We are having breakfast at the Blue Plate. In Chattanooga.if the word Blue is in the name, you know it is a good place to eat. We have just finished hearing the story from our wonderful waiter, Ben, of owner Rob Gentry, going to visit the Benton farm where their sausage, ham, and bacon comes from. The old farmer has been raising and smoking his pigs for years on his little farm. I like my food to be personalized and home
grown. There is very little else we do as personal as eating so I like to know who produces my food. And when I go out, I like to eat at places where the owner gets to know the producers for me. You know if they take the time to get to know where their food comes from, they will take the time to fix it well. Thanks, Rob. Always enjoy eating at your place! (And those sliders were Wonderful!)
But as I sit here on the patio I am looking out on the extreme other end of the eating experience I just described. Our beautiful Ross's Landing is the sight for the Krystal's Square Off. Something about these eating contests really disturbs me. Do you think that there is a connection of making a sport of stuffing our face until we puke and fast food? Something has gone so seriously wrong here.
But I don't want to dwell on that ugly thought on this beautiful day. I did get a picture of Zac White, part of the bike stunt men that will be performing at the festivities Now that is cool!
Often on Saturday mornings, Q and I go to BlueGrass Grill for breakfast. It seems to be the happening place. This is a family affair, the Rev. Jonas Worsham and his wife, Joan Marie with their children are there everyday (closed Sundays and Mondays) serving up the most wonderful breakfasts. Everything on their menu is good. I have tried them all and am now on a daily quiche run. But I always get one of their whole wheat biscuits. They are unique in Chattanooga and are the absolute best!
This family run restaurant with a family style atmosphere is the only place in Chattanooga that gives you an option of sharing tables. It is a good idea or otherwise the line can go out the door. This is a popular and small place. Sharing tables is one way of getting everybody in at a faster pace.
Q and I always opt to share tables. We started out as a way to help out Joan Marie and the gang with the crowd flow. But we have found it to be a great way of meeting interesting people. Interesting enough, most of these people are from out of town. How do these people find this place?
We have met a homeschooling family from Indiana whose business was translating bibles into Braille (the father was blind), a young couple from Atlanta who worked on an urban farm. Another young couple who ran a small business converting pictures into digital format (and I have to do that!)
This morning we had breakfast with Christie Burns, Chattanooga’s Dulcimer Girl and her visiting friend from Bowling Green, KY, Tonya. Christie is a professional dulcimer play (yes, that is how she makes her living. Actually, Chattanooga has several professional dulcimer players. What does that say about us?) and Tonya is a building conservationist, which gave Q lots to talk to her about.
An enjoyable breakfast all around. If you are in the Bluegrass Grill at a busy time, I would definitely recommend doing a table share.
After breakfast, Q and I rode around Main Street to check out the progress of all the new developments and then cruised over to my studio. Riding this route between my studio and Main Street has enabled me to get friendly with the neighborhood residents. Here is Q talking with Quawe in front of the Islamic Center. Ride a bike to get to really know your world!
I was recently met a biker as I was going to the library, the second time I met a biker going to the library in as many weeks. Is there something about biking and the library, or maybe biking and books? Maybe a claim can be made that biking makes you smarter. What do you think?
As I came up to the library I found the bike rack full. That is always a good sight in my opinion. All these bikers going to the library! At the rack I met Sunny locking up his bike. I, as I am getting in the habit of doing, started asking him questions about how he came to be riding his bike to the library. He was very gracious and friendly to me; he could have easily thought I was being very intrusive and rude. But he was game and even e-mailed me later about his biking adventures of the day.
A former cyclist, he was just rediscovering his bicycle. When someone has that experience of rediscovering the bike, it is like rediscovering childhood, long lost freedom or even a new sense of adventure. Sunny was definitely feeling all these, I think. He wrote in his e-mail how he rode for hours at a pretty good clip that day. He found it fun and yes, addicting. The world needs more of that kind of addiction!
And he even was invigorated enough to go out dancing that night! Yes, another confirmation of my belief that biking can make lives a little bit better and along with it, the world!
Got to love this rain! It does interrupt the biking process though. My rain gauge showed it rained 6.5 inches in a 24 span from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning. I called Q to come pick me up that day. And it continued to rain. On Thursday I drove. And it continued to rain. And it still continues today. No choice-got to learn to love it or continue to be kicked off the bike.
And guess waht? With a mind change, it IS fun to ride in the rain. I totally get so much into the absolute here and now that I forget where I am going. Today on the one and a half mile journey from Neidlove's Bread to my studio, I missed three turns. I was just enjoying the warm rain, the sound of the splash of the tires thru puddles and how the look of wet changes the look of everything. Whoops! Where am I? I should have turned three blocks back!
My journeys in the rain always end up longer then when it isn't raining. How does that happen?
She looked like a typical weekend bike stroller. She was on a cruiser with a wicker basket on the front, dressed in shorts and tank top. Just like so many recreational riders that appear on weekends. What drew my eye to her was the fact that she was sitting in the middle left turn lane on Coolidge Side of Tremont ,waiting for the light to change. Bikers that look like that rarely are in the road-usually if they are going in the direction of the bridge they take the sidewalk. I have to confess, Q and I were on the sidewalk going towards the bridge. It has always seemed too much trouble if I am coming up to Frazier up from that side to cross the street to travel half a block to turn onto the bridge. But this bike rider was sitting at the light preparing to turn left.
As Q and I made our way casually over Walnut Street Bridge, this same biker cruised by us.We looked at each other. Now, we weren't in any hurry and we are used to high speed roadies passing us, but this was a Saturday afternoon cruiser! And she didn't even seem to be putting out any effort-sort of the way I was riding when I was on the electric bike.
She was taking the same route that Q and I were taking so I kept her in my sight. She rode confidently, in a nonchalant way. Like she was saying "yeah, I ride a bike, that's what I do, no big deal." It occurred to me that I rarely see that type of aura on a bike rider in Chattanooga. Most cruisers have a "Excuse me for being here" energy going on. Roadies, by their dress and actions seem to be telling the world "Hey, I'm good enough to do this," definitely not the quiet confidence of this girl.
I was determined to catch up with her. Because he wasn't nearly as curious as I was, I left Q behind and finally caught up with her at an intersection. It wasn't easy-maybe I should rethink my 2 ton pannier system on my bike. On second thought, where would I throw my junk ? I am obviously a person who likes to carry her baggage around!
Sarah was her name, young enough to be a student but she said she worked at Moe's (of "Welcome to Moe's " fame). She lived in Red Bank and she identified herself as a bike commuter. A bike commuter! Not a bike rider, but a commuter. Do I hear people say that?
She was that day on her way to the library. On her bike? On her way to the library? Was this a lost daughter of mine? NO, I ruled that out. I have two known daughters and neither one of them would be caught dead on a bike going to the library. So it stands to reason, any other daughters would also be refusing to ride their bikes. She rides her bike to work every day from Red Bank out to Highway 153. Not the most bike friendly territory. But I am sure she was doing it with no fuss or muss
Where did she come from? I didn't get a chance to ask all the questions that started forming in my head. I always feel that I need to work on my question asking skills-get right in there and try to find out what I want to know. Q says I ask too many questions as it is. So I try to keep it in balance and then I find I didn't get the essential information. Like "where did she come from?"
Because I am convinced she did not learn that casual confidence in bike handling in Chattanooga. It was that confidence that comes when you learn a skill in childhood. We don't have a culture to teach that. Was she consciously taught? Did she just pick it up from growing up in area with a strong biking culture? Did she figure it out herself? I don't know.
Wherever she learned her biking. it gives me hope to the future of biking in Chattanooga in having her here, riding her bike, skillfully, nonchalantly, saying "Yes, biking is what I do."
Yesterday I went and watched the movie Food, INC., something that I think everyone should do. It shows very graphically what has been done to our food system and how we choose to eat three times a day is the the most powerful vote we have. I have always believed that along with how we choose to transport ourselves. So this is a picture essay of me on a day of power voting.
So what would that look like? Riding my bike to the Chattanooga Market, of course! It is a highlight of my week, I totally enjoy it, I get amazing food, and knowing this is a very powerful way of making Chattanooga and our world a better place is wonderful icing on it all.
The Chattanooga market is more then just food, it is a feast for the eyes, ears, nose and of course the belly!
Here is the Old Mill Kettle Corn Truck Stage-a feast for the ear, nose and belly all at once!
Flowers were in abundance!
Crafts and art is a major part of the Market!
But let's get down to business with my shopping. how can I resist a farm with the name like the Kinky Turtle, with prize winning organic butternut squash?
Chili peppers from Sheerlark Farms, another organic farmer.
Nothing says fall more then tart crispy apples (from Rainbow hills farms)
Ready for something to eat? How about some barbecue from Mr. Possum Man here?
My favorite young entrepreneur, Warren of the wonderful Alchemy Spice.
And of course, Paul Smith who is responsible for bringing us the market every week!
After Market, I go to Greenlife for some more power voting, then loaded up, I trudge up the hills to home to cook up all my good eats. Now, this is the way I truly like to do my politicking!
Last night I hosted a political function. I am not quite sure how this happened as I have made it a point to be politically low profile about who I think should be elected and I am not registered in any party. But I teach Marilyn Lloyd, our former Congresswoman(Dem) of 20 years pilates. She is still around, just as astute as ever and such a sweet kind lady. I would do anything she asked.
She started to talk one day about a function she was having at her house and I thought she was inviting me to attend and I enthusiastically said yes. But I discovered I was agreeing to co-host it! Yikes! How did that happen? The invitations were sent out and along with leading areas Democrats, there my name, actually third on the list. I am now branded!
I did invite, to fulfill my hosting duties, a few of my friends and family, but none attended. How can I blame them? The invitations was sent with a suggested ticket price of $500? When I actually got the invitation I immediately called Marilyn. "Marilyn, uhh, I might be naive about these things, I knew it was a fundraiser, but me and my friends? We are little people. We don't contribute $500 to ANYBODY no matter how much we believe in them. And nobody has even heard of this person yet." As gracious as ever, Marilyn told me to have everyone come anyway just for the party. None of my friends, I guess, felt comfortable doing so, so Q and I were the lone "little" people at this function.
Just briefly, I will say the person that this function was for was Paula Flowers, the woman from Oak Ridge running for the congress position that Zac Wamp is vacating for his bid for governor. And I was highly impressed with her. She is smart, she has worked in government, she has worked in insurance, and she calls herself the rational candidate (hopefully Paula Flowers and Marilyn Lloyd
Tennessee will be worn out by all the screeching, hysterical candidates and leaders by then). One thing that I found most impressive was that she has actually read the whole 1000 page health reform bill and understands it all! And she believes she has a good grasp of what is good and what is bad about it. Good for her! Watch for her in the next year. She might be just what we need to restore balance and sense into the government.
But enough about that. This isn't a political blog but a biking blog. Q and I road our bikes out to Marilyn's house by the lake. Marilyn and me We started out on Amnicola to save time, but as it was rush hour Friday afternoon, we abandoned Amnicola for the Riverwalk, and only reentered the highway when it was time for us to cross over Hwy 153. Then we got on Kings Road and weaved our way around (and UUUPPP and DDOOOWWWNN) to Marilyn's house on the lake. If you are unafraid of hills, a rider can go all the way out to Booker T Washington State Park and beyond without ever going on Highway 58.
We wore our regular clothes and arrived, after riding almost an hour in heat and humidity, only a little worse for wear. Q was a bit sweatier then me, regretting his choice of wearing corduroys but he soon dried out and looked his usual wonderful self. He always looks good! He was coming from his construction job he has been working on, didn't even shave and I would say he was the best looking man there. Aren't I lucky?
I believe at every Democratic function there should at least be a token of alternative transportation represented. As there so seldom is, that drives home for me what I know about how the system is so pervasive about leading us to believe that we either don't have a choice or the choices are too impractical to even think about how we are to get around. And the fact that the Democrats, who are the biggest proponents of health care, energy conservation, clean air and other such things, don't even recognize how they are blindly following the pervasive system that contribute so negatively to these issues without even questioning it for themselves. And if they don't question it, how can they change it? If this group had a habit of truly thinking about it, there should have been a mix of different methods. Q and I were the only alternative to cars there, and neither one of us are die hard Democrats. Though I tend to be concerned on the same topics Democrats are, their blindness to truly seeing solutions frustrate me. I am hoping to actually sit down with Paula Flowers and see if she has better visionary powers then most.
Again, enough about politics, Q and I had a wonderful time. It turns out Q is a natural networker-who knew?. He had all these people who we did not know before hand (only, since I have lived in Chattanooga all my life there were familiar faces and names-such as the city council member I went to high school with and the man who's sister that my brother dated over thirty years ago. This is after all a small town) eagerly carrying on long lengthy conversations with him. I attribute it to Q's ability to have that air of listening to every word you are saying. People love to talk about themselves and their ideas. Goodness knows, I have always fallen for this quality of his and that is why I love him. I get to talk and talk and talk about myself and my thoughts and he always acts as though he is listening and welcoming of it. And sometimes he actually is!
By the time it was time to go home it was dark. We had a most enjoyable ride, once we got off the roller coasters of King's Road, back home on the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk at night is a different experience, peaceful, quiet and otherworldly. That is until we were rudely slapped unexpectedly in the face by an aggressive water sprinkler! That brought us back to this world! But even that only added giggles to our ride.
A stop at the Great Ice Cream Show at the southside of the Walnut Street Bridge for ice cream and live music, sitting outside on a beautiful evening, greeting familiar faces ended our wonderful evening of hobnobbing and making a political statement with our bikes.
Quint and I went to Chicago over Labor Day weekend to visit his mother. We took time to go downtown to do the touristy thing. Of course we couldn't pass up a trip to wht was formerly the Sears Tower. As the now named Willis (as in "What cha doing, Willis?" ) Tower, glass sky decks were installed. Here we are, floating over the city of Chicago!
Whenever we are in different towns we always take note of the biking-how much, what kind of facilities and whether we think we would like to be riding our bikes.
Chicago on a holiday weekend would have been a great ride. We did visit the McDonald Bike Station where there were bike rentals, bike repair shop, and an elaborate indoor bike parking facility for the bike commuters.
Downtown Chicago showed signs of putting in additional bike parking. Quint, who is up in Chicago fairly often says the bike racks we saw were fairly new. The picture left is of a bike rack. Yes, those are the bike racks, not the bikes! It looked rather cool.
But we found they were rather impractical, the bike rack handle bars prevented the bikes's handle bars from sliding through. Bummer.
Quint is on a campaign for more bike parking in Chattanooga, preferably of the artistic type. Might as well combine art with function. But hopefully the art won't interfere with the function.
The most fun bike thing we saw was the puppet bike. This puppet theatre is set up on the back of a bike trike for street entertainment. What fun! Quint had to pull me away. I could have stood there for a hours! Actually, I was wanting to get a glilmpse of the operator inside but he never came out. I heard he could go hours inside, giving non stop shows. I quess he waits until nobody is on the street to jump out and pedal away. It did lend mystery to the set up.
We didn't get a chance to ride while we were there but we will have to at one point. I know it could be great riding-it was flat!
I started riding my bike as my primary form of transportation because I love riding bikes. Add in all the wonderful benefits- you know the drill-exercise, money saving, pollution free, oil free, and all the other great things, it just seemed a reasonable choice.
But what I had not anticipated was how different life would look mounted on top of a bike verses looking out of a rolling metal box. The places I go, the people I meet, the things I see are so different. And I love it all.
This is a record of my adventures!