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Constellations and Cocoa

In keeping with the celestial theme this week, the boyfriend and I went to a local nature center here the other day to attend a class called Constellations and Cocoa. It was just as sweet as it sounds. They handed out some star maps and we went through a small slideshow showing some of the more well-known constellations before heading outside with coffee and cocoa in hand.

They have this huge clearing that’s perfect for stargazing. And being just outside the reach of the city lights, it was a great spot to enjoy the night sky somewhere that felt both serene and far away from the city.

As our eyes adjusted, and as the sky grew darker, the stars became brighter, and we were able to find and identify 7 constellations from the star maps they gave us.

I feel so lucky to live somewhere with a place that offers such great programs. And I’m especially lucky I get to do all of these things with my person.

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Total Eclipse

If you live anywhere in the U.S., I’m sure you heard about the solar eclipse that happened yesterday. I decided to not risk the traffic (and risk missing the eclipse), so I stayed home and made my own eclipse viewing contraption because I procrastinated and didn’t buy those nifty eclipse glasses. I honestly didn’t trust them anyway because of all the rumors about fake or faulty ones. So just an hour before the event, I whipped together a mini projector from a piece of cardboard, some tape, and a pair of binoculars. It worked really well, and I got to watch the whole eclipse on a piece of paper. No burnt retinas here!

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Several of my neighbors were outside on their balconies and patios as well. One of the families on the building across from mine were really hilarious and kept shouting, which is how I knew the event had started. With a loud “It’s happening! It’s starting!” I knew it was time to head outside. The man who lives next door told me he bought some of those paper glasses for $20 from some girl at a gas station, and we discussed how some (smart? evil genius?) people were probably making some big bucks today. He let me look through his glasses a few times, and he admired my funny binocular contraption saying, “Well that’s cool as hell!”

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The last few minutes were the most wicked thing I have ever seen. The streetlights flicked on. The birds began their evening songs. The cicadas’ humming grew loud. The crickets began to chirp. The light peaking through the trees turned into repeating crescents. And the sky got dark as the horizon turned into a 360 sunset. I heard my neighbors shouting about the ring around the run, but since we weren’t directly in the line of totality, it didn’t show up on my paper. I’ve never experienced anything like it.

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This whole universe is just amazing, isn’t it?

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Farm Fresh and Fancy Free

Every week, I usually can get my hands on some farm fresh veggies, and they are so good. It makes everything a little better knowing I have something good just waiting to be cooked up for dinner at the end of a long day. 


And most evenings, the boyfriend and I hit up the local greenway for a run (well, I bike alongside him because this girl doesn’t run). It’s so beautiful around here at sunset. And this greenway is especially well taken care of, and we’ve been here long enough that we see lots of the same faces on the same trail. 


Life is really truly good. 

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Hunter Museum of American Art

I thought it was a shame that I’ve been in Chattanooga so long, and I haven’t been back to the art museum here yet. I went about 6 years ago when we moved my sister here for her first year of college, and I remember loving it. So since I had today off with no other plans, I knew it was time to go.

I started the morning with a chocolate croissant and a fresh cup of coffee from one of the many local coffee shops around town, and I enjoyed the sunshine for a little while before heading inside.

I just thought I’d share a few of my favorite pieces here:

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Around the Clock with Red, Helen Frankenthaler

 

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Ruth Gleaning, Randolph Rogers

 

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Just as the baby’s feet cleared the ground Padfoot leaped into the air and buried his teeth into the feathers of his old enemy, N.C. Wyeth

 

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Slip, Courtney Wynn Cooper
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Herb Garden

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I have never been very good at taking care of plants. I’ve over-watered countless houseplants and flowers over the years and I consider myself to have a black thumb. I don’t even let myself wander into the clearance section of Home Depot’s garden department because those poor plants don’t deserve such a bad ending.

This year, however, things are going to be different.

A couple weeks ago, my friend Jenna and I went to Crabtree Farms‘ spring plant sale to browse through their rows and rows of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. This farm is an urban farm that encourages local involvement and offers CSA shares during their growing season.

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We weren’t planning on purchasing any of their plants, but…

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I have since bought even more herbs for my little patio garden, and they seem to be doing well! Some even need to be re-potted into bigger pots because they’ve already outgrown the space I gave them. And making sure they all get enough sunlight on the patio I have is a little tricky because I live on the second floor of an apartment complex, but I made a makeshift plant stand out of some bricks and wooden planks that seems to be working out well so far. (My cat Olive approves anyway.)

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Maybe I do have a green thumb after all.

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Chattanooga Film Festival

I live in a really great city. I would say I’m a little biased, but I moved here last summer because I already knew it was great. But I am still constantly amazed at how wonderful it actually is. There’s a huge local scene here that values the importance of community and knows what being a neighbor means. I work at a local coffee shop, and I often see our regulars all around town. I walk down the street and pass by countless restaurants that incorporate local food sources in their fare. I pass by shops where the owners sit behind the counters and are always willing to start up conversations with you as you browse through their wares.

This community finds itself located on the Tennessee River, and they have done an amazing job at creating something that feels just like home. As my friend Jenna would say, “It’s the biggest small town I’ve ever lived in.” Most importantly, this town offers an endless supply of opportunities to be involved in, and that, I think, is what makes people stay.

Chattanooga’s annual film festival happened recently, and I was able to attend the Tennessee filmmakers block where the only stipulations were the film either had to be made by a Tennessean or it had to be about Tennessee in some way. I’m sure there were many entries, but in the end, only 10 films were shown. The directors ranged from amateur filmmakers with minimal equipment to old hats with Hollywood ties.

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Each one was different from the one before, but they were all so well done. Some were dialogue based, some visual, and some let the actual plot guide the story.

There was one that had me completely captivated called Persimmon Ridge, directed by Paul Marchard. This one was 20-minute black and white film that followed a woman around her farm through the spring time. There was no speaking, but the sounds of the farm and the surrounding woods gave the film a soundtrack that brought back memories of visits to my own family’s Georgia farm. With its seemingly simple elements, it told a beautiful story of family, history, and hard work.

Another was a mockumentary about a band of two whose only instruments were pillows. And they only played covers. (Get it?) This one had great comedic timing and was a light-hearted addition to the collections of films. You could just tell this film was fun to make, and the director (Sylvia Zdunek) was praised by an audience member for her comedic talent during the Q & A.

A third stand-out called The Little Stage featured a forgotten building sitting on the edge of Bon Aqua, TN. Directed by Will Berry, it showcased some lost footage of Johnny Cash dating back to the 1970’s that showed the importance of this old building. The film follows the restoration of this structure from its decrepit state to its newly refurbished form as a small music hall and museum, paying homage to its former talented guests.

I consider myself lucky when I think about the things I have been able to do and see since I moved here.

Guys, Chattanooga is so great. The people. The mountains. The food. The coffee. Everything. I’m just so glad I get to live in a place like this.