>Birthdays, Books, and Mississippi Artists and Writers: All in One Weekend (whew!)

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This weekend was full of significant events for me. Starting on Friday, when I drove to Jackson to visit my mother, and also to see some paintings by a high school friend, Kit Whitsett Fields. It was a routine visit with Mom at Lakeland Nursing Home in Jackson, Mississippi, where she’s been living since November. Every couple of weeks when I drive down, I brace myself for the time when she won’t know me. She knew me on Friday, but she couldn’t figure out who Grace Cushman was… her great-granddaughter. This was the second time I’ve taken photos of Grace with me. A few weeks ago, she remembered who Jason was (my son, Grace’s father) but this time there was a blank look on her face and she kept pointing to him and his wife, See, in the pictures, and asking again who there were. Made my heart so sad.

We were sitting in the dining room, where the movie,“A River Runs Through It” was on the big screen TV. Some of the scenes are full of great period clothing, music and dancing from the 30s, and Mom’s face lit up when those scenes came on. There was something more familiar to her about the images on the screen than the images in my book of photos of Grace. It’s that long-term memory trying to hang on….

On the bright side, I loved seeing Kit’s watercolors, and ended up buying 7 of them! Kit’s won awards for her work, and I love her style. Four of the ones I bought are small details of pieces of fruit which I’ll frame for our kitchen once it’s remodeled. But three paintings drew my attention because they are all scenes from Oxford, Mississippi, where I went to college, and where I now go regularly for writing workshops.

These photos don’t do the paintings justice… and they are wrapped in plastic and not framed yet but they are beautiful.

The first one (above) one is Taylor Grocery, a catfish restaurant in Taylor, just south of Oxford. Great little town with a local theater and several artists’ studios.

I love this one, of Roanoke, William Faulkner’s home.

And this one of Square Books.

I’m going to frame them after we paint our bedroom and den, and find just the right spots for them, to remind me of good memories of Oxford.

Like Saturday, when the Yoknapatawpha Writers Group held our monthly critique session. We’ve been meeting for two years now, (our first meeting was in September of 2007) and at the last minute Herman and Patti couldn’t make it, but we still had a great day with Doug, Tom, Patti (“B”) and me. After the critiquing was done, Neil White met us for drinks at City Grocery, and Michelle Bright (also in the group but unable to meet with us today) stopped by to say hello. Congrats to Neil, whose book, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, got a nice review in the New York Times recently.

Four of us from our writer’s group are going to the Escape to Create Fall Writers Conference in Seaside, Florida, in October, and Neil will be one of the presenters. He’s always generous with his time and encouragement for new writers. I’ll be posting more about it in a few weeks. Seven of us (four writers and three of our spouses, including mine) will be staying in a house right on the beach in Seagrove, just next door to Seaside. Can’t wait!

After a busy Friday and Saturday, today was relaxing. Can you believe this weather, in August, in Memphis? Hubby and I enjoyed dinner outside on our front porch earlier this evening, with no humidity and a lovely breeze. Felt like fall! When we came back inside there was a phone message from his sister, Cathy, who lives in Atlanta. Her daughter, Amy, had given birth to twin girls, Allie and Brynn, this morning! Amy wasn’t due ’til mid October, but both girls seem to be doing great. Here they are with Amy and Kevin, in the newborn ICU, where the girls will need to stay for about a week. Congratulations, Amy and Kevin! We cant wait to meet our two new great nieces!

Allie and Brynn were born on our son, Jonathan’s birthday, so now these cousins will share birthdays. Happy Birthday, Jon! Hearing about the twins got me all mushy, so I got out the photo albums to look at Jon thirty two years ago. Here he is, with me, the day we brought him home.

And with his Dad and me….

Again….

And I’ll close with this picture of Jon’s 6th Birthday Party! I love it that Jon is still in touch with most of the people in this picture:

Front row: Jordan Henderson, Jon (the birthday boy!) and Stephen Schelver
Back row: Ben Skirtech, Joanna Meadows, Mary Allison Callaway, Carter Callaway, David Algood and Daniel Root.

Off to bed now… I’ve only got one chapter left to read in Pat Conroy‘s new book, South of Broad. Conroy’s book, The Prince of Tides, is my all time favorite book (and movie) so I had eagerly anticipated this new book. Stay tuned for a review one day this week. Today it’s Number One on the New York Times Best Seller List. Kudos to you, Pat!

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