Summer slow down

You may be wondering why I haven’t been writing as much. I’ve only uploaded two posts for July, and only one for August so far. There are a couple of reasons.

July was a big month for us, with a day trip to Nashville and a vacation along the Gulf Coast. We spent a lot of money, so we are partially staying home in order to plump our checking accounts back up.

The county that we live in, and the county that I work in are both considered high risk counties for the rising COVID-19 cases, due to the delta variant. We want to be cautious, so we have started to wear our masks again. I see the data daily for work, and it seems like it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. It makes sense to just stay home more often than not because of this.

The weather has not been on our side either. It has been a rainy August, which has kept us inside more than we’d like. When it’s not raining, it is still excessively humid, which is uncomfortable.

Also, I think in the future I need to slow down when it comes to planning summer activities. It seems silly but sometimes I forget that, though it feels like summer in May, it’s still not technically summer until the end of June! I had a list of things I wanted to do this summer (camping, kayaking, Lookouts baseball game, etc.) and all of that was completed before July even started! There’s honestly nothing that I want to do at the moment, that would be best enjoyed during the summer months. We have decided to not hike during the summer. Why be uncomfortable and need to carry twice as much water?

I’ll be back to posting more regularly in the fall. We have plenty of activities planned!

Reminiscing about 2020

With the ringing in of 2021, our first full year in Chattanooga has come to an end. The obvious thing to say is that 2020 was a ridiculous year.

On the surface, things looked pretty bad. I had three jobs this year, which is two jobs too many. I lost a job, resigned from a job, and had to go see a doctor to get on depression and anxiety medication. Mechanic bills for our car and veterinary bills piled up. Our cat passed away two weeks before Christmas, too. Add that all up and … ugh.

But if you dig a little deeper, I’d say things were good.

I’m thankful that we spent the pandemic in the Scenic City. We got outdoors more than ever this year, which was the safest thing to do.

I’m an adventurous soul. Not being able to travel in the past year has hurt me the most. But instead, we adventured around Chattanooga, seeing and doing things (mostly outdoors) that I had never expected to do.  

I have a Chattanooga area bucket list, and the majority of it has remained untouched. For instance, “Seeing a Lookouts baseball game” was impossible to cross off, because the entire season was cancelled. Likewise, we still haven’t taken a train ride with the Tennessee Valley Railroad. Trains are running, but I don’t feel comfortable going quite yet.

However, I did have a list of hiking trails I wanted to tackle, and that got completed, and then some.

We have hiked more in the last six months than I have hiked in my entire life. Some of the paths and trails we have done — ranging from easy flat gravel paths to moderate mountain hikes — were located at Big Soddy Creek Gulf, Greenway Farms, Booker T. Washington State Park, Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain, Moccasin Bend, Prentice Cooper State Forest and Cloudland Canyon State Park.

It seemed like every time we finished one trail, we found another that we wanted to hike, and that is still the case now.

Getting outside kept me sane. It felt good to get our heart rates up, stretch our legs, make it to a gorgeous overlook, and feel accomplished.

We continued to hike as it got colder out, and we found that we quite enjoy winter hikes. I do not like winter time, as I get cold easily, but exercising like this is a good way to offset how our bodies feel in lower temperatures, and keep us more active throughout these months. I hope that we will continue to hike throughout January and February.

Hikes aside, I got a lot more exercise than ever before. I was averaging about three or four walks a day around my neighborhood. In September, I participated in a virtual 5K, and got a medal and a t-shirt for it. Walks were calming, and necessary for me, while I was going through bad bouts of anxiety.

Quitting my job was a huge risk, but it all worked out in the end. I was unemployed for about five weeks. Since Derek only taught two days a week last semester, we did a lot during the week days, to avoid crowds. We visited Wildflower Tea Shop for the first time, and it was nearly empty! We also went ice skating — something we had never done together — and there were only about half a dozen other people at the rink.

I hated working from home for my old job, but now I am thankful that I got to spend all of those months with our cat while she was still healthy, and I was home with her when she did get sick. All of that time that she spent on my lap every day are precious memories now.

I started my new job in early December, and I’m the happiest I have been in a long time. I thought I had wanted to leave journalism for marketing, but I discovered that journalism is where I am meant to me. This has put a lot of things into perspective.

I am cautiously looking forward to what 2021 may bring.

R.I.P Ginny; Veterinary Care and Specialty Group

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This is something that no pet owner wants to write about. Yesterday our cat Ginny passed away. She was 12 years old, and had been sick for a few months.

I wouldn’t normally write about this in this type of blog, but our team at the Veterinary Care and Specialty Group (VCSG) in Chattanooga was wonderful, and they deserve recognition. If you’re in the Chattanooga area, you can find more information about them at www.vcsgvets.com.

Our vet was Amy Holford and our nurse was Evelyn Greter. VCSG is a 24 hour emergency care office, and while we didn’t need them during overnight hours, they were available for us during weekends, and any time during the week, which was extremely helpful.

Over the months, we became familiar faces and voices to the team at VCSG, and Amy and Evelyn became familiar to us, too.  

We spoke to Evelyn the most, and she was always helpful. Each time we called (about once a week) we had a list of questions and she would give us advice.

We tried many things to help Ginny out, but it was touch and go the entire time. She would seem better for a week, but then we would run into another issue.

Something that was important to us was that they tried to find cost effective options for us. We had to give Ginny steroid and B-12 injections, and they gave us websites where to order in bulk, to save the most money.

Her health declined in the last two days, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Amy and Evelyn were concerned enough for Ginny that they asked us to bring her in during their lunch break.

Ginny passed away at VCSG, in their care.

Amy kneeled down to my level — I was sitting in a chair — and looked directly in my eyes and said, “I want you to know that you did everything you possibly could.” That was important to hear.

We were given all the time we wanted and needed to say good bye to Ginny. Afterward, they gave us an impression of her pawprints set in foam, inside a keepsake case. In addition, they included some of her fur in the corner of the case. Ginny was a calico, mostly white, but with orange and black spots. She had two big black spots on her back. The cut of fur that they included was one of her spots, and it may sound silly, but I was touched that they picked that area to put inside the case.

Going forward, I hope to bring our other two cats to them, since we have established a good relationship with VCSG. We have extra cans of wet food (one of the things we tried for Ginny was a new diet) and we will donate those to them.

If you are reading this and have pets, give them extra loving today. I will be doing the same with our other two cats, Sabrina and Chessie.

Just another mountain to climb …

The purpose of this blog is to let our family and friends know about all of our adventures and day to day life in Chattanooga. This, of course, means that there will be some bad mixed in with the good.

If you’re a regular reader of Seeing the Scenic City, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling at my job for the past few months, as well as struggling with depression and anxiety that stemmed from the job.

I went on medication in early September. My anxiety has subsided, and when the medication worked, it allowed me to look at the work problems with clarity.

All of this leads me to say that Friday was my last day at my job. I put in three weeks’ notice in early October. With all honesty, I had wanted to quit my job since the summer months, so I am actually proud of myself for making it that much farther.

I will not go into too many details, but basically I realized that this was not the job for me. I was unhappy with the work I was doing. I was trying my best, but it became apparent that my best was not good enough.

This is probably not the smartest decision, financial wise. But it was the best decision for my health.

I have a few applications already out for some other positions, and I will keep looking for new jobs on a regular basis. In the meantime, I am looking forward to a (hopefully short) resting period.

In related news, yesterday we went on a challenging mountain hike. You can read about that here. One section of the trail lead to a beautiful overlook, where we could see the mountains on all sides, the river and a waterfall.

It was a great metaphor for what I am going through right now. Yes, things are hard, but if you put just one foot in front of the other, you will eventually get to the top of your mountain. Derek and I have made it over mountains before, and we will get over this one, too.

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Fall photos

Last year Derek and I found a stretch of trees that really pop with color during the fall. The trees are on the edge of a elementary school parking lot, so it works out well to take photos there during the weekend.

We drove past that area early last week and noticed the reds and oranges. I was looking forward all week to taking more photos!

I love having our own, established spot. And I also love that it’s nearby, too.

I’m thankful that Derek is patient and takes many photos (literally over 150) so he knows for sure that I will like some of them. It’s quite funny that I snap about five photos of Derek, and he’s satisfied.

I love taking photos, mainly of outdoor related landscapes. I would say that my absolute favorite is fall leaves though. I’m truly happy when I’m photographing a colorful tree!

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Soldiering on through this pandemic summer

August has been a hard month. The running theme has been depression and anxiety.

Derek goes back to work next week at UTC and I am scared. Yes, everyone will be wearing masks in the classroom, but knowing that he’s going to be around more people worries me.

I’m worried about Derek getting COVID-19 because his immune system isn’t the greatest. If someone else is sick, he usually gets it. He’s had the gamut of illnesses. It should be noted that whenever Derek is sick, I never catch it from him, but COVID-19 feels like a different beast.

I am struggling with work. It was hard to start a job working remotely from home, and to still be stuck at home almost five months later. Currently I’m working through a big project, and there has been a lot of confusion surrounding it. My anxiety is already high from the pandemic, and I’m an anxious person by default. Couple that with the confusion of the project and still working from home, well, let’s just say I’ve been a mess. My confidence and self-esteem are down. I cry a lot and I’m not sleeping well because work follows me into my dreams at night.

And then there is the long lasting cabin fever. We are still doing smaller activities in general. In a sense, one could argue that I have fulfilling weekends. Today I took two separate walks, worked on my scrapbook, read and watched The Sound of Music. But it’s not the weekend I want.

We still go to parks. We’ve walked the Walnut Street Bridge. We still eat at some of our favorite coffee shops and restaurants, or at least the ones that have large enough outdoor seating areas. But the problem is that we’re not doing anything new. My Chattanooga to-do list is stagnant. This is what I was afraid of in March, which feels like a lifetime ago.

The one good thing to come out of staying at home is that I’ve been challenging myself to take more photos with my macro lens. As the seasons progress, there are different things to photograph. I will attach some of my photos below.

I’m counting down the days until September. I want fall to come. I don’t expect anything to automatically change when the days get cooler, but I just need something to feel different — even if it is only the temperature.

The pandemic is not the only thing that has halted our activities. The heat has done that too. The only things we can do safely are outdoor things. Derek doesn’t handle the heat as well as I do. It’s just better to stay inside and stay cool.

When fall comes, there are some things on my to-do list that can be crossed off. I am looking forward to picking apples at Wheeler’s Orchard in Dunlap, Tennessee. We will also go hiking at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Dade County, Georgia.

With September also comes my birthday. We were thinking of making a lunch reservation at The Cookie Jar Café, also in Dunlap. The family owned restaurant has a large porch with seating, and, specifically for the pandemic, they also set up extra picnic tables.

There are plenty of indoor things open now, but do we really want to do any of it? Everyone wearing masks does go a long way in keeping everyone safe, but it’s better to wait it out for now.

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Social distancing day…? I’m losing track…

It’s raining today, and I’m thankful for the excuse to be forced to stay inside. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day. We’ve had a month’s worth of sunny weekend days, which is a joke when you can’t go anywhere. I’ll bet that once this is all done and over with, it will rain for a month straight.

Toward the end of the week, I started looking up possible parks we could go to. City parks are closed, but I figured that parks not in Chattanooga would still be open. People need to exercise and walk their dogs, so something must be open. This is going against what I said last week, that we would err on the side of caution and assume that we couldn’t travel anywhere for exercise. I learned my lesson. The park that we had in mind, Greenway Farms in Hixon, was closed. I was disappointed.

Derek could tell how upset I was, so he started driving around random streets, pointing out the nice architecture of the houses. Meanwhile, I got a bad anxiety attack. Have you heard stories about people thinking they were having a heart attack, and it turns out it was just an anxiety attack? Well that is what it felt like for me, except I am so used to these attacks that I know what they are. It came on fast and sudden, and it was hard to breathe. My chest hurt. I am a little embarrassed that I had a bad anxiety attack after finding out a park was closed, but this is just what my mental health is like these days.

After I calmed down a bit, I was able to enjoy the drive. We saw some beautiful houses, some with front porch columns and turrets with green ivy climbing on them. It almost made the afternoon feel normal, like old times.

Overall, the day was good. I had ordered photos for scrapbooking, so I got that started yesterday. I will work on that again today. During dinner we watched The Martian, a great isolation themed movie for these times.

Next week I will be at my new job for a month. Time flies even when you’re stuck inside and the days run together. It is the hardest job I have ever trained for. It’s not the work that is hard, it is learning the process in order to do the work. There are a lot of new programs to learn. Everyone apologizes to me because I am having to learn everything remotely, but nothing can be done to change that.

Sleeping is hit or miss too. I have work nightmares almost every night, including the weekends too, which is frustrating. When it’s not a work related nightmare, I still have vivid and weird dreams.

I am experiencing frequent headaches now, and my acne is back in full force, which always happens when I am experiencing high levels of stress.

Earlier this week, to add on top of everyone’s Coronavirus related stress, an EF-3 tornado hit Chattanooga. The tornado hit in the middle of the night, and due to a number of factors, the people had no warning. We were lucky because we were north of the path of the tornado. Our power did go out though, and was out for half of the day. Some people still do not have power.

One theme that I keep seeing throughout all of this is that, yes, we may be stuck inside, but at least we have our TV and Internet to keep us occupied. Now some of these people haven’t had that for a week, and that is if they are some of the lucky ones, who hadn’t sustained much damage to their homes.

I am just trying to take this day by day. Everyone is.

Macro photography practice

There is not much to do around here these days. If things were normal, I might have been exploring Cravens House on Lookout Mountain, or attending a Chattanooga Lookouts game this weekend. But, for the fourth weekend in a row, and almost a full month total, we’re staying home to stay safe.

One of the best things about exploring new places is getting to take new photographs.

Since I can’t take photos of new places, I have decided to look for photo subjects closer to home. I am using this time to get more usage out of my macro lens.

I am taking photos of things both indoors and out, and it has become a social distancing photo diary of sorts.

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We have a lot of carpenter bees buzzing around our balcony. This one stayed put long enough for me to get a great shot. They look like they have been busy pollinating!
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I started a new job three weeks ago. I have been highlighting a lot of notes!
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Tea is my go-to for comfort. I am drinking about 2-3 cups a day now.
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Sparkling cider bubbles, in celebration of my new job.
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Walking outside to get the mail has become one of the highlights of my day now.
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As usual, I am reading a lot. The book pictured has been finished, and since then I finished another book as well.
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I burned off the last bit of a hazelnut creme scented candle.
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I found this twisted vine while out on a neighborhood walk.
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Broken glass on the sidewalk, also found while on a walk.
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We are safely supporting local businesses. To-go drinks from Rembrandt’s Coffee House.

Coronavirus and life update

So much has happened in the two weeks, and yet nothing has happened at all since I have last written. When speaking about the Coronavirus, I’ll bet that you understand what I mean.

Derek and I are both adjusting to working from home. He works upstairs in the office, while I have made a spot for myself at the dining table. We joke that this is the most use the table has gotten since we bought it about eight years ago.

I started training for my new job. It is hard to learn everything from home through video chats, but everyone has been kind and gracious. I have been assigned a mentor, and we check in with each other daily.

I am trying to keep as much of a routine as possible. Even though I am not commuting in the morning, I still get up at the same time in the morning as if I would be commuting. I take that extra time and have my first cup of tea and browse social media. I try to get up once an hour for two minutes and walk about 150 steps around the apartment, so I am not sedentary. When the weather allows, I take my lunch break out on the balcony, so I can get fresh air and sun.

It may sound silly, but I find that I am missing a daily commute to the office. Having that drive time makes for a good transition. Home is home, and work is work. It’s odd to close my work laptop at 4:45 p.m. and then be on the couch at 4:45:25.

I have been taking a lot of walks around our apartment complex, and two weekends in a row we went to the Walnut Street Bridge, and got to-go drinks from Rembrandt’s Coffee House.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, and while there were a lot of people also out, we managed to keep our distance from everyone because it is a wide bridge. Now we are not so sure that we should have done that.

A photographer with the local newspaper took a photo of everyone walking on the bridge, the same weekend we were there. The photo was published on the newspaper’s website and social media sites. A lot of people were angry, telling others to stay home in the comment section. The issue we both had with this was that the photographer used a tight shot, making everyone appear closer together.

There is a lot of gray area here. We are human beings, and we want to go outside. But now everyone is going outside, more so than usual. This makes it harder to stay safe. And some people have different definitions of safe.

As of this post, there are 1,140,327 confirmed cases in the world, and 278,568 of those are in the United States. There are 3,068 cases in Tennessee and 68 cases in Hamilton County. Eight of those have died.

Most recently, both the mayor of Chattanooga and the governor of Tennessee have executed a Stay at Home Order. We are not allowed to go anywhere except for to get groceries or to seek medical attention.

There is more gray area here and a lot of confusion. Exercise is considered an essential activity, but if we’re not allowed to drive, then can we really go to some of these parks? Some of the city parks have closed, such as Coolidge Park and the Walnut Street Bridge, but others are remaining open. I have seen some media reports that we are allowed to exercise in our neighborhood. I am choosing to think that if we have to drive to get to a place to exercise, then it’s not allowed. It’s better to err on the side of caution.

My parents visit, which was supposed to be in two weeks, is effectively cancelled. We were also planning to go to the Smoky Mountains for a week in May, and I’m assuming that is cancelled too. I received an email last week from the hotel that I had booked, and they had cancelled my reservation for me.

I have this illogical fear that the whole spring and summer is going to go by and we won’t have explored and checked off any of my “Chattanooga to-do” list, and therefore we’re not going to do any of these things ever. Something bad will happen like all of these places will close down for good, or we will have to leave Chattanooga for whatever reason, leaving us with no time. I am trying to reason with myself that this will not happen, and a lot of things can still be done in the fall, if things are back to normal then.

Hunkering down to prevent the spread of Coronavirus

I haven’t written anything for the month of March yet, and there’s a good reason for that. Much of the United States, and the world, is in the middle of practicing “social distancing” in order to further prevent the spread of Coronavirus, a respiratory illness.

I have been at home for a week and a half, and that has not been on purpose. Last Monday was my last day of work for the newspaper I worked for. The paper had to shut down due to lack of financial stability. However, I do have a new job lined up and I will start next Monday (more about that in a later post.)

Derek has also been home for a week and a half as well. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was on spring break last week, and then the university decided to cancel this week’s classes. Derek and his colleagues have been using this time to figure out how to best structure their classes in an online format. Classes will resume online next week, and will continue that way until the end of the spring semester.

I am glad that our circumstances lined up this way, and that we are doing our part to try to keep ourselves and others healthy. In the past two weeks we have only gone out for the essentials.

My Aunt Susie was supposed to come for a long visit this weekend, but we have decided to cancel that trip. We are both disappointed, but we know it is for the best. My parents are supposed to visit next month, and we do not know if that will have to be postponed as well.

All of the major attractions in Chattanooga are closed down for about a week to a two week period, and a lot of restaurants and bars are either closed down, or are only offering delivery and to-go services.

As of this post, there are 79 Coronavirus cases in Tennessee, and three in Hamilton County.

The first confirmed case was a priest of a prominent downtown Chattanooga church. Before he knew he was affected, he attended conferences, officiated a wedding and a funeral, and shook hands with everyone at his church services. It really makes you think about how many people you come in contact with on a daily basis, and how great that number can differ based on your profession.

There have been a lot of jokes on the internet that this self quarantine period is the kind of thing that introverts live for, and I am an introvert, but I have been going stir crazy. Last week was worse, not knowing if I had a job or not. I enjoy getting out of the house and doing activities. I would have been checking out a different hiking trail every day, but the weather has not been ideal; raining just about every day. I am sure a lot of us in the Tennessee Valley area would perk up if we saw the sun.

I have been walking around our apartment complex to get my step count up, but after doing that so many days in a row that becomes boring too. Today I took out my macro lens and photographed little bits of nature. It helped break up the day a bit. I am posting the photos below.

Tomorrow calls for warm weather and cloudy skies, but no rain. We will go outside, and probably head to Coolidge Park and walk the pedestrian bridge. It will be good to get some fresh air and exercise, and a change of scenery.

I don’t know how long the outside world will be shuttered in. No one does. Derek and I can easily do our part, but what about all of Chattanooga’s small businesses? I fear they may have to reopen soon, whether the amount of Coronavirus cases have slowed or not.

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