Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Today was my last easygoing Kentucky vacation day. We watched the rest of our Netflixed Rollergirls DVD's (through episode seven--still great) and ate a nice country garden meal at grandma's house. Let's see, proper blog etiquette requires me: the broccoli in light cheese sauce was probably the best thing on the table, followed by the whipped potatoes. Sadly, the porch-grown string beans were boiled with a savory ham-hock; I wasn't able to try them. There was a bowl of the same amazing heirloom Depp Family tomatoes, meaty and iridescent, sliced and raw, I recently used to make a successful two-week soup; there was bright yellow 'Nilla Wafer pudding casserole I'll probably go to hell for having seconds of. After dinner, we all wandered into the historical family home next to my grandmother-in-law's trailer. Here is where Sunshine spent scads of time growing up. After floods rotted the stability, and a lot of the kitchen floor, out of this house, mammaw temporarily moved into a trailer parked in the side yard. Currently, the big project on the ridge is renovating the old two-story family place. Rumor has it that the old house used to be a speakeasy. It also used to have handsome solid wood siding which is just being revealed as the boys re-floor the front rooms and plan a spacious porch in the back. The rest of today was absorbed studying the North Carolina driver's license test book and a romantic candle- and star-lit evening chugging hot sake on the side porch.* Tomorrow I wake up bright-and-afternoon to make the six hour drive to my own home town. The vagaries of wireless availability will dictate whether there is another post on this Update Column before Friday, September fourteenth, when I return to my beloved District unit. [Cavin]

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day. I celebrated by oversleeping, then hopping into the car with Sunshine and Bet for the hour-and-a-half drive due east to Lexington. We were going to see longtime friends Gwenda and Christopher who celebrated their three-year anniversary today; but I thought we'd also sneak in some edgewise holiday shopping since I like the "liberal arts college" nature of several downtown places. I was surprised to learn that many KY stores actually do close for today's holiday (stores normally closed on Monday open for Labor Day shoppers in NC). This reverence didn't affect us overmuch: while one coffee shop was closed, every other place we tried all day--including the second coffee shop--was open for business. To be fair to KY retailers, there were no crowds out today. Traffic was light and stores were empty. We ate a great Indian dinner smack downtown in a primo corner-lot dining room which was otherwise deserted. I had mutter paneer, my new Indian restaurant litmus, and some very fine spicy tomato saag soup. The onion chutney was awful, catsupy, the worst thing on the table. The bread basket, however, was one of the best I've ever had. None of the above outshined the company. Catching up with scarce friends and family is always good, but the general level of charm and hilarity at the table tonight was rare. So that worked out, even if my shopping day was limited: one CD store, one special culture shop, one warehouse-sized Liquor Barn, and all we walked away with was a bottle of Old Pappy Van Winkle's and a magazine. Oh yeah: Gwenda and I bought each other books at the famous local Joseph-Beth Bookstore (I received Ursula Dubosarsky's well-reviewed1 novel The Red Shoe and Gwenda got James Maxey's thoughtful2 socio-fantasy Bitterwood). [Cavin]

Monday, September 03, 2007


Greetings from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, where there is little to do all day but sit out on the porch and talk to the occasional family member who happens by. We've eaten several meals picked right out of the midsize garden down the hill, wandered around in the woods, and generally rested-up from life in the big city. Last night I noticed there are quite a few more visible stars in the sky here. Throughout today we've been watching A&E's reality television show Rollergirls* on DVD. Four episodes in and I'm still enjoying it tremendously. It's less Real World reality show and more season-long sports documentary. Each episode concentrates on several athletes and ends with a bout between two of the five Austin City Texas Roller Derby League teams. And for supposedly unscripted and un-acted television, it has a dramatic appeal attributable, I suppose, to some pretty cunning manipulation by the editors. I expected to find the women engaging and the sports photography bone-crunchingly thrilling, but I am surprised to discover the dramatic weight created for each climactic showdown is riveting. If anything, the show frustrates because I'm party to merely the snippets of these bouts advancing the dramatic action. I would really enjoy seeing the whole bouts, uncut. This has to exist somewhere--where else could the editors have culled the minutes they've included?--and it seems ripe for bonus materials or even a companion set. As far as I know this is unavailable, however, so I'm left with my frustrations. Alas. I put up, like, a whole new page of photographs here on Thursday, by the way. I don't think I've Updated about that since; so if you don't check by Flickr regularly, and this sort of thing interests you, please stop by soon. [Cavin]

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Friday didn't really end until around nine Saturday morning. We enjoyed a nice overnight drive to Kentucky after our concert. The route through Maryland and West Virginia to Sunshine's hometown takes eight hours on a good day and close to ten on a normal one. "Normal" here meaning that the hour-long leg along the Capital Beltway comes to two hours during weekday traffic. Even with the holiday weekend we were able to drive this in under sixty minutes last night. Our whole trip took one minute over good day time principally because I didn't plan well enough to have gas already in the tank when we started. We stopped three times in a trip that might have included only one. Sunshine slept the majority of the time, black mountains loomed half-glimpsed against the starry sky, Ashland, KY, was lit up like a Christmas tree. I never get to drive overnight anymore, it seems. This was a real treat for me. We arrived shortly before seven am to watch the sun rise ruddily to the right of Alene's barn, and I drank one last good strong coffee before going to sleep. Sunshine, who looked just as sleepy as I did, went yard-sale hopping with her mother. I was determined not to inaugurate a trend of staying up all night throughout my coming vacation, so I managed to get back out of bed by two pm, but nothing else happened for the rest of the day. We went ate frat Italian food (baked spaghetti and salted, roasted bread) at local fave Pasquale's Pizza and toured the quilting under construction at Bet's new rental studio (which is in a fine, tall room of the renovated historic downtown courthouse). Some great days just don't generate much in the way of riveting narrative. [Cavin]