Friday, March 19, 2010

Friends, Relatives and Birds

A Gorgeous day outside today - and we had an appointment to have lunch with a brother-in-law and his wife at Logans. Great food, too much food, then coffee and pleasant conversation. I love being retired because I had no need to rush back to the office. It was a wonderfully leisurely day. Dewain and Debbie live about 30 minutes away so we get this opportunity occasionally. He's retired from being Comptroller of Children's Hospital in New Orleans - right after Katrina.

This Mourning Dove and a mate have been playing in the kitchen
window for the last few days. They will come from the tree to the window, Coo-cooo-coooo, then fly back to the tree. I have seen one of them carrying straw and various items into this tree to build a nest. They are beautiful - but will not hold still for the photo I wanted to get.

I'm not sure - but I think this is a Carolina Wren. Several of them have been hopping about in the grass, picking up worms, then flying to the window of my office. I put out a few crumbled crackers to entice them up close for a picture. Worked like a charm.

Tennessee's state bird, the Mockingbird, also loved the crackers and was more aggressive in coming up close to take them. This one espied the camera right away and split-seconds later flew away. I love watching them. Maybe, just maybe, I'll go out and buy some bird-seed.

This is a side view of the same Mocking-bird. Tra la la, tra la la, tra la la, tweedle dee dee dee - oh what a thrill to wake up in the morning on Mocking-bird Hill.

This squirrel has a bobbed tail. Not sure what happened - could have been that black cat that roams the neighborhood - or a dog - or even a "snap trap"...but something definitely got it's tail. This is the third year we've seen the same squirrel feeding around our

Right after we left Logan's Roadhouse, I took my wheelhorse out to have it serviced. Sitting up all winter (yes, out in the open) the steering is "locked". Probably from rust? At any rate it was impossible to steer it, so have to have it repaired soon as the grass is starting to speak to me about needing to be kept trimmed. A friend had asked me to take his weed-eater to the repair shop when I took my mower - but I forgot all about it. Hopefully he'll forgive me.

Below are three snaps of the city of Cleveland's "Green-way", a very nice walking trail of over two miles - along Mouse Creek. We have been blessed and now own the lot between here and the road behind our house so we have this gorgeous view 24/7!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Litter-bugs and Bitter-bugs

LITTER-BUGS. What do you do when you meet a litter-bug? Do you enjoy seeing the landscape covered in litter? Very few things in the natural world are more repulsive to me than to see litter scattered over an otherwise beautiful landscape. Now don't mis-interpret...I could not (by any stretch of the imagination) be called a "neat-freak". But I do hate to drive down the highway and see empty cans, and bottles, and carry-out lunch boxes from KFC, Mickey D's, and a myriad of other fast food places. I never allowed myself or my family to throw things out of the vehicle onto the landscape. When my children were young and we traveled I kept a litter-bag in the car and taught them never to throw even the smallest items out of the car window. Now I love the outdoors. Hunting and trout fishing have been a part of my life from my earliest years. I didn't see that much litter as a child. Yes, there was some...but nothing like what I have seen lately. Maybe because the old timers didn't have the throw-away items we have today but I do not remember seeing so much litter when I was young. Lately I've pushed back several miles into some of our beautiful national forests, thinking, 'maybe this is virgin timber' when suddenly down the trail my eyes would fall on a rusting coke can. I can't explain what that does to me but it's a little like eating a lovely meal and finding a waitress' hair in the food. It's distasteful. Un-pleasant. I want to gag. I DON'T LIKE LITTER-BUGS!!

BITTER-BUGS. Now bitter-bugs are far more distasteful than litter-bugs. With litter-bugs, they never caused me to want to spread my litter. In fact, I have spent hours picking up other people's litter in places I had never been to before, and carrying it out of the woods to my pickup and taking it to a dumpster. No - not everytime - but a few times that has happened. Now - the BITTER-BUG is a different story. I find that when I'm in the presence of a bitter-bug I am prone to join him/her in their bitterness. I have been bitten by the bitter-bug and it caused me to spread the bitterness Once I felt that a fellow-minister who was over me in the Lord had lied to me. I was hurt. I began to tell it to others. It grew as I talked. Soon I was pouring out poison into any ear who would listen to my tale of woe. One of my fellow-ministers stopped me in mid-sentence and said, "Fred, I don't want to hear this!" It was like a slap in the face. I finished the task I was working on at the time and went to the woods to pray and repent and soon felt I had the victory. I'll never forget - soon after that I was complaining bitterly about some of the members of my church to one of my pastor friends and he stopped me and said, "Fred. I have to tell you something. You are never going to be successful in this church nor any other church until you learn to love your people!" It was a shock to me. I realized I still didn't have the victory over that critical attitude. Oh how I have thanked God many times over for that encounter and the repenting and praying it caused me to do.

I DETEST BITTER-BUGS because they put poison in your spirit. I love them, but I don't like the wailing and woes of bitterness they cause me to endure. Unlike litter on a landscape which cannot grow in and of itself, bitter thrown out on a spirit will multiply! No wonder the Scripture says in Hebrews 12:15 "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;" I do not claim mastery of the subject yet, but (God being my helper) I am resolved not to be bitten by the BITTER-BUG! Therefore I do not listen long to them. I do not ask them questions in an effort to gain more knowledge of their "juicy" causes for gossip. In fact I'm going to do what Paul recommended to the Ephesian Church in Ephesians 4:31: ?Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Signs of Spring

This was Frances after returning from Church on Sunday, March 8, 2010. She was having a good day. Isn't that a radiant smile on a beautiful woman's face? All of the people at church loved and hugged on her because they had not seen her in several months. It had been a year since her heart by-pass surgery and (from her appearance this day) she was well on the way to being completely healed.

Here, if you observe very carefully, you can see one of the fishermen I saw fishing from the bank of the Hiwassee river. The dam below here (at Chattanooga) hss been opened to let water through during the winter - then the spring rains will fill it up! It will probably come up at least 10 feet.

This boat is the only one I saw on the water in about three hours. It reminds me that I need to get my boat in for service before long. When I last used it, I noticed that the boat was taking on an unusual amount of water when big boats passed me while I had stopped to fish. It took me forever to figure it out...but someone had borrowed my boat last year and changed the hose connection so that when I turn on the bilge pump it pumps bilge water into my live well. And he thought he was "fixing" the boat. Arrrrrrghhhh!

There is a cave on the side of the river, directly across from the "ole' swimmin' hole that I have noticed before. I want to explore it, but have not taken the time for doing that. There are many such caves throughout Tennessee. I remember a church member of Dad's in Middle Tennessee (at Campaign) who used to get his drinking water from a cave in a 50 gallon drum. Caves are interesting places. In most caves the temperature is relatively stable - meaning "cool in the summer" and "warm in the winter".

Ye Ole' Swimmin' Hole!

I have many many many pleasant memories of going to the "Swimmin' Hole". Not this exact place, but in similar places in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida our Daddy took us swimming. This might be a good blog subject at a later date.

I drove out to the Hiwassee River yesterday, March 9, just to get out of the house. It seemed like I was about to go "stir crazy" after such weather for the past month or so. Of course I have been out - but not as much as I like to be. nor for the reasons I most enjoy. I've been to the store to buy groceries. I've been out to eat lunch with my girl-friend. I've been to church. But I like to get out and "ramble". No appointment. No deadline to meet. Just see a road and drive down it. See an interesting looking trail (whether an approved hiking trail or not) and get out and walk. The weather was 70 degrees the day before (Monday) and it had made me want to be out on the river or out in the open. It was shining enough that Frances had opened the kitchen door to let the sunshine into the house - through the storm door. I suggested to Frances during breakfast that we should take some weiners and a cold drink and go to the river where I could build a camp-fire and have lunch of hot dogs and chili on the river. She declined. So ... sometime after lunch I "took off" by myself to ramble along the rivers edge. I did find a few people out. The key to that sentence was "few". There was one boater that I saw. As I drove along the river south of Charleston I observed two guys fishing from the bank. Checked out the "ole swimmin' hole" and
saw that someone has nailed "steps" onto a tree trunk that hangs over the water. When the water comes up six more feet (and it will soon) this will be a wonderful place to play in the water. Directly across the road from that site is what I believe to be a cave. Altho I have noticed it before, I have yet to check it out. Maybe this summer I will.

Here is a sign of Spring! Look at this lovely creature! And God sent her to be my wife!

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton