degrees here Sunday night; that would all be on Monday's test. Luckily, I could still procrastinate till the very last minute: Tuesday. Next Monday I'll be driving to DC, after all. On Monday afternoon, though, Sunshine happened to be in the DMV getting proper plates for her car. She started asking questions. I was back at the farm, watching the sunny shine melt any snow outside the perfectly-delineated polygon of the house's shadow. Seemed like Tuesday would be my day. But it turns out I need some kind of official letter from North Carolina's DMV to actually get a license here. Now I'm back to square one: planning to get my privileges reinstated in my home state, since that'll be just as easy as getting NC's permission to drive in Kentucky. [Cavin]

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Miss America was last night. I watch beauty pageants because of family. I mean, of course, my bride, whose infectious love of pageantry has, over the years, swayed me. By now I look forward to these shows. I also look forward to yet another drinking game. Want to play by our rules? Then you'll have to drink beer every time someone uses a euphemism about religion or evokes peace. You will have to drink whenever feathers are worn, anyone stumbles physically or verbally, or the emcee alludes to how beautiful just everybody is. Drinkers select a contestant, usually representative of respective home states (or someplace we really love if that state is already taken). I start with North Carolina. Whenever my player does something ridiculous--wears the ugliest dress, sings a tremulous aria--I have to drink. Whenever my contestant does something great--makes a funny face, tap dances to Prince--everyone else has to drink. When my candidate washes out at the semi- or finalist level, I drink. If she makes it, others drink. Thus roped into starting with my particular home-Miss, it's normal that I have to choose a new player when she later washes out. This was the first time, recently, I've also had to choose a new Miss at the finalist level. Even Sunshine had three different players during last night's pageant. Usually I think the Hawaiian Miss steals the contest, but it was stolen from her tonight. In rapid succession it was also stolen from Misses Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas. We graduated to real liquor for the finals: tablespoons of ten-year Old Rip Van Winkle Kentucky sour mash flowed in protest. Everyone picks on beauty pageant contestants for being dumb, but Jeez Louise is there ever a new limbo bar for the judges. [Cavin]


Yesterday we returned to Kentucky and the farm where Sunshine did much of her growing up. This was a rather more harrowing six-and-a-half hour version of the normally five-and-a-half hour drive. On Saturday night I'd gone to bed earlier than I'm used to because we wanted to get away earlier than normal on Sunday. But I was still woken earlier than I'd planned by the news that it was snowing in Beckley and across the national forest where Sunshine's family lives. So I got out of bed and hurried faster than I wanted, and forty-five minutes later we were on the road. We did not hit snow until just after we crossed the North Carolina border with Virginia, after which we were snowed on more than we weren't for the remainder of the drive. Our one stop at a West Virginia rest area was roiling with windy snow. It blew into the car at every tollbooth down the turnpike. The whole high mountain pass just south of Charleston was covered in a puffy white blanket. The going along the curvy mountain highway was carefully handled but rarely treacherous. There were instances of snowy roads, sure, but it was so far below freezing outside that the flakes rarely packed together. Most snow parted before the traffic in frigid swirls. At worst, visibility was reduced to just a few short car lengths, and the churning road-snow was matched by the pressing air-snow into one single, turbulent environment like inside a rolling snow-globe. It was times like these that the driving was tricky, never because of any accumulating slickness. I did see something I've never seen before: at times during the drive, the clouds would part for a moment and a shocking, apocalyptic sun would burn orange through the continuing flurry. [Cavin]