Author: Cornish, Rick

On my mind…

Rain is on my mind. Whiskey Creek is wet, and it’s mammalian occupants, right down to the last bushy tail squirrel, are wearing wide grins this first day after the storm. (We’re guessing the big oaks are smiling too, but it’s so hard to read their mood.) We had rain here Saturday, Sunday and yesterday and we were all wet and muddy and cold and jubilant. As a homeowner for most of my life I, like most, have been sensitive to drought…but I think for the hypersensitivity my wife and I share there’s nothing quite like being totally dependent on your own well, especially one that sits atop a not-especially gigantic aquifer. And then there’s our five llama girls to think about, or maybe more accurately, our life savings, since when there’s no rain and no replenishment of the underground lake, there’s not much grass and little water to make it during the summer, which means buying lots and lots of hay, and that’s expensive. (I remember when Lynn went out to buy her first bale of hay eleven years ago; she came home chirping that it was so inexpensive that we could barely afford NOT to grow livestock. Not so any longer.) So, to make a long rant short—rain, please hurry back.

And of course dogs at the Fathers Day Festival are on my mind. Our February Bluegrass Breakdown is just hot off the press and the rules that will govern our pilot program are included in its pages. Our “Dog” Committee, Darby and Tim and Montie and David Brace, the new FDF Director, brought the ‘topic’ of rules to the board in December and we spent a good deal of time blue-skying what was needed. It was an interesting discussion, even humorous, (bet you can’t come up with more than twenty different ways to cajole a dog owner to promise to be responsible for her charge—we did) and by the end of the session we gave our committee a general sense of what we thought would work. Then, this month, the four brought back a set of draft rules and after only an hour and a half we did the minor refinements necessary for unanimous support. If I had to boil the rules down to a single one, it would read something like: You and your dog will do the right thing if you know what’s good for you. (Golden rule plus personal responsibility plus not-so-veiled threat.

Though you haven’t asked me, here’s what I think about dogs at Grass Valley. I think that dogs are generally okay at small festivals and aren’t at huge festivals. I was fine with the no dogs policy for my first two and a half decades of attendance; still okay but not quite so during the next decade, me being the one who formally receives all of the no-dog letters, emails and calls; and, in 2012, open to re-consider the question of whether our Fathers Day Festival is truly a huge, festival, huge in the sense of being too large for dogs to be integrated. So, what changed my mind? Nothing, really. I still believe dogs aren’t good at huge festivals. But I do think the time is right to find out whether the Fathers Day Festival fits that description as far as the canine question is concerned. Oh, and have I taken this position for its GET RICH implications? Hardly. We’ll decide this month whether we’ll charge a token amount of money for each dog that comes through the gate in this the pilot year, but I can assure you we’re not talking wind fall here. My personal decision to support the dog pilot has to do with fairness—we’ve shown deference to one group for twenty-five years or so and it’s probably time we give the other side a listen. Once. As a pilot. Discussion to be continued.

Dogs, or more accurately, dog, has been on my mind in another respect the past month or so. Ed, the oldest of our three dogs, began an occasional yelp in pain right around Christmas and by mid-December it just got worse. After the requisite tests and x-rays and telephone consults with the vet, we got the news—eight-year old Eddy has severe arthritis throughout his back. This doesn’t make sense to me and clearly it’s not fair. He’s too young to have this problem this bad. And he’s too good a dog, and too sweet and too utterly dedicated to attending to every malady and mood swing and capricious new whim taken on by his best pal…me. I don’t like it one bit and I told Wes, our vet, how I feel and, he being a busy doc with a huge practice, simply reminded me that ‘you and Lynn have been around the track. Buck up and give him this medicine and get out of Eddy every bit there is left.’ Wes is right but eight still seems just too damned young.

Also I’ve been thinking about David Brace, and about Montie Elston. There’s been a lot made of the pilot dog policy and the historic nature of it. And for sure it’s historical. But we’re in the process of making another kind of history, and this change will, without question, have farther-reaching consequences. Back in October, at its annual organizational meeting, the board of directors appointed David Brace to serve as our new Fathers Day Festival Director. David takes the place of Montie Elston. In my estimation our decision to appoint David was the single most important decision the CBA board has made since appointing Montie ten years ago. Make no mistake, despite its plethora of its programs and activities, events and initiatives, the California Bluegrass Association is the Grass Valley Fathers Day Festival. As goes the festival, so goes the Association. When Montie told the board well over a year ago that we needed to replace him as FDF festival director a pall went over our little group. David, I’m thrilled to report, has brought the sunshine back. With each successive board meeting his reports provide further evidence that we found the right person to step into Montie’s shoes. David Brace has already found his rhythm, already discovered how to work with 13 different crazies and has already begun to put his brand on our annual classic. The crazies are sleeping well these days.

Steve Goldfield has been on my mind as of late. Steve, as you know, became a CBA board member in the fall and has carved out for himself a daunting and often elusive challenge—that of bringing Northern California’s old-time music community into the CBA fold. He’s been on my mind because it’s rare that more than a handful of days go by without hearing from Steve…in an email, during a presentation…about his game plan and its execution. With the second Old-Time Gathering at the FDF, a likely re-boot of the summer-time old-time campout and a myriad of other tactics aimed at pulling this sizeable new group of pickers into the Association, Steve has turned his campaign promise into a reality. Now, folks, it’s up to the rest of us to do everything we can to help him succeed. Know folks at work who like the old-time stuff? Have a brother-in-law who hates bluegrass but warms to Seegeresque twanging? Have a friend who’s wife would agree to come to Grass Valley if there was something in it for her…like dancing? This, friends, is the year to speak up.

Lastly, what’s been on my mind, a lot, are plot twists and character developments and dialogues and ironic twists, which is to say of late I’ve been doing a whole bunch of writing. I’d barred myself from taking on anything new until I finally published my collection of short stories. Now that that’s done (and thanks to everybody who’s bought and read my Why I Never Lie and Nineteen other Mostly True Stories, I’ve been writing like a drunken sailor. (Hopefully more lucidly than a drunken sailor.) I retired from my career back in July and before long I’ll be retired from my CBA job—I’m thankful to be able to report that writing, a pursuit I set aside some forty years ago, is filling the void quite nicely. There’s been one little surprise, however: I’d just assumed I would go back to my passion for short fiction but, as it turns out, there’s a novel clanking around in my brain, who’d a thought, and it’s quite insistent about seeing the light of day.

So that’s where my brain is this sunny Saturday morning. Mostly good stuff. Enjoy what’s left of January and prepare to charge into winter’s end game…IIIrd Tyme out in Morgan Hill, the Sonoma Festival, Winter Music Camp, Bluegrass on the River and then, reset and we’re all back to Turlock.
Posted:  1/24/2012

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