Posted tagged ‘Writing’

My Editor is a Genius

August 19, 2009

        Jenny Lynn has now outlined the first major edit of  ‘The Mandolin Case.’  I like this lady.  She took her time and asked a lot of questions.  We began to work on a few minor things while she got her thoughts together.  Now we are ready to dig in.  I have much work to do but she is convinced my draft will be ready for consideration in the meetings we have scheduled this fall.  After that, she plans one more start to finish tune-up, then it should be ready for 2010.

       Jenny is a genius.  She has been in and out of Harvey Country several times, and has been able to get some things done even Dr. Bibey could not do.

        What I’m getting ready to tell you is what we call ‘graveyard talk’ around here.  You will know things few outside of Harvey County know.  It is only fitting.  If you have read this far you deserve a leg up on the general public.  When you read ‘The Mandolin Case’ you will understand some things the naive reader will have to guess about.

        Somehow Jenny Lynn figured out how to get people to talk.  Maybe it was that fiddle.  I sent her some old tapes of Indie’s and she did some serious woodshedding.  Anything that reminds people of Indie tends to open them up a bit.  She negotiated at length with a major player in ‘The Mandolin Case,’ and has now secured his permission.  His name is Bones.

        Bones no longer lives in Harvey County but his heart is still here.  I knew him as kid.  He will not allow me to disclose his current location.  I was aware of his role in the case, but he would never agree to let me discuss it until Jenny talked him into it.  In a way I was willing to take the hit for him;  I thought his part of the story needed to be told.   After Jenny talked it over with him he decided that wouldn’t be fair and gave in.

       You may wonder about all this secrecy.  There are many reasons.  The most important is patient privacy.  It is imperative,  but there are are other reasons too.  With ‘The Mandolin Case’ I’m gonna take you deep into a world of money and power, a world few folks know about, and one the players would rather I not discuss.  I can promise you the money crowd would prefer I not talk.  Therefore the story either has to be encrypted or it can’t be told.

          As I have said before, there is a Lit Professor quote I love.  “For it to be good fiction, it need not necessarily have happened but it must be true.”  To that end, I have been careful not tell tell any facts, but still show the truth.

        After Jenny Lynn discussed it with Bones he was O.K. with it, but he still won’t let me give him up.   And I always keep my promises.    His whereabouts, his career plans, and his deepest secrets are safe with me.

Dr. B


This is a True Story

August 2, 2009

        You might not believe this, but my wife is so nice she makes friends with folks who dial a wrong number.

        Several months back the phone rang one Sunday morning.  I heard Marfar say “No sweetie, I’m sorry.  This is the Bibey residence.”

        It wasn’t but a minute and it rang again.  Marfar listened a minute, then said, “Oh, our number ends in a 7.  I think you just dialed the wrong number, but it’s good to hear from you.”

       I asked who it was.  “Some little lady.  She sounds lonely.”

       Every so often now the lady dials a ‘wrong number.’  It is usually on a Sunday morning.

        I heard Mafar talk to her this morning.  “Well, yes.  I’ll say a prayer for you.  Most certainly.”

         I am certain it really did start as a wrong number, but I have a notion the lady mis-dials on purpose these days.  She doesn’t stay on long.  She always says she didn’t mean to bother us, and she has to get off the line.  We still don’t know who she is, but I guess she needs the human contact.  She sure couldn’t have dialed a better wrong number to to get Marfar; the girl giggles and goes on with her like they went to school together.

            I’m gonna go get her another cup of coffee; she deserves it and more.

Dr. B

A Rich Man’s Watches

July 24, 2009

        Years ago my daughter wanted to study in Europe for a summer.  Her Mama and I both had the same advice.  “Sweetie, if adult folks want to go to Europe, we have no problem with that, but they have to earn the money to go.”

        She had a part time job, and the next summer she showed me her bank account, passport, and itinerary.  The kid knew we were good for our word. She had a nice trip.

        While she was there she bought me a black faced Swiss Army watch.  I wear it every Friday.  It makes me feel young, and makes our regular Friday phone call all the more special.

        My everyday watch is a regular Swiss Army my wife gave me.  It is very reliable.

       My son and I played a lot of golf when he was growing up.  One year he depleted his piggy bank and bought me a Timex Iron Man.   That was about a decade ago.  Like the commercial says, it keep on ticking.  I have worn it on every golf outing since that day.  It keeps me young too.  I close my eyes, think of that boy’s limber back, take a deep breath, and still manage to hit it 250 (O.K. Smitty, downhill and downwind) on a good day. 

        On Saturday night gigs I have an old pocket watch Indie restored and gave me for my birthday.  No one had more soul than Indie, and I believe it allows me to play like a musician rather than a Doc at least once I can forget my patient’s troubles for a moment.

        My Dad gave me a gold watch and pocket knife on my 21st birthday.  I only use the knife to open letters, and only wear the watch when I go to my Mom and Dad’s for dinner, but it is still special.

        Sunday mornings I wear a pocket watch my wife gave me for our 25th wedding anniversary.   My daughter helped her pick it out.  The kid also helped me decide on a ring I got my wife at that very same jewelry store.  One time I called and asked Marie to meet me there and she hemmed and hawed around something awful.  Months later I learned she was already at the jewelry store with her Mama, and they had to spilt to keep from running into me.   I wear that watch on Sundays to remind me to thank God for my good fortune.  I have been a very lucky man.

        I have nothing against anyone who owns a Rolex watch (for I long time I didn’t know any better and called it a Rolidex) but if a stranger was to give me one, I wouldn’t be able to wear it.  I’m already committed to a time piece every day of the week, and I will never give them up.   

        If you put my watches in a poke and took ’em to Johnny’s Jewelry and Pawn they wouldn’t be worth 500.00 all togehter, but they are priceless to me.  I can’t afford a Rolex, but I consider myself a rich man.

        Oops, gotta go.  It’s Friday afternoon.  I have seen all my patients and it’s time to call my Miss Marie.  She’s all grown up now, but the kid is smart enough to pretend like she still needs the old man.

Dr. B

Humor and Jokes

July 4, 2009

        Often on vacation we’ll watch DVDs of old comedy people like George and Gracie or Jack Benny.  Even though they were stars they conveyed so much about being human.  Part of it was because they came up tough in vaudeville, and didn’t forget what it was like to be broke.  And too, I think it was because they believed in humor rather than jokes.

        Somewhere I read that humor is a way for people to forget their troubles if but for a moment.  It allows a chucke at the impossible circumstances we all face at times.

        On the other hand, a joke is something funny that is sometimes told at someone’s expense.  (as in to play a joke on someone)  A joke can be humorous, but humor is never a joke.  Or something like that. 

        As a Doc I see a lot of bad things, and most it ain’t very funny.  I try to write with some humor, otherwise I’d don’t know how I’d get through it all.

        On the other hand, if I ever write a joke and make fun of anyone, I hope you guys will call my hand on it.  I want to avoid that if at all possible.

       Hope y’all have a fine 4th of July. I’m gonna go watch some George Burns.  “Say good night, Gracie.”  Or perhaps that should be thanks for the grace, Gracie, you were a princess.

Dr. B

Coach and The Cold War

June 17, 2009

        When I was a boy Coach was the high man on the totem pole.  He was above doctor, teacher, dentist, and even had more influence with us than Preacher.  In a way, he was a bit of a minister too.  Coach supervised the Harvey County Park Pool in the summers.  When it thundered he’d blow that whistle to the top of his lungs.  Lord help the boy who thought he’d dawdle a bit.

        I recall a JV basketball scrimmage game. It was the one when ‘Double W’ (Wrong Way) Ron earned his nickname.  He ran the length of the court and put a basket in the wrong goal to lose the game.  Double W was so fast none of us could catch him, and so excited he didn’t hear us all screaming at him to stop. 

        Coach blew his whistle and we all headed for the showers.  One boy bumped WW at the door, and they slipped and fell.  Then the next two piled on and all of a sudden the doorway was blocked by a pile of wild boys all kicking and yelling.

        Coach came up and blew his whistle so hard I thought his eyes were gonna pop outta his head.  I still recall that maniacal look and those red eyes bugging out. “Straighten up boys, straighten up and I MEAN NOW!!!”

        We all lined up along the wall like prisoners.  Coach paced up and down the line like a drill Sargent.  He went on and on how we needed to be good losers, and how Ron was faster than all of us put together and it wasn’t his fault.  Man did we feel feel bad.  (By the way, WW got the last laugh.  He was the only one of us to play college basketball, and now he is a coach!)

       Coach closed his speech with an unforgettable line.  “And boys, I want you to know this right here is the reason the Communists are getting ahead of us!”  I tell you the truth we thought we were the cause of the demise of the Free World.

       Years later Reagen when made the speech about tearing down that wall, I sure was happy.  I could finally lay to rest the idea that Coach would have held us responsible if the Cold War had gone bad.  That’s how influential he was with us.

        Next time I see Coach at the Barber shop I’m gonna tell him I sure am glad he kept me safe from Russian tyranny.  Without  Coach we mighta been taken over sure enough, but he wouldn’t have any part of it.

Dr. B

Tis Sweet to be Remembered

June 15, 2009

        My song of the day is ‘Tis Sweet to be Remembered.”  The version I recall is Jim and Jesse.   Art can give you a bit of Earthly immortality, and I don’t think Jim and Jesse will be forgotten, at least as long as the free world exists.  

        It’s time to go back to work, but I’m ready.  Marfar, Indie’s cabin, and my mandolin have revived me.  Either I am getting better at writing,  y’all are getting better at reading me, or both, but I was every bit as tired as you guys thought.

        ‘Tis Sweet to be Remembered.’  When  fellow gets my age he wonders how quick folks will forget him once he’s gone.  After all, my work as Doc is only worldly, and not that important in the grand scheme of things. 

        And it sure isn’t glamorous.  When you don’t wear a tie because one got stuck in someone’s rear-end while you were doing an age specific colorectal screening examination…..well, you get my point.  All I can do as a Doc is my best with each human being in front of me, and pray real hard for guidance.  I do that, but as Lester Flatt would say, a hundred years from now that won’t matter much here on Earth. 

        After some rest and time to reflect this weekend, I think that is why I wrote my book, my blog, and a few songs along the way.  My fondest dream for my writing is someday that little spark plug boy of mine or my sweet daughter will be old and in the Nursing Home and read my stories to some grandchild on their knee.

        “Was great grand-dad really like that?”  the grandchild will ask.

         “Oh I don’t know, sweetie.  I think he made that part up.  But now this scene at the Bomb Shelter, that was real.  I know ’cause I was there…”  

        So, thanks for not forgetting me, folks.  ‘Tis sweet to be remembered.’

        Back to the Salt Mines.  It is my Earthly duty, and I do not shirk it.  When I get to the Pearly Gates I want St. Peter to know I did my best.  I know God does, ’cause I pray about it, but I do want to be sure there is no confusion on the matter.  Eternity is a rather long spell, and I want to remembered the right way.

Dr. B

Top of the Day/Earl Scruggs

June 14, 2009

        Top of the day to you guys.  I love my coffee maker at Indie’s cabin.  It’s old, but is has a feature where you can stop it from dripping for a moment, and you don’t have to wait for the whole pot to percolate to sneak a few cups. 

        If you time it just right and get the first two cups, they are quite strong.  Back in my chemistry days we called it something like the supernatent.  Extra strong and extra good.

        There ain’t much out here but me and the birds.  A bee hovered over my coffee for a moment, but it’s black, double strength and no cream or sugar, so it opted for the clover instead.

         My song for the day is ‘Preaching, Praying, Singing.’  Flatt and Scruggs.  That’s what I’m shouting.   Between some old tunes and my Marfar I’m ’bout near rejuvenated.

        I’m on vacation, and only posting an abbreviated version of my blog today.  If you want to get the inside story on the Earl Scruggs concert in his hometown of Shelby. N.C. due up this Friday, June 19th, check out Ted Lehmann’s blog.  (the English Professor)  The link is on my blogroll or just click here:

        He’ll protest the reminder, but when you read his blog, you’ll see why I nominated him for IBMA 2009 Print Media Person of the Year.  Ted does what he does because he loves bluegrass music, and trust me the man does a lot.

Dr. B

My Wildest Dreams

June 13, 2009

        I think the storm has blown over.  I made my way back to the hammock.  Maybe we’ll put some burgers on the grill.  I caught part of a song on the radio.

        Hm.  Great mandolin.  Wonder who that was?  “In my Wildest Dreams.”  Nice tune.  Hey that’s Donna Ulissee.  Didn’t catch it all.  What would we do without music?  Sometimes I grow weary of not being able to cure everybody.  There is much pain and suffering here on Earth.  I guess Ms Donna’s point was at least for a while art can take us away from the reality we can’t do much about.

        I nodded in and out of sleep.  In my wildest dreams all of the world will understand the truths in the music, and folks will abandon aggression.  I think of a scene in ‘The Mandolin Case’ and smile.  At least in Harvey County grace and dignity prevailed.  Indie always did have a lot of friends; folks like Snookers Molesby and Mason Marley.  Heck, even little Tommy Bibey helped.  There were just too many bluegrass folks who knew the truth for the others to overcome their efforts.  That crowd who chased Indie never understood what had transpired, and they still scratch their heads and ask what went wrong.

        Maybe it’s like trying to approach infinity, but we have to keep trying with both music and literature, huh?

        The rain started back, and pinged away on the tin roof.  I’d already moved the hammock away from the leak in the roof, so no fears.  I dozed off again.

Dr. B

Lazy Days at Indie’s Cabin

June 12, 2009

        Marfar knows best.  She said I needed a few days out of the office, and booked us a long weekend at Indie’s cabin.

        Storm clouds are a rising, and the thunder rolls in the distance.  I looked at my watch and did some quick calculations.  Hm.  I figure it’s a mile away, but I’m not sure how fast the storm will move.  Pretty soon the rain will patter on the tin roof.  There’s one leak, but it’s over the porch.  I’ll worry about that later.  Like Ralph says, “I can’t work on it in the rain, and it don’t leak when the sun shines.”

        I guess I ought to get out of the hammock, but for once I’m not in a hurry.  I’ll move in a little bit.

The Ball Field and Summer Days

June 9, 2009

       Dr. Danny Fulks asked that I write something about my childhood.  I got so excited about my new editor I forgot to do that for a while.  The other day I drove past our old ball field, and decided to tell you about it.

         Back when I was a kid we didn’t have any kind of organized ball until we were old enough for Little League. No one had ever heard of T-ball.  We just got in the morning, threw on a pair of shorts and went to ‘the field’ to round up a game.

        The field was a vacant lot between our house and the neighbor’s.  We had to make do.  Home plate was large flat rock, so you didn’t slide in unless it was real important.  A pear tree served as first base.  If you grabbed ahold of it just right as you made the turn, you’d get some extra momentum and get a leg up on a double.  The base baths were were beat down red clay from where we ran all day.  Later in life I loved the Nashville Bluegrass Band song  ‘Red Clay Halo.’  It reminded me of those days.

        We had to chop all the weeds down to make any semblance of a ball field, and had no access dirt movers or heavy equipment.  Our Dads were too busy working to fool with it, so the field wasn’t level.  I guess you could call it split level ball field, ’cause from second base on out there was a gentle drop off, and then the outfield leveled out a bit, and settled in at four or five feet lower.  If you could hit it out of the infield, the ball would tend to run.  If you hustled, you could make an in-the-park homer ’cause the outfielders had to throw the ball back uphill.  I’d run fast to try to avoid a slide into home.   One time we found out the neighborhood juvenile delinquent smoked cigarettes on the sly when he slid into home rock and the matches in his pocket caught on fire.

        Over time I broke several of the fingers in my hand and a couple of arm bones.  I didn’t know you called it a supracondylar fracture at the time, but I was lucky; it healed up fine.  My Dad set it.  Back then the Country Docs did all orthopedics; we didn’t have a specialist.  The cast was plaster, and all the kids signed it.  It made me a local hero for a while there.  We played on and didn’t think too much about injuries, but my mom kept watch from the kitchen window.  She’d holler out, “Tommy, I better not catch you using that arm.”

       No boy wanted his mama to comment on his baseball game from the kitchen, so I learned to bat with one hand pretty quick.  By the end of that summer, I could get a ground rule double, but I never did hit a homer with one hand.  By the time my arm healed the odor of the cast was a hot and sweaty horrible.  I was lucky and never broke a leg, not even sliding into the rock we had for home base. 

         One time I broke my right pinky and my Dad put a splint on it.  I’d take it off by day so I could play, but then put it on again at night for supper so he wouldn’t know I wasn’t complying with his treatment.  I never did tell him it mended a bit crooked, but it turned out to be a blessing, ’cause it made a perfect crook for a Vardon grip when I took up golf a few years later.

        We only had a few ball bats, and we nursed them along through as many seasons as we could.  When my favorite Louisville Slugger got splintered, I used little bitty nails to mend it back together, and then wrapped it as tight as I could with some black friction tape.  We weren’t ingenious enough to cork ’em, and never heard of that till years later.

        At the end of the field there was a sharper drop off.  Now it only seems to be a slight incline, but we called it ‘The Cliff.’  If you bounced one over the cliff, it was ground rule double, and if  you flew it over it was a home run.  The face of the slope was covered with honey-suckle, and sometimes the ball would get lost in the tangles of vines.  We usually didn’t have two baseballs, so we’d have to hunt for it to resume play.  At times we’d just lay on our backs and rest in the honeysuckle, at least if the bees didn’t get after us too bad.  We’d look up at the big white cumulus clouds, and dream up what kind of animals they looked like.  I suppose nowadays kids would say they looked like the Michelin man, but he hadn’t been invented yet.  I guess sex had been invented by then, but we weren’t old enough to realize some of the formations had suggestive curvatures. 

        On the extra hot days sometimes we’d ride our bikes over to the Park Pool.  You could swim all day for about a dime.  If we’d played ball real hard earlier, we’d look like little dirty beggars.  The pool manager would make us wash the red clay dust off out feet before we got in the water.

        We had to change the ball game rules as we got older.  Some of us got to where we could hit the ball over the cliff every time.  When you got that good, you had to bat left-handed.  Once you could hit it over left-handed all the time you had to quit, but that meant graduation to Little League.  Micky Mantle was our hero ’cause he was a switch hitter.  We’d argue about whether he could hit it over the cliff.   I’m sure he coulda hit it out of the neighborhood.  

          As we got older we could ride the wind, as it usually was at our back and favored us.  We’d hit the ball too far, and it would wind up in old lady Power’s flower garden.  She would confiscate it if she got there first.  Baseballs were hard to come by, and if you hit one there, we couldn’t run fast enough to get it back before she snatched it up.  She wouldn’t give it back either.  We thought she was mean, but I guess she was just trying to protect her flowers from a bunch of boys trampling through them.

        On those windy days we often took to flying kites instead.  Sometimes they were store bought, but often we made ’em out of paper and sticks.  The tail was the most important part; they provided a stability we learned to harness very early on.  I’d stand at home plate and let out some string.  If there was a little less breeze we’d have to run around the infield, but we had no trouble getting them aloft.  Once it was airborne we’ d let the younger ones fly it.  We had a giant ball of string, but on a good day we’d run it all out.  The little ones would just squeal.  “Tommy, Tommy, what are we gonna do?”  There wasn’t much to those kites, but we never wanted to lose one.

        I’d leave it with two kids in charge and run down to the store around the corner and buy a couple  more balls of string, then tie on my best knot and keep her flying.  Every so often the line would break and the kite would flutter out of sight, but most of the time we could reel it back home to fly another day.

        And that is how I spend almost all my summer days until my teenage years.  Might not have been much training to be a doctor, but that is what it was.

Dr. B