It looks suspicious, I’ll admit, that my previous post was about a huge liquor store in Kennesaw, Ga., — and I wrote that more than a week ago. I do have an excuse a reason, though: For some of those intervening days, I was hanging out with our 4-year-old grandson. Then I had to take the remaining days to recover from a marathon of playing Spider Man/Angry Birds/pirates/Bilbo-tries-to-escape-the-bad-guys-and-throw-his-ring-into-a-volcano. Every time I grandson-sit, I’m grateful that Nature eased 50ish-women out of the baby business. Thank you, Nature. You knew what you were doing.
So, back to business. This is not news but it’s worth repeating: Chattanooga, Tenn., should be on your go-to list. Looking for a weekend getaway or a family-friendly vacation spot? This east Tennessee mountain town is perfect. It’s definitely a happening sort of place for art, food, shopping and outdoor-iness. I know nothing about that last item, a whole heckuva lot about the middle two (more to come on these topics) and only a little about the first one. But enough to be really annoying appreciate what artists do. And in Chattanooga, art literally is everywhere — from sidewalks and playgrounds to innovative museums. You gotta love a town that encourages folks to paint on its walls. Even the buses have art instead of the ubiquitous ads. Go and see for yourself. Coming up next: Chattanooga food, Chattanooga shopping and more Chattanooga art. Have I mentioned that I adore this town?
This is the time of year when my real & actual look-presentable-and-sit-in-your-office job (as opposed to my less stable scramble-around-for-assignments freelancing jobs) in a local art museum pays off, because every year we host a “Trees of Christmas” exhibit featuring absolutely fabulously decorated lived Christmas trees. Individuals and groups from the community each volunteer to decorate a tree, and it’s such a highly coveted honor that we usually have waiting lists two years ahead. The trees’ themes can be practically anything — hobbies, travel, history, arts — and many non-profit groups decorate trees to symbolize their message and good works. The trees by themselves are stunning — they’re live spruce and fir from North Carolina and are at least 12 feet tall. Smells like Christmas spirit! Then the trees stand unadorned for a few days to get acclimated to their new indoor environment. Next comes the decorating, which can vary from noisy and chaotic to quiet and meticulous, depending on the decorators. For example, a retired local educator has taken up the hobby of cutting snowflakes, and he decorated a tree with almost 800 of his favorites. He folds and cuts them by hand without a pattern, and no two are alike. He even does themes — seasons, the 12 Days of Christmas, the alphabet. He spent two days on his tree, hanging each snowflake in just the proper place and spurning all offers of help from opening-deadline-angsty staffers. In contrast, the local Master Gardeners descended on the museum 25-women strong, hauling buckets and bags and baskets full of their hand-grown and hand-dried treasures. They pretty much took over the gallery floor — but had a blast, their laughter drowning out the Christmas CDs. And then there are trees by groups such as Scope 310 Authority, which serves developmentally and intellectually disadvantaged people in community-based settings. Both counselors and clients decorated their tree with works made in art class — the first time many of the adults had ever done any art. Amazing! The Scope 310 folks were so joyful and enthusiastic about the chance to show off their art and be a part of the museum’s Christmas. Makes me smile every time I look at their tree — which is pretty much every day since all of these fantastic trees (and more) are in my very own workplace. Sort of makes up for the wonky heat/air-conditioning system.
Two-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable has gone train crazy. He plays for minutes (in 2-year-old time, that’s hours for you and me) with his Thomas the Train sets, knows all the Thomas the Train names and can even sing the songs with a British accent — well, it sounds British to me, anyway. So of course his daddy had to take him to the Depot Museum in Huntsville, Alabama, to see the real thing along with fire trucks, antique cars and all sorts of fun train stuff. His other grandma and I were so tickled that the Captain refused to play with the train toys set up in the “Children’s Playroom” and went straight for the actual full-sized ones. That’s our baby! He also got a kick out of the fire engine and realized that the firehouse dalmation dog needed a fire hat of his own. Genius child! If you’ve got a train fan in your family, too, plan a visit of your own. http://www.earlyworks.com/the-museums/train-depot