Archive for the ‘Holidays’ category

I Resolve…

December 31, 2011

        I don’t make many New Year’s resolutions; I’m a perpetual planner already. I will make this one though. I’m gonna do everything I can to be here this time next year to make some more resolutions. I realize we don’t have much control over it, but we can at least play the odds to live; don’t drink and drive, wear seat belts, be a non-smoker etc. I had too much fun with the grandchild around to not make my best run at another year.

        Here’s to a healthy and prosperous New Year for all my family and friends; y’all are the best.

        Will post more Monday; I’ll have some fun things to report on.

Dr. B


Blessed be The Readers

December 18, 2011

        Here we are near the end of the year. Bless all of you readers and artists out there. I developed a very bad illness (brain tumor; it’s hard to type that) late last spring and you have helped me so much. Prior to the tumor my day revolved around my patients. It was  a constant human interaction and while it was stressful, I enjoyed it. I miss them. All of you, my electronic human connections, have bridged the gap and allowed me to feel useful while I am confined to bed or chair much more than I have ever been used to.

        Also I must add I would have never made it through the year without my wife who now has a 210 pound baby on her hands. She is the best. My children have been most helpful too. Even though they have busy lives, they call often and visit as much as they can, which is pretty regular. God bless them too.

        I continue to peck away on my projects. This year I have all plans to release the children’s mandolin coloring book, my second novel, “Acquisition Syndrome,” and a mandolin duet CD with Darin Aldridge (  Also Wayne Benson and I will start “Practical Theory for Mandolin,” which may take a year or more to complete. It is based on Wayne’s lesson plans. I believe his method via this book (or personal lessons with him) will help the less gifted musician (like me!) play at a higher level. Check out “My Art Projects” page on the right hand side bar of my blog for more details on these projects.

        Again, if you are an Amazon Prime member “The Mandolin Case,” and also “The Bluegrass Brain Cancer Boogie” are available as a free download as part of Amazon’s promotion of their program. Check in with Amazon and see my post of 12 14 2011 for details.

       I hope all you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. As a writer, and a man who thrives on social interaction, I thank you. If you are a writer, musician, blogger, FaceBooker, (At first I though it was called “My Face”) a commenter, reader; really any human being who cares about a life of grace and dignity, I thank you. I am confident I would not have fared as well without you.

        I’ll be back soon.

Dr. B

Sleigh Ride

December 17, 2011

        This is my song of the day. I recently heard a Carol King version I liked a lot.

        We used to play this in the high school band. One day we were practicing it for the Christmas concert. The trombone section got together and decided to jazz up our solo. (I was the lead trouble-maker) When our time came we stood up and blared out the hillbilly jazz, swaying our trombone slides to the music as we went. Lots of fun.

        The band director protested but with a smile. He knew better than to try to snuff out a mischievous love of music. It became to nucleus of a small group called the stage band, and we were the first players he called on.

        I think I was all the way to college before I realized the world had any problems.

Y’all have a Merry Christmas.

Dr. B

Charlie Brown Christmas

December 16, 2011

        My computer is acting up and would not post this on FaceBook today.

        My Song of the Day is “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” Artist: Charlie Brown and the gang, Linus on the piano.

        I send this out to all the Charlie Browns of the world; the humble kids who’s rather sing than fight, preferred to play music instead of football, shy but sociable; you know ’em. Most of them found their way to an adult life of grace and dignity.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!!!

Dr. B

“The Donkey Coat” (The Friendly Beasts)

December 4, 2011

        This is a re-run from 2009, but it is one of my personal favorites.

        My daughter has a coat we call the donkey coat.  Her mother made it for her years ago, and she still wears it. She is a hip young lady, and says all her friends find it very chic.  They don’t know we call it the donkey coat and we won’t tell.

        It is a brown wrap-like thing. Maybe you’d call it a shawl. I’m a dumb man; I’m not sure.  Her mama knitted it years ago. When my daughter first wore it, it went all the way down to her ankles. She was in the church Christmas pageant, and it was the coat that served to dress her up as a donkey. (She graduated to being Mary the next year) The outfit had a hood with some floppy ears too, but I don’t think she wears that part of the get-up now.

        For years I got out the video of her as the little singing donkey. You know the line: “I said the donkey, shaggy and brown…”

       We had an open door policy at the house, and I forever had friends show up to visit. Sometimes it was to ask about a tune they were looking for; sometimes it was a blood pressure question. I didn’t mind, but the down side for them at Christmas was they had to suffer through the donkey video. They didn’t seem to mind; she grew up in music and wasn’t a bad singer. About the time she turned thirteen she began to protest a bit so we put it away for a while.

        I remember one of the last times I shared it with anyone. One winter Wednesday it was bitter cold out. I was off work. It was way too cold for golf and no one was picking any music, so I was at home. We had a lady who helped us some in the house back then. My wife and daughter had gone out shopping.  When they came back home me and Ms. Violet were sitting on the couch watching the donkey video. 

        “I said the donkey shaggy and brown…”   The ears flopped down over her eyes. Marie flipped them aside and never missed a beat. “I carried his mother up hill and down…” 

        “Lawdy Mr. Tommy if that ain’t the sweetest thing I ever saw in my life.”

        “Ain’t it, though?”

        Marfar and Miss Marie came home and found us there. Marie rolled her eyes. “Daddy, you’re hopeless.”

        “Uh… well… yeah, uh… my contacts are bothering me, that’s all.” 

        I hadn’t shared the donkey tape with anyone in years, but when Marie came home wearing that shawl, I knew what it meant.

        She brought it up first. “Daddy, don’t you want to watch the donkey video?”

        “Sure kid. Let’s see. I wonder where that old thing is?  Hm.” I went over and opened a few of the drawers of the end table near my seat in the den.  “Hey.  Look here; it’s on DVD now.”

        She smiled.  “Just don’t tell anyone you still watch it, Dad.”

        “Okay, sweetie. I won’t; I promise.”  

        “I said the donkey, shaggy and brown…”

        “You know, you always did have a nice voice.”

        ”But don’t give up my day job?”

        ”Right, right. But I tell you what’s the truth, that’s some good singing.”

        ”Yes, Daddy.”

Dr. B



An Old Man’s Prayer

April 23, 2011

        “Lord, why do I have to be so slow these days? Why, when I was a young man I could run so fast.”

        “I see you don’t have to walk with a cane. You should be thankful.”

        “Yes, Sir. I guess so; I know You are right. My steps are awful slow, though. I’m getting to be an old man.”

        “You’re not old, you’re just a few steps closer to Heaven. Surely your prayer is not that I speed those steps up? I have found if people get a glimpse of Heaven while they are still on Earth, as you have been so fortunate to do, they sometimes will get in a hurry.”

        “Uh, well …. uh, yes, Sir. I understand. No, I’m not in a hurry, Sir.”

         “Good, because I have work left for you to do on Earth before you come Home for good. Besides, what’s the rush? This Eternity is a long gig. It’ll wait on you.”

        “Okay. Got it. I’ll follow your path.”

        “You’re getting older. The road can be rough and rocky. I don’t want you to trip and fall. So, be careful. And, take your time.”

        “Yes, Sir. I promise.”

Dr. B

New Year, New Readers, New Pages

January 1, 2011

        I’m gonna dedicate this post to my new readers, folks like jel and 4 minutewriter. As I read 4minute’s thoughtful comment on my Earl Scruggs and Family post some time back, I realized through the efforts of a country doctor who loves traditional music, I had been able to write in a way that young, bright people became interested in the music I love. 

       It moved me to start a new page on my blog, called “The Reader’s Music Selections.”  I kicked it off with some of my personal favorites, but I hope you will chime in via the comments with your own choices.

       Mine will reflect our personal home and office IPOD, and will tend to be bluegrass, but I’m eclectic, and there will be many other genres represented. 

         They can be famous, but they don’t have to be. If you know a regional artist who strikes your fancy, put ’em on the list. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be able to say, “I predicted that one a long time ago; you can look it up on old Dr. B’s blog.”

        Also I added a new page called “All Things Southern.” As I run across things I consider southern, I’ll post and file them away here. These will range from barbecue joints to magazines, and will be in no particular order. I hope you’ll add yours in the comments on this page too.

        Keep in mind for my purposes “southern” is a state of mind, not  a place. It encompasses anything which embodies the spirit of people who live with a sense of community, regardless of geographic location. Take traveling Ted Lehmann for example. He and his wife Irene are southern to me. Maybe it’s ’cause they’re from southern New Hampshire, but it’s mostly because they do so much to document the world of bluegrass. 

        My primary blog focus this year will be the back-story and development of my second novel, “Acquisition Syndrome,” a true fiction expose of the transition of medicine from healing art to business. (Don’t worry; I’m gonna fight that all the way to the end.) I promised my Lit agent I would have a manuscript editor ready by Jan. 1, 2012, and I always do what I can to deliver what I promise. 

        So, I’ve thanked my new readers, but I want to be sure to thank my old ones too, folks like the English Professor, the Two Quote Kid, and Billy the truck driver. As Sam Snead used to say “dance with who brung ya.” I’d never have gotten this far without you. All the best guys, and keep the art going. It keeps us all halfway sane in what can be a nutty world.

Dr. B

An Old Story to Close Out the Old Year

December 31, 2010

        I’m gonna paraphrase this one, ’cause I like to give folks (even the bad guys) some wiggle room should they choose to accept it.

        One time a young fellow told me (in so many words) “I don’t like it that you have seen some success. I don’t think it’s fair. I want you know I’m better looking than you, more talented, and younger and stronger. If I wanted to I could knock your teeth out of you and there wouldn’t be a thing you could do about it.”  

        I replied, again paraphrased, “Well friend, all that is true. I have no doubt you could kick my a^^. But I’ve got an awful lot of friends. If you knock my teeth outta me, all that’s gonna happen is you’re gonna be down in the jail with the rapists, and I’m gonna get some new teeth, ’cause I’m old and I’ve got good insurance. And if I was to be mad at everyone who’d been more successful than me, why I’d never get through counting the number of new enemies I’d have, ’cause it’d be a big bunch of people.”

        I don’t understand testosterone poising, and never have, even when I was young.

        One time a very powerful man, one I have all respect for, told me he was scared of me.

        I replied, “Scared of me? Man, that’s crazy, I’m scared of you. Why in the world are you scared of me?”

       He said, “I’m always scared of the honest nice guys, ’cause their river runs deep.”

       I still consider it one of the greatest compliments I ever got.

       I’m still scared of him, though, or at least respect him deeply, ’cause his river runs deep too.

       Here’s to a fine upcoming New Year for all of you. If you’ve ever read one word of my thoughts, I do appreciate it, because through art and our friends of like mind, my wife and I found a life of grace and dignity. That was worth every long hour of struggle, ’cause in this modern world grace and dignity can be hard to come by, and we cherish every minute of it we can steal away.

        Oh by the way, I still have the teeth God gave me, and I lost track of that young man. I don’t know where he got off to.

       God bless every one of you.

Dr. B 

My Christmas Present and Other Ramblings

December 28, 2010

        I can’t say I came up hard, but my Dad sure did, and he made certain we understood how fortunate we were. I remember one time he bought a set of barber clippers to save the family money on haircuts, but abandoned the idea ’cause we were three wild boys who ran and hid in the basement to dodge his “hair-cutting/cost-cutting” measures. The dang thing didn’t cut hair, it pulled it out. (ouch!)

       My uncle got an early Buick dealership, and gave Dad a good deal on a new car. When Dad pulled that car up in driveway, I thought we sure enough must be rich, ’cause we the first family on the block with two cars, and one of ’em was fancy and had fins. Dad said it was a luxury, but we needed it ’cause he didn’t want to strand my Mom alone when he was at the hospital, which was much of the time.

        For a long time we didn’t have a television, and only got the color version after the neighbors bought one. Their den had a new window air-conditioner, so we began to spend a lot of time over there on summer evenings. After a while Dad gave in and got a color T.V. and one of the AC units too. He never liked color T.V. though; said it made everyone look jaundiced. I went and looked it up, and decided my Dad was very smart to be able to diagnose folks from a distance like that. 

        My middle brother caught on to the Santa Claus thing when dad had the bike I’d outgrown repainted and put it under the tree for him for Christmas. I told my brother not to tell; the least one of the family still had a few good years left. 

        Maybe it’s cause I never missed a meal, but I wasn’t a material sort of guy, and didn’t ask for much of anything, even as a kid.  I never did get the bumper sticker that said, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” For me it was more, “Good Lord have mercy, enough is plenty, take care of what ya got.”

       But then again my people always gave me anything I needed anyway, so I guess I just never did understand what it as like to be abandoned and alone in the world.

       Here’s one Christmas present I’ve gotten a number of times. My wife gave me my mandolin for my 45th birthday years ago. (legend has it Darin Aldridge had a hand in that too) 

        This year I had a little work done on it; refret etc, and it’s good as new. Many a Christmas I’ll put it under the tree and let my wife give the mandolin to me all over again. If you’ve found what works why change?

        As I’ve said many times, my wife gave me two beautiful children and a Gibson mandolin and she puts together a fine holiday for the family every year. She never needs to give me anything else. I already have far more than enough for the rest of my time on Earth.

        Oh, I got to ramblin’ and forgot to tell you what I got for Christmas this year. You gotta watch out for gray-haired docs with a good memory; they can get like that. My wife got me one of these new Kindles. The kids loaded it up with the new Mark Twain autobiography, “The Complete Works of Mark Twain,” and, you guessed it, “The Mandolin Case.”

       I laughed and said, “Did y’all get Mark to sign it?”

       The rolled their eyes like kids do. Do my people know me? Two out of the three writers on my Kindle are famous, (Twain and Twain) and the other one is lucky to still be kicking. (me) This Kindle is the ticket.

        The Kindle is very cool, but somehow just not that photogenic, so I took a picture of my mandolin instead. In our house, it’s as timeless as Twain. After all, I named a book after it. 

        Hope y’all had a blessed Christmas, and all the best in 2011,

Dr. B

Oops, had to take the pic down. It displayed the serial number bigger than Dallas, and it didn’t seem like a good idea.

A Christmas Coat of Many Colors

December 24, 2010

        My daughter came in for Christmas and told me she read on the Internet about “Dear Santa” letters. It seems the U.S Post office has some central location where they keep up with letters kids write to Santa, and then try to respond in some way.

       Often in the past they’d see where kids wanted some kind of gadget; the latest X-box or whatever, but this year was different. They were overwhelmed with “Dear Santa” letters from kids who only wanted a warm coat for Christmas.

       Dang. Here we live in the most wealthy country in the world and these kids don’t have a coat. We waste more here than some countries have. That got to me.

       Dolly Parton’s song, “A Coat of Many Colors” came to mind. One year as a kid her winter coat was a patch-work item her mama pieced together, and Dolly wrote the song about it years later. I don’t know Ms. Parton, but one reason I believe her artistry rings true is I bet she hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to come up tough. She grew up in Sevierville, Tennessee, and used to sing on the early morning “Cas Walker Farm and Fun” show. I understand they had to set her up on Co-Cola crates so she could reach the mic.

      Anyway, when my daughter told me that it got me to thinking. I wish there was a way we could all donate a coat to those kids. Just think about it; it’d be coats of many colors from all over the country.

       Like all good ideas, it seems simple, but probably isn’t. You’d think everyone could just get up with their postmaster and see how to make it happen from their locale on a grass-roots (bluegrass roots) level. After all, like the Pony Express, those guys know how to deliver the mail, huh?

       I think it’d be so cool for it to be a Christmas bluegrass coat of many colors. After all, bluegrass artists forever donate their time to all sorts of causes. It’s the bluegrass way. We’re music people, not money people, but a coat we no longer use sounds like something we could all do.

       But even if the more global idea isn’t workable, at the very least I hope folks will take a coat down to GoodWill, the local women’s shelter, or whatever local outfit that does such things in your area and see that it goes to a child this winter. Tell ’em it’s a bluegrass coat of many colors, and in a roundabout way it came from Dolly Parton. That’ll make it special. If I were a kid, I’d dig a coat like that. 

Dr. B