Well, I have finally arrived in Italy and finally have Tyler at my side. This isn’t the home stretch, though — we will only be spending a little over a month together until he has to go on a training mission and I will return home for a few more months. However, this time together has been invaluable and it’s been so nice being an actual couple living in our actual place together with a sort of hologram of how our future will look.

A child jumps across stones in the ruins of Pompei, the city destroyed by Vesuvius, on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

A child jumps across stones in the ruins of Pompei, the city destroyed by Vesuvius, on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

Our neighbor trims the neat hedges surrounding his yard on Saturday, July 5, 2014, in Sarmego.

Our neighbor trims the neat hedges surrounding his yard on Saturday, July 5, 2014, in Sarmego.

Right now, things are wonderful and stressful and overwhelming and lovely and then exasperating and I’m just adjusting to it all. We have days where we find an amazing bottle of wine and eat bread drenched in olive oil and fresh basil for dinner and then sit in our new poorly-furnished apartment and listen to the Italian neighbor kids play until it gets dark at 9:30, but the nearby stubborn and confused roosters are still crowing. And then we have days where we are met by Army gridlock and bureaucracy and awkward interactions at the store because we don’t know Italian and just need someone to tell us where to find a mattress topper to fix our ”adequate” government-provided bed and get overwhelmed with a plethora of questions we don’t know how to solve or where to go to solve them and so we just lay in our lumpy bed together and laugh or cry or sigh and have another glass of wine (and thank goodness the wine is always good).

A man runs across the sand on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Positano on the Amalfi Coast.

A man runs across the sand on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Positano on the Amalfi Coast.

People swim in Stone Beach in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, July 6, 2014, in Sorrento.

People swim in Stone Beach in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, July 6, 2014, in Sorrento.

Sometimes I think we’re crazy, and then other times I know we’re crazy, but I’m just so glad Tyler and I are together. And even with all of the uncertainty with my future career since I left my job and all the insanity just adjusting to a new life, I just didn’t realize how much we needed to be in the same place. I forgot about how it felt to just know that I could go home at the end of the day and have a conversation with him about everything going on in my brain, and how we consistently just know how to prop the other up and give the mutual support that we didn’t know we needed. It’s weird how you can go convince yourself being apart is OK, and then you get reunited and you don’t know how you did it for so long, and all of a sudden, being separate for even 5 minutes seems like an eternity.

A woman walks through the streets of Vicenza on Friday, June 27 in the city center.

A woman walks through the streets of Vicenza on Friday, June 27 in the city center.

Children jump into the Mediterranean Sea at Baia di Puolo on Monday, July 7, 2014, in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast.

Children jump into the Mediterranean Sea at Baia di Puolo on Monday, July 7, 2014, in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast.

Children gather at an ice cream bar on the Baia di Puolo on Monday, July 7, 2014 in Sorrento.

Children gather at an ice cream bar on the Baia di Puolo on Monday, July 7, 2014 in Sorrento.

So, these pictures may seem like “travel” pictures, but really they’re “adjustment” pictures. Because we’re not traveling in Italy — this is not our vacation. This is our new life. And these are our first impression to our new reality of living in a foreign country as semi-newlyweds.

A boy mops up the floor of a tabacchi as the clerk looks on, laughing, on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Amalfi.

A boy mops up the floor of a tabacchi as the clerk looks on, laughing, on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Amalfi.

Living in Italy is amazing and we are so thankful to be here, but we also are doing it as a new military family and doing it as Americans who know so little about so many things. And that poses its own form of unique challenges. But we are young and in love and stupid and excitable and figuring it all out — together, finally, thank God.

A man sells produce, including grahita limones, or "big lemons," on the side of the road leading on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, into Amalfi.

A man sells produce, including grahita limones, or “big lemons,” on the side of the road leading on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, into Amalfi.

A woman walks on the beach in Minori on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, on the Amalfi Coast.

A woman walks on the beach in Minori on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, on the Amalfi Coast.

Tyler falls asleep watching "Adventure Time" in his room in the barracks on Del Din on Friday, June 27, 2014, in Vicenza.

Tyler falls asleep watching “Adventure Time” on Netflix in his room in the barracks on Del Din on Friday, June 27, 2014, in Vicenza.


Right now, I’m technically unemployed. I left my job a week ago at the amazing community newspaper, The News Leader, in Virginia in preparation for a move to Italy with my partner, Tyler. He was just stationed with the U.S. Army in Vicenza with the badassery that is the 173rd airborne brigade combat team. He’s been there for almost a month now, in-processing, adjusting to Italian life and sampling all the food for me so I know what to eat immediately once I arrive. I am still stateside.

Shannon Curtis and Pat Jarrett slow dance at Dice's in Staunton.

Shannon Curtis and Pat Jarrett slow dance at Dice’s in Staunton.

Everything in our lives is up in the air at the moment. We have no timeline, no deadline, no end date — just months of paperwork, bureaucracy and possible deployments ahead until I can get to where he is. Every day is an exhausting battle and I struggle with small things like going out with other couples or planning small trips a few weeks out. In the end, the only thing I want to do is be where he is — or at least on my way to being there — and to know that he is safe.

Patrons stand near the bar at Dice's in Staunton.

Patrons stand near the bar at Dice’s in Staunton.

So, what does all this mean for me — as in, my career and what I’m doing? To be honest, I have no idea. Two years ago, I would have been terrified of that fact. And I’d be lying and naive if I said I wasn’t currently nervous or worried about the lack of a timeline or steadiness in my current employment situation.

Read the rest of this entry »


I’m closing out my last month here at The News Leader. Everything has happened both so slowly yet so quickly — it’s hard to believe that things are moving at all. But within the next week, I will be back in Missouri with my lovely family to spend a few month finishing Army paperwork.

Mike Moses of Richmond opens up the the Shenandoah Valley Soaring glider's association's hangar at Eagles Nest on Saturday, April 6, 2013 in Waynesboro.

Mike Moses of Richmond opens up the the Shenandoah Valley Soaring glider’s association’s hangar at Eagles Nest on Saturday, April 6, 2013 in Waynesboro.

I’ll write a goodbye blog post here in the next couple days, but for now, I wanted to post a few pictures from the last month or so — my last few assignments for the newspaper.

The sun rises on the main maintenance hangar on April 7, 2013, at Eagle's Nest Airport in Waynesboro.

The sun rises on the main maintenance hangar on April 7, 2013, at Eagle’s Nest Airport in Waynesboro.

A plane flies overhead at Eagle's Nest Airport on Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Waynesboro.

A plane flies overhead at Eagle’s Nest Airport on Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Waynesboro.

Runners take off at the beginning of the Park to Park half marathon on the morning of Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro. The race went from Ridgeview Park to Stuarts Draft Park.

Runners take off at the beginning of the Park to Park half marathon on the morning of Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro. The race went from Ridgeview Park to Stuarts Draft Park.

A mother duck walks with her four ducklings in the rain on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton.

A mother duck walks with her four ducklings in the rain on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton.

Read the rest of this entry »


Boy, it has been a lot time since I’ve updated the blog. Lots of things are changing in my life currently, and I have a lot exciting adventures coming up very soon — and some that could come sooner!

Snow covers the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and downtown Staunton on Monday, March 17, 2014, in Staunton.

Snow covers the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and downtown Staunton on Monday, March 17, 2014, in Staunton.

But all that is for another time. In the meantime, I figured I’d catch up on recent dead tree work. Thanks for looking.

Children burn palm leaves at the end of a Mardi Gras celebration at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Waynesboro. Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," is a feasting day before Ash Wednesday, which is a 40-day period of fasting and reflection before Easter. The palm leaves are from last year's Palm Sunday and once they are cooled, will be placed on people's foreheads for Ash Wednesday.

Children burn palm leaves at the end of a Mardi Gras celebration at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Waynesboro. Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is a feasting day before Ash Wednesday, which is a 40-day period of fasting and reflection before Easter. The palm leaves are from last year’s Palm Sunday and once they are cooled, will be placed on people’s foreheads for Ash Wednesday.

Pastor D.F. Barnwell leads the closing hymn during a service for the Lenten Luncheon series on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at Cherryvale United Methodist Church in Staunton. Multiple area churches gather for the Lent services and raise money for SACRA, a local organization that provides economic assistance.

Pastor D.F. Barnwell leads the closing hymn during a service for the Lenten Luncheon series on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at Cherryvale United Methodist Church in Staunton. Multiple area churches gather for the Lent services and raise money for SACRA, a local organization that provides economic assistance.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Highland Maple Festival is one of the best events in this area of Virginia. If you like food, or beautiful scenery, or are a human being, it’s the greatest. I decided to feast like crazy while I was there this year and indulged in maple-glazed chicken, buckwheat pancakes and, of course, the infamous warm, doughy maple donuts.

Rachel Hartzler, 7, takes a minute in between session of playing tag behind the Sugar Tree Country Store on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in McDowell, Va. The families of the children were at the country store to sell maple ice cream and maple chicken as a part of the festival.

Rachel Hartzler, 7, takes a minute in between session of playing tag behind the Sugar Tree Country Store on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in McDowell, Va. The families of the children were at the country store to sell maple ice cream and maple chicken as a part of the festival.

One of my photographs was also featured on a project by Roger May called Looking at Appalachia. It’s a wonderful project looking to create a more encompassing and accurate depiction of the Appalachian area, as most of the images from the area were taken 50 years ago during a “War on Poverty” campaign commissioned by LBJ. I think it’s a wonderful project and can’t way to see the other crowdsourced images that come out of it.

Ron and Kay Sommers of Fishersville look into tapped sap pails at Rexrode's Sugar Orchard on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Ron and Kay Sommers of Fishersville look into tapped sap pails at Rexrode’s Sugar Orchard on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Bill Ellenburg sells pork rinds with the Monterey Lions Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014, in front of the Highland County Public Schools during the Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Bill Ellenburg sells pork rinds with the Monterey Lions Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014, in front of the Highland County Public Schools during the Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Fred Frye fries pork rinds with the Monterey Lions Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Fred Frye fries pork rinds with the Monterey Lions Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Read the rest of this entry »


Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite celebrations in the Catholic Church. I’ve always really liked Lent — I think it’s a great period of reflection and Ash Wednesday is the start of all that. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Congregants leave the church after Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days of reflection that lead up to Easter Sunday.

Congregants leave the church after Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days of reflection that lead up to Easter Sunday.

Congregants walk back to their seats after receiving communion during Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days of reflection that lead up to Easter Sunday.

Congregants walk back to their seats after receiving communion during Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days of reflection that lead up to Easter Sunday.

Read the rest of this entry »


February was a messy month and I don’t think I wore anything but boots the entire time. Mud, snow, muck — you name it, I walked through it.

Ronald Shiflett walks down Beverley Street with a shovel after over a foot of snow fell on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Staunton.

Ronald Shiflett walks down Beverley Street with a shovel after over a foot of snow fell on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Staunton.

People light their candles before the candlelight vigil in the memory of Waynesboro Police Department reserve captain Kevin Quick on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Waynesboro. Quick served on the police force since 1990 and was last seen on Jan. 31. A body was found in Goochland County Thursday that was confirmed to be Quick. Three people were arrested and charged in connection with his death.

People light their candles before the candlelight vigil in the memory of Waynesboro Police Department reserve captain Kevin Quick on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Waynesboro. Quick served on the police force since 1990 and was last seen on Jan. 31. A body was found in Goochland County Thursday that was confirmed to be Quick. Three people were arrested and charged in connection with his death.

Bette Amsler, who says her favorite television show of all time is "Breaking Bad," wears her Heisenberg t-shirt in her apartment. Amsler profiles people for The News Leader.

Bette Amsler, who says her favorite television show of all time is “Breaking Bad,” wears her Heisenberg t-shirt in her apartment. Amsler profiles people for The News Leader.

Read the rest of this entry »


True/False Film Fest — a time in Columbia, Mo. that I like to call “hipster homecoming.” So, I returned home last weekend for the best time of the year — filled with inspirational documentaries, liquor-laden conversations with old college buddies and the wonderful weirdness of Columbia.

True/False

True/False

True/False

Read the rest of this entry »


January is always a bit of a slow month. I’m glad things have finally picked up, but here are some frames I liked from last month.

Toni Landram holds a portrait of the reverend as she walks during the Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight March on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in front of Central United Methodist Church in Staunton. The march, which is followed by a memorial service, has been held for 23 years.

Toni Landram holds a portrait of the reverend as she walks during the Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight March on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in front of Central United Methodist Church in Staunton. The march, which is followed by a memorial service, has been held for 23 years.

The gospel choir and band perform during a celebration and dedication of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's life at the St. James Baptist Church on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Waynesboro. This is the 26th year the celebration has been held, organized by the Waynesboro chapter of the NAACP.

The gospel choir and band perform during a celebration and dedication of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s life at the St. James Baptist Church on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Waynesboro. This is the 26th year the celebration has been held, organized by the Waynesboro chapter of the NAACP.

A tiny snowman greets those crossing the Sears Hill Bridge as it snows on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, in Staunton.

A tiny snowman greets those crossing the Sears Hill Bridge as it snows on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, in Staunton.

Read the rest of this entry »


I know a lot of us feel documentation-weary sometimes — that people today, with the accessibility of camera phones, document every mundane aspect of their lives. But as someone whose job it is to document everyday, I realized recently that I was doing a pretty poor job of documenting my personal life and the things I love.

A man smokes a cigar from his balcony over Beverley Street in Staunton on Feb. 12, 2014.

A man smokes a cigar from his balcony over Beverley Street in Staunton on Feb. 12, 2014.

It’s really easy to take certain things for granted — the beautiful town we live in, the fun moments we have with our friends, even just curling up on the couch with our pets. And I think the wonderful thing about photography is that, even though it’s amazing that we’re able to remember things like that, the camera can — for the most part — capture just how we’re feeling about the things we love, because it can be present in the moments that we’re happy.

Snow falls on red berries in Staunton on Feb. 12, 2014.

Snow falls on red berries in Staunton on Feb. 12, 2014.

On Wednesday night, before the big bulk of the snowstorm blew through — just as the snow was quietly settling on the streets, muffling all the sounds around — I ventured out with my good friend Pat Jarrett to just photograph Staunton. Because even though I work for a paper whose job it is to document Staunton, sometimes it’s hard to get across how absolutely beautiful this place is for people who don’t live here. And guess what — everything looks pretty in the snow at night. And it made me really happy.

A boy shovels snow as it falls on Augusta Street on Feb. 12, 2014, in Staunton.

A boy shovels snow as it falls on Augusta Street on Feb. 12, 2014, in Staunton.

Pat Jarrett walks along Middlebrook Avenue on Feb. 12, 2014, in Staunton.

Pat Jarrett walks along Middlebrook Avenue on Feb. 12, 2014, in Staunton.

Snow falls in front of the Visulite Cinema on Augusta Street on Feb. 12, 2014, in Staunton.

Snow falls in front of the Visulite Cinema on Augusta Street on Feb. 12, 2014, in Staunton.

Read the rest of this entry »


More Posts


whale hunting in the faroe islands: a retrospective
January 27, 2014

whale hunting in the faroe islands: a retrospective

playing catch-up
January 20, 2014

playing catch-up

november – preparations and prizes
December 3, 2013

november – preparations and prizes

october — tricks, treats and traditions
November 30, 2013

october — tricks, treats and traditions