Archive for February 2009

Guitared and Feathered

February 13, 2009

        I play music for a number of reasons; emotional, spiritual, artistic.  I see a lot of bad things in my work, and I can forget them for a moment while I am on stage. 

        Don’t tell my bluegrass boys, but I started out on electric guitar.  My parents were very concerned I might become ‘one of those Beatles.’   When I abandoned my crew cut and my uncle the farmer asked why I grew all that hair, I told him it was ’cause the Beatles were coming.  I recall he said he hoped they didn’t eat his crops.

        My motivation to play music back then was not quite so noble.  I played because it seemed like a good way to meet girls.  On the other hand, maybe I haven’t changed much.  I played with ‘Guitared and Feathered’ (my wife’s band) last night, and my motivation was to get to sing ‘Gold Watch and Chain’ with Marfar, ’cause she lights up like a little school girl when I do.  You can’t take all the boy out of a man; the idea is to let him be a little boy at home so he doesn’t wander off.  She does a good job of that.

        We played Harvey Nursing Home, where thanks to cable television, I am a bit of a local star.  In fact I am world famous all throughout Harvey County.  And my boyhood dreams have all come true.  Most of the ladies were my patients.  They all are about 85, and they say I am such a cute boy.  See, it worked out just like God said it would.  All these years, and I still play music to meet girls.

          One night years ago, I stayed up in the ICU all night with an 81 patient of mine.  I was glad to see dawn break, and she was too.  She said she hated to keep me up all night and keep me away from my Marfar.  I told her it was O.K.  My wife had given me permission to stay up all night with all the women I wanted as long as they were over 80.  My patient got a good laugh out of it, and she lived many more years.

        Some things have changed, though.  When all the little old ladies invited me back to play bingo Wednesday night when my wife had Bible study, Marfar told them I was tied up.  Now that I am closer to 80, I believe she has gone and changed the age limit.

         But a gig with G and F  is always fun.  I get to impress Marfar, and she is the girl who really counts.  See you soon; gone to a bluegrass show.

Dr. B


Some Thoughts on Alison Krauss

February 11, 2009

        As you know, Alison Krauss won a bunch of awards at the Grammys. All of us in bluegrass are very proud of her.  She is an eclectic artist, but will always be bluegrass at heart, even as she dabbles in other genres.

        Years ago, Ms. Krauss frequented many of the same haunts as me and my bluegrass boys.   Even when she was a kid, we knew she’d make it.  Whatever ‘it’ is she had it, even back then.

        But I want you to know she is very down to earth and just a regular person.  Except for being younger, better looking, and more talented, I couldn’t see she was one bit different than me and all the middle aged boys I hung out with.

        Congratulations, Alison Krauss.  To me, you are forever bluegrass and always real, regardless of what music you pick on any given day.

Dr. B

Red Cross In Australia

February 9, 2009

        Folks, our friends in Australia have a major disaster on their hands.  A wildfire has leveled towns and killed a lot of people there.  I saw their Prime Minister on T.V. and he was very upset.  I can be cynical about politics sometimes, but this man was in genuine pain.  His television address was no political play whatsoever.  It reminded me of the despair we all felt about Katrina.  

        I write because I love to write and tell y’all about bluegrass, and I keep my blog pretty much commercial free, but when I see a good cause….  well, I guess it is just the Doc in me, and I’m gonna send ’em a little something.  If y’all feel so moved, I hope you’ll consider that too.  One of my readers is Ms. Karen who is from Queensland, and I pasted her response to my query below.

Dr. B


Here are her thoughts:

Thanks Dr B. It has been an horrendous few days in our beautiful sunburnt country. It’s the worst natural disaster in our nation’s history. It really is incomprehensible how ferocious and devastating the fires were. The fires are mainly in the state of Victoria which is on the southern tip of mainland Australia (only Tasmania is further south). We lived there for 6 years – in fact, two of the places we lived in were affected by the fires. All my family live in Victoria but are thankfully out of danger. They are about an hour away from the worst hit areas. The fire was so intense that people simply didn’t stand a chance – no matter how well prepared they were. The death toll is now up to 130 and climbing. Entire towns have simply been wiped out. Arson is suspected in a large number of cases so these towns are now crime scenes. Over 750 homes have been destroyed. It really is catastrophic. We have a nation in mourning at the moment. My three-year-old understands what’s going on – he asked me some very insightful questions today about where people are going to get clothes and food from. Then he told me he wanted to give the people whose houses burned down a present. We’re going down to the bank tomorrow to give some money from his piggy bank (and mine!) to the cause. Life is so precious…thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

In a painfully ironic situation, north Queensland is in flood. Some towns are totally underwater. A 5 year old was taken by a crocodile in flood waters yesterday. We certainly have both extremes going on in this vast country…

  •   Karen Says:
  • February 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm e  Thank you so much Dr. B!  The Red Cross are co-ordinating the main fundraising for disaster relief. Their address is – the website is rather slow as there are so many people donating, so please be patient.

    Thanks again for supporting our people. It’s going to be a long road to healing…

  • Old Ain’t So Bad

    February 9, 2009

           Old ain’t so bad.  I’m getting used to it.

           I had to get a haircut today.  I was afraid I’d run into my mom and she would say I looked woolly.  To this day, when mom speaks I listen.  No good southern boy wants to disappoint his mama.

            I played a church service last night and my wife said I had more hair than anyone up there except the young lady singer, so it was time to get a trim.   When we warmed up back-stage I mentioned that I had heard a medicine called Crestor might turn your hair black, (I do not know if this is true) and maybe I ought to take some.

            The young lady singer said, “Oh don’t change your hair Dr. B, the gray makes you look wise.”  Now that is a smart young woman.

            My son is a tough kid, and has gotten wiser as he gets older.  When he was fifteen and began to out-drive me when we played golf he would brag about it.  Now that he is twenty-five and can hit it 300 yards, he is very respectful and asks if my last check-up was O.K.

            I tell him he might be younger and stronger than me, can jump higher and run faster, and out-drive me fifty yards, but there was one thing he would never catch me in, and that was wisdom.  The thing of it is the boy is catching up in that too, because he doesn’t protest like he used to.  As he gets older, he has become wiser.

            The young lady last night was wise too.  Maybe nowadays young women call me ‘sir’ and tell me I remind them of their Dad, and the older ones want to know if I am taking new Medicare patients, but at least they have the good sense to say the gray hair makes me look wise.  Like my boy, they know that is all an old man can lay claim to.  My wife is the smartest of all.  She tells it makes me distinguished!

            But like I said, old ain’t so bad.  In my line of work I am reminded every day how lucky I am and I cherish every day.

    Dr. B

    Never Lie to Your Reader

    February 7, 2009

            My manuscript is now in the hands of a contest, and my agent has had some early discussions with publishers.  I have worked on it it snatches of spare time over many years.  Now I have to wait and see.  Will anyone care what one country Doc has to say?  I don’t know.

            I did want to take a minute to tell why I wrote it though.  You probably already know.  One of my regular readers said, “When a man writes like that, and that much, there is a reason.”  I liked that.  There is.

            My agent always says even though you are writing fiction, you must never lie to your reader.  I like that too.  I think my agent is going to be famous someday, because he has a lot of good true sayings like that.

              With my book, that is what I tried so hard to do; show you the truth, at least as best I know it.  Of course, we Docs are in the secret business, so it had to be fiction.  I take an oath not to tell any of my patient’s secrets, and I was determined to do it that way.  But in real life as well as a writer, you have to stand up and tell the truth for your patients, no matter how bad the truth may be.  Because we have been in the secret business so long though, folks have been left out of the inside stories of modern medicine, and the writer part of me wanted to show it in my way before I was gone from this old Earth.            

            Like a good fiction writer, Indie never lied to his patients, no matter what.  I think that is why I loved him so much.  Indie is near the end of the line these days, and I wanted to immortalize him.  He sure wasn’t perfect, and he didn’t pretend to be, but he always put his patient first, even when it wasn’t in his best interest.  That is why he is my hero.

            I appreciate all you guys who have stuck with me on my journey.  If we can’t find a publisher, my agent is committed to see me through to the end, and we’ll self publish.  You deserve to get to read the whole thing, and we’ll find a way to get it out there.

    Dr. B

    A Sad Story

    February 3, 2009

            Years ago I was the only Doc at the office one Thursday when a man came in.  He had a sad story.  His wife was dying of cancer.  She was at one of the big University Hospitals, and there was no more they could do.  They were going to send her home, and Hospice would see her through her last days. 

            The man had been at her bedside around the clock.  In all the turmoil, he overlooked his utility bill at the house, and they had turned off the power.   He had left his checkbook at the Medical Center.  The receptionist pulled his chart and confirmed he was a patient at the practice, though he had not been in for a visit in a year or so.  He asked if we would loan him fifty dollars to get his power turned back on.  One of my staff members came to me in tears and told me the whole story in between patients.  

            I was a young Doc at the time.  I could see the staff looked to me to do the right thing.  They felt sorry for this guy, and I did too, but some of it didn’t ring true.  I heard him out for a minute, and made a decision. 

            “Cut him a check to the Power Company for fifty bucks.  I hate for him to be put out.”

            “Yes sir.”

            You know what happened next.  It wasn’t but fifteen minutes when the Power Company called.  “Hey Doc, do you want us to cash this check for this guy?”

            “No, it’s O.K.  Void it.”

             Turned out he was going from one business to another and had gathered up money at several stops.  Not only did his wife not have cancer, but he was not married.  I called his last employer to see if he remembered the man.

               Boy did he.  “Doc, you hold on to that S.O.B.  I’m gonna come over there and tie a cinder block around his leg and throw him in the Neuse.”  The man had stolen all kinds of equipment from Roy’s construction company.  I was glad the man was already gone.  Roy was law abiding, and didn’t need to buy trouble.   

               I have seen several scams play out, and over time I’ll tell you of some of them.  These guys have already cased the situation before they make a move.  They often target the helping professions such as Docs or Vets, because they know folks that work there are often kind hearted idealists, so watch out for them.

    Dr. B