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Point of ViewRobin Conover

“Red barn on Maddux Ridge” by Robin Conover Canon 5D Mark IV EF 24-70mm at 28mm, 2.8 L lens ISO 200, fl22 at 1/50th sec., handheld

Working with electric cooperatives for more than 34 years, it has become second nature to watch the weather closely, especially as winter storms approach. Snow can quickly turn the Tennessee landscape into idyllic winter scenes, everything covered in a soft white blanket. Ice, on the other hand, can turn those scenes into dangerous situations, bringing down trees and power lines and causing power outages.

This February, a storm hit the Cumberland Plateau particularly hard. I joined Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation crews as they began to repair broken utility poles and lines near Cookeville. Electric co-op crews volunteered from across Tennessee to help work the long, cold days, restoring electricity as quickly and safely as possible. Following crews along Maddux Ridge Road, we came upon a farm near the end of the rural route. I smiled and laughed under my breath when I saw the red barn.

My first photography instructor, you see, strongly discouraged our class from ever entering photographs of red barns or cats for any critiques in his classes. I suppose he had seen way too many of them in his time. So, of course, it has become a mission of mine to document both subjects often.

This classic Tennessee scene combined a beautiful red barn, winter weather and a curving, one-lane farm road. What made it unique and important to me was the sign I saw on a small shed nearby chronicling a bit of the farm’s history.

“This shed was built in 1886 by Uncle Jack Maddux. For his labor he charged two bred gilts (young female pigs). It was re-modeled by Bill Marlow and Laurance April 1987.”

History and its participants are often lost as generations pass. Stories become less accurate or are forgotten as memories fade. To me, this simple sign saved at least one of those stories. I connected with the scene a bit more.

Technology makes it easy to record any event in photographs, audio or video, so family histories shouldn’t be lost anymore. Capturing some of your own history from family elders this holiday season might be one of the best gifts you can give yourself — and leave for future generations.

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Tennessee basketball goes as perimeter play goesCaleb Calhoun

Rick Barnes loves playing inside-out, and Tennessee basketball has weapons in the post. However, it’s no longer a fluke based on red-hot three-point shooting. The success of the Vols this season will be dictated by how they play on the perimeter. On Tuesday, they beat the Presbyterian Blue Hose 86-44. That blowout came despite John […]

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Candace Parker: Lady Vols star’s comments expose Geno Auriemma as a petty fraudCaleb Calhoun

The worst conclusions you could draw from Geno Auriemma’s behavior in the past have been confirmed. Tennessee Lady Vols legend Candace Parker was able to reveal the type of person he is based on a conversation she recently had about Team USA. Speaking with Taylor Rooks of The Bleacher Report, Parker admitted that she doesn’t […]

Candace Parker: Lady Vols star’s comments expose Geno Auriemma as a petty fraudAll for TennesseeAll for Tennessee – A Tennessee Volunteers Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Poet’s Playground – Entry FormTrent Scott

Are you a poet at heart? If so, we would like to see your efforts in The Tennessee Magazine’s monthly poetry contest. Please limit your poem to no more than 100 words. Your work must include a Tennessee theme. Winning poems will be printed in our January issue.

While the theme of your poem must include something Tennessee-related, including the word “Tennessee” is not required.

Age categories:
The competition has six age divisions — 8 and younger, 9–13, 14–18, 19–22, 23–64 and 65 and older. Each group will have first-, second- and third-place winners. First place wins $50 and will be printed in the magazine, second place wins $30 and third place wins $20. Poems capturing first-, second- and third-place honors will be published online at

What to enter:
A poem of 100 words or fewer pertaining to the theme. One entry per person, and please give your entry a title.

Entry must be emailed or postmarked by Monday, Dec. 27.

Please note:
By entering, you give The Tennessee Magazine permission to publish your work via print, online and social media.

Please enter online below or mail handwritten entries to:
Poetry Contest, The Tennessee Magazine, P.O. Box 100912, Nashville, TN 37224. Make sure to print your poem legibly, and be sure to keep a copy of your poem as submissions received via mail will not be returned.

All entries must include the following information, or they will be disqualified: your name, age, mailing address, phone number and the name of your electric cooperative.

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Please enter your poem below.

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Artist’s Palette – Entry FormTrent Scott

Three age categories:
1 to 9, 10 to 14 and 15 to 18 years old. Each group will have first-, second- and third-place winners.

Drawing or painting on 8½-by-11-inch unlined paper. We encourage the use of color.

Send your original art to: The Tennessee Magazine, Artist’s Palette — November, P.O. Box 100912, Nashville, TN 37224. (Please make sure you include the month on the outside of the envelope!) Only one entry per artist, please.

Art must be postmarked by Friday, Dec. 31.

Your name, age, address, phone number, email address and electric cooperative. Leaving anything out will result in disqualification. Artwork will not be returned unless you include a self addressed, stamped envelope with your submission. Each entry needs its own SASE, please. Siblings must enter separately with their own envelopes. Attention, teachers: You may send multiple entries in one envelope along with one SASE with sufficient postage. Winners will be published in the February issue of The Tennessee Magazine. First place wins $50, second place wins $30 and third place wins $20. Winners are eligible to enter again after three months. Winners will receive their checks, artwork and a certificate of placement within 30 days of publication.

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Tennessee Lady Vols preview vs. Tennessee Tech: Live stream, game time, TV and radio infoCaleb Calhoun

Coming off of three straight wins against Big 12 opponents, two of which were away from home, the Tennessee Lady Vols finally get what should seemingly be a breather. Of course, nothing has been relaxing for this team. Ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll and No. 10 in the Coaches Poll with a 6-0 […]

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Tennessee Vols morning report: Josh Heupel talks OU opening, Rick Barnes recaps win vs. PresbyterianCaleb Calhoun

Morale hasn’t been this high in a while for the Tennessee Vols as we begin the final month of 2021. Football has a bright future, men’s basketball is coming off a win and women’s basketball remains undefeated on the year. Our morning update on Rocky Top involves interviews with the coaches of all three programs […]

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Gifts Gone WildTammy Algood

Gift-giving in 2021 is for the birds. No, really — this year, what gift is better for both wild birds and the humans who enjoy them than these wild bird treats? They’re so affordable and easy that making them can be a family project with children. They’re a smart gift to give the host of a party and most appreciated as a gift to loved ones in your life who already have everything they need. This year, as human guests return to the parties we all missed last year, let’s remember the animal guests who have never stopped flocking to our backyards, entertaining and enriching us — the wild birds.

For a holiday visit to some of the magazine’s favorite festive recipes for humans, check out our website,, for a collection of past food features!

Birdseed Ornaments
Kid-friendly! Let them select the types of cutters to use.

6 pieces stale bread* ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter 1 cup birdseed


Using as large a cookie cutter as possible, place in the middle of the bread and cut. Smear the peanut butter on one side of each cut piece. Place the birdseed in a shallow container. Dip the peanut butter side into the birdseed, pressing to evenly coat. Make a hole by pressing a straw through the bread. Allow plenty of room so the ornaments don’t tear when hung. Make a hanger by using cut pieces of twine and tie to make a loop. Let “dry” on a wire rack before hanging outside.


Once the seed and peanut butter have been eaten, take down the remaining bread as it is not a recommended staple for birds.
Oldie and Goodie Pinecones
Can easily be doubled!

1 cup creamy peanut butter* 2 tablespoons suet or lard* 8 pinecones** 2½ cups birdseed


Place the peanut butter and fat in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow to melt for 4–5 minutes and stir to blend. Meanwhile, tie twine around the top of the pinecones and place the birdseed in a shallow container. Dip the pinecones at least halfway into the melted mixture. Then roll or dip in the birdseed. Place on a piece of waxed paper to dry and set. When dry, hang on branches outside.

Suet Cupcakes
Perfect for when daily high temperatures are below 45 degrees!

1½ cups lard or suet ¾ cup creamy peanut butter 3½ cups birdseed 1 cup quick oats ⅓ to ½ cup plain cornmeal


Place the peanut butter and fat in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow to melt for 4 to 5 minutes and stir to blend. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together the birdseed, oats and cornmeal. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin and set aside. Pour the melted fat mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to evenly coat and blend. Spoon or pour the mixture into the lined muffin cups. Place in the refrigerator or freezer, making sure the muffin tin stays level. Refrigerate for 4 hours or freeze for 2 hours until the mixture is solidly firm. Remove from the muffin cups and peel off the cupcake liners. Place a couple of cupcakes in recycled mesh bags that onions are sold in for hanging. Run a piece of twine through the holes in the mesh to tie securely, then make a loop and hang. The remaining cupcakes can be kept in the refrigerator or the freezer until ready to use.


Hanging option:
Make a hole in the center of the cupcake liner with pieces of a cut drinking straw. When frozen and ready to hang, push the straw through to the other side of the cake. Thread with twine and tie a knot for hanging.
Dried Citrus Garland

2 oranges, sliced in ¼-inch slices 4 limes, sliced in ¼-inch slices*


Place the oranges and limes on separate trays of a dehydrator. Make sure the orange trays are on the bottom and middle and the limes are on the top. Cover and dry the limes for 6 hours and the oranges for 7 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, place the slices in a single layer on separate parchment-lined cookie sheets. Place in a preheated 250-degree oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn the slices and bake an additional hour. Remove the limes. Bake the oranges an additional 30 minutes. Let all the trays cool completely, then transfer to wire racks and let dry at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours. Using twine, thread alternately on the twine with the dried citrus. If there is no natural hole in the center of the slice, make one using an ice pick. Hang from tree branches.



Tammy Algood develops recipes for The Tennessee Magazine that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce.

Tips and Tricks

Lard, butter and margarine

If you do not have lard for these recipes, butter and margarine are not a good replacement. Lard can be purchased at any grocery store. Unrendered lard such as what you might find at a butcher will spoil quickly and attract rodents. An appropriate substitute could be Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter from Wild Birds Unlimited.

Tray feeding

Even if you don’t have a birdfeeder, you can still take care of feathered friends by using a tray. This keeps the seed from falling to the ground and creating a mess on your patio or in the yard. Simply place a layer of birdseed in the tray and set out on a garden table early in the morning. Make sure it’s at least 10 feet away from shrubs where predators can potentially hide. Shells from the birdseed will be left in the tray, so dump and clean at the end of the day.

Note: Avoid broadcasting or putting birdseed directly on the ground. The wet weather we have can quickly make the seeds soggy and attract other unwanted pests rather than our feathered friends.


Make it a habit to place shallow containers of water out for birds. The water can be in disposable or recycled plastic containers, but make sure it doesn’t freeze and change regularly

Be a songbird hero!

The bird populations in North America have declined by nearly 3 billion since the 1970s. Birds are in trouble from habitat loss, invasive species, climate change and pesticides. The good news is that when we create safe wildlife habitat in our own yards and make our homes and lifestyles more bird-friendly, we can help many birds to recover and even thrive.

Make your windows safer.
Keep cats indoors.
Reduce your lawn; plant native plants.
Avoid using pesticides.
Drink bird-friendly coffee.
Use less plastic.
Watch birds and share what you see with eBird, Project FeederWatch or the Great Backyard Bird Count to record your observations.

For more details about these and other winter feeding tips, check the Wild Birds Unlimited website,, or visit one of the seven locations in Tennessee.

Ask Chef Tammy

Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood:

Glenda writes:
“I have a recipe that calls for the ingredients to be served on or rolled in flatbread, and I’m not sure what to purchase. My friend suggested I buy pita bread. Is that a good option?”

Glenda, flatbread has become a rather generic term for a variety of nice ethnic breads. Originally Scandinavian, it was actually a dry and thin cracker-like wafer made from rye flour. Today, it includes not only the pita bread you mentioned but also naan, focaccia, lavash and even tortillas, so any of these are great options.

Jerry asks:
“I like meringue pies and just started venturing into making them. Please help me understand soft peaks.”

Jerry, good for you! “Soft peaks” is the term used in many recipes that call for beaten egg whites or whipped cream. You can tell peaks are soft by lifting the beaters. The meringue will rise as the beaters are pulled out of the mixture, then the peaks will fall or slump slightly, thereby losing their shape. Stiff peaks are achieved by beating longer so that when the beaters are lifted, the shape remains.

Option: If your bread is fresh, lay it out on a wire cooling rack at room temperature for at least half a day or overnight to dry out.

Alternative: Omit peanut butter and use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of suet or lard. When melted, proceed as directed above.

Alternative: Instead of using pinecones, stir the birdseed into the melted mixture. Pour into mini (1 ounce) souffle cups or cupcake liners in a muffin pan. Then add a cut drinking straw or a natural, uncolored toothpick (if using souffle cups) into the center for hanging with twine. You can make larger suet cakes by using washed yogurt, sour cream or whipped topping containers, but don’t forget the straw in the center! Store in the freezer until ready to take outside in cold weather. Remove the cupcake liners and souffle cups before providing for the birds. If desired, you can place fresh or dried cranberries on the tops of the toothpicks.

Alternative: Substitute or add lemons if desired.

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Poet’s Playground – December winnersTTM Editorial Staff

Age 8 and younger

First Place
Nashville Zoo
Ashlyn Allen, Duck River EMC

Let’s go to the Nashville Zoo
First, let’s visit the Hyacinth Macaws
The Stanley Cranes have really long legs
The gibbons are swinging from the trees
The meerkats always put their paws up
A kangaroo keeps its joey in its pouch
A tiger has beautiful stripes on its back
Watch out! The alligators might bite you!
The lemurs were roaming before humans
Do you hear the clouded leopards purr?
There’s the pokey porcupine peeking
around the corner
Flamingo babies start out white before
they become bright
The reptile room is fascinating
Now it is time to go home
And let the zoo animals roam!

Age 9–13

First Place
Fall in the Foothills
Lilian Umbarger, Duck River EMC

Autumn is the time of falling flames of fire
Seeming to come from higher and higher
In colors ranging from auburn to gold
Defying the grip of nature’s hold
How do the leaves fall?
Like being plucked by an invisible hand
Spreading a flaming carpet across the land
In the morning covered with foggy dew
Across the wind they flew
On hazy wings of autumn glory
Never lasting to tell their story
Nothing but the skeletal frames behind
No sound or trace which calls to mind
The foothills are whispering the legacy of
the leaves

Age 14–18

First Place
Professional Thinker
Kendra Simpson, Meriwether Lewis EC

Like a crack in my spine,
the inevitable excruciatingly persists.
My mind plays tricks on me by
throwing me back in time and
twisting outcomes.
Did things really happen that way?
Mixing dreams with reality, I stumble in
my thoughts.
There are better, more professional ways
of thinking, I’m certain.
Ways that don’t hurt, but are pure,
untampered thoughts that the mind
doesn’t play with.
But what about us amateur thinkers?
How do we become pr-pr-professional?
Are we stuck in the deep thinking pit that
got us a little too deep?
Let’s make this a profession.

Age 19–22

First Place
Mary Smith, Fayetteville Public Utilities

They say, my past does not define me.
“Then what does?” I ask.
They say, I am not my mistakes.
“Am I my successes?”
They tell me I am what I believe I am.
“But how can I be nothing?”
They inform me that I am an adult.
“When did I grow up?”
They yell at me to become something, do
something, they tell me
“How can nothing do something?”
I ask questions but I receive no answer.
Nothing continues to exist the same as

Age 23–64

First Place
The Christmas List
John Young, Middle Tennessee Electric

Their names spoke out from echoes past…
Their voices singing…
and memories clinging…
While they are not with us now…
I hesitated…
To mark them off…my Christmas card
List…a list…now so profound.
Seasons greetings are still the same…just
not as many on that list I found.
Their names ring back at me as I smile to
mask the tears.
You see…friends and dear ones lost…while
not here to share our joy…
Reach out to us from the past…
Our love bonds so strong…
A love that was so sound… a love to

Age 65 and older

First Place
The Perimeters of One’s Imagination
Ronald Butterfield, Southwest Tennessee EMC

Deliberately exploring the perimeters of
one’s imagination involves far more than
determining the direction of the wind and
the setting of one’s sails.
The journey requires the unleashing of the
meditative wondering of “What If?”
Possibilities considered options explored,
consequences taken into account.
Launching an excursion of the mind need
not be extravagant,
Sufficient being a soft breeze, a pillow,
and blanket under a billowing cloud, or a
lingering melody.
However, supposing that this universe is
not flat, one must still be careful not to
fall off its edge.

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