Author: Cornish, Rick

Grass Valley Hit List
Gradually over the thirty years that I’ve been attending the California Bluegrass Association Fathers Day Festival I’ve accumulated a mental ‘hit list’ of tasks that must be, MUST BE, accomplished during the week leading up to my departure. That week begins today, and as Eddy and I drove the two and a half miles up Jamestown Road toward Whiskey Creek, me sipping my grande’ latte’, he licking the dog biscuit crumbs off his mustache, I began to brush the cob webs from the Grass Valley hit list in my brain. It’s a struggle each year to make certain nothing’s forgotten.

(Why not write the items down on a piece of paper, you ask? I’ve tried this strategy twice…..the first time in 1986, the year my band played at the festival…..and again in 2000, the first year I attended the event as a CBA board member. Both were stand out years for me and I wanted to make certain I didn’t forget a single thing. Problem was, by 1987 I’d misplaced the list from the year before. And in 2001, I’d actually forgotten that I’d even MADE a list the year before.)

So, as we wound up crooked Jamestown Road, the items on the GV hit list began bubbling up in my brain…..

1. Take Hawaiian shirts to dry cleaners; threaten dry cleaner that I’ll take my business elsewhere if he can’t guarantee to have the shirts done by Thursday. (We go through this every year; I always threaten, she always says, ‘Like I said last year, Mr. Cornish, no problem.’)

2. Clean up the old Argosy trailer. (I do the outside, which amounts to not much more than pressure washing the big fella. Lynn, on the other hand, completely scourers the inside…washes, wipes, vacuums, dusts, scrubs, disinfects, etc., etc. I love my wife for doing this, even more in recent years since she doesn’t even sleep in old Argosy. She rents a room downtown.)

3. Select and print/record out new lyrics to learn. (Every year for at least the past 20 I’ve selected three to five bluegrass songs that I will memorize on the drive to Grass Valley. I have never memorized a single song in twenty years….this year will be different.)

4. Charge Palm Pilot; pack PP charger. (I ALWAYS remember to do this being as how I have the lyrics of over a thousand songs in the Palm and it attaches, via Velcro, to the back of my fiddle, pretty much obviating the need to accomplish item 3 above.)

5. Get truck tuned up and checked out. (Once each year, whether it needed it or not, my old, banged-up, filthy ‘75 Ford pick-up got taken to the mechanic for a complete once over. And every year my mechanic would make the same smart aleck report when I came to pick it up—‘Only thing this ol’ boy needs is replacement.’ Ha, ha, ha. Well, last June, on the stretch of Highway 49 just leaving Auburn toward Grass Valley, the front end of the old white F-150 met up with the back end of a brand new mega-tank of a Dodge-whatever and the jerk of a mechanic got his wish. Dodge, 1; Ford, 0. As in totaled. Now I drive a 1995 Ford F-150, sold to me by my good friend and colleague Bob Thomas, and it’s still in pristine condition, even after belonging to me for a year now. It’ll be interesting to hear what the mechanic has to say.)

6. Select and pack recorded music for camp. (This is probably the dumbest, biggest waste of time item on the hit list. I spend hours deciding what CD’s to bring, checking the batteries on the boom box, packing larger speakers, and on and on. And once I get to the campgrounds I play CD’s the first day and MAYBE the second….and that’s it. Stupid. I may leave this off the list next year. Of course it’s nice to be able to listen to music while setting up camp. We’ll see.)

7. Make list of TO DO’S for festival week. (Yes, it’s absolutely true—I have a hit list of tasks for the week BEFORE Fathers Day week that includes making a list of tasks to do DURING Fathers Day week. But let me explain. This item was really only added to my mental hit list about ten years ago and is important because I count on Fathers Day week to make contact and do business with people I do not see the rest of the year….or only see at certain events during festival season. And more recently the items have to do with getting CBA business accomplished. As of this morning, there are only three items on the list. A week from today, when it will be several times longer, the list will be duct taped to the fridge door in the Argosy.)

8. Inventory tank tops. (I usually take care of this task right in the middle of the week. On the one hand, I don’t want to do it too early and then find that the stock I thought I had has been whittled down; while on the other hand, I need to give Lynn time to wash and neatly fold last minute tanks. What I’ve learned over the years is that having just the right collection of tank tops, two for each day, in the proper assortment of colors, designs and event commemorations, can make or break a Fathers Day Festival.)

9. Pack trailer and truck. (Each year this happens on the Friday before the Saturday I leave. There’s yet a third list devoted to items that must be packed; this one I keep in my palm pilot. I won’t bother you with the details of this hit list item except to say that packing takes ALL DAY and is done with more care than I give to any other task in my daily life. There is simply nothing on earth that is more frightening to me than forgetting to take along to Grass Valley something that is truly essential. And EVERYTHING on my Palm Pilot list is truly essential.

10. Kiss wife and dogs goodbye. (I always go to Grass Valley alone, and Lynn, who loves bluegrass somewhat less than me, comes during the week. Hence the kiss. As for the dogs, well, Grass Valley week is the longest period of time each year that I spend away from my three dog pals, so these goodbyes are usually pretty emotional. For me, not the dogs.

So those are some of the tasks I’ve got staring me in the face this week. It’s only 8:45 a.m. so I’m sure more will bubble up as the day progresses. Hope your list isn’t as long or daunting.

Have a terrific weekend and be sure to listen to and/or play some bluegrass, gospel or old time music.
Posted:  6/3/2007

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