24) Of Jaguarundi & Heparin

June 29, 2006

Morning: I’m in Laredo, waking up in my room at the La Quinta, and wondering if any of the import places on San Bernardo are gonna be open before I leave for Austin. I check out and turn south on San Bernardo and within a few blocks I find a place that has tons of wrought iron stuff, but not exactly what I want. They have what I don’t want for $13, so I know that if they had what I want, it would be the right price. The shops on San Bernardo continue to be a good deal for us who don’t want the hassle of cro
ssing the border. So, I pull out, heading north, and pass about four more shops that aren’t open this early. Soon I’m up to highway speed north of town, cruising through the low scrub brush of South Texas. I put a Bob Wills CD* on and pretend I’m driving a ’55 Olds 88, gliding along with that boaty feeling through the morning heat at 80 miles an hour. The road is mostly straight and its already shimmering out where it meets the horizon. As I cruise along listening to Johnny Gimble’s mandolin plinks on one of the songs, I think about jaguarundi and ocelots. Both were once native to south Texas, although sightings of jaguarondi are few and far between.** For years, while driving through South Texas, I’ve kept watch in the low brush and cactus along the roadways, hoping to catch sight of one of these cats. Now, I remind myself of Peter Matthiessen’s trip to the Himalayas to search for the elusive snow leopard, and then writing about it in a 300 page book that beautifully describes not finding that snow leopard. Maybe the jaguarondi is my snow leopard. And maybe they’re just too difficult to spot when I’m zippin down the road at 80 mph.

I’m writing in a particularly writerly fashion today, probably for Alex. Alex, an almost too serious teen, is my Laredo friend Luis’ son. He met us for dinner last night, along with his dad and his girlfriend (fiancĂ©? I can’t tell which). At some point Luis mentioned that Alex wants to “be a writer” so we talked a bit about writing. I shared the only bit of wisdom I can remember from my creative writing teacher, John Manchip White: “If you want to be a writer, you must write!”. And maybe this wasn’t ever said by White; it may just be my own quote from my visual memory of Mr. White standing properly and somewhat stodgily in front of the class (in 1969?). Sounds like something he’d say, so in my mind it is something he said.

Now as I swing down that last hill into San Antonio, Bob is singing “San Antonio Rose” and I’m not surprised. It’s time to switch over to public radio, and I remember that famous Cindy Walker line as I switch; “When you leave Amarillo; …turn out the lights.”

El Milagro: Herman is cannulating me regularly now; and I like that. He is funny, smart, and very gentle in his sticking behavior. Today, again, staff read out my name on my dialyzer before I even sat down. Today it was Phyllis who read my name to me. I mentioned to Phyllis that I was in Laredo last night, and she said, “that’s why you added so much weight.”, but it was just 2.4 Kg. (5 lbs.). I replied that I had a big steak and lots of water all day while I was presenting to two different groups. Today as I sat there writing on this post, I watched staff as they went about their work with the people being dialysized. They really are very conscientious about their work (I know I’ve said this before) and it is reassuring to notice that they are attentive and careful. They must use hundreds of pairs of latex gloves a day. Even if they leave a patient, pull off their gloves, and then return to the same patient, they put on a new pair. Today, Herman dropped my injection of heparin (a blood thinner because blood tends to clot in the plastic tubing) as he was getting ready to attach it to the tubing. The syringe even had the protective plastic cover over the needle, yet he kicked it away and got a new one. I said, “You could’ve used that one you dropped” and he replied, “Nope. We drop it and it’s history. Don’t want to take any chances.”.

The session was relaxing this afternoon, and I even snoozed a bit. My son, John, picked me up afterwards and we went home to a great fajita dinner with the family. All is well.

Notes: In at 73.1 and out at 70.1
* For the Last Time (1974) Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, United Artists previewed on AMG online at
** Davis, W.B. (2000) Cats of Texas. A Texas Parks and Wildlife Publication, available online at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_lf_w7000_0150.pdf


23) Thursday & Saturday

June 22, 2006

El Milagro:
Before anyone did anything, Diane and Wilma read my dialyzer and ensured it had my name on it. Ron looked at my chart and my check in weight and reported to me that I was checking in at my “dry” weight, 71.5… so how much did I want them to take off. I replied, “What is your suggestion?”. Ron thought that maybe 1 Kg would be good for today. Diane began to cannulate me today and then called Ron over to fix what she had started because she had trouble tapping the arterial vein. Ron wiggled the needle around and then called Rosie over, who started over and easily hit it painlessly. Rosie maintains that she does so well because she has been doing it for many many years and experience is the key. I told Rosie I wished she always worked afternoons.

Notes: In at 71.5 Kg, and out at 70.5 Kg.

June 24, 2006

El Milagro:
I was able to get in at 11:30 am today... a good time for being able to watch the entire match between Mexico and Argentina in the World Cup. Jo and Herman separately read off my dialyzer to ensure that it was labled with my name. Herman cannulated me today and did a smooth, painless job of it. Argentina beat Mexico 2 to 1 in overtime and the center was clearly disappointed.

Notes: In at 73.5 Kg, and out at 70.7 Kg.


22) Postively Negative

June 20, 2006

El Milagro:
As I walked in to the center today, Marilyn the Social Worker stopped me to report that she has set up my visitor sessions in north Dallas for next month. I said thanks and somewhere in our little conversation asked how much my insurance is paying for these sessions. She replied that she didn¹t know; that insurance companies all have contracts with DaVita and pay different amounts. If I were to pay for it myself, it would cost $480 per session.

As I sat in my chair, Wilma and Eloy came up and one read and spelled my name off my dialyzer and the other verified they heard it before they even checked my blood pressure or listened to my chest. James cannulated my today, and had some difficulty getting a good draw in the arterial vein (the one that goes to the machine). He wiggled it around some and later, Herman came over and messed with it a little. Herman explained that sometimes the needle causes a kind of suction that collapses the vein and slows down the flow. In those cases you wiggle the needle around until it is in the center of the vein, where that collapsing is less likely to happen. While he was sitting there messing with the needle, he reported to me that the blood work from the other day (see Post # 20), when they got me in the wrong chair, was negative. I joked, "No, that¹s positive" and he replied, "I¹m positive it was negative."

Later, Jennifer the Dietician stopped by to give me my latest lab report and to visit. She started by letting me know she had read this blog and found it "interesting". We went over my lab report and basically, all the results are better than last time, although my phosphorous is still too high. She suggested that it is okay to take my binders either before or after meals and that I take my vitamins at bedtime rather than in the morning (since dialysis can flush them). She reminded me that I need to remember to take my sensipar after meals, because that will help my parathyroid balance calcium and phosphorous (see
http://www.sensipar.com/consumer/whatIsSHPT.jsp for more information).

Detailed Nutrition Report:
& My albumin (protein) was good; although I need to keep concentrating on getting more protein
& My HCT CALC(HGBX3) is really good (that¹s my red blood cell count btw);
& My FERRITIN is good (stored iron);
& My PHOSPHORUS is still high although it is getting better with each report
& My CAxPHOS CORRECTED is also too high. Calcium + Phosphorus = Product. Again: take the binders.

Jennifer and I also discussed briefly the ethical questions surrounding living donors and somehow got into a discussion about the recent violence in New Orleans and the loss of her grandmother¹s house in Katrina.

About 20 minutes before the end of the session, I began having cramps in my legs. Wilma came over and turned the machine off and shot in some fluid (which gets rid of the cramping). So, I actually got done a little early this evening.

Notes: In at 73.5 Kg, and out at 70.7 Kg.


21) We Are All On Stage

June 17, 2006

It seems like kidney donation is "in the news" lately. There¹s the article
in Texas Monthly, TV stories on Alonzo Mourning¹s transplant* and playng in the NBA finals, and an article in the current AARP Bulletin** (Winning the Waiting Game) . Maybe I just notice all these things because I¹m in the market for a healthy pink kidney, or maybe its just like having a maroon Toyota T-100 and noticing all the other T-100s on the roads. 'In the News¹ these days is a move (by UNOS***) to increase kidney donation by developing a registry for people who want to donate to a person but aren¹t a match. People on the registry could swap one of their donors for a donor who does match. However, this registry will take action by Congress to be approved. As quoted from Bustler and Hudnall¹s article in the AARP Bulletin, "[In the United States,] we could do as many as 2,000 more kidney transplants a year by swapping donors," says Robert Montgomery, M.D., chief of transplantation at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the lead author of a recent study that reported on the method's success." UNOS was created under a law that will have to be amended to clarify a swap program ("exchanges between paired donors and patients do not involve money and thus would encourage other transplant centers to create their own paired donation programs.") The bipartisan bill to amend the law is "languishing in a Senate committee, and no one has come forward to sponsor such a bill in the House." And UNOS can¹t begin the registry without such a change to the law.

Although the swap amendment is not yet a reality, many people in search of a kidney turn to their network of friends and the internet to find prospective donors (my Blog is an example). Some officials and experts consider open kidney searching as an unethical approach, suggesting that people who are advertising their need for a kidney are "cheating". I plan to write a summary and opinion on the ethical questions surrounding 'advertising¹ for a kidney in an upcoming post, so keep tuned in for that.

El Milagro: Eloy cannulated me today, doing a smooth poke. As he is working on me, the new guy shows up, seemingly late for work. He is explaining to Herman (the Nursing Administrator) and Herman is showing no emotions nor nodding is head in agree
ment. He is stone-faced. I mention to Eloy something like, "This new guy seems to be a bit of a problem" to which Eloy chuckles and replies, "You are observant, aren¹t you?". After I settle in, I¹m watching Ghana beat the Czek Republic in a rousing upset. Having the World Cup on TV is a definite benefit of being on dialysis right now, since the games are all over the TV and most of the people at the center are interested in them. Its like being in a strange sports bar.

I have noticed them before: the computer-printed signs on 8 1/2 x 11 paper that say "On Stage". Today I ask Eloy about them, and Herman is within earshot and adds some to Eloy¹s answer. These signs are reminders to the staff that they are being watched, Eloy reports. They are "on stage" and the patients are the audience. The administrators are the watchers. Herman adds that the idea is that everyone is here to 'perform¹ for the patients and that the patients are watching too. We are all watching later as the USA and Italy play to a tie, even though the refereeing was horrible (we watched). USA was lucky because Italy contributed to the tie by scoring the USA¹s only score. Just as the game is over I am done with today¹s session.

Notes: In at 72.5 Kg, and out at 70.5 Kg.

*Barbara Basler and Chad Hudnall, (2006) Winning the waiting game. available online at the AARP Website:
** Conrad, C.R. (2006) Say it ain¹t so, Zo. Available online at the Star IQ Website: http://www.stariq.com/Main/Articles/P0001675.HTM
*** United Network for Organ Sharing, on the web at www.unos.org


20) Risky Thursday

June 15, 2006

El Milagro: Today I get here and Diane, the mean-looking new guy, and Debbie are around; with Debbie working on the other half of the room. Phyllis is supervising. Debbie points me to my chair and I get ready for my session. She begins to cannulate me and finally calls the supervisor over because she can’t get the return needle set right. Herman comes over and pulls the trocar (needle) and sets another one, further up my arm. Of course, you might recall that these trocars are about the size of a ball-point pen cartridge and somewhat painful when being inserted. It is less painful with his expert insertion than it was with Diane’s jabbing it around trying to set it correctly.

So, then Diane continues to set up my tubes on the machine and I settle down to read my book. About 5 mi
nutes later, she returns and, although I am focused on my reading, I notice that she is unhooking my tubes from the leads on the needles. I ask “What’s up?”, and she replies, “We made a mistake… you got the wrong dialyzer…” About that time Phyllis rushes up and apologizes, saying, “I’m really sorry but we messed up and you’re in the wrong chair. Your chair is the next one over. That’s where we set up your dialyzer.” So, in a somewhat perplexed and becoming worried state, I drag my leads, my blanket, book, and other stuff over one chair and sit back down. I’m thinking, “Okay… so what can this mean. I have been having my blood go through this other guy’s dialyzer. He hasn’t had his blood going though mine since he hasn’t been hooked up yet. Is this bad? What’re my risks…. Let’s see; this center had a 2% fail rate last year… am I about to be a statistic?”

Phyllis is trying to make be feel a little better. She reports, “Well this is not good. This is only the second time in my years here that this has happened on my shift. Even though these dialyzers are cleaned thoroughly and disinfected, and should be really clean before each use….. we still keep each patient’s separate. It should be okay.” And then, almost as if she is thinking to herself, she continues, “We have to write up an incident report, call both doctors tonight to report it to them, draw blood for lab on each of the patients to check for anything….” And then she leans towards me and says quietly, “Neither you or he has Hep C, AIDS, or anything that should cause a problem…” and, “If there were gonna be a problem we’d probably already know… so, I think it’s okay.” So, of course, by then I was charting an upward mounting blood pressure and thinking of calling my friend Eddie, the attorney.

Well, this all settled down into a normal-type dialysis session and later Phyllis was even kidding a little, saying, “Maybe Diane and I will get suspended for a day or two… like a vacation”. As for me: I have this blog in which my life at the dialysis center is documented and although it is just my writings me thinks they may hold up in court. I have to say that Phyllis was truly upset about the mishap and it did take about the whole four hours for her to get her humor back. She apologized a number of times.

Friday afternoon: I’m still kickin’ so I guess everything is okay. I recall that it is only by the grace of god that we still exist.


19) Tedious Tuesday

June 13, 2006

El Milagro:
Dianecannulated me today, since Tori is gone. She has poked me before, wayback when I started, before I picked Tori as my usual poker. The centeris not very crowded this afternoon and writing seems to be like a choretoday…. there are times when I think, “Maybe I shouldn’t be creating a post every time I come for dialysis…”.But then I remind myself that part of the goal here is to document theongoing tedious process of dialysis; with all it’s monotony. I’mspending 12 hours a week here and I want you, thereader, to get an idea of the repetitiousness and gloominess that thisplace can instill when I forsake my curiosity and my mission ofreporting the details of dialysis. So, I will continue to write a postfor each session. That's the way I see it.


18) Home Alone

June 10, 2006

Well, Liz and Shayna returned to K-ville yesterday for the third weekendof the folk festival, taking 10 watermelons for Cari, and meeting Margo and Laura to share a motel room. Liz called me mid-evening and said thetheatre was “empty” and as she was talking she saw Bobby Tod just arriving in his truck. So, I have the weekend to mys
elf…. I went by themall after work to spy on my daughter, Katie, working at a Swenson’sIce Cream shop. She didn’t see me for several minutes and I got towatch her charm several customers, smiling at them and making smalltalk as they ordered their frozen treats. The shop was busy; onecustomer after another. I noticed that the other places in the ‘foodcourt’ didn’t seem as busy, even though it was about 5:30 pm. Katielooked like she knew what she was doing, and I could tell she wasmaking folks happy since they all seemed to put a contribution into thetip jar. It was nice to see her working hard and seemingly enjoying it.Finally she noticed me leaning against a pillar and motioned me over tovisit briefly until the next customer showed up.

I finally mowedthe lawn this morning, after weeks of letting it grow while we were toobusy to do lawn work. When I called El Milagro, they reported that theywon’t have an op
en chair until about 2:00 pm, much later than I usuallygo in on Saturdays.

El Milagro: The place is socrowded today that I couldn't get in until 2:30 pm. When I got herenobody seemed to know why it is so crowded… and that makes me wonderabout how they kee
p up with their scheduling. Sometimes it seems thatthis place is very organized and sometimes it seems that it is chaoticunder the surface of looking organized. But, maybe it is organizedunder the surface of seeming chaotic. More observations may shed lighton this possible paradox.

Tori cannulated me today, and I foundout it is his last day here. He has taken a job as a microbiologistwith the state, in some sort of lab. I wished him well, and shared withhim that now I’ll have to find another cannulator, since Rosie doesn’tusually work on my days. He did a good job in his last cannulation ofJack… and I thanked him. Although every chair was occupied when I gothere, about five or six people left within the first 40 minutes after Istarted. Today I am beside a man who is coughing incessantly and Irealize t
hat the woman who says “Help” is here too. (I can’t imagine there’s more than one person who says “Help”.)Rosie, Connie, James, and Debbie are here working today so it is afestive group of staff. Actually, they aren’t as festive as usual, butI can’t think of a better word to describe this crew, so we’ll callthem ‘festive’.

As I’m sitting here I have soccer on the TV:Argentina v.s. Costa de Marfil (Ivory Coast) on Univision,
watchingCrespo score beautifully in the 24th minute. I wish more of the worldcup games were on the main TV stations rather than the sportsnetworks…. although I can probably see quite a bit of the matches here(they have tons of channels on their TV’s). When the game announcersare rambling on in Spanish about the game and not yelling for someincredible play, I’m reading Now Discover Your Strengthsby Backinham and Clifton*. This book takes the strengths-based approachinto the business world, suggesting that when companies focus on theirworkers’ strengths (talents, skills, and experience) rather thantraining to plug the gaps in workers’ competencies, everything worksbetter.

Towards the end of my session today, Carol brought Katieby to see the center. Even though the place had been really crowded, bythe time they got here, there were only two of us left. So, to them, Iimagine it looked like a very quiet and relaxing place to be. Eloy andTori both spent some time explaining kidney dialysis to them. AfterCarol left, and I got de-cannulated and patched up, Katie and I wentout to dinner together at El Rey. She caught me up on her adventures inthe world of work, her boyfriend’s travels to Chicago and Corpus,what’s going on with Marie, and her thoughts about college. Marie’sapplying to Sul Ross and Katie is interested in U.T. San Antonio and A& M Corpus.

Late into the evening, Lizzie called from Kerrville and reported that Trout Fishing**was great and they had an long and fun day at the festival. Although Imissed KFF, I really enjoyed working in the yard today and look forwardto planting some Salvia Coccinea Coral Nymph tomorrow morning.

* Backingham, M. & Clifton, D.O. (2001) Now, discover your strengths. New York: The Free Press.
** See Trout Fishing in America’s website at http://www.troutmusic.com/


17) Transplant Options

June 8, 2006

Transplant Possibilities:
When I was approved for a kidney transplant by the Austin Kidney Transplant Program back in January, I was put on a list of people awaiting a cadaver kidney. This list is a central Texas list, including the area around Austin, San Antonio, and Temple. They say the list is about four years long. There are other lists that I could get on in Houston, Dallas, etc., but if I got a kidney from one of those lists I would have to go to those cities for the transplant operation and the recuperation process (about 8 weeks). Aside from a cadaver kidney, the only other option is to get one from a live donor; someone who decides to give a kidney to a person on the transplant list.

Over the past few months, several friends have inquired about how they could go about donating a kidney to me. One of them had an incompatible blood type and the other is still waiting to find out what blood type they are. There are a number of criteria involved in becoming a kidney donor, including age (generally a donor must be between 25 and 49); blood type (for donating to me that would be type A or O); cross-match testing (antigen compatibility has to be established); and generally the donor must be in good health (no heart problems, diabetes, weight problems, high blood pressure, etc.). There is a good article on donating kidneys, entitled Who Can be a Living Donor? (see Links on the sidebar).
I would be happily honored to discuss kidney donation with anyone who is interested. One reason I started this blog was to get the word out about my situation and to broadcast my need for a new kidney. Back in Insight* we used to say, "All the blessings already are." and I know that it is also helpful to ask the universe for what you want.

El Milagro: At the dialysis center I feel like I'm back to normal… I’m here for the afternoon session, and the staff all act happy to see me back, and are asking if I plan to stay with the afternoons. Tori cannulated me and asked if I am back for good. I tell him “Yes, I like the late afternoon sessions better than the early morning sessions cause a lot of the time I was wiped out at work”. Jennifer the Dietician visits and reports on my blood work from Monday; it was for a blood count and mine is high! (That’s good) I missed lab work on Tuesday so she advised that I have a week’s reprieve to work on getting my phosphorous levels down some more. I told her I’ve been taking my binders.

While sitting there, I am thinking about Billy Preston dying earlier this week, after years of kidney problems and a transplant in 2002. I remember how crazy I was about his contributions (keyboards on Get Back, etc.) on Let it Be way back in 1970. And, of course, he was a Texan from Houston, which I never knew until reading his obituary. You can read more about Billy Preston at his website,

Notes: Weighed in at 73.9 Kg. and out at 71.6.

*Insight Transformational Seminars: online at http://www.insightseminars.org/


16) Sessions and Sets


El Milagro: "If things are going to go wrong, they go wrong on Mondays" Monica said, as she seated me over an hour late this afternoon. Who knows exactly what happened to make them over an hour late? In the waiting room with the other people waiting for their chairs, there were rumors about someone going to the hospital and that slowing things down. According to Wilma an
d Diane it was a combination of low staffing, lab day, setting me up in the wrong chair, and running late all day. I settled in for a long session, knowing it would probably by 9 before I got home.

What with the folk festival and coming for dialysis at all kinds of strange times, I haven’t been settled enough to keep up with these posts. So, here are some impressions from the last three sessions.

1) Going in for the early morning sessions isn’t going to work for me. Mostly, I’ve been wiped out afterwards, making it nearly impossible to focus enough to work at my job. I think I need a good rest after dialysis. When I go in the afternoon and can hang out relaxing at home afterwards, I feel great the next day.

2) Phyllis and I have talked about my feeling wiped out and she agrees that some people just need time to rest afterwards. She said that most working people come in the afternoons, which I swear is the exact opposite of what someone said when I started dialysis.

3) The guy who brings in the breakfast tacos for the early morning dialysis patients isn’t that good a cook: his chorizo & egg tacos lack taste and have the consistency of mush.

4) It was nice to settle in for a good nap at dialysis in the morning. I don’t think I’d ever be able to actually work on the lap top there in the mornings, although I have yet to take the lap top in the afternoons either.

So, I'm going back to TTS sessions at 3 pm and that's that.

Kerrville Folk F
estival Report: I was feeling much better for the most part at the festival this year. Last year I missed two of the three weekends because of a low blood count. Many of the people who know my situation at the festival mentioned that I had more color in my face this year and looked generally healthier. I had written up some tags with my blog address so I could give them out to people that I only see at the festival; adding readers to these posts. Basically, I really was happy that I had switched my dialysis schedule around so I could go for two weekends, and although Lizzie would like to go again this weekend, I think I’ll be getting back on my regular schedule and have a weekend at home for a change. The highlights of the 35th KFF for me were hearing sets of Matt Anderson, Billy Jonas, Guy Clark, Thad Beckman, Terri Hendrix, and Ray Wiley Hubbard. It was a blues festival this year, it seems. Also, as usual, I enjoyed the camaraderie of working on the kitchen krew with my friends Merriesa and Rick, Andrea, Brian, Cari, and Lizzie. I’ll be back.

NOTE: From the June, 2006 Texas Monthly*
Here’s Looking at You, Kidney
How and why I became an organ donor— and how I kept people from talking me out of it.
Virginia Postrel
UNTIL LAST NOVEMBER, I’D NEVER THOUGHT about being a kidney donor. I hadn’t known anyone with kidney disease, and like most people, I hadn’t filled out an organ donation form when I’d gotten my driver’s license. I’d never even donated blood. That all changed after I ran into a friend and asked, “How’s Sally?” I got an unexpected answer: “She’s . . . all right,” in a tone that made it clear she was most definitely not all right.

(Read the rest in the curent Texas Monthly!)


15) Welcome Home

May 26, 2006

El Milagro: Got in early (5:30 ish) and hooked up and went back to sleep. So, I’m sleeping comfortably and this voice breaks into my sleep: “You need to take you blood pressure medication!” Am I dreaming? My sleepy fuzzy brain is trying to figure this out… cause I’ve been doing fine in the BP department. Then I
hear again, louder, “Do you want to stroke out? You’re going to stroke out and end up in a nursing home… is that what you want?”. The voice is at the back of my head… somewhat familiar. No, it’s behind my head and loud enough to wake me up… and very familiar.

So, I lay there and the voice calms down and moves away… but now I’m awake, with my eyes closed, wondering if I’ll go back to sleep. And, it comes clear as I lay there; its Charlie Moritz doing rounds. Soon he gets to me and kicks my chair. I reply, “Who let you out so early?” He takes little interest in me but the dietician reminds us that my phosphorus is still high and they consider briefly changing my binder before the move on to the next victim.

The rest of the day: After I get back home at about 10:30, I get busy watering the plants and doing all the chores that need doing before we leave for Kerrville, and at some point I get very dizzy and feel nauseous. I have to lie down. DAMN! We are in a hurry to get out of town and I can’t stand up! I lie down and actually go to sleep while Liz picks up 30 watermelons and packs the truck. At about 3 in the afternoon I am finally up and ready to go….. 3 hours later than I wanted to go.

Driving through the hill country down to Kerrville is a trip that takes just about the right amount of time to feel like we’re getting away and yet not long enough to get tired of the drive. The country is green and beautiful with lots of yellow, orange, and purple wild flowers all the way. The blue bonnets didn’t really do well this year, but all else is wildly colourful. We pull into the familiar bustle of Quiet Valley Ranch at about 5
with the watermelons and drop them off at the kitchen and drive back to the staff campground to set up our campsite. I’m still feeling a little weak, but am happy to be “home”, saying “Hi” to festival family people I only see once a year here at the ranch. We quickly set up our campsite and I get our red seating pad and get out to the theatre to save out usual seats 7 rows from the front on the left isle. We’ve sat in the same place for years and as people come into the theatre, we say “HI” and everyone is excited to be back and ready for 18 days of the best songwriters in the country to entertain us with their most recent works. It really feels like we’re back ‘home’ because this is where our hearts are and where we all forget about our work-a-day lives and return to an easier lifestyle that only includes minimal trappings of the real world… it’s like returning to the times before the responsibilities of mortgages and careers.

As I sit there waiting for the theatre to fill up and the music to begin, I am overwhelmingly happy to be alive.