Archive for the ‘Holidays’ category

Harvey County Christmas and New Year

December 20, 2010

        Things don’t change much in Harvey County. As my daughter always says, “Daddy, some things never change and you’re one of ’em.”

        The official kick-off for the season is lawyer Roy Davidson’s Christmas party. Some of y’all read about it in “The Mandolin Case.” It’s a saints and sinners kinda gig; open to everyone from the judge to the law to the criminals, both the blue and white collar variety. There usually aren’t more than a couple of prisoners. They they have to wear those orange suits with HCJ on the back, but they’re welcome. Most of ’em aren’t too bad; just got into too much shine.

        Lou Bedford brings the best gumbo from the Billiard and Bowl, and there are cheese balls and roast beef, and pudding or red velvet cake for dessert. There’s sweet tea and Co-Cola in the living room and Southern Comfort out on the back porch. 

        Darin always drives over from Cherryville in Gaston County and we play twin mandolin Christmas carols in the parlor for Fred who was a huge Country Gentlemen fan. We always play “What Child is This” (we do it in Am) ’cause Roy likes it so much. My Mom and Dad sit at our table every year. They’re still thankful I didn’t run off and become one of those Beatles, and are tickled Darin is my main musical influence, ’cause he’s a good boy. I was too, just ask Mama.

        The second Friday is always the Sandy River Cats gig at the old banker’s house. I always sit in with them. Sandy River is the only swing band in these parts. We play music mostly from the 40s and 50s; Duke Ellington, Bing Crosby, Glen Miller etc. My favorite on the mandolin for our annual Christmas gig is “Let it Snow.”

        Farmer Cline hitches up his horses for carriage rides downtown, and Harvey Methodist still puts on the traditional Christmas pageant. One year my kids graduated all the way to Mary and Joseph, but they started out as donkeys like everyone else.

        Patients bring everything from banana bread to Whitman’s Sampler boxes to the office. Yesterday an eighteen wheeler pulled up out in the parking lot. The driver walked to the front desk, and said he had a package from his friend Billy the truck driver. When I opened it I had to chuckle. It was Gotham Writers’ Workshop “Writing Fiction.” I reckon Billy sent it as a message; ‘You’re doing good, Doc, but you must continue to study; there is still much to learn.’

        Billy is an enigma. A truck driver who loves Faulkner and writes poetry, yet only got interested in bluegrass via a physician bluegrass fiction blog. One of his favorite writers is Silas House, because Mr. House got a lot of his ideas driving his mail route. Billy said Silas was a smart man, ’cause he never wasted his driving time, but instead thought up books in his head while he was on the job. Then all he had to do was go home and write ’em down. One of these days Billy is gonna write a truck driver book; you wait and see.

        Billy listens to books on his Kindle as he travels the highways. He predicts the day after Christmas will be the biggest day for e-book sales in history, and sent me a card that he hopes everyone would download “The Mandolin Case.” 

        You can never judge people. Until you get to know ’em you don’t know ’em. Billy might not have a college degree, but he knows a lot because he reads. I’ve never met Billy, yet because he is a reader I have learned a lot from him.       

         Anyway, when this fellow dropped off the package, he also asked if he could buy a copy of “The Mandolin Case.” He said he wanted to give it to his wife for Christmas, then turned red and mumbled something about page four. The man said he wasn’t much of a reader, but Billy had told him not to let that stop him. “There’s something in that book for everyone,” Billy had told the man.

        I want to wish all of you the best of holidays. I have a lot on tap for the New Year. I’m gonna get headlong into my second book, “Acquisition Syndrome” and will update you as I go. Also I have a couple new blog pages planned and I’ll let you know about. My blog posts may not be quite as long as I hope to concentrate more on the new book, but I’ll be here regular, at least once or twice a week.

        The kids are due in, the wife and I are well, and there is much music to play, so I’ll see y’all right after the New Year. My loyalty list is still the same. The top of the page starts with faith and family, close friends, staff, patients, and music and golf pals, but dang if my readers haven’t become high on my list too. I’ve learned a lot from all of you and always appreciate your thoughtful comments. I better put my agent and editor in there too; those guys are hard to come by, and I don’t ever want to have to look for new ones. It’s sorta like if you got lucky and found the right spouse, no use to make any changes when you’re that fortunate.

       May you have a blessed holiday. All the best for 2011,

Dr. B


Me I Want a Hoo-Lee-Hoop

December 10, 2010

        My FaceBook Song of the Day a few Saturdays ago was “The Chipmunk Christmas Song.” 

        Back in the day the kids sang this in the school Christmas extravaganza. My boy let his line rip, “Me I want a hoo-lee-hoop!” He had on the sweater letter jacket with the “A,” wore the little glasses, (we meshed Alvin and Simon into one there) and hit it dead on pitch in a perfect chipmunk imitation. It brought the house down.

        Don’t tell his buddies; he’s a genuine tough guy now.

        All I can say is ALLLLLVVIIIIIIN!

Dr. B

Lyrics to Turkey in the Straw (Public Domain)

November 25, 2010

        As y’all know “Turkey in the Straw” is a public domain tune, which means it has been around so long it belongs to all of us. (like me) Bet you didn’t know it has words.

       Truth is as far as I know it didn’t until today. I’m making this up as I go along. This is a fine strategy for an artist; I do not recommend that approach for the doctor aspect of life. Better to know what you are doing ahead of time in that gig.

        Anyway, here’s the chorus. Y’all feel free to chime in with a verse if you like. Just remember this is a public forum and “Turkey in the Straw” is a public domain song, so if you hear someone sing it in Tuscon next year, all you get is the satisfaction to know you are a part of the extended bluegrass family. To me, that’s enough, and this Thanksgiving I find myself more thankful than ever for the privilege.

Turkey in the Straw (Chorus)

Turkey’s in the oven… turkey’s in the straw
That’s as fine a turkey….  as I ever saw
Taters are a sizzling…… and the gravy’s in the pan
Have a cup of coffee, stay for supper if you can.

        Y’all have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Dr. B

Easter and Another Chance

April 2, 2010

        Just a brief post today before the holiday. My kids are both gonna be in. When they are home I tend to get lazy and spent the time with them.

        I did want to update you on my progress.  I’ve had a few more articles placed in music publications, and I am making progress on my book. Right now a graphic artist is designing a cover. I guess it is possible they could change their mind and say no, but I believe the odds of that are less than one percent. I hope to tell you more soon.

         Here is one lesson in Indie’s story. Indie always said it didn’t take any talent to be wicked.  Any fool could do that.  To be a decent person and not get take advantage requires creativity to the point of art. In ‘The Mandolin Case” you will see what he means, and I look forward to the chance to show his story.

        Here’s my Easter wish for all my readers. I pray all of you will get to live a life of grace and dignity. If people insist they must deny you that right, then I hope they will leave you alone so you can be happy. If they don’t, well, maybe the lessons I learned and have posted on my blog or the story of “The Mandolin Case” might give you some insight as to how you might out-wit them.

        After all, Easter is a time for rejuvenation, a time for a second chance.  Jesus knew none of us are perfect, and if we trust in Him we’ll all be set free. This will be true in Heaven for sure. I hope we don’t have to wait that long though. Maybe we’ll see some glimpse of Heaven while we are here on Earth. I believe God doesn’t want us to live in fear and intimidation. I’ve been very fortunate not to have to live that way. This Easter I pray for the same for all my friends and readers.

        All the best guys. I’ll be in and out untill Monday and will talk to you then.

Dr. B

Here’s To Marfar (Valentine’s Day)

February 15, 2010

        Now, before my readers get confused, I want you to know I didn’t forget Valentines Day.  We got back from the festival mid-day Sunday and had a quiet day at home.  I never would have made it as a touring musician.  I was a little short on talent in the monitors, but even more important, a short week-end is a long time away from home.  (We’re gonna stretch that out a little for a while when the book comes out)  As the song says, home is where the heart is, and mine is right here.

        I thought about our Valentine’s Day weekend.  For an overgrown bluegrass boy if your wife’s idea of a romantic get-away is a weekend at a bluegrass festival to listen to the pros play by day, Valentine’s dinner with your kids at the Japanese steakhouse, and then pick and sing half the night, and her only special treatment is the first cup of coffee brought to her before she gets out of bed the next morning; well, that’s a good woman right there. 

        If your wife gives you two beautiful children and a Gibson mandolin, and can play the bass and sing a good tenor line, I recommend you hold her close.

        As one old boy said, “Doc, is this your wife?”

        “Yes, sir.”

        “Son, you sure out-punted your coverage.”

        I did and I ain’t too proud to say so.  Here’s to Marfar; Happy Valentines Day! (It was yesterday wasn’t it?)

Dr. B

What’s For Supper Grandpa? – Grace and Dignity in 2010

January 1, 2010

        “What’s for supper Grandpa?”  I used to love that old Grandpa Jones routine.  Today it’s black-eyed peas and ham with turnip greens and vinegar.  We’ll have Marfar’s country cornbread on the side.  I like mine in milk for dessert.

        For every human being who took the time to read a word of my blog in 2009, I thank you.  My agent and editor have taught me a lot, but they always said, “listen to your reader. They will teach you more.” 

        You have been my number one influence as a writer.  We have six publishers looking at ‘The Mandolin Case.”  I hope one says yes, but I could always self-publish if I had to. What is more important to me is my reader.  I hope when it comes out you will enjoy it, and that what I learned and reported on to the best of my ability will enrich your life in some small way.

       It’s very much like being a doctor.  Some people say, “You’re lucky; you don’t have a boss.”

        My response is, “I am lucky.  But the truth is I have thousands of bosses.  They are my patients.  If I don’t meet their needs it’s time for me to go home.”  I feel the same way about my readers.  I’m sure it sounds sappy to modern folks, but I view every one of you as important just as I do with my patients.  So, I hope I made your life a little better in 2009 for having run into me.

        Indie used to say we had to play music.  He said, “Boy, you’re gonna have a lot come at you.  Some docs try to pretend it ain’t there, and stuff it all as deep down inside as they can.  It’s gonna come out one way or another.”  We did our best to deal with pain by playing music. 

        I don’t pretend to be perfect, but when I see guys who deal with it all by booze, chasing women, or ‘eating their mail,’  (taking sample pills) I wonder if they’d be happier to pursue the arts.  As a doc I saw a lot.  When your buddy gets struck down with some awful cancer, sometimes I’d have to go in my study, close the door, and cry for a minute.  Somehow you have to recompose and try again.  It was hard.  If it hadn’t been for my music, and writing in my later years, I don’t know how I’d a gotten through it.

        My wife has a saying I have quoted before.  “We aim for a life of grace and dignity.’  For 2010, my hope is that all my friends, be they my patients, my fellow musicians, or the readers and writers here in the blog world, will all find some measure of that grace and dignity.   

         I believe we’ll see Perfection in Eternity, but through the arts we have a shot at some of it while we trudge along here on Earth.  Artists unite!  Let’s take over the world in 2010.  Should we fail, we’ll dust off and try again in 2011.  They can’t stop us.

Dr. B

My Christmas Thoughts

December 25, 2009

        Harvey County might be small, and perhaps we are not that sophisticated, but my heart aches for those who do not hope and pray for a life of grace and dignity for all people.  To me they are as cynical as the mean people what dissed Santa Clause to little Virginia years ago. 

        I realize all your little friends will not believe in Harvey County.  To them I harbor no hate or ill will, but I do ask they listen to the music of Darin and Brooke Aldridge, or read the work of Dr. Tommy Bibey, then open their hearts and try to understand.   Here in Harvey County we believe if humans pray hard and do their best they can overcome hatred and prejudice. 

        There is a better way in this world than hard-hearted and greedy.  It will all be perfect in Eternity, but I believe we do not have to wait till then to at least try to approximate the love God offers us.

                All the best and Merry Christmas,

Dr. B

The Donkey Coat

December 24, 2009

        My daughter has a coat we call the donkey coat.  I didn’t know until now she still wore 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 I put it away.

        I remember one of the last times I shared it with anyone.  One winter Wednesday it was bitter cold out.  It 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 Marie 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…” 

        “Mr. Tommy, Lawdy 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 in wearing that shawl, I knew what it meant.

        She brought it up tonight.  “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 kid, 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

Christmas in the Trenches

December 24, 2009

       John McCutcheon tells us this story in a song.  Like many of the best ones it is based on a true story.

        It was a cold winter night in WWI on the western front in the year 1914.  The British and the Germans were in their respective trenches.  An open field lay before them.  They had been killing each other all day. 

        The rifles were quiet.  A German soldier began to sing.  His clear voice pierced the cold night air.  Soon he broke into ‘Stille Nacht.’  The British began to sing along in English;  ‘Silent Night.’ 

        In a minute a sole German soldier climbed out of his trench.  The British trained their rifles on him, but he carried a truce flag.  They held their fire.

        Soon they all emptied out onto the open field; the no man’s land which had been a killing ground only hours before.  They traded cigarettes and chocolates and showed each other pictures of family from back home.  Someone started a pick-up ball game and they played cards.  After a few hours they went back to their trenches.

         In the morning they resumed killing each other.

        To me those poor boys were the same on both sides; just kids who wanted to somehow get back home who had been manipulated into a hopeless situation by some old fat a^^ ‘leader’ who either got picked last in ball as a kid or his mama didn’t love him.  (or both) 

       My thoughts and prayers this Christmas are with our service people.  I pray they get home safe.  God says we should pray for our enemies.  I try to listen to what He says, so I pray for the ones on the other side of the conflict too.  I suspect the vast majority of them are but pawns in the deal who are just trying to get home themselves.  It ain’t the fault of the ones in the trenches, and I pray for peace so they can all just go back home.

Dr. B

The Christmas Party

December 11, 2009

        At lunch today I’m gonna play my mandolin with the Harvey County Christmas Pickers at Ted Davidson’s annual Christmas party.  My mandolin gets me an invite to all the best parties.

         I like Ted.  He invites the whole county to his party.  You might see the Judge there eating a bowl of Ted’s famous gumbo while he talks over old times with the cat who is out on parole, or the doctor playing music for a family who was sore last year when mama died.  He invites the cops and the thugs and society folks and the have-nots.  The thing I like about Ted is he treats everyone like a human being. 

        I figure the least I can do is play my mandolin to help him out.  For a lawyer, Ted ain’t a bad guy.

Dr. B