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A Supposedly Fun Thing…*

At least we were laughing by the time we got home. It was nobody’s fault. (As Nixon would say, “Mistakes were made.”

Somebody had a good time.

After a month of singing the praises of our new hometown, I found some flies in the ointment. Or rather fire ants. And that was the least of our Fourth from Hell.

Not knowing exactly what the setup was or what to expect, we got to the Robert Earl Keen Kerrville Fourth of July celebration early enough to park fairly close, west (upstream) from the event. Fireworks at 9:30; arrival a bit after 6. That’s a lot of time to kill in high 90s heat. And we had the dog.

Chloe, Junior and I took a walk to the river below the dam, where it’s easy to wade and Junior could plunk himself down to cool off. Not having suits, Chloe and I sat on a little ledge near some rapids. I assured her we’d dry off quickly, and anyway having wet shorts would be cooler.

This killed maybe 30 minutes. There were musical acts during this time, but the setup was such that, unless you were within the actual audience seating area, you couldn’t see the stage. There were vendor trucks, beer tents, sound trucks, trailers, amp towers totally blocking views to people outside that small perimeter (and this was a free event in a huge park).

I took a very long time walking to the rest room (rather than using a portapotty) and filled the water bottles, during which I heard the National Anthem. I missed Keen’s intro and had no idea who was performing when I got back to our blanket.

I hadn’t heard Robert Earl Keen for at least 30 years–my late friend Sunny was a big fan and she took me to see him in the late ’80s. I don’t know if he’s deteriorated with age, but I kept wondering who this guy with the awful voice was. His vocal delivery is flat, bordering on musically flat, and his range is tiny. The band–mandolin, fiddle, steel guitar etc.–was fabulous, and he should just shut up and let them play.

Finally, after an encore/singalong of “This Land is Your Land,” every verse, at half-tempo (Woody Guthrie was spinning in his grave), it was time for the fireworks–9:35.

We took Junior because he gets hysterical when he’s left alone too long, and I thought he’d be ok if we held him tight during the fireworks. And he was, for a couple of minutes. Then he just wanted out. Chloe and I hugged him and held onto the leash for dear life. In addition to hurting all over from being on the hard ground, I was besieged by fire ants up my right arm.

We decided to head out after about 15 minutes of this torture. Got yelled at by a cop for crossing the street in front of traffic (the light changed quickly). I said to him, “Please don’t make my day any worse than it already is.” We found the way to the car and pressed on, realizing that we were going directly toward the fireworks (upstream, remember?), with Junior pulling as hard as he could in the opposite direction.

It was like being in a war zone, with an audience along the sidewalk watching us. I felt like Wonder Woman crossing No Man’s Land, but without a shield.

We reached the car before the fireworks ended and hightailed it home. Gary and I were laughing by the time we reached Goat Creek Rd. (a great place to laugh) and he missed a turn and nearly put us in a ditch.

Chloe had a bowl of cereal and Gary and I each had an adult beverage. Junior slurped up a bowl of water (we had been giving him water all evening) and went under a table.

Gary insisted on what I called a “post-mortem.” I insisted there was nothing to discuss. He needs to make friends between now and July 2018. Until Congress moves July 4th to October, when it’s cooler and gets dark early, I’m done with the Fourth.

* David Foster Wallace, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” an essay collection.




Seventh Summer: God Chuckles

You know what they say about making plans: God laughed at our Krause Springs plans. On Wednesday, Chloe fell against the handlebars of her bike and had five stitches in her chin. She’s not allowed to swim until the stitches come out, probably Monday.

Waiting for the stitches

Waiting for the stitches



So we revised our “plans” and decided we’d go to the local fireworks. In the meantime we  had an afternoon to fill. Last Sunday at church was “solar Sunday,” and Chloe had instructions for making solar s’mores. She had cadged a pizza box from somewhere and I put together the rest of the materials: foil, clear plastic, tape, black paper, a craft knife, plus graham crackers, marshmallows and Dove Promises).

Solar smores

Solar smores

Campfire s’mores have nothing to worry about. The chocolate melted okay but instead of that crusty black char covering molten lava, the marshmallows were merely a little warm.

There were people at the pool and Chloe wanted to go check it out even though she knew she wasn’t allowed to swim.

Sulking because she can't swim

Sulking because she can’t swim

She asked if she could put on her bathing suit and wade. The people were very nice and offered her their floats, but it wasn’t the same.

We tried to take a nap, which wound her up. Fortunately, our next door neighbor was cooking out and invited us to bring drinks and throw something on the grill, a pleasant diversion with good company. Chloe had a much-needed bath and we caught the bus for downtown–the wisest decision we made all day. Traffic was horrible. Even though the bus was crowded and Chloe sat on my lap both ways, it was better than driving and trying to park. The woman on stilts fascinated Chloe but she wouldn’t go near her.

At the fireworks, hiding her stitches from the camera

At the fireworks, hiding her stitches from the camera

stiltwalker at fireworks

We kept her overnight and after breakfast she staged a show, a retelling the great myths of the battle between good and evil. My feng shui array animals on the hearth, including dragons, giraffes, frogs, lizards, a tiny bull, birds and assorted sea creatures, were the combatants.


Chloe laid out turquoise and green cloth and deemed the dragons the evil forces. One blue fish was the “fish of harmony,” and the paper cranes were the peace birds. After evil forces were defeated, the sun (the pink scarf) set  on the animals witnessing the epic events.



Sea creatures of harmony

Sea creatures of harmony

River and sea story 2

Crane of peace

Crane of peace

Animals watching the battle. Tiger is the guard.

Animals watching the battle. Tiger is the guard.

The sun sets on the animals

The sun sets on the animals

Wounded and defeated dragon.

Wounded and defeated dragon.

I was so enthralled I had a hard time tearing myself away to get ready for a dentist appointment.

At her house her mother surprised her with a new “art wall” in her room.

Artist's gallery, aka Chloe's room

Artist’s gallery, aka Chloe’s room

We are tentatively “planning” to take Chloe and her cousin Bryan to Krause Springs on Tuesday, if the doctor approves.

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