Alternative coffee options for an alternative way of life

Derek and I love coffee shops. You can read about some of the ones we frequent here.

The one thing I have missed the most during the pandemic is sitting inside a coffee shop. Getting to-go orders, or sitting outside, is just not the same. I miss the cozy ambience of being inside.

The only coffee shop we’ve never stopped going to is Rembrandt’s, because they have a large outdoor patio. I love going to Rembrandt’s, truly, but I ultimately want to rotate with the other places again.

Since the pandemic started, we have found two new coffee places. Except they’re not really places at all, which is best during a pandemic.

(Be) Caffeinated is a drive thru in Red Bank on Dayton Blvd, not far from where we live. It’s been open a little over a year. We had passed it multiple times, but never gave it a second thought. A drive thru is now one of the safest places you can go these days.

Again, as I’ve noted before, I can’t offer any opinions on the coffee. I only get chai lattes. However, at (Be) Caffeinated, Derek has ordered the Hazelnut Bliss as well as the Gig City Mocha. Derek says it is worth noting that their cold brew is strong. So strong that, getting a coffee in the early afternoon kept him up all night! We now know to go here in the morning.

A few months ago, when the Chattanooga Market opened up, we also discovered Spill the Beans, a coffee truck. At Spill the Beans, Derek has ordered the toffee nut cold brew. Spill the Beans’ schedule looks a little different these days, but normally you would find them at some of the bigger events in Chattanooga, as well as sporting events. We always look forward to going to the Market on weekends, and now Spill the Beans is included in that.

Our desire to get coffee and chai on the weekends has not waned despite the pandemic. At least we have these two options, which we will keep in rotation even after the pandemic has ended.


Signs of the pandemic

A couple of months ago I started to take pictures of pandemic related things — mostly signs in different locations — as a way to remember this unprecedented time when it’s all over.

Here are some of the pictures that I have collected.

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Signs on Clumpie’s door.
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A quarantine box to keep you occupied while you stay at home. A collection of items found in a store.
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Stand here, please.
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Eliminating the need to disinfect menus.
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Stay healthy!
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Derek on UTC’s campus, standing in a social distancing circle that was painted on Chamberlain Field.
The classroom where Derek teaches. His class is split into two groups, with half coming into class on one day, and the other half learning remotely. This allows the in-person group to keep physical distance.
Signs at a small park that is near our apartment.

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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