Welcome back, MBBC!

Welcome back, MBBC!

As several early posts on this blog will attest, I love long walks in Forest Hills Cemetery. Some of y’all might think that’s weird. I think you’re missing out.

Spring is prime time to visit Forest Hills for the dogwood and rhododendron show, but this graveyard is truly a year-round treasure. Here at the foot of the ridge that forms the eastern boundary of our neighborhood, you’ll find stunning views of Lookout Mountain and an expansive, varied collection of unique monuments. Some, like the Price mausoleum pictured above, are true works of art.

If you stroll far enough into the center of the cemetery, you’ll find yourself surrounded by rolling hills and distant mountain views, with no streets, buildings or houses in sight. It’s gloriously serene. I recommend a Forest Hills jaunt to all nature lovers, walking enthusiasts and thoughtful introverts in St. Elmo.

Missing the Party

I’m bummed that I had to miss this evening’s St. Elmo Town Center Plan Presentation, sponsored by Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise. I had every intention of going, but what can I say? Toddler life - timing is oh so precarious.

Anyway, I’m hoping that an online version of the presentation will be available soon. If/when that happens, I’ll be sure to link to it.

Support Your Local Spa

I’m usually not a fan of being unclothed around strangers or having anyone other than my husband rub me but OMG I just cashed in a gift certificate at Body Wisdom on St. Elmo Avenue and I feel so fresh and new! My favorite things ~

- Laying naked on a heated bed under soft sheets, my face plunged into a eucalyptus scented pillow. (this is how I should sleep every night)

- The exfoliating mint body scrub a.k.a. the nicest thing anyone has ever done for my epidermis

- Sizzlin’ hot towels to clean the scrub

- A thirty minute massage that completely ironed out my tense shoulder muscles

- More sizzlin’ hot towels

- The superstar massage therapist’s dulcet-toned description of her favorite brunch dish at 1885 - “A breakfast sandwich on a big, fluffy croissant. Two perfectly cooked eggs. Local maple bacon. Some kind of aioli. Spinach…” She hypnotized me and now I can’t stop thinking about that sandwich (good for 1885, the neighborhood, and eventually, my belly)

- Feeling utterly refreshed on this stunning spring day

In short, check out Body Wisdom, y’all! I will definitely return.

Shout Out to the 4100 Block of Tennessee Avenue

I see how y’all organize your garbage cans on Friday mornings. Bravo!

For those of you who don’t walk the sidewalks beyond your St. Elmo abode - the 4100 block of Tennessee Avenue is potentially treacherous for pedestrian. There’s no sidewalk on the cemetery side of the street, so you’re limited to the west side. If anything is blocking that stretch of sidewalk, you have to step into Tennessee Ave (a 30 mph road with plenty of 40-50 mph traffic). That isn’t a big deal if you’re walking. It’s scarier for those in wheelchairs and strollers.

Granted, Tennessee Ave is full of obstructions. Our tiny curbs and driveways, abundant foliage, and crappy parking situation conspire to make it so. Sometimes I’ll push my kid’s stroller up a hill, see what’s ahead and decide we’re better off jogging down to Virginia Avenue where we can escape the heavier traffic. My peace of mind is worth the longer walk. But the 4100 block is different because Virginia Ave cuts off between 41st and 42nd Streets. A dirt path shortcut that snakes around the ditch is accessible by foot or bike, but it’s too precarious for strollers and wheelchairs. So then you have to decide - will I roll into the Tennessee Ave speedway or head all the way down to St. Elmo Ave? If you choose the latter beware 41st Street, a narrow road with terrible sight lines, tall hedges and no sidewalks. Drivers treat it as a high-speed, zippy shortcut from SEA to 40th Street. It’s unsafe for pedestrians.

Anyway, back to the 4100 block of Tennesssee Ave - being garbage day, you’d expect Friday morning strolls down this block to be a very bad idea. I’ve nevertheless chanced it a couple times when we’ve been walking home from the library because it makes our journey go way faster. What a joy to see every one of those big, green barrels neatly placed in such a way that all pedestrians can get through. The order surely falls apart once the garbage collectors come by (those guys get wild sometimes!). Still, I really appreciate everyone who lives on the 4100 block for being so considerate. It isn’t just on Fridays either. These neighbors seem to be extra thoughtful with the obstruction maintenance lately. Or maybe it’s just me being happy and in love with spring.

Find out for yourself. Walk St. Elmo! Our neighborhood teems with beautiful treasures, both natural and man-made. We’re lucky to have these sidewalks and we oughta respect ‘em.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (even when it’s raining)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (even when it’s raining)

Beware the Bougie Trap

The moment occurred a couple years ago, when I was sitting at a patio table outside Pasha. An empty storefront across the road caught my eye. Or maybe it wasn’t empty, just sleepy. Anyway, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if that space held a little specialty foods market, or a gallery? Or what if it were another cafe, but the kind that serves wine and cheese?” No sooner had the thought processed when a wiser voice shouted inside my brain, “What the hell is wrong with you, Tara?”

I had fallen into the bougie trap, the self-defeating mindset that permits the worst sort of gentrification to occur. First come the cafes and the foodie destination restaurants. Then the galleries follow, along with the boutiques. Pretty soon you’re staring through the front window of an artisan dog biscuit bakery, because you’ll never actually go in. You can’t afford that stuff even if you wanted it, which you don’t. That’s for the other people, those who have the means to buy and refurbish the historic house you can barely afford to rent (especially since the landlord just raised your rate). In my experience, this is what it means to live in a hip, vibrant neighborhood. And though I’ve suffered the trap’s drawbacks, I still struggle with this knee-jerk craving for its perks.

Scenic St. Elmo already has so much going for it - plenty of practical things (post office, library, dry cleaner, banks, gas station, pharmacies and a Bi-lo) plus the bonus coffee house, brewery, burgers, BBQ, pizza and burritos that make it so much fun. But clearly our neighborhood is on the eve of becoming something more; the nascent Riverwalk extension is certainly just the beginning and I’m personally thrilled about any initiative that increases walkability. Progress ought to be a beautiful thing. But as we move forward, it’s important for me to value our community’s solid foundation of affordable, everyday goods and services that could be lost in pursuit of that which is cool, trendy, and chic. The latter has its own value, especially when it comes to drawing moneyed folks and tourists. But it also has a way of displacing natives.


PEOPLE. For those of you who love me, who love Chattanooga, who love craft beer, or who love my husband Braden and his hunky hunky handlebar mustache, please consider helping us reopen his place of employ which we love. And, you know, need to pay him because, bills.

Please reblog!

The dogwood out my window - as beautiful in snow as it is in spring

The dogwood out my window - as beautiful in snow as it is in spring