133) Kerrville Folk Festival & Dialysis

May 26, 2007

Kerrville Dialysis Center:
Today I get here right at 5:30 am, even though I left the ranch 10 minutes late and it was rainy and foggy the whole way into town. The story is that I couldn’t get the dialysis shift I wanted in the afternoon, so I had to accept a 5:30 am time for my dialysis. I figured that when I got here I could re-negotiate a better deal for next weekend. (However, they only have two shifts and the other starts at 9 am, so 5:30 is better for me) This center is beautiful, with in floor scales, all new dialysis machines, floating TV’s, and a beautiful patterned tile floor. All of it looking spanking new and fresh and clean. I feel funny walking in with my muddy Chaco* sandals and mud-splattered legs.

I’m muddy because Quiet Valley Ranch** is like a huge gooky mud pie right now. Mostly the foot-deep mud is in the parking lots and all night long we in the staff campground hear people gunning their cars thinking they’ll get some traction and be able to move. But they don’t get traction in the mud, and they slide around bopping into other cars sometimes and generally getting deeper engaged in the muck. The sounds are of engines racing, the wrrrssshhhhhhh of tires spinning in the mud, and the voices yelling encouragement or warnings or directions for the mostly futile attempts at freeing the vehicles. Sometimes there’s wrrrssshhhhhhhing, then yelling, and a crunch at the end, indicating that there’s another victim of people trying to leave the festival. The later it gets Friday night the less we hear from the parking field so we drift off to sleep with the constant rain ebbing and flowing on our tent top.

I worry about the alarm going off so I wake up every half hour or so to check and see if I’m late. I wake up at 4:30 and it’s early. Then I wake up at 5:10 and I’m late. I rush out and walk through the staff tents quietly in the drizzle and fog, up the puddly dirt road to the staff center and out into the parking lot, finding my way along grassy areas that soak my Chacos and then through 6” deep mud to my truck, that I parked up on the grassy side of a hill. It’s downhill all the way to the road so I make it without any problems and I’m on my way into town slinging mud from my tires for the first quarter mile.

So here I am in a new center, hyper conscious about how they stick me and watching carefully to see if they look professional and competent. They do. The only thing I can think of to complain about is that it is difficult to go back to sleep cause they keep their bright lights on all the time. At El Milagro, after they hook you up, they turn down the lights if you want it that way. Here they aren’t set up to turn down the lights because they are long light fixtures that go all the way down the hall-type room that is the center. So I pull my hat’s bill down over my eyes and make the best of it. I actually fall asleep quickly and sleep until about 9 o’clock. Then I set my radio to San Antonio NPR and listen to the weekend programming until I get done at 10. I feel pretty good and shoot outa there to find a place to get an oil change and lube job before heading back to the ranch.

Quiet Valley Ranch: When I get back, I’m too late to work breakfast at all… in fact I’m too late to even eat breakfast. So, I find the girls at the Shabbat services at Threadgill Theatre, help Cari pour the wine and grape juice for Kiddush, say "Hi" to everyone, and then Liz, the girls, and I walk back to our tent. Shayna & Maya want to go swimming in town but I convince them to change their plans because I don’t want them getting stuck in the mud and I don’t want to loose my great parking place near the staff campground gate. The girls are sad but perk up at the idea of walking down the road a half mile to Turtle Creek and checking it out. I go back to the kitchen and help Cari cut apart 100 pounds of frozen chicken for the dinner stir fry. Then I head back over to Threadgill to hear the last of the children’s concert, and then wander over to say hi to the Tod Group at their new Comfy Campsite on the lower high road. Mitch has 'our' pop-up set up nicely right below the group, built a deck, and has out the party lights we never could use cause we didn’t have electric.

I am the guy who does the theatre rush at 6 and gets our usual seats 5 rows front center left. The concerts are great (especially Michael Smith*** and Denise Frankee****) and it is again like “being home”… that feeling that many of us get, I suspect, when we settle into being on the ranch, weathering whatever the weather does, chilling out (as the kids would say), listening to great music, and seeing good friends. I am totally tired out by halfway through Johnsmith (
http://www.kerrvillefolkfestival.com/2007_1_5.htm ) so I walk back to the tent and turn in early. Later I hear Liz getting the kids all settled in their tent: its as if it is a distant radio broadcast in my dreams, and I poke back into semi-consciousness as she bounces onto the air mattress. I’ve modernized our 10x8 tent this year by cutting a piece of 3/4” exterior plywood in the shape of the air mattress, routing the edges to a nice roundness, and leveling the downhill side with rocks so we have a perfectly level platform bed. No more sliding down hill on the air mattress and I contend that now its as good as the pop-up. At about 4 am we hear Shayna softly calling “Mom?”…. “We’re all wet cause you left our door open”. Rather than start a midnight discussion about 10 year olds and 'responsibility', we just want to be quiet and get back to sleep. We bundle the kids into our warm and dry tent and they immediately go back to sleep… and their wetness changes the humidity in our little blue tinted universe inside the box (tent). When we get up to do out morning kitchen duty at 6:30 we hafta crawl over little girl bodies spread out in our entry hall. Liz throws them on the air mattress and we’re out in the crisp morning air and on to work on the Kitchen Krew.

Today we’re making egg-artichoke casserole and I’m doing food prep (17 hotel pans serving 28) and Liz is making coffee. We actually made too much (highly unusual) for the over 400 people who made it over for breakfast before we close at 11, and I label the remaining 40 servings or so and put them away for the weekday crew. Nightly rain and the festival’s aging population bring more and more people to breakfast. We think it’s the popularity of our menu tambien.

As I’m about to get ready to go to Threadgill to hear the New Folk Concert Lizzie springs it on me that the girls wanna go home. Liz is tired and wants a quiet day at home for a change, Maya has a rash that itches, and Shayna misses Chelsea. I relent easily and we pack up the truck, batten the hatches on the tents, and find Cari and Stuart to make our excuses and get on the road. Another first Kerrville weekend is done with and we’re heading up the long hill to Fredricksburg talking about the highlights of the two days back at the festival for year number 13!

Notes: In at 73.9 and out at 72 Kgs.
* Chaco’s Headwaters available online at
**About QVR retrieved online May 2007 from the KFF website at
*** Michael Smith retrieved online May 2007 from the KFF website at
****Denice Franke retrieved online May 2007 from the KFF website at http://www.kerrvillefolkfestival.com/performers/2007%20KFF/k07_denice%20franke.htm
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Anonymous said...

hi jack. just want to drop a note to say that you are very brave and i hope things will augur well for you, especially your health.

i've always heard about renal failure but a few weeks back, one of my uncles, i realised, had renal failure and died of a heart attack.

nuff said. i just want to say that after hearing about the ordeal that kidney patients have to undergo, i really feel that they are all very very brave and courageous. i applaud u and all those out there.

be strong!

warmest regards
edmund wee

cheryl martin said...

What a beautiful story of your first weekend, and what an awesome famiy tradition!! Just saying "hi!" Your Cheryl