Posted tagged ‘writer’s corner’

Harvey Billiard and Bowl

November 22, 2008

        If you guys are gonna read “The Mandolin Case,” I want you to be on the inside of local culture.  Now that y’all are my friends, you need to know where to find people in town you can count on in case you were to get in a jam. 

        So, here’s how to get to Harvey Billiard and Bowl, or the B and B as we call it.  From downtown Croatan, the County seat for Harvey County, go east on Main St.  When you get to Bibey Drive (named for my grandfather) hang a right.  That will take you by the old Hospital.  It has been renovated as office space for most of the Docs is town. 

        Follow that to the outskirts of town. You’ll pass a huge old pin oak that lightening splintered last year.  Just past it is Lee Highway.  Take a left there, and the B and B is a mile on the right.

        You can’t miss it.  There is a gravel parking lot and a front end loader sits there most days.  There will be a few used cars for sale, and there is a trailer park out back, where Lou manages thirty units.  We play music there one Saturday night a month.  A sign out front says “Triditional Bluegrass Music.”  Lou realized it was misspelled, but he’d already paid for it.  He said he’d change it next time.

        Lou Bedford is the owner.  He has the best cheeseburgers in town.  A Mina bird named Minne is at the cash register.  Minnie can mimic anything so don’t say anything you don’t want folks to know.  That bird can do the best ambulance siren imitation you’ve ever heard.  The paramedics taught it to her.  By the way, if you want to know where to eat in the South always look for law enforcement or EMS vehicles- they know the local landscape better than anyone.

        In the back Lou has a pool hall and a couple of duck pin bowling lanes.  There is a regular card game there every Friday night.  Indie played every week, but after Blinky died, he didn’t go for a month.  After that he played, but not as regular.

        It’s a dry county, but folks know they can get a Pabst Blue Ribbon at the B and B.  All you have to do is put in a few extra coins in the Coke machine, and press the Tab button.  It’ll spit out a PBR- just don’t tell anyone.

        The B and B is a regular hangout for bluegrass boys, golf hustlers, card sharks, and assorted ne’re do wells.  Most society folks wouldn’t be seen there.  You could count on a fair deal at the B and B.

          From time to time I go to the B and B to conduct important business.  Just don’t tell my mama- it would worry her.

Dr. B


Blog Power

November 16, 2008

        I am always surprised to see where my blog takes me.  The Internet is so powerful.  I found out the other day I had a Power Rating of 31.  My agent said it put me in the top 205,000 and that was very good for for a fiction blog.

        It set me to thinking.  How in the world did so many people come to read about a country doctor in a little town?  After all, my life style isn’t exactly of the rich and famous.  

        As I pondered it, I began to realize how many folks were involved in making that happen.  I read all kinda other blogs and find them most helpful.  There were folks like chili, who’d gently correct me when I fractured my syntax.  I’ve read folks like Ms. Kim who is a writing instructor.  I got a lot of good ideas from her.  I learned so much over there that when she wrote her golf game had gone south I felt I should send her some advice professional courtesy.  I can’t leave off Ms. Amber, either- she sent some cool pictures of country Docs I plan to use on the website.  I need to get back to work on it.

        And the English Professor- he was from way up North and knew more about bluegrass than I did.  Any sterotypes of “Yankee pickers” that might linger in my subconscious were put to rest by Ted and Irene forever.  

        I’ve heard from mandolin players all over the country, and have a place to play almost anywhere I go nowadays.

        When Ms. Pande writes of her office, it makes me want to pull my own hair out for her- you have a job, ma’am.  There were mystery writers like Meg, and Romance specialists like Ms. Susan.  Men can get a lot of good pointers over there.  Ms. Cindy wrote country stories I could identify with.  She made me wish my dog was as cool as Ranger.

        I’ve heard from Docs in Scotland (Dr. Bob) who invited me to visit when I get that way.  And when Ms. Karen writes of Australia, you know someday you’ll have to go there, too.

        And then there’s Smitty.  I went to visit him, and they made feel like I was a native.  His school kids made me an honorary Mississippian.  It was my proudest day as a writer, and even ranked above that first paycheck from the Laurel.  (Bless your heart Paul for taking a chance on me.)

        As I thought it over I realized the blog has shown me what I set out to do with my book- it proves we are all in it together.

        I appreciate every one of the 23K+ folks who have taken the time to read what I have to say.  I’ve enjoy your comments, too.

          I read other folks blogs for the insight into ways of life that are different than my own.  But in spite of that fact we are all from different places, and have different problems, I find us more alike than not.  Perhaps some of it is all of us are book worms, and on a constant search for like minded human beings. 

       I am on track to finish my final MS revision in January.  My agent says a couple of publishers have shown some interest.  If they have it is because of you guys.  If you hadn’t come over here for a look see, they would have never given me consideration, and I know it.  It’s like a Doc.  If you aren’t good to your patients what good are you?  If I don’t dig deep for some insight into the worlds of medicine and music that might make your day better, then I should quit.  You inspire to type another day, and I thank you for it. 

        Tell me, what is it you look for in a blog?  What is it about mine you read, and what others do you frequent on a regular basis and why?

        Hey good luck to all of y’all in NaNoWriMo.  I would have tried but I type way to slow to do a novel in a month. 

Dr. B

The 1980s

November 9, 2008

        The other day I tried to remember back to the 1980s, when the Mandolin Case went on.  I realized outside of medicine and bluegrass music I knew little else of what went on in the rest of the world.

         It wasn’t like what they say about the 60s.  (“If you remember it, you weren’t there”)  We were so engrossed in our work and music we seldom sat down to take in much else.

        I’ll never forget one daylight savings spring day.  I got home before dark, and admired some trees in the yard.  When I went in the house I asked my wife how long we’d had them.

        She smiled and said, “Honey, I put those out five years ago.”

        I realized I was working too hard.  But I am proud of the fact that I didn’t neglect my wife and kids over it.  When my wife’s people were sick, I was the point man, and we nursed them along through many a crisis.  I took my children to breakfast ever Wednesday morning, though at times it was on a couple hours sleep and my face was about to nod off in my plate.  We’d ride down the road with grade school word lists to memorize.  Every time I came to a red light we’d learn a couple.  The lists and homework sheets littered my Scout which served as a mobile classroom.

        I looked up T.V. shows and movies from the 80s, and realized I missed that era.   Childhood favorites like Captain Kangaroo were winding down, and new ones like Charlie’s Angels had just cranked up.  I’d heard of a number of them from reading Newsweek, but never seen a single episode of any of them all the way through.  If there are some I missed from that time you find to be classics let me know.  When I retire I might rent a few of them and catch up.

        We weren’t against everything new, though, and took to computers right away.  We were information freaks and it didn’t take much foresight to see where that revolution was headed.  Our first one was a Commodore 64, and we upgraded on a regular basis, although to save money we would always wait till one had been out a year or two.  We were like the Army motto:  “Don’t be first in line, but don’t be last either.”  What we couldn’t figure out our kids taught us.

        Gas just crossed the dollar a gallon mark, and I’m sure we thought it outrageous, but we hardly ever left the County.  Our muscle car favorites of the 60s were on the brink of extinction.

        Medicine and bluegrass music were a different matter.  We lived and breathed both.  I still read Twain, but I bet Indie and I were the only cats around who tried to memorize both ‘The New England Journal of Medicine’ and ‘Bluegrass Unlimited.’  I wasn’t number one in the class, but I remember a lot, and always did well on Boards.  I can close my eyes and think of certain medical eras and re-create them in great detail. 

        I won’t bore you with it all, because you would never read my blog again, but back then it was Phenergan and Haldol, and Demerol was way over-used.  Medicines like Capoten were brand new.  We thought it was dangerous until we realized the initial dose recommendations were five times why we now use.  The indication for a heart cath in those days was to only send the patient when ALL measures had failed.  I remember I convinced a cardiologist it was time on one case because a new orange colored football shaped pill called Procardia failed to control my patient’s angina.

       In bluegrass, we were more players and participants than observers, and had regular jam sessions at places like Indie’s Cabin, and the Bomb Shelter.  But we did take in groups who played in the area, at least when we didn’t have a gig.  Darrell was just a kid.  We’d wait to pick up my children at school on my day off and listen to tapes of Vince Gill (‘Here Today’) who was a bluegrasser back then.  I’m sure I’m the only Doc around who learned to sing bluegrass harmony in a Middle School car line.  

        Doyle Lawson and iii Tyme Out were popular.  I got home from the hospital many a night on Wayne  Benson’s mandolin breaks.  Tony Rice redefined bluegrass guitar.  Folks still study albums like ‘Manzanita.’  Tony was a genius, and way ahead of his time.  Many a young student of bluegrass history believes the genre was created by ‘The Bluegrass Album Band.’

        A band called ‘New Grass Revival’ was revolutionary.  The mandolinist for the band, Sam Bush, still goes strong today.  His amalgam of rock, reggae and bluegrass is still one my favorite mandolin grooves in the world.

        I saw them way back then in a little dive called ‘Green Acres.’  They played a Halloween masquerade party.  Sam was a pirate, complete with a peg leg and a black patch over his right eye.  Bela Fleck went as Bela Fleck.  (He was a very serious banjo man)  I recall someone was dressed up as the Bhagwan.  The crowd hoisted him overhead and shouted “Bhagwan, Bhagwan…!”  over and over in time with the music.  We stood in the back in case the place caught on fire.  Even then we knew Sam Bush was great.

        When I learned to play, we’d put on an LP and play it over and over till the grooves wore out.  After hundreds of times of dropping the needle on a spot we’d try to memorize, the record was scratched and worn.  I’ve ruined many a classic album in my quest. 

        The eighties changed all that, and publications with instructional material such as ‘Mandolin World News’ and ‘Banjo Newsletter’ gained momentum.  Soon the computer would put all sorts of things at out fingertips- material we had gathered at flea markets and festivals for years.  It took some of the charm out of the chase, but I am still glad it came along.

        Well, I didn’t tell you anything about Dr. Bibey you didn’t know, huh?  I love my family.  I know medicine and bluegrass, and precious little else.  Tell me your memories of the 80s.  They almost certainly would be news to me, ’cause except for my little world I wasn’t there.  But as far as mine, I lived eight days a week, and wouldn’t trade the memories.

Dr. B

More On Indie Jenkins

October 13, 2008

        I got an e-mail today from Citi Bank.  They requested I update the account information for Henry “Indie” Jenkins.

        I hope that rascal ain’t overdrawn again.

        When I looked at it close, though, I thought it was one of those scams.  It was the Ethiopian branch. That makes no sense, ’cause Indie ain’t never been out of town except for the Galax Fiddler’s Convention and to the beach the week of the 4th. 

        Of course maybe there’s another Indie Jenkins in Ethiopia, and we received the communication in error.  But, I think we’re safe to ignore the request.  Indie had a bad week at the Nursing home, and I don’t want to worry him.  I’ll check with the bank tomorrow.  If he’s bounced a check I’ll cover it.  But I think it’s a fake, and I doubt they’d come from Ethiopia to get him anyway.

Dr. B

Dr. Tom Bibey- by request

September 25, 2008

        I have had many folks ask for a picture, so here it is.  This was a sketch mid way through the Mandolin Case.  My hair was jet black then so I did ‘doctor’ the photo to reflect my current hue.  I believe Pande would call it blond, or perhaps chrome, as they say on her blog, but in reality it is salt and salt.  It ain’t even got enough tinge to look like that stuff y’all put on the roads up North when it snows.  In fact it looks like the snow- I was generous with the sketch to give it as much color as I did.  In real life the pepper is, as the song says, “gone but not forgotten.”

        There are reasons for the sunglasses.  For one, the work I had to do in the Mandolin Case involved some quaisi CIA-like activity.  This is part of the reason for the secrecy.

        The other though, is not known to many folks so y’all don’t share it.  Since the Mandolin Case is now history, I suppose I can give up this much.  Tommy Bibey has one green eye and one blue eye. 

        I only lose about three golf balls a year, but if you play in the South and find a Titleist marked with a green dot on the left, and a blue one on the right, you will know that Tommy Bibey was there.  It stands for one green eye, and one blue one, but also for BlueGrass.

        Now that I have given up my identity if you run into me on the bluegrass road come up and and shake and howdy.  I’d love to meet ya.”

Dr. B

Old Green Eye/Blue Eye

Old Green Eye/Blue Eye

Indian Summer Gig

September 21, 2008

        We had a gig down on the river today. 

        I think I told y’all, but Indie’s Cabin washed away in the great Eastern N.C. flood.  Well, I knew they had a cabin down there a lot like Indie’s old place, so I got a notion to check him out of the Nursing Home and take him with us.  We carved his name in an old tree stump and told him the bluegrass folks dedicated it to him-  ‘Indie was here,’ it said.

        Indie loves the fall of the year.  Always has.  He says the autumn air is crisper and his lungs fare better.  Besides, fall always reminds him ain’t nothing permanent.  After Blinky died Indie was a bit more melancholy, and fall suited him better than ever.  He’d lived eight days a week anyway but after Blinky was gone, he seemed to make even more of an effort to do so.

        He had a big day, a large time as he says.  He sat in his lounge chair and smoked cigarettes and greeted old music friends who hadn’t seen him out in a while.  He got inspired and fiddled a slow one with us- ‘The Kentucky Waltz,” and rendered it pretty, too.  I don’t think Indie had played in public since he wound up in the Nursing Home.

        He drank a Coors or two, and when we played the second set he went to the river and helped the kids with the ‘Rubber Ducky Regatta.’  Indie ain’t nothing but a big kid anyway.

        After the gig I took him back to the Nursing Home, and got him tucked in.  Ms. Jenkins is gone now, and all he has left is me and Barney the skeleton.  And his roses- he stops to smell them every day just like he tells me to do.

        The other day I found some old sketches of Indie I thought you might enjoy.  I should have dated these- I think they were about mid-way through the Mandolin Case.  It was a pressure cooker, but except for the fact his pal Blinky was gone I don’t think it changed Indie too much.  You know how it is – some things never change and them bluegrass folks are like that.  And Indie was bluegrass people as much as anyone I ever knew.

        Here he is:

Fine Doc and Master Fiddler

Fine Doc and Master Fiddler

The Agent

September 17, 2008

         O.K. folks.  Here he is. THE AGENT.  Whereabouts unknown.  International man of mystery.

        Once the Agent was in a workshop at a small book store in New Mexico.  One lady wanted him to get her anthology of casserole recipes carried by Barnes and Noble.  He was polite, but told her he was concerned he might not be able to sell it- casserole recipes were not hot that year- and she beat him with a tennis shoe.

        Being the Southern Gentleman he is, it was against his code of ethics to hit back, but he did not accept new clients for six months after the incident.  I had to chase him longer than I did my wife.  (She married me after eight proposals- she decided I warn’t going away.)

        His geneolgy is a mystery but I have been told he is a direct decendant of Huckleberry Finn.

        The agent wishes to maintain his anonymity and does not allow pictures, but at our last conference I secretly sketched him.  The light was bad, but this is a very close image.

        I hope he does not fire me for this post.  If you run into him I have but one request.  Tell him you are going to buy Dr. Tommy Bibey’s book but only on the condition the Agent gets his 15% cut.  And tell him you like Bibey’s writing and he can draw good too, ’cause it looks just like him.


Dr. B      

Whereabouts unknown...

Whereabouts unknown...

 P.S.  To the boss.  I’ll get that fifteen bucks in the mail as soon as I’m paid.

My Long Journey Home -Updates

September 17, 2008

        I apologize in advance.  This post is a bit disjointed, but there are several items I need to update you on.

        First of all, and most important as a Doc, I am now the proud recipient of a certificate of Board Re-Certification.  It was my fifth time around, so I am a bit of a professional test taker.  I did very well, especially in Ambulatory Medicine, which I do every day, although I have to admit I have drifted to about average in maternity work.  But I haven’t delivered a baby in a quarter century, and I’m too old to sign up for that gig again anyway.

        Being the obsessive type I am, even though I’m getting some age on me, I felt compelled to study and do my best.  I did not want to concentrate on my book until I wrapped up this year’s medical study.  It is sort of like my monthly Home Study CD.  I make myself memorize it before I will let myself listen to my music.  Old habits die hard I guess.

         When I was a little boy, I used to stay at my grandmother’s farm some on the weekends.  We’d eat Post Toasties and watch the Miss America contest.  She could always pick the winner.  After those trips I’d write up stories and I’d get an ‘A’ every time.  I still remember the blue ribbons and the teacher’s comments as to how vivid the stories were.  I have wanted to recapture that feeling for years, and my book takes me there. 

        Of course, she is no longer alive, but if she were, I am sure she’d be proud.  I still enjoy the Doctor gig, and I plan to do it for many more years.  With this last recert I’ll have a ten year exemption.  But, I have to write my book, too.  It is one more thing I must do before I am out of this old world.  It is a long journey home, but when I get there, I’m sure Grandma will be proud.

       And speaking of a journey, I want to update you on the business plan my agent and I are working on.  It includes some promotional efforts in the South in 2008, but in 2009 my wife and I plan a trip up North.

        The English Professor has been so kind to promote my blog.  I am gonna have to go find him.  Also, there is a program called Bread Loaf that originated up there somewhere I want to go see.  All I know of the program is what they have done with some Mississippi school kids I became pen pals with, but if they  encourage students to be like them, I want to know more about it.

        While I am there, I hope I will have a book to promote or at least have the project very close to publication.  If all that happens, I hope all my blog pals up that way, folks like mrschili and Ms. Pande, will help me figure out some libraries or church fellowship halls that might be acceptable venues to meet some of you and your families.  Your kindness to this old Doc has meant so much on the long journey to writer.  Your encouragement has been a major factor in my decision to try to learn to write again.  I thank you and hope to see some of you on my 2009 New England Tour.

        Will keep you posted on the progress of the book.  I’m getting there.

Dr. B

Dr. Zink and the Country Doctor Compilation II

September 11, 2008

        Y’all remember some time back how I told you about the book Dr. Zink is putting together?  Dr. Zink is a University Professor doctor who has been published in JAMA.  Her book is a compilation of stories, essays, and poems from rural docs all across the country.  My agent had me write up an article for her, and it got accepted.  (Come to think of it I guess I can’t say I’ve always been a bridesmaid now, huh?)  My article is called “Inside the Mind of a Modern Country Doctor.”  (Scary, don’t ya think?)

        The book is due out in 2009, and I have gotten to read a number of the selections.  The docs range from folks who in rural towns like me, to one lady who works with the Amish, and another who doctors the Navajo.  One fellow described his office, and it might as well been about home.  His place was right down the street from the liquor store, just like mine.

        I am proud to tell you Dr. Zink also asked me to do a summary article for the book.  (It is one of four)  Mine is called “Where We Are,” and is to summarize the different locales of the docs who will be published in the compilation.  She requested about 1,000 words and I hit it on the nose, (writers are proud of such things) but of course it may change some in the edit process.

        After studying the work of a group of Docs from all over the country I was struck by the fact we were more alike than different, and our problems were universal.  My summary article will be near the front of the ‘Where we Are’ section, so y’all look for it.

        I pasted in Dr. Zink’s recent comments she e-mailed to me below.  Y’all look for the book.  I reckon I can add ‘scholar’ to my resume if you can imagine that!

Dr. B

Dr. Zink’s comments:

        At this time approximately forty story tellers, poets and essayists
from across rural America have contributed.  The title is currently The
Country Doctor
Revisited: A 21st Century Reader of Rural Health Care

        There are 4 sections: Who We Are, Where We Are, Who We Serve and Resources and Challenges.  Each section has a synopsis, one written by you.  The contributors are physicians, nurses, psychologists, midwives and students of these professions. The anthology should be published in 2009 by Kent State University Press.

And the Runner-Up is….

September 9, 2008

        Tommy Bibey!

        Hey, I’ve been a brides-maid so long it don’t bother me.  But I’ll have to say you guys have taken me up the blog ladder beyond my wildest dreams.  The English Professor did some research and found out my blog had crossed into the top 300,000 on the Net.  My agent checked it out, and sure enough I was 271,202 in the world to be exact.  I wasn’t sure how that happened, but it has to do with y’all visiting and commenting and linking and all this business I’d never heard of a year ago.  Shoot, last year I didn’t know a blogroll from an egg-roll. 

        Well, like I’ve said if you play the mandolin in the forest and no one is there to listen there ain’t no music, and as far as I’m concerned if I write down me a dadburn treatise and no one reads it, then there ain’t no story.  It’s all about communication, and you guys are the ticket.  No readers= No blog.  I like the blog and I like y’all too, so thanks.

        But again, I’ve been a brides-maid before, and I ain’t worried.  On the high school golf team I was sixth man.  Snookers was the star.  He shot 65 to win the State one year, but my contribution was to be sure he passed History.  His picture wasn’t in the yearbook- he was out gambling that day- but he did graduate high school in spite of a year book that might as well have read golf and smoked cigarettes, 1,2,3,4.  He says he owes his academic career to me, but I tell him not to advertise it.

        I won the red ribbon in the Jr. High science project one year.  The guy that won the blue became a brain surgeon.

        And in med school ole Tom Bailey kicked my academic a^^ every time, but like Avis, I tried harder, did my best, and finished second to him once.  I was runner up for most promising Family Doc.  The kid who won quit after one year and switched to Radiology.  I don’t blame him.  He made a bunch of money.  Being a country doc is a lot like playing bluegrass music or writing.  You do it ’cause it’s in your blood.

       One year Warbler said I made the top thirty on the mandolin at Galax, but I think he just said it to make me feel better.  See, the way I learned my baritone part singing was to work off the peg board in Moose’s garage, where Neuse River practices.  I’d go up and down with the pitch as I imagined various tools were the notes.  One time Jen rearranged the pegboard and I missed my Stanley hammer note, though.  

        At any rate, at Galax that year I focused on a handrail and some steps in the stands. I had my routine down, and went up and down the steps in perfect pitch.   All this went fine till some fellow got to making out with his girl right there on the steps I needed to focus on, and I didn’t get my part quite right.  It upset me cause I felt like I let the band down.  We finished 12th that year, but I think we’d made the top ten if that durn fool boy hadn’t been kissing his girl friend on what I had designated as the 3rd tone in the B flat scale.    (Yes, I know it is odd music theory, but I knew a bass player who went by colors and he is a far better musician that I am.) 

        But I ain’t worried about all that runner up business.  Years ago, some football player and I were competing for the prettiest girl at Lake Forest and somehow I won.  It might not a worked out for poor Charlie Brown, but I got to marry the little red-haired girl and we lived happily ever after.

        I am at the age where every day is all excellent, and if I never had any more good fortune in my life I’d be a most lucky fellow.  But at the same time, just between me and my blog buddies, I hope y’all will keep reading me.  Who knows, you might propel me into the top quarter million, and I’m gonna be honest- that tickles me.  So, thanks for coming along for the ride.

Dr. B