What a quick month April seemed to be. We had so many home renovation tasks like finishing our kitchen—painting the toe kicks, touching up any imperfections, installing the backsplash—that just didn’t happen because we were either too busy or not feeling up to it. But we’re still slowly making progress and in the middle of refinancing, which is exciting!
In April, I was away from home 11 nights and even more days. We’re starting to book work and mural projects into summer 2023, and it’s beginning to feel like getting back to normal, whatever that looks like.
We traveled to Holland against all odds! Multiple shutdowns, including a month just before our trip, pointed to us having to cancel our 10th-anniversary trip again, but we made it! I’ll slowly be adding content to our Holland archives, but if you have any specific Netherlands travel tips you’d like to read (like how to see tulips in Amsterdam!), let me know.
I also went to Memphis for four days. I spoke at all three TravelCons, which came to an end for a final time this past Sunday, and I was so grateful to be a part of all of them: Austin, Boston and Memphis. What synchronicity that the final one took place in my home state with so many friends from Tennessee and beyond present. It was one big party and a fun farewell to an excellent conference.
While there, I got to catch up with local friends and crash with my cousins for a couple nights. We spend as much time as possible with my cousin Coco, her husband John and their kiddos McKayla, Margaret and Mason. In fact, they came to visit us three times between January and March, so this was our first time repaying the visit and going to Memphis since Thanksgiving. We all wish we lived closer than four hours apart, but have plenty of joint trips (and the girls’ annual Camp Jeje where they stay with us for a couple weeks in summer) to look forward to in coming months!
We finished our first mural project of the year. The second half of the NEA women’s suffrage project we were awarded in 2019 finally wrapped, and it was not an easy one. It took re-stuccoing the wall, a Section 106 review and a whole lot of tiptoeing through red tape to complete. The final mural, Megan Lingerfelt’s “Wave of Lace” in Lawrenceburg, was well worth all the added effort, though!
I held a dozen mini sessions. Several mom friends had been asking me to do heritage photos (black and white portraits) for their kiddos, so I set up a rig on my back porch one afternoon and photographed several kiddos. It was so fun, I think I’ll be doing more of this in the future. As much as I love photographing places and space, my favorite subjects are kids as they’re just so fun and expressive.
… and a brand shoot for the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. SVV, Sara Beth and a couple other friends were my models for a fun all-day brand shoot for the Tennessee Distillers Guild.
We also shot Women in Numbers’ annual event. I’m not a Davidson County resident, but if I were, I would 100 percent be a member or supporter of this bipartisan group that champions female candidates.
I had my first meeting as an advisory board member for MTSU’s Tourism and Hospitality Management program. And we met at Belle Meade Country Club, talk about fancy! If you’re a college student at MTSU and didn’t know that tourism and hospitality management was a program you could study, let’s chat.
My spring issue of AAA Living hit mailboxes. I wrote about bats, the Smokies, college towns and one of my favorite historic properties, the Hermitage Hotel.
SVV painted a massive commercial building in Columbia. When a mural project fell through due to a hysterical zoning commission banning all art in the downtown, the building owner asked SVV if he’d still give his 60,000-square-foot building a facelift. It hadn’t been painted since 2003! So my pro painter husband spent the better part of a week fixing up the building, and I swooped in on the final two days as his assistant.
I still think it needs a mural, but the building looks TIGHT now—and took about 90 gallons of paint, too!
I feel like every month for the past eight has been capped off with “the VA is a huge disappointment,” and this one is no different. SVV has been mostly miserable since his Alpha-gal syndrome diagnosis (and even prior to that since he first got sick last fall), and the VA writes him off with no treatment or recommendations on getting better (in fact, one allergist wrote in his file “patient is a ‘research analyst'” implying he’s a conspiracy theorist even though we had three doctor friends giving second opinions since the VA is useless). In the past week, he’s finally made a turn due to taking his medical health in his own hands, but getting better has been no thanks to the office that’s supposed to serve our veterans.
American flag mural by Tara Aversa
And yes, he could pay for private healthcare, but he served the country and is afforded the right to free healthcare (as we all should be…) through that act of service, so why wouldn’t he use it if possible? Sigh.
It’s great to know about your journey! I had a difficult April, with lots of ups and downs, but I made it to May, and I am really hoping that things will get better from here. Reading about your month was a great change. I learn a lot from all the experiences you share! I am glad that you are making progress with things. I really hope you get the best. It was a great read, and I love knowing about your experiences. Thanks a lot for sharing!