Welcome, 2016! Come on in and make yourself at home

Less than 12 hours into the new year and I’ve amazingly already accomplished several things on my resolutions list. This bodes well for the next 12 months, although of course there’s always room for derailment. I’ll keep you posted.

So, not that I’m bragging, but here’s what I already did in 2016:

  • Got healthy — yay for a good night’s sleep (yay, pharmaceuticals!)
  • Got organized — finally ran descaler through my Bialetti Mukka pot (twice), which then led to chipping off a year’s worth of dried gunk wiping off the stove top but I managed to ignore the urge that would’ve led to full-scale oven cleaning. No need to go that far.
  • Got good-wife points — although when I uncharacteristically asked husband John Pitts if he wanted scrambled eggs & cheese for breakfast (and by “asked husband John Pitts if he wanted scrambled eggs & cheese for breakfast,” I actually mean “asked husband John Pitts if he’d like me to make some sort of eatable meal by taking things out of the fridge and doing something to them on the stove.”), he checked my forehead in case my cold/sinus stoppage/winter crud had caused a fever.

So that’s good. But before we jump in to 2016 (I can never say “jump” during the holidays without picturing Hugh Grant in “Love Actually”), let’s reminisce about 2015. And since I’ve forgotten most of what  happened in 2015, let’s just stick to December. And since that’s also increasingly a blur, how about concentrating on Christmas? That I can do.

For example, Christmas reminds me how talented my family is. When you’ve got an artist in the family — son-law-Jason Behel, art teacher & artist extraordinaire — you get presents wrapped like this:IMG_2697
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Older Daughter matches her husband’s creativity with homemade skin-care products that, I promise you, surpass what’s available in the most luxurious spa. (Although Jennifer Timbes’ Cottage Garden in Corinth, Mississipppi, is a close second. Also: don’t tell husband JP that I even know what a luxurious spa is, please.). The best part? Older Daughter promises free refills.IMG_2704 IMG_2705

Christmas also reminds me that nobody, NOBODY, understands you like family and friends do. And, really, who cares about everybody else. Younger IMG_2703Daughter felt my pain, literally, when I’d burn my hand every freakin’ morning that I’d pour boiling water from the microwaved measuring cup into my pour-over coffee filter. I’d long wanted a Bonavita gooseneck teakettle but nobody UNDERSTOOD how vital it was until Younger Daughter stepped in and I now enjoy excruciating-steam-and-boiling-water-splatters-free mornings. But then again I can’t even drink the coffee I manage to make without spilling it. We were also delighted at the beautiful simplicity with which this miracle of technology works, as reflected in the parts diagram — Lid! Handle! Body! — and the instructions, which essentially said “Fill with water, put on stove top and pour water out when ready.” Brilliant!

Speaking of Younger Daughter, I had a been-there-done-that-moment when she shared an idea for her Ugly-Sweater-Party outfit. It was an idea I remembered from an early 1990s craft book I still have in a prominent position on a bookshelf had to dig around to find in the attic because who keeps things like that? The only reason I didn’t have this to pass on to Younger Daughter is because … well … someone who can’t handle hot water or a cup of hot coffee really shouldn’t have a hot-glue gun. Just sayin’.

And then, of course, we had our family Christmas Eve tradition of tequila shots and watching “Die Hard.” I don’t even know why that’s our tradition, but it is. So hope your holidays were merry and you have a wonderful New Year ahead of you. With abundant tequila shots, naturally.

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Happy New Year!

 

 

 

The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — Football & Artistic Friends

Creative, artistic, super-nice people. Don’t they just infuriate annoy inspire the heck out of you? Jaylene Whitehurst, of Corinth, Miss., is one of those folks. She is a painter, storyteller, poet and counselor. Energy and compassion are her native languages. She sees the world differently from everyone else and Jaylene Whitehurstknows how to make you see it differently, too. And she does it all in that lilting-yet-deceptively soft Southern-woman voice that greeted the damnYankee officers who broke into the finest home in town and found the diminutive hoop-skirted lady of the house pointing Daddy’s hunting rifle at them. But if it were actually Jaylene in this situation, after she had their attention she would put the gun down and gently led the DYOs in a heartfelt discussion about why they felt it necessary to break into her house and steal her food and wouldn’t they rather just go back to their homes in Ohio or wherever and live peacefully? And they would say “yes, ma’am” and be out the door and on their horses and headed back north with no strong grasp on what had just happened to them. That is Southern women. Luckily for us, Jaylene lives in the 21st century and can spend her time painting instead of Protecting Her House Against Marauding DYOs. An exhibit of her endlessly fascinating work is at the Crossroads Museum, in Corinth, and on Saturday she invited friends to meet her there for a gallery talk. I know nothing about art but I’m constantly amazed at how artists can create something out of nothingpainting detail. Jaylene uses texture and collages (that’s what you call layering things on top of other things, right?) to tell her stories. I especially liked this piece, where she used buttons, doilies and clothing patterns from her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother along with flowers from a poster she’d designed a few years ago. This work is more than a family tribute, though. It explores our fascination with circles — a fascination that connects people throughout time and all over the world. That’s the power of art, I think: gently nudging you to think about mandalas, crop circles, rose windows and Jung while looking at vintage buttons and old crocheted doilies. And footballs. Because after the gallery talk, the group ate lunch at a downtown Thai restaurant but I had to go help Vanderbilt win its bowl game. That makes five of seven SEC bowl wins, with optimistically six of eight after tonight. We shall not speak of the Recent Unpleasantness.

Hipster-dom Begins at Home

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Hipster-dom Begins at Home

This probably will NOT be his first-day-of-kindergarten outfit, but it’s cute, anyway. (Cut-outs from a Melissa & Doug Jumbo Drawing Pad, although Son-in-Law Jason Behel probably could draw these in, oh, about five minutes.)

Sidewalks in Chattanooga, Tenn. — Metal Dresses and Magic Doors

Chattanooga, Tenn., is a town that loves its art. (And its doughnuts, but that’s a different post.) Art is everywhere here. It oozes out of museums and galleries and spills out onto walls, buses and anywhere there’s an inspiring blank space. Such as sidewalks. In the emerging Southside Art District, for example, simply walking along immerses you in all sorts of innovative artistic minds. Sculptor John Petrey, for instance, is known for his dress series, and one of his astonishing works is just standing right there. You can walk up to it and inspect it and touch it all you want. Yea, art for the people!!! And then there was this wooden door propped up against a lamp post on a sidewalk in Northside, Chattanooga’s cool hipster alter ego. Younger Daughter and I were walking to Greenlife Grocery (which we all know is actually a Whole Foods, although everybody in Northside tries to deny it) when we spotted the door and tried to figure it out. Was it art? Apartment renovation? A magic door that would lead to an alternate universe? We resisted the urge to draw on it since all we had were ink pens and lipstick and, besides, if it did happen to be a magic door leading to an alternate universe, we felt that non-engagement was the proper response.

Chattanooga, Tenn. — Art Destination

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?

Jonah and the Baby Hat

Oh my cookies! I am so glad that I have such talented friends. Can you believe that someone just sat down and whipped up this precious work of art? I’ve tried to knit before — Older Daughter patiently attempts to re-teach me every couple of years or so — and even my incredibly-simple-and-anybody-can-do-it scarves end up wonky. This baby hat is so cute I just want to play with it — I adjust the size and tie the ribbon and imagine this on a sweet little infant head. My friend Sherry Campbell, whose current work exile in Louisiana has significantly reduced the fun factor here in northwest Alabama, made this for our Grandbaby No. 2, expected to arrive in mid-November. I love how the colors and patterns and ribbon all work together in perfect adorability. I remember when Sherry first discovered knitting and took to it with dedication and passion, as she does everything. Then there was the famous road trip where she stopped at every Tuesday Morning for hundreds of miles so she could collect enough of the same type of yarn she needed for a special project.  But who can argue with talent such as this? And seeing this hat makes Grandbaby No. 2’s arrival seem all the more real. Well, that, and Older Daughter’s growing tummy. Bless her heart, she says she is sort of getting tired of 3-year-old Capt. Adorable always giving her the role of the whale when they play Jonah.

Alabama Renaissance Faire

Gorgeous statue, right? So detailed and pristine.  It’s amazing that there’s such incredible art work brought in to the Alabama Renaissance Faire, which was this past weekend in my town of Florence, at Wilson Park in the heart of downtown. In fact, this statue is so breathtaking that it’s worth two different photos. But … wait … Notice anything? It’s like those “Find the Differences” games when you’re supposed to compare two almost-identical pictures. Because you’re right if you think the statue has moved — because, of course, this is not really a statue. It’s Barbara O’Bryan, of Ypsilanti, Mich., who portrays the living statue Naimh A’Danu — a huge crowd-pleaser at the Alabama Ren Faire. I have no idea what all she has to do and how long it takes to transform herself into a statue, but I do know that everybody who wanders by is fascinated. O’Bryan’s grace and patience are phenomenal. Didn’t we play some sort of statue game when we were kids? Maybe that’s how she got her start.