What Happens When You Get a Bug in Your Ear

One of my very favorite southern sayings is “like a duck on a June bug.” You know, he was all over her like a duck on a June bug or like white on rice. I have friends who had a great time as kids tying strings to the legs of June bugs and watching them fly in circles.

These things make June bugs seems charming, even cute.

They are not.

This summer I came face-to-face, well, ear to body, with a June bug. We went to the woodshed and I survived, but it wasn’t pretty.

JPEG image-7BC76CC603FD-1I was enjoying an evening at the Romp Bluegrass Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky. It was a lovely evening, despite the tiny little chairs we brought to sit on for hours. In an effort to relieve our rear-ends we laid on a blanket in the grass. It was just like a country song – laying under the stars with your boyfriend listening to music and enjoying a warm summer night. It was until, without warning, a bug flew into my right ear.

This wasn’t just a bug crawling on my head. This bug dive-bombed my ear and was in my ear canal before I could raise my hand to swat it away.

What happened next was mostly a blur of me crying, screaming, and dancing around trying to get the moving, wing flapping, biting, and scratching bug out of my ear. I can only imagine what the other concertgoers thought as they watched me. In a moment of desperation I opened our Nalgene bottles and poured water in my ear. By the time we reached the security tent the June bug stopped moving. I was relieved that the pain had stopped and horrified that I was bleeding from my ear and had a dead bug in my head.

The kind security guard called for a cart to take me to the EMT (the first aid tent closed at 8:00 p.m.) and talked to me until it arrived. Very encouraging. But that feeling quickly faded when the cart arrived. The driver, a man I can only describe as Bubba, told me to get in. He was accompanied by what appeared to be his girlfriend and her little sister, who was holding a dog. I explained the problem and the little girl, sitting next to me, said “you can get a bug in your ear?” I braced myself.

We started down the narrow road, carving a path through the concertgoers who were surely camping (all night – long after first aid closed). I noticed the cart slowing and heard Bubba call out to a man at our right as he stopped the cart to say, “hey man how’s it going?” I was near the end of my rope, as nicely as I could I said “dude, seriously?” He promptly starting moving and announcing that there was a “woman in the cart who is bleeding.” This did not do much to move the crowd.

We arrived at the ambulance. The EMT was not there. But in the distance we saw a small form running toward us. He arrived and while nice he seemed about 19. He looked in my ear and promptly declared that he could not see anything, “could not do anything” for me and that I would have to go to the hospital.

We explained that we are from out of town and aren’t familiar with Owensboro or the hospital. He attempted the give us directions, which culminated in, “Do you have GPS? Use that.”

We walked silently back to the car. In the dark. In the middle of a field in Owensboro, Kentucky.

I started to cry – the I-am-at-the-end-of-myself slow weeping – as I opened my Google Maps app and found the directions to the hospital. It was nearby.

I walked into the emergency room and spoke to the nice lady at the registration desk. I gave her my information and story with big tears rolling down my cheeks. She sweetly asked if I was alone, I said no and that I am from out of town. She tilted her head and looked at me as only an elderly southern woman can and said slowly and sweetly, “bless your heart.”

Then we sat in the waiting room for an hour, my head in the only position that wasn’t painful and bleeding on my boyfriend’s shirt.

After an hour they called my name. I went back and met with a cheery physician’s assistant who wanted to know “what’s going on tonight?” Through my now dry swollen eyes I explained that there is a bug in my ear.

He took a look in my ear and proclaimed that he “could see something brown and it could be a bug, but it could be earwax.” He does not know how close he came to getting smacked in the face. I calmly but condescendingly explained that I could feel the bug moving in my ear (back when it was alive) and I am certain that is not earwax. Suddenly, he was a bit more motivated to take a closer look.

We went into a procedure room where I promptly refused to lay on the bed because there was a distinctive looking black hair on it. We moved rooms. He was annoyed. I was indignant.

I laid down on my side in the clean room. The PA took forceps with a long nose and immediately dove into my ear. I immediately screamed and insisted on sitting up. As I did I watched as he examined a tiny piece of something he pulled out of my ear, which he described as “not part of your ear.” Duh.

Meanwhile, I was reeling from the pain. He did not warn me that taking whatever was in there out would be far more painful than when it went in (and that was very painful). I asked, nearly begged, if there was another way? He offered irrigation but said it might cause the bug to break apart and that did not seem desirable.

So, I braced myself, squeezed my sweet boyfriend’s hand, and employed my yoga breathing as he made 3 more pulls from my ear. The last drew out the bulk of the bug’s body to which he exclaimed “oh my God.” Turns out, it was a bug. I exclaimed, “thank you, Jesus.”


I thought we were finished, but he explained that he thought that there was a leg left behind in my ear (we counted only five on the bugs body). He could not go searching for it because of the blood and swelling and danger for my eardrum, but “it isn’t a big deal, it will come out in wax.” Easy for him to say, he didn’t have a bug leg in his ear.

JPEG image-3E68EC8E76E1-1I was release from the hospital a short time later. The next day we returned to the festival (I wore ear plugs), listened to some great music, and celebrated me not having a bug in my ear.

I am still okay with bugs and my ear no longer hurts, but I’ll never hear the old saying “put a bug in someone’s ear” quite the same way ever again.

Fort Wayne Music: The B-Side

Have you ever wanted to hear your favorite band play in your living room? Just an evening with your closest friends and some live music.

You probably can’t make that happen, but seeing a show at One Lucky Guitar’s (OLG) B-Side is your next best option.

IMG_1769The B-Side space is located within the OLG design and marketing boutique. It is self-described as super intimate and urban, seating around 60 people. The mirrored fireplace and generous windows balance the exposed brick and open ceiling to give you the effect of being at home or in the coolest venue in the city.

My first B-Side experience was the most recent show – Rayland Baxter. The show was electric and the acoustics were great. The space, which is lovely, is set up to allow the artist to be as casual and comfortable as possible. There is no stage so the artist is amongst the crowd, which allows for an unusual visual perspective. This and the small size let’s the artist interact with the audience in personal and unusual ways – like a living room gathering of your closest friends.

The B-Side is a unique space featuring high quality acts, including Lloyd Cole later this month. Can you imagine, Lloyd Cole in your living room?

If you are a music lover in Northeast Indiana you should make seeing a show at the B-Side a priority.

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion: An Epic Friday Night

“Can’t you feel those hills around you, Can’t you feel that touch of home, And don’t you wish you’d never gone, There are some things memories can’t bring home.” Hazel Dickens

There is one weekend every year when State Street in Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee turns into a haven for Americana, folk, and bluegrass musicians. It is the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion (“BRRR”). I headed south into the mountains from the flatlands of Indiana for a visit with my precious family and Friday night at BRRR.

I have not missed a BRRR since 2003 (I think), back when it was just a couple thousand people and I was living in walking distance (if you had to walk). Now, it is becoming a top-notch festival. While I am biased, I would recommend BRRR to anyone. You can’t beat great bands, both new an old, kind people, and a fun atmosphere.

Sunshine and her hubby were my partners in crime for the evening. Sunshine’s man is an organizer extraordinaire, so our itinerary was well-researched and set. We started with dinner at 620 State with a prime view of State Street and the tunes of J.P. Parsons in the background. Bless the hearts of those folks at 620, they carefully helped me have a nice gluten-free dinner on a crazy busy night with a limited menu. From our dinner table I happily spotted friends and acquaintances from my former life. Oh, and former Governor and candidate for the Virginia Senate Tim Kaine.

Our line up for the rest of night was Whiskey Gentry, Lydia Loveless, Folk Soul Revival, The Black Lillies, Billy Joe Shaver, and City and Colour. All were good, if not exceptional. However, for me the night was epic because it was a delightful combination of some of my all time favorite tunes and one of my all time favorite people.

Folk Soul Revival not only played Sweet Virginia (I like to think it is what the Commonwealth is singing to me), but they covered Tom Petty’s Don’t Do Me Like That and Prince’s Purple Rain. Yes, Purple Rain. It was awesome. Also, Tim Kaine played the harmonica on a number with Folk Soul for Tennessee Shines, an excellent radio program for WDVX out of Knoxville, Tennessee. Folk Soul Revival laid it down, big time.

Speaking of Knoxville, Tennessee, The Black Lillies (based in my law school stomping grounds of Knoxville) played like their hair was on fire at the Paramount Theatre. I adore this band. Their music is independent, personal, and high order entertaining. As an additional bonus, they are nice people and Cruz Contreras and the boys in the band are all easy on the eyes. However, the lone lady in the band stole the show on Friday night. Trisha Gene Brady gave a moving (she was brought to tears herself) a cappella performance of Hazel Dickens’s Hills of Home. It was amazing. Sunshine looked at me afterward and said “that had to be worth the trip” and, indeed, it was. I would happily drive again from FW to Bristol to hear it. They also did one of my all time favorites – There’s Only One – which made me smile. If you haven’t bought the music of The Black Lillies, please do yourself a favor and do it now.

The cherry on my Friday night at BRRR sundae came from a music veteran. This guy was writing songs for the Outlaws . . . hello, Waylon. I have been listening to Billy Joe Shaver for years. He is a lovely man. Once a hell raiser and now a Jesus advocate. I met him twice, once in Houston and then in Knoxville, and he is just a joy (I like to think he was telling the truth when he said he remembered me). I wandered down to the State Street stage after The Black Lillies just in time to hear Billy Joe Shaver belt out I’m Gonna Live Forever. No one does this tune like him. And for the frat-boy next to me who thinks that is a Robert Earl Keen song, puh-lease. Billy Joe was writing those kinds of tunes when REK was knee-high to a grasshopper. Billy Joe wrote that song with his son Eddie, a talented guitarist who died too young. Hearing it live is almost a religious experience.

It was a perfect end to a perfect evening. Heck, even the weather was perfect. This was the best Friday night at BRRR in my memory. The music was epic and the company was perfect.

Thanks to Sunshine, her man, and Bristol for making it a beautiful night.

An Epic Night with Mr. Dylan

I was super excited when I bought my tickets to last week’s Bob Dylan show in FW. However, I was hesitant to expect too much. For years now, I have heard that Dylan shows were hit or miss – hit meaning great and miss meaning unintelligible “singing” and lyric memory loss.

The FW show at Parkview Field was definitely a hit. My favorites were Make You Feel My Love (I haven’t smiled that big in a long time – it was glee inducing), Highway 61, Like a Rolling Stone, and Tangled Up in Blue. He also offered up All Along the Watchtower, Blowin’ in the Wind, Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (last encore tune, which I missed) and The Levee’s Gonna Break, among others.

Mr. Dylan performed his classics beautifully. He performed the tunes as though he was reading poetry (my Sister’s astute observation) rather than singing the songs as they were produced on albums. He sounded great and the band was solid. It was a once in a lifetime show. Although, I am a little biased because I will now forever have the memory of dancing to Like a Rolling Stone with my Mommy 25 feet from the stage.

It does not get much better. It was epic indeed.

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Five Girls, an Aging Rock Star, and One Minivan

What do you get when you mix five thirty- and forty-something ladies; an aging, past-his-prime-rock star; and a minivan? I am not sure either, but it was loud and fun.

I was scheduled to fly to Tennessee to reunite with the Cosmic Sisters, but, much to my dismay, being a grown-up and conflicting schedules got in the way. What could possibly come close to the glory and fabulousness that is the Cosmic Sisters? Well, an aging, past-his-prime-rock star, of course. In the best of all worlds I would have chosen Mick Jagger, Nick Lowe, or Bruce Springsteen, but Huey Lewis and The News would have to do.

In my day job I teach at a college. I use pop culture references to break up topics and to pause for breaks. One of my slides has a picture of Huey Lewis & The News because one of their songs relates to the topic in my class. A year and a half ago I used this slide and 3/4 of the class did not know the band or the song. Gasp! It still shocks me that humans were born after 1980. I just assume everyone is my age. That made me feel old.

Friday night found five ladies in the midst of an ’80s legend Huey Lewis and The News at FW’s Foellinger Theatre. The weather was outstanding – perfect for an outdoor event. Huey is looking mighty good for 62 and he sounds like he is still 25. Interestingly, Huey and his band have been playing exactly as long as I have been alive. Somehow that also makes me feel old. The girls and I happily sang along to The Power of Love, I Want a New Drug, Heart and Soul, and Workin’ for a Livin’. As a bonus he threw in an a capella version of Sixty Minute Man, which drew some classic snark from the ladies in my row. Imagine your worst.

Huey is a musician’s musician. He loves the horns and was careful to step into the darkness of the stage when the lead guitar or the saxophone took their turn soloing. Very respectful. He had two poorly dressed backup dancers, which were a bit gratuitous, but they sounded good. There was no light show, no spectacle, no costume changes, and no props. It was two hours of well-done music and memories. Yes, it is cheesy, but classic. It was fun. Everyone knew the words and sang along. Seriously, everyone, including the lady who had to be in her 60s who ran to the stage and giggled like a school girl when Huey shook her hand.

The power of Huey is a curious thing.

A Festival of Trees

It is 7:45 a.m.  The phone rings.  It is my Mommy.  I am not even at work yet.  Her only question?  She wants to know if I want her to pick up some garland and a wreath for me – they are on sale.  It is officially Christmas time.

I love Christmas.  However, my love cannot hold a candle to that of my Mommy.  She starts listening to Christmas music in July.  She puts up two full-size and fully decorated Christmas trees (one perfect and super fancy and the other with all the old childhood ornaments).  She has made and collected enough Santas to have her own store.  She bakes – pumpkin rolls, cheese cakes, pumpkin pies, fruit salad, cranberry relish, and fudge.  She loves it.

Needless to say I have inherited some of this love, but mine, unlike Mommy’s does not center around decorations.  Last year I did not put up a Christmas tree.  This was not a popular choice.  I was openly shamed.  This year, though, I have a tree up (all four feet of it) and it is fully decorated (it was $20 at Big Lots – don’t judge me).  Why?  No one will see it but The Queen and me.  There was no merriment when I put it up.  My Mommy won’t even see it.  Well, I was inspired.  I was inspired by the buffet of beautiful and artfully decorated trees and displays while at Disney World for Thanksgiving and by a wonderful FW tradition, The Embassy Theatre Festival of Trees.

As you might imagine, a Disney Christmas is magical (that is Disney’s favorite word – “Hello, it is a magical day at Disney” is their standard phone greeting).  And, the magic is often over the top.  Each Disney property hotel had its own fantastic tree.  Each park had a tree.  Each park had trees within it, some dedicated to its theme (think animals in Animal Kingdom) or the characters (Chip and Dale have their own tree).  There were trees everywhere.  Then, there are the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios, complete with fake snow.  If you have never heard of this google it and find a video.  It is impressive.  If Christmas time at Disney can’t whip you into the holiday spirit there is no hope for you.  Seriously.  I was so overtaken by the Christmas spirit that I actually (voluntarily) purchased Christmas decorations – glass Mickey ornaments and trees.  Sad but true.  Mickey made me put up a tree.

Here is an example of the over-the-topness, poinsettia “trees”.  These things were everywhere as were poinsettias.  Everywhere.

When this family's decorations got kicked out of Arkansas the massive decorations ended up in Orlando.

My favorite Disney park is The Animal Kingdom.  Of course, it featured a tree covered with animals and such.

The Hollywood Studios tree was equally charming and theme-appropriate, lots of stars and sparkles.

My favorite tree from the Disney trip was the tree of white poinsettias at the Dolphin Resort.  It was awesome.  Also in the picture below is my youngest niece, The Benevolent Dictator. She loves Disney almost as much as my Mommy loves Christmas.

Here are some other shots of magical Disney Christmas-ness.

I arrived back in FW unwilling to feel bad about my being sucked into the holiday (and Disney) spirit.  So, I got right on the holiday activities. I returned to FW at the perfect time to experience the Embassy Festival of Trees.  A lovely downtown activity. 

On Sunday evening, after church, I headed downtown.  By the way, in an effort to help you plan your trip next year, Sunday evening is the perfect time to visit the Festival – no crowd and all the pretty.

The Festival of Trees is an annual event, now in its 27th year, that features Christmas trees sponsored and decorated by local businesses.  For the bargain price of $6.50 (adult) you get to see 54 beautifully decorated (and fun) Christmas trees, see children dance ensemble and choir performances, spend some time in a lovely and special place, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  It is fun.  And, yes, I did have my picture made with Santa and Mrs. Claus gave me a candy cane.  One is never too old.

All the proceeds from the Festival of Trees support The Embassy Theatre.  The Embassy Theatre itself has been around since the early 1920s and is the home of Bob Hope’s first emcee job.  Others that have graced the stage include Duke Ellington, Perry Como, Doris Day, Louis Armstrong, and Tony Bennett. I recently saw Bryan Adams there.  It is a classic grand old theatre.  I love living in towns with these types of theaters because they have so much to offer the community – broadway shows, old cinema, local attractions – it is great.  In Knoxville it is The Tennessee Theatre, in Richmond it is The Landmark (formerly The Mosque), in Bristol it is The Paramount, and FW has The Embassy.  They all have great names too!

Here are a few of my favorite trees from the Festival.  Enjoy!

Gifted by 97.3 WMEE and Hartzog Interiors and Katie Hartzog.

Senzaburu by Fort Wayne Newspapers and Wunderkammer Co. (my sweet friend Dan).

It’s Beginning to Look at Lot Like Sesame Street by WFWA PBS39.  I loved this tree as I was once a devoted fan of Sesame Street.

May HIS Force Be With You by Thrivent Community-Greater Hoagland and Wendy Thieme.  Star Wars is always appropriate.  I love a wookie.

Fifty-four is a lot of trees.

Enjoy your Christmas time experience whether it involves four feet of tree or 54 trees. It is all pretty.


Here is one of my favorite Christmas tunes . . . so far mine is holly, jolly indeed.

Pure Michigan?

Yes, I have ventured north into Michigan.  It was a successful adventure to be documented in a later post.  What welcomed me to this lovely state? A gigantic sign (actually two) reading “Pure Michigan”.  Really?  What does this mean? What is the alternative?  Is there an option to enter tainted Michigan?  I know it is not nice to mock but I really do not understand state mottos and slogans.  These sayings are rarely clever or even accurate.  In this case this sign tells me nothing about Michigan.  It also does not prompt me to want to whip out my smartphone and start googling “Pure Michigan”.

This communication gap is sad because based on what I have read (Ann Arbor, Traverse City, the UP, New Buffalo) and experienced so far (super cute Marshall, Michigan) there are cool things to do and nice people on this peninsula.  In fact, I spent the day recently with a family from Michigan and they are awesome folks – kind folks who are into good music, good food, and good fun.  I hope that is what “Pure Michigan” means.  Who knows?  Maybe the slogan should come with a glossary.  The good news is that I am excited and looking forward to checking out Michigan while on my Midwest adventure.  I will do my best to ignore the signs.

To be fair, Virginia’s slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers” is not much better.  Over 400 years of history and that is what the Commonwealth gets? Maybe we should just stick with “Mother of Presidents”.  Frankly, it is worse when you hear the tune accompanying the words Virginia is for lovers in the commercials.  Although, the shirts are cool.

My very favorite and, in my opinion, the most accurate of all the state mottos or slogans is for West Virginia.  Because it is, in fact, “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia”.  Mr. Denver sang a song about it and it is a classic.


Sunsets are my favorite.  Nearly everywhere I have traveled I have made sure to get a shot of the sun going down.  The sky does awesome things as it says goodbye to the day.  So in order to stay on topic, you can see the difference between a mountain South sunset and a Northern Indiana sunset right here on this page.  The picture below the title of this blog is a sunset captured by me while on the highway in the Appalachian hills of Kentucky.  The picture in this post was taken in Allen County, Indiana just before a thunderstorm.  They are different.  Both are pretty.

Sunsets in the mountain South are more visually calm than those in the Midwest.  In the mountains you get a burst of light but the sun disappears rather quickly if you are not watching from the mountain top. The mountains are tall.  In the Midwest the sun hangs around, it lingers for a while, so you catch the full spectrum of pinks and yellows as it is swallowed up by the trees in the distance.  I am not sure I can pick which is prettier, but that is not the point, right?  The point is that they are both worth seeing and enjoying.  Over and over and over again.  Heck, it happens everyday.  Why not?

Here is a great song to enjoy while watching the sunset.  Anywhere.  “Live forever, y’all, whether you want to or not.”  Billy Joe Shaver.