Archive for the ‘Holidays’ category

Mississippi Momma’s Famous Chocolate Cobbler (Laps in Seven)

December 5, 2009

        Some time back Smitty from Mississippi sent a chocolate cobbler recipe.  One of my readers, Ms. Cindy, couldn’t find it and asked that I re-post it.  It was a hit with her Sunday School class (and also Ranger Dog; see below) so I got Smitty to send it to me again.  I call it ‘Mississppi Momma’s Chocolate Cobbler,’ but in the interest of full disclosure she got it from the piano player at church.  Smitty not only sent it, but remembered he posted it in the comments around July 4th, and found it in my archives.

        Here it is.  Oh and after the recipe; the rest of the story. 

2 sticks of margarine placed in the pan the cobbler is going to be made in, melt the margarine in the oven

Mix all of this stuff in a bowl
1 1/2 cups of self rising flour( got to be Martha White ain’t it?)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Mix all this good and pour into the pan with the margarine

Next Bowl of real good stuff
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons of cocoa( now we are talking)
mix together
sprinkle over the flour mixture you have in the margarine pan

Then 1 1/2 cups of water over the whole thing

Time to bake, I love this
350 degrees for 30 minutes
or if you have a hot oven, according to Momma, 325 for 35 minutes, that’s what makes her momma.

        Now for the rest of the story:  Keep in mind this is a physician bluegrass fiction blog. The above is a real recipe.  And even though the following is fiction, it is a true story.

        Last year Ms. Cindy had some folks over to dinner and served up the cobbler for dessert.  All the guests loved it.  After everyone left, Ranger Dog leaped up on the counter, snatched the bowl in his jaws, and took off to the rec room to watch Rin Tin Tin re-runs.  He was getting ready to do his best imitation of ‘Laps in Seven.’  Now that is a bluegrass dog, ’cause as all my friends know Sam Bush was inspired to write the number when he heard his dog lapping up water in perfect time.  (Was it 7/8?) 

        Well, Ms. Cindy took the bowl away from him right away even though there was only a little bit of chocolate left.  (The guests had all but licked the bowl clean themselves.)  She called the vet to be sure, and they confirmed that not only is chocolate bad for dogs, but once they get a hold of it, they tend to crave more.  

        The vet’s office was so impressed with Ms. Cindy’s concern for her dog they hired her!  Everyone came out good except Ranger Dog is still trying to figure out how to get into that chocolate, but Ms. Cindy’s quick action saved his life.  

        Anyway, y’all try the chocolate cobbler.  I had some when I was in Mississippi and it was excellent, so I can recommend it from experience.  Just keep it away from the family dog; they’ll snarf it up if you aren’t careful.

Dr. B


Song of the Day on FaceBook

November 28, 2009

        It wasn’t all that long ago when my agent suggested I start a FaceBook page.  I recall I asked, “What is that?”

        It turned out to be much fun and a great way to network.  When I finally get my book ready to go, most of my travel plans have been generated by my WordPress friends, but FaceBook has added a significant number of destinations to my road map.

        I know folks say you can waste a lot of time on it, but it has saved time for me.  About all I post on Facebook is a ‘Song of the Day’ first thing in the morning, and then it is off to work.  Just like WordPress, I have learned much from my readers there too.  In the long run I think it has saved time because I have been able to find all the music folks and have a way to contact them.  In Harvey County back in the pre-computer era we were somewhat isolated and had no way to do this, especially in such short period of time.

        If y’all aren’t on FaceBook, give it some thought.  I’ve got 1000+ friends over there, and it is a good group.  (I found MySpace a little scary)  If nothing else you’ll learn a lot about traditional music, as mine is populated with a number of folks who make their living in that industry.

        I’ll be back for my Monday morning post, for now gonna take in some more holiday with the young’uns.

Dr. B

Thanksgiving Song ‘Thanks to Bluegrass’

November 26, 2009

        My daughter got in late last night.  We debated what song of the day I should post for Thanksgiving.  It didn’t take long to realize there aren’t many Thanksgiving holiday specific bluegrass songs.  She thought of ‘Turkey in the Straw’ (she always was a traditional young’un) and I came up with ‘Wild the Ride Turkey’ by Jerry Douglas.  But neither is a Thanksgiving number per se, at least not like ‘Christmas Times a Coming.’

        We noodled around with a few ideas, then crashed for the night.  These words came to me this morning.  Okay, I admit they ain’t that great, but I really wanted a bluegrass song to post today and I couldn’t find one.  I’m getting ready to go eat turkey with my people, so I’ll revisit it later.  Y’all change ’em around or add to ’em.  The music belongs to all of us anyway.  If you record it, you can give me half credit and send me a turkey!

Thanks to Bluegrass


Turkey’s in the oven
Gravy’s on the stove
Daddy plays the mandolin
‘Bout like Bill Monroe      (poetic licence there folks)
Mama has a doghouse
And sings the tenor true
The kids can pick the old five string
And play some fiddle too


We don’t work the farm these days
But still dig the farm-yard swing
Country folk’s state of mind ain’t bout geography
It don’t matter where you live
From Washington to Maine
You’re good by me and family if bluegrass is your thing



The country doctor way of life
Is all we’ve ever known
But we’re thankful for the lessons that the music’s always shown
My guess is without it old Doc’d be dead and gone
So thanks again for all you do
With those old time songs



Not just today but all year round
We’re thankful for our friends
Cause here in Harvey County the music never ends
So when we’re at the Nursing Home
Here’s what we’re gonna do
Let bingo go, break ’em out, and sing away our blues


Hey, I’m just thankful there ain’t no killing songs today.  Y’all have a fine Thanksgiving.

Dr. B

Why I’m Thankful for My People and the Music

November 25, 2009

        I’ve never been a professional musician but I’m sure thankful for my people and the music.

        When I was courting my wife we were into the Beatles.  I bought a cheap guitar and sang bad versions of their tunes to her.  Bless her heart; she married me anyway.  I married her ’cause I thought she would give me beautiful children (the beauty part wasn’t gonna come from me I assure you) and the plan worked.  She gave me a Gibson mandolin too, and encouraged me to play and not work all the time.   What is it the Ten Commandments say?  (paraphrased)  “Honor thy father and mother and cherish your wife,” or something like that. 

        My daughter went with me to every show I ever played.  My rule was if it wasn’t fitting for a little girl I didn’t sign up for the gig.  She still saw some questionable venues.  Nature trumped nurture though, and she grew up pretty and sweet is spite of her raising.  (Warning guys:  She she has a black belt in karate too.)

        As a young doc, I worked way too hard.  I was exhausted half the time.  When my son got a driver’s permit I handed him the car keys, tossed my mandolin in the back door, sat down in the passenger seat, opened up a newspaper, and promptly fell asleep.  He drove me everywhere we went.  We’d wind up at some mountain bluegrass festival by magic, and I was rested enough to play.

        I met Darin Aldridge along the way.  He treated me like a second father. Due to his influence, I’ve won the award for best mandolin player on the medical staff at Harvey Memorial more times than Rob Ickes has snared the IBMA Dobro player of the year.  (eleven)  After all that, Darin sent me to finishing school for some more study with Wayne Benson.  If a man has Darin on his right hand and Wayne on the left, he has no excuse not to make a mandolin player.  I am thankful for both of them.

        For decades now I’ve picked with the best regional players around, but my day job keeps me close to home, and we don’t travel far.  We have an active local music scene though, and the national bands play in our area every so often.

        Every time a band comes through Harvey County I take in the show if I am in town, and always thank them for what they do.  Medicine is a tough road.  (So is the music circuit)  I take it hard whenever my people suffer and playing, listening to, and writing about music is my escape.   And bless my staff and fellow docs.  They grant me the time to go play, and so do my patients.

        To everyone who ever played a note of this wonderful music, either with me on stage or for me when I was in the crowd, I send you my sincerest Thanksgiving best wishes, and pray you have a fine holiday.  I doubt I’d still be alive without you, and I know I wouldn’t be as happy.

        My whole life has been set to a soundtrack, and I’m richer for it.  I appreciate all my readers.  You not only follow my story but contribute to it.  My life is so much better to have found you, and I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Dr. B


April 12, 2009

        Every year at Easter sunrise I am reminded that none of us human beings are perfect, yet we have a chance for redemption.   Easter is all about grace and mercy.  For me the definition of grace is being given what I have not earned.  And mercy is not getting what I deserve.

        Easter Sunrise Service was today.  Indie always loved that service.  “Bibey, old boy,” he’d say.  “Every time that sun comes up, we’ve got another shot at it.”  Indie always tried his hardest, but never worried when he wasn’t perfect.  No human being is, but Indie got a lot of it right. 

        Mountain John played ‘Up From the Grave He Arose’ at the service today.  He came by the cabin afterwards, and we picked a few tunes.  “Wonder what Indie would have us play?” I asked.

        “I don’t know,” John said.  How ’bout ‘Whiskey Before Breakfast?”

         I laughed.  “Yeah, Indie would like that.”

        “One time he and I played it for a Girl Scout Convention,” John said.  “Indie insisted we call it by the Irish title, ‘The White Spire.’  Indie said little girls didn’t need to hear about no whiskey.”

        “Yep.  That was Indie.”

        We broke into the tune.  I’ll always remember Indie at Easter.

        “The only Perfect One died on the Cross, boy.  All the rest of us can do is our best.” –  Indie Jenkins

Dr. B

Indie’s Gone/Easter is Near

April 10, 2009

        I’m gonna be on a reduced schedule for a few days.  I have a funeral to go to.  Indie didn’t make it all the way to Easter.  Bless his heart, I think he decided to pass on so as not to foul up everyone’s holiday.

        I can’t find the words yet; I guess I ain’t that great a writer.  Jesus was the Lifeboat, but He sent me a lot of humans to help along the way.  Indie was at the top of my list.  Whenever I saw hard times, and I have seen a lot as a Doc, Indie was the cat who saw me through.

        Indie wouldn’t have us grieve long.  He always said he wasn’t one bit worried about how he might die; he was more concerned with living good.  He did that.

       Indie cut a wide swath while he was here.  If any Doc ever convinced me we were only human, it was Indie.  When I first gave him my manuscript to read, I told him I was gonna show the whole story, imperfections and all.

        He opened the box, pulled out the draft, and flipped through a few pages.  Then he took a draw off his cigarette and said, “Bibey, I ain’t one damn bit worried about that.  It’s a well known fact I have no known imperfections,” and then laughed out loud.  Indie was more comfortable with himself than anyone I’ve ever known.

        Indie went to church but he didn’t make it every Sunday.  He said he was a half-ass Episcopalian, but he always went to the weddings and funerals to sing.  He thought it was respectful.  He always made the Easter Sunrise service too.  We’d watch the sun come up and then go to the cabin.  Indie’d cook up bacon and eggs.  He always had a basket for the kids.  After breakfast he’d get out his fiddle and we’d play a few tunes.

        Indie was all about rememption and forgiveness.  “We’re only human, Bibey.  We can’t help that.”

        I’m not sure how we’ll get over Indie being gone.  I’m gonna start Sunday at the Sunrise Service, and then go to the cabin and cook up some bacon and eggs.  Marfar said she’d get a basket together for the young’uns, and then I’m gonna play a tune in his memory.

        Maybe he ain’t gonna be there, but then again I believe he is and always will be.  There was only one Indie, and in spite of his flaws he was my hero.

Dr. B

Christmas/Indie/Book Update

December 23, 2008

        Yesterday I went to visit Indie at the Nursing Home.

        “Bibey old boy, how are ya?”

        “Fine Indie.  Brought Barney some brain food.”  I hid two small bottles of Jim Beam in the skull cap cache.

        “You are a fine boy.  How’s Ms. Marfar and the children?”

       “The Christmas Queen is at her best, and both the kids will be in.  They send their love.  Me and Darrell and Summer are gonna come by when they get back from the honeymoon and pick and few.” 

        “Great!  How’s the book coming?”

        “Well, I finished the final MS revision.  The agent is gonna see what he can do with it.”

        “I love what I’ve read, Bibey.  I think it’s gonna do for Harvey County what beer did for Milwaukee.”

        “Oh I don’t think we’ll be that famous, Indie, but it has been a lot of fun.”

        “Reckon he’ll get a publisher?”

        “I don’t know, but if he doesn’t we’ll self publish.  We’ll give it six months to a year to see.  I tell you one thing that’s a fact though.  It wouldn’t have been any good without him.  He was more than an agent.  He was a dang guru. ”

        “I don’t know Bibey.  We had a great story.”

        “Yeah, I guess so.  And my agent says he’d rather have a good writer with a great story than a great writer with a lousy story.  I’m thankful that was his philosophy.  I warn’t great.  You’re the one who made it, pal.”

       “But you had the stick to to write it down, Bibey.  I’m proud of you.”

       I leaned over and kissed him on the forehead.  “I’m proud of you too, Indie.  You’re the best.  Merry Christmas.”

        “Merry Christmas to you too, son, and tell all the gang I said hello.”

        “Will do Indie.”

Dr. B

Indie at Thanksgiving

November 25, 2008

        I went by to check on Indie before Thanksgiving.  I’d gotten so busy I hadn’t been by in a while.

        “Bibey, old boy.  How ya been?  Me and Barney (his skeleton) were gonna put out an all points bulletin for you.”

        “I’m sorry Indie.  I should been by- eight days a week you know.”

        “Hell, you don’t have to tell me- I did it forty years.”

        “And you were the best.  How you been?”

        “You mean is that goon ball in my chest giving me a fit- hell, I don’t think about it much.  In Europe they treat cancer as a chronic illness- like arthritis or something.  In American we treat it like a damn football game.  If you ain’t number one you’re a loser- nutty, huh?  It’s just a thing- something to live with.”  Indie hooked Barney in the ribs with his cane and pulled him to his side.  He opened up the skull cap.  “Care for a drink?” 

        “No thanks, Indie.  Gotta work.”

        “Suit yourself.  Don’t forget to smell the roses, though.  You look tired.”

        Ain’t that just like Indie?  There is is with cancer, and he’s worried about me.  “I will Indie.”

        “You been down to check on the cabin?”  he asked.

        “Yeah, she’s all good.  No worries there.”

        “Come spring I want you to get me out of here a day and go down to the river.  I might just go for a swim.  The river’ll cure what ails you, you know.”

        “Will do.”  We visited for a while.  “I guess I better get on to the house.  The kids are coming in and Marfar’s fixing persimmon pudding.”

       “Mm.  That pudding is the best.  Save some for me.  I’ll see you next week.”

        I massaged his neck muscles like Ms. Jenkins used to do.  “Sure enough.  See you then.”

        On the way home I thought about how much ole Indie has meant to me.  Next to family, he was one of the most important people in my life.  Man I was gonna miss him when he was gone.  Better go hug all my people and hold ’em close.  That sure is what Indie would do.

        Y’all have a good Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for my wife and kids, my office staff and my bluegrass friends and golf pals, but I am thankful for all you blog buddies too.  One of these fine days, I’m gonna go on my little tour and meet you guys.

Dr. B

On T.V. for Mom

August 31, 2008

        I was off for the holiday, and it’s a fine Labor Day weekend- still rocking on, and it ain’t over yet.

        Saturday I played a political rally with folk rocker Al Donnelly at the local gun club.  I forgot what party it was, but we are an equal  opportunity band- weddings, divorce parties, funerals, whatever.  The chow was BBQ.

        Sunday one of the McCurry boys got married, so there was some fine picking there.  We had BBQ there too.

        Then Sunday evening I played with Darrell at a church supper.  The food- you guessed right.  BBQ and bluegrass go hand in hand.

        When I got home my mom had left a message on my phone.  “Tommy. Darrell’s on T.V. playing down at the First Methodist Church.  Turn on the T.V.  Then just ten minutes later was a second message from her.  “Why Tommy, I didn’t know you were going to be there.  You are such a handsome boy, (mama needs her cataracts done) but you are looking a bit woolly.  (That means I need a haircut- she’s been saying that since the Beatles got here.)

        I tell you what.  I am closing on on being an old man, but I still dig it when my mama checks in on me.  It makes me feel like a kid.

        As soon as the holiday is over I better go get a haircut.

Dr. B

July 4th

July 2, 2008

        My staff can tell when I’m scheduled for some time off from work without a calender, ’cause I’ll get out the office Martin and play a few tunes at lunch.  This time it was ‘Greencastle Hornpipe,’ an across the pond number Wayne Benson says is as Celtic as you can get if you grew up two blocks from Burger King.  Then I played the blues, one of mine called “It’s Done Come Time.”

        The words to the chorus go:

        “It’s done come time to not know nothing

        ‘Bout what you’ve done to do me wrong,

        You ain’t been nothing but trouble

        I’m glad you’ve up and done moved on.”

        (sorry for the poor grammar, mrschili, but you have to use bad grammar when you do a blues number or it doesn’t sound authentic.)

        Since it is coming up on the 4th, I closed it out with a patriotic medley, but if you want to hear it done right listen to Doyle Dyke’s version.  He is the best.

        At two bells, I put my stethoscope back on, and turned back into a doc.  At five I shut the mental computer down to get ready for the holiday.  I’m not on call this go round, so I am gonna exercise my God given American freedom and do nothing.

        I love all the holidays, but July 4th is my favorite.  Our 4th is a day at the lake on an inner tube, and like everyone we watch the fireworks at night.  I think they are extra good when viewed from a boat out on the water, though, and my kids like the tradition from way back too.

        I like the 4th ’cause it is so laid back.  My wife works too hard at Christmas and Thanksgiving.  On the 4th I put bratwurst on the grill, and we cook up some corn on the cob.  After supper, we have  watermelon for dessert down at the boat dock.  Everyone spits the seeds in the water and watches the fish chase after ’em.  We all wear T-shirts and bathing suits and generate almost no laundry, and work as little as possible. 

        Another tradition for us the last few years is the Red White and BlueGrass Festival.  It is in Morganton in western N.C. and is a bluegrass event that is now a fixture for everyone in the Carolinas bluegrass community, so we get to see a lot of old friends that week.

        And, at the risk of being labeled the Syndicated Southern Sap, I like the 4th ’cause it is so American.  Even though our freedoms have been significantly eroded in recent years, I still think we are more free than most places in the world.  Like I said at the outset, I figure a weblog like mine would be banned in many countries.

        My favorite posts are the interactive ones.  How do you guys spend your 4th of July?  Wherever you are,  I hope you have a good holiday, and a relaxed one.  And I pray we remain at least somewhat free to be whatever we want to be.  I realize as a WASP, that might be easier for me than for some other folks, but I wish for it for all of us regardless of race, color, creed etc.

        HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!  I’m off to be lazy.  Will be back on line soon.

Dr. B