February at last! January was, indeed, an action-packed month—but you don’t need me to recap all of went on in the world for you as you lived it, too—and once again, we were home almost all month.
We’ve averaged just a couple nights away from home a month for the past year, versus our standard 15 to 20, and while I’ve really enjoyed the added time of cozying up in the Cedar House, it was nice to have a change of scenery for the lone three nights we spent away from home in the past 70 days at my cousins’ home in Memphis. I also did just book one night in a hotel next week for a scouting trip, which felt indulgent given that I can count on one hand the number of hotels I have stayed in since last March.
February is my birthday month, with Charlotte’s falling 10 days after me, so we’ll both finally celebrate our first quarantine birthdays, together as the one-year anniversary of the pandemic in our country looms. Our day-to-day workload is starting to pick up, so I anticipate things getting a wee bit busier from here on out, but as always masked up and distanced.
My parents got their first dose of the vaccine! After calling our local health department every single day for three weeks, I finally got the email on the night of their 42nd wedding anniversary, Jan. 13, that they could come to the fairgrounds the next day for their first doses of Moderna. Mom is 71 and Dad is 69, and while they only just reached the 70+ group in our county last week, my dad is permanently disabled and thus fell into the “cannot live independently” group, and my mom as his caretaker was able to get it, as well. I’ve never been so happy to see two people get jabbed in the arm as they were, and I’ll feel even better after they get the second dose next week. I’ve been calling daily to see if SVV and I can get on the “leftover shot” lottery—many counties like Davidson have a lottery where any unused shots go to random residents who are available that day within half an hour—but sadly our area isn’t doing that. Given how poorly Tennessee has managed vaccine distribution thus far, it will be fall before our number is called at this rate, but I’m just pleased as can be that my mom and dad and so many of their friends are now protected. I can stay home a bit longer!
We went to Memphis for the long holiday weekend. It’s been customary that we spend MLK Day weekend with my cousins in Memphis for years now, usually them coming to us, but this was actually a rescheduled holiday trip. We typically go there for either Thanksgiving or Christmas—whichever one has Kari and Josh going to Charleston as they alternate years—however, due to not being able to fully and effectively quarantine for two weeks prior to our trip, we canceled and bumped our visit back. My cousins Rebecca and John—both of whom have worked from home since March—and their kiddos are some of the only people we’ve seen outside of our local bubble in the past year, but we wanted to make extra sure we weren’t possibly asymptomatic and bringing them any germs their way.
We painted murals in the kiddos’ rooms. So the reason for this trip was a “working” holiday for us—last summer, McKayla, 12, asked us if we’d paint a mural in her room (duh, of course!). Then, in November, Margaret (age 10) texted and asked if she could have one, too (sure!). Two days before our arrival, the baby, Mason (age 4.5), wanted his room painted, as well. So we stayed three nights and painted three rooms in two days. Full tutorial on how we did it coming in the next week. It was so nice having John cook for us all weekend and have belly-aching laughs over game nights with the whole family. I realized then how much I’ve missed social interaction with others.
I had a few print stories hit the stands (and mailboxes). I’ve loved writing the Tennessee pages for AAA these past four years and telling parts of the state’s history that’s important for others to know while learning new things myself, and this month I got to write about Black history, Memphis and women’s suffrage. I also have a story on Black-owned businesses running in this upcoming issue of Parade.
We announced our next two mural cities! As I mentioned last week, we’ve been going pretty hard on our National Endowment for the Arts grant project for this spring, as there’s more red tape involved with a federally funded project so we’re trying to get the initial steps out of the way as soon as we can. This includes day trips to both of our recipient towns, Sweetwater and Lawrenceburg, within the next week, as well as a day trip to Viola, who was one of our finalists, to talk future projects. It really feels good to be out and about (in the safety of our own car) again, as we’ve been home for way too long.
We got actual snow! OK, “actual snow” for Tennesseans is the equivalent of a minor nuisance to any of you with real winters, but earlier in January enough fell to go over to my mom’s house and build a snowman with Charlotte, and she would have stayed out there until dark if I’d let her. As I write this, another dusting of flakes from this morning’s storm is evaporating off my lawn. I’d be happy with one more good snow, then early spring. You listening, Mother Nature?
The official Idaho vacation guide came out. A year ago, we skied Sun Valley, one of my favorite winter trips to date, and last spring I wrote an essay about it for Visit Idaho. You can flip through the electronic version here or request your free copy here. You can also see more of my tips for non-skiers in Sun Valley on the state’s tourism site.
We’ve started booking new clients, new projects. As I wrote last week, for most of 2020 we focused on the clients we had and continued to diversify our income, knowing it was silly to try to onboard new long-term clients in the middle of a pandemic. However, now many cities and CVBs are starting to feel optimistic about the future—and if you’ve ever worked in marketing, you know it’s imperative to start working on the framework as early as possible, particularly coming out of a crisis like we’ve all experienced this past year—and even though we’re keeping our travel plans flexible based on when we get the vaccination and herd immunity seems widespread, it feels nice to get to work on some fun new projects with the glimmer of traveling again on the very near horizon.
We built a hot tub for our back deck. Staying inside so long and has truly made us loopy—and given us time to get antsy and tackle DIY projects like making a dog ramp or a hot tub from a stock tank. The great news is that it worked! I’ll be sharing a full tutorial in a few days if you’re looking for a way to keep your hands busy.
Oh, and we have a new administration! I’ve talked about this enough in the past, but I like so many just feel hopeful now about the future with such diversity holding court in the White House, a Cabinet of leaders who actually represent the American people. I’ll leave it at that.
I have no personal lows at the moment, other than I wish we could speed up this mass vaccination so more people don’t have to die. These last couple months I’ve left the house very rarely—often going for days without turning on my car unless it’s just to go down the road to my mom’s house—and always double-masking when I do. I urge you to do the same so we can beat this thing sooner rather than later, save more lives and banish those scary variants that have arrived on pretty much every shore as of now.
And if you have gotten your vaccine, will you kindly let me know in the comments? I feel just a jolt of joy every time I see someone I know get protected, and I can’t wait until that is the norm rather than the anomaly.