Friday, January 28, 2011

Cars With Bonnets and Boots

Tonight my friend Jack Darnell posted a blog showing a picture of an old Morris Oxford, a car with a bonnet and a boot.

Now I'm sure that if you are reading this and you are from Great Britain or one of her Colonies - or former colonies - you are going to have quite a different "read" of this post than most of my American friends will have. You see, for us here in the USA, when we say "bonnet" we think of an elderly grandmother with her old-fashioned head-gear which was worn regularly by our pioneer women to protect their hair from the weather. When we say "boot" we are thinking of something we put on our feet.

The year was 1966. We were on our first overseas assignment for the Church of God as missionaries to British Guiana. Shortly (within our first six months) they gained their Independence and became known as Guyana, South America. Still the British influences saturated everything. There was "Fogarty's" a big chain store where you could buy food and clothes and books and maybe even some furniture for your home. Booker's, Ltd, was the place to buy cars. Our missions board provided the funds (I can't be sure but it seems I remember $3000 being the price) for us to purchase a new one. The traffic all rode on the opposite side of the street we were used to driving on back in Tennessee. It was nerve-wracking but I actually did manage to get under the wheel and negotiate traffic in that town of 500,000 people driving "on the wrong side of the road"! I had spent the previous 5 years in Tellico Plains, TN, a town of less than 1,000 people at that time. What a challenge.

The car was a wonderful car. It was Automatic shift and we were getting 30 mpg on fuel use. After about six months or so of driving in this strange new environment, on the opposite side of the road, learning that I had to have the "bottom washed" before the mechanic would change the oil and lubricate it, I remember driving into the dirt road leading to our home. I pointed the bonnet towards our gate (which everyone knows you had to keep shut and locked) jumped out, switched off the engine and unloaded groceries. When I got back into the car to put it into the garage and lock it up, the engine would not turn over. My neighbor, Pragdat, who ran buses up and down the coast was quite the mechanic. He saw me with bonnet and boot both standing open and the worried look on my face. Walking over, he asked, "Would you like me to help?" Of course I said, "Yes!"

Try the engine once more. Nothing but "click" each time I tried. Then he looked at me and said so seriously that I just knew for sure he was joking - "Why don't you crank it?" Me: "Uh. Yeah. Well... I thought we just tried that?" "NO!" He said, "Crank it with your crank!" "But this is an automatic", I protested. "But you should have a crank in the boot or under the bonnet."

Sure enough, to my chagrin, He located the crank (like we used to use for old Model A Fords) and gave just one small twist before the engine started! I could not believe how easy it started. What a quality car. Pragdat then proceeded to take my starter off the Morris and clean it of the road dirt that had caked up on it, took it apart, greased it, and put it back. The starter never failed again.

Wish I had a picture of that car. The license plate was PT602! There, the initial number given on a car's license plate always stayed on it until the car was no longer usable. It could be that even now PT602 is still being used to drive around the little country of Guyana.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hardy Pansies - And Signs of Spring

Last Fall we planted some Petunias and Pansies.

I remember saying something like, "Why, oh why are we planting flowers now when winter is upon us?" My thinking was that the freezing temperatures and the sleet and snow would kill any signs of life - but I was wrong. Not often will I admit that, so make the most of this confession today! ☻
Coming in today from lunch we could see the flower bed for the first time in a week and this is the sight that greeted us.

Are these beautiful, or what?

Three days ago these flowers were under 8 inches of snow!

Our front porch is bright with these small but lovely blooms!

O.K., I know it's soon to be SPRING because I saw the evidence today. Jonquils are popped out of the ground about two inches!

Take a look friends, while you can. I hear we may be getting more snow tonight...but...according to the weatherman it will only be rain and snow mixed and we will get only a light dusting. Even if the snow does cover them up, guess what?

Genesis 8:22
"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

My Incredible Mother

Oh, I know it is not Mother's Day yet, but I have to post about today's visit with her before I forget. I suggested to Frances this morning that we should go to Cap'n D's for lunch and have some fried fish as Jack of Ship'sLog fame had posted a picture of himself sitting in his new boat on a Florida lake, and wrote about catching some Crappie or Perch for his and wife Sherry's lunch. Frances immediately suggested that I should call my Mom and see if she would like to join us. We did call and she did want to go with us. After all, we are ALL getting that somewhat "cooped up" feeling because the recent snow and ice has just now melted. After lunch of "fish and fries" we went to Mom's Apartment just about two miles from here for a short visit. She had recently bought some new furniture she wanted us to see. She has a new bed, new desk, new couch, new storage cabinet and ... ? (something I'm forgetting?).

Here's my pretty woman sitting on Mom's new couch!

Mom in her favorite chair.

Me and my sweetheart at Mom's, watching her work out on her new trampoline! Can you believe it?

The woman will be 90 in March! I think she is something very special.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Making Snow Cream - 2011

By reaching out the office window I was able to measure the snowfall which Cleveland, Tennessee got last night. I could not find the rule, so stuck this letter opener into the snow!

Finally found a measuring tape so laid it out the window beside the letter opener. It looked like 7 inches today!

We have had a wonderful snowfall in Cleveland, TN last night (January 9th) and this morning (January 10th)! It's been years since we have seen snow like this in East Tennessee. It brought back fond memories of childhood days when Mama would make "snow cream". So this morning, while chatting with one of my own daughters, I decided that this would be a good thing to do here. We need not get out on the roads due to the dangers of trying to drive while the roads are covered with ice and snow. It could become boring if one had to stay inside for long like this. As I reflect on the whole scene I think that Mama probably used this idea of snow cream to stave off the insanity of having three rambunctious boys and a baby girl at home from school, closed in because of the snow, with nothing to do. There was no internet, no ipod, no cell phone, no TV and much of my youth we survived without a "two-party" phone! The cowboy shows only came on the radio for a short time in the mornings - and that was usually on Saturday. But Mom would entertain us with mind games, riddles and such, and with games like "I spy with my little eye" plus regular Checkers and Chinese Checkers (played with marbles on a board). Oh yeah, and there was "jacks" (or do you spell that jax?) Another game was "Who can quote the most Bible Verses?" One child would quote a verse, then the next and the next until someone could no longer think of a verse to quote. Of course there was also music. The guitar and mandolin and fiddle would come out and we would play and sing at times for two or three hours. No - this didn't happen every day - but on those days like today when we were "cooped" up inside because of foul weather. Today, I was able to convince Frances to do the video while I made the snow cream! I've tried to load it onto here - but blogger won't take it today. Oh well...still more for me to learn, I guess.

Because I was taking video I did not think to take pictures of the entire process - but did take this one when I first brought the bowl of snow into the kitchen! It was DELICIOSO!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Doctors Orders

One thing you must remember: There will be NO COMPLAINING! Doctor's Orders. Actually, this sign is in the drug-store drive-through window where I pick up Mom's meds occasionally.

I'm not sure I understand this sign, even though it is written in English!

Once again, we've spent several hours in the hospital. Yesterday it was at Erlanger, a hospital in Chattanooga. Ever heard of "Heart Arrhythmia"? It just means "irregular heartbeat". I don't like it...but it seems to be a necessary part of life for Frances and me these days. It seems that her heart has been receiving conflicting electrical impulses which are supposed to tell her the correct moment for the heart to beat. Because of these confusing signals, the doctor suggested a procedure of intervention of one electrical signal via a catheter into the heart muscle, applying heat to one of the signals, thus "killing" it. That would leave the other signal stronger and cause the heart to beat normally. This is called "cardiac ablation".

Many signs were written in English and in Spanish.

Consideration for others in the room, especially if you have a cough or a fever, is highly recommended.

What a day. I was up at 3:10a. (couldn't sleep that extra 20 minutes until 3:30, which is when I had set the clock for.) I wanted to get my coffee, read my Bible and settle my nerves a bit before waking Frances at 4:00. Even though I got side-tracked in my reading for a few minutes and I woke her at 4:10, we were able to get everything in order, leave here at 5:00, arrive at the hospital on-time, and everything went as planned...

Heart monitors, Blood-pressure monitors, oxygen level monitors, heart-rate monitors, and "you-name-it" monitors are a prominent part of modern day medical treatment.

This sign is prominently displayed in the consultation room in my "primary care physician's" office. That's the local walk-in clinic.

At 10:00a., when the doctor had finished the procedure, he came to explain it all too me and very skillfully - with $64 words - told me that now there is a 50% chance that what he did will work and the bad electrical signals will "peter out" within a couple of weeks. He says that there is also a 50% chance that what was done will make no difference and then he will see her on the 25th for further medical treatment. Don't you love those 50/50 chances on things?

Is there an ominous note here? Are they suggestion that you ought to read up on this book about life after death?

Well, at 2:00p, the nurse came in to say Frances was doing well and began removing heart monitor, bp cuff, etc., and etc. in preparation for our leaving the hospital. I discovered that there was drizzling rain as I crossed the street into the parking garage. This reminded me that I had seen the weather predictions were for possible light freezing rain sometime during the day. However, we had no freezing rain.

As we approached Interstate 24 heading East, I noticed that the traffic was backing up rapidly! I quickly made the decision to go to the old highway (US11) and follow it until I was past the area where I75 and I24 connect, thus beating all that traffic jam. Wrong decision. After an hour of bumper to bumper stop and go on the old highway I finally discovered that there was work on two lanes and everyone was merging into one lane. Once past that spot, the traffic was released and we were soon home. No further problems. So - Thank God - we're once again out of the docs office and now waiting for any signs of improvement in regular heart-beat.

So many friends called to say they were praying. Family and friends mean so much at times like these. I do believe that God pays attention to us when we pray. I feel better today than I did yesterday, that's for sure!!!

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