just for fun

Out and About Dresses – #selfishsewing

One of my quests this year has been to find a dress pattern with a good fit that I could make out of comfortable knit fabric. I think I’ve found a winner, the Out and About Dress by Sew Caroline.

Sarah Out and About Dresses-9692
I kept seeing the dress on a dress form at Bernina Sewing Etc. (made by Cindy Hampton) and finally I asked to try it on. After I saw the fit, I decided to buy the pattern and the very same fabric pattern, one of the Art Gallery knits. I also bought a grey print.
I actually made the grey dress first.

Sarah Out and About Dresses-9730
For the next version, I decided to make it sleeveless with a skirt made from a woven cotton print. I modified the neckline, which involved a little math. Sarah Out and About Dresses-9779
So, I’m posting these because it happens to be Selfish Sewing Week (#selfishsewingweek) in the world of Indie sewists and pattern makers. I have loved learning from Indiesew blogs and buying fun patterns like the Out and About Dress. My thanks to Roderick Red of Red Squared Productions for the photographs.

All The Way at New Stage Theatre

All the Way PosterI watched the Tony Award-winning play, “All The Way,” last night at New Stage Theatre, and I enthusiastically recommend it.

The events of the play take place during the first year President Lyndon Johnson was in office and center on the passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964. Watching interactions between Johnson and the other major characters in the drama — from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to J. Edgar Hoover to George Wallace to Fannie Lou Hamer — made me think of the famous quote attributed to Otto von Bismark: “If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.”

The language ranges from raunchy, vulgar, and vitriolic to the elevated discourse of a Nobel Peace Prize speech. I joined many others in the audience in laughing out loud (Johnson’s hardball tactics with unsympathetic characters like former Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett), and feeling a part of an Amen corner (during Dave Dennis’ speech at James Chaney’s funeral and Fannie Lou Hamer’s testimony at the 1964 Democratic Convention in Atlantic City).

Director Francine Thomas Reynolds has staged an excellent production of this first rate play with a large cast, including many local actors. There is a tremendous amount of history packed into just shy of three hours, but the play never drags.

One thing that this play makes crystal clear is that Johnson knew the risk to the Democratic Party of pursuing the Civil Rights Act (losing Southern white votes for at least a generation), but he did it anyway. “We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. It is time now to write the next chapter – and to write it in the books of law.”

I left wanting to ask more questions:

  • How much of the dialogue from telephone conversations was from White House recordings? I thought Oval Office recording began with Nixon, but I’ve heard conversations between President Kennedy and Ross Barnett in other documentaries.
  • What was the final outcome of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party compromise at the Atlantic City convention? I know how the confrontation changed the Democratic Party’s rules for delegate selection.
  • On what does the playwright Robert Schenkkan base his dialogue among various factions in the Civil Rights Movement? Conversations between the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins, SCLC’s King and Abernathy, and SNCC’s Bob Moses and Stokely Carmichael are lively and detailed.

Thank you, New Stage for bringing this play to Jackson. It is especially relevant in this year when we mark the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, the Civil Rights Act, and the Atlantic City Democratic National Convention. And, in our run-up to the mid-term elections.


Family in England

I’ll be sharing a few photos from our recent (unanticipated) trip to England. We went to see a family member with health concerns.

 family in living roomThis is my favorite photograph from the batch. Richard’s Mom, Silvana, is just left of center in a green cardigan. She is flanked by her daughters Sophie (on left of photo) and Ariane. The young man is Ariane’s son, James. He is holding his daughter, Taiya. Richard’s Dad, Tony, is behind Ariane. Four generations!

Richard & T

Richard can never resist teasing a gigglebox.

R & S and cameraRichard brought his Canon C100 to show his mother some of the video stuff he’s been working on and how he does it.

Richard Sophie Eth and Harriett

We drove down to Illminster to visit with two of Sophie’s kids, Harriett and Ethan.


Tony Campbell.

Heroes & Friends

I spent Saturday down near home for the funeral of Mrs. Artemeasie Brandon. I knew Mrs. Brandon first because she raised my friend, Marhea Farmer, who I’ve known since second grade. Mrs. Brandon, 97, was also a quilter and I got to know her through an artist-the-schools program my mother created.
cq group
Here’s a photograph of Crossroads Quilters, a group I later joined, with Mrs. Brandon in the center. Later, when Marhea and I were in high school, we edited an oral history magazine that featured quilters, storytellers, folk artists, teachers, and other interesting people in the community.
Sarah and Marhea-3488
Mr. Nate Jones spoke at Mrs. Brandon’s funeral because they were longtime friends. Mr. Jones will be 100 on Thursday. He drove my school bus when I first moved to Mississippi in second grade. He made a special place for me to sit up beside him, and I loved it. I named my middle son for Mr. Jones. When my older sister, Emilye, grew up to be a historian of the Civil Rights Movement, we learned much about the courage of people like Mr. Jones, one of the first members of the NAACP in Claiborne County, who quietly but forcefully stood up for justice.
sarah marhea
Understandably it was a hard day for Marhea, who now lives in Michigan, to say goodbye to Mama Mease.
marheas boys
I had a chance to visit briefly with Marhea’s sons, Marius and Avery.
Rhonda & Ricky
And some of Mrs. Brandon’s other young relatives, Rhonda and Ricky, who went to school with my younger sister, Jessica.

Murrah Speech & Debate Makes Us Proud Again

speech and debate group

The Murrah Speech and Debate Team had a strong showing at the Madison Central tournament this weekend. Since we were competing in the metro area, several of our competitors had gone home by the time I took this group photo. These students are (from left): Adria Walker, Emily Gill, Nathan Campbell, Viviek Patel, Donovan Barner, Samir Mamoon, Bryan Hicks, Zehari Nickelson, Grafton Sykes, Brenden Davis, and Coach Micah Everson. Besides more than half the team, also missing from the photo is Kelley Patin, our assistant coach.
Donovan won 1st place in Domestic Extemp and placed 2nd in Impromptu.
Alliyah placed 4th in International Extemp.
Emily and Zehari placed 3rd in Duo.
Grafton placed 4th in Storytelling.
Team Nathan and Alliyah were semi finalists in Policy Debate.
Team Judson and James and Team Grafton and Samir were quarter finalists in Public Forum Debate.
Murrah placed 5th in Congress. (Forest Hill, another JPS school, placed 6th in Congress.)

Murrah Speech and Debate Season Still Going Strong

I’m so busy doing things it’s hard to keep up with documenting them. One thing that’s kept me busy the last few weekends is Speech & Debate. We traveled to Pascagoula for their annual tournament, and then hosted the Catholic Forensic League Qualifying Tournament at Murrah. Lots of work putting it all together. Here are a few shots from the two events.

In the Pascagoula High School cafeteria preparing for the day.
running lines
Running lines.
extem prep
Prepping for Extemporaneous Speech and Declamation.
extra show
Matthew S. doing his dramatic interp piece for Samir, Viviek, and Jamil — just because that’s what you do while you are sitting around waiting. I love what I come across in the hallways of Murrah High.

Kanika Young and Robert Anderson Wed

This was a year of weddings for the Youngs. My childhood best friend Francene in April, and her sister Kanika (Niecy) last week. Niecy was born when Franny and I were in the ninth grade; she was our little baby doll. Not any more.

Niecy puts on the ring
The wedding was at Rising Sun Missionary Baptist Church in Port Gibson.
Bride's Side
Here’s the bride’s side. Can you tell the bride and her mother Katie are Deltas?
groom with some of his little men
Here’s Robert (Maine) with some of his little groomsmen.
Uncle Jesse and Aunt Polly
Katie’s brother, Jesse, and sister, Polly.
katie program
Katie was checking the program to make sure everything was on track. Her husband Monk at her side.
Rev and men
Here come the men.
groom's mother
Groom’s mother, and other family.
matrons and maids
Matrons and maids.
Francene's entrance
Here comes Franny.
And little Rashad
And the mini-groom. Rashad.
Tanyika and Franny
Tanyika and Franny.
Katie conferring
Katie with Sandra Noble.
The groom spies his bride.
Niecy and Navondyl
Navondyl Young walking his sister down the aisle.
she cries
A few tears for the tiger.
A kiss from big brother.
Niecy's wedding--24Niecy's wedding--11in foyer

Stennis Novice Speech and Debate Tournament

Another weekend, another speech and debate tournament. I hit the road for Mississippi State University with Nathan, and nine of his teammates, all in their first year as competitors.

Stennis team

This year’s novices are (front from left): Nathan Campbell, Jamil Johnson, Rachel Hairston, and Erica and (second row from left): Brenden, Coach Kelley Patin, Camille Richardson, Viviek Patel, Olivia Hines, Brian Hicks, and Coach Micah Everson. Gabi is not pictured.
LD finals
Brenden and Erika made it to finals in Lincoln-Douglas.
Gabi 4th
Gabi placed fourth in declamation.
nathan 2
Nathan placed second in extemporaneous speech.

Olivia placed 5th in dramatic performance. Brian and Viviek made it to quarter-finals in public forum. Overall, Murrah was named a “school of excellence in debate.”
Another good weekend for Murrah High School speech and debate.

New Season for Murrah Speech and Debate

Murrah High School’s Speech and Debate team started the year with a strong performance at the Petal High School Tournament. My middle son, Nathan, decided to debate this year, choosing to join his brother’s former debate partner, Alliyah Taylor, in policy debate and public forum debate.

Murrah Team first tournament

Here are the 15 students who attended the year’s first tournament, with coaches, Micah Everson (left side) and Kelley Patin.


Our trophy and medal winners: Nathan Campbell, Alliyah Taylor, Donovan Barner, Taia McAfee, Shondrel Ortiz, and Krystal Jackson.


Within minutes of arriving, three debaters prepare: Charles Davis, Samir Mamoon, and Donovan Barner.

giving notes

Team captain Alliyah Taylor giving notes to teammates Shondrel Ortiz and Taia McAfee.

Jamil Johnson and Rachel Hairston

Debaters Jamil Johnson and Rachel Hairston getting notes from Coach Micah Everson.

Everson and Araujo

Coach Micah Everson in a pre-tournament discussion with Joseph Araujo and others.
Nathan down time
Nathan using downtime.

playing risk

Charles Davis, Rachel Hairston, and Jamil Johnson playing risk with some other school’s debaters, during downtime.

Family Wedding Celebration

We had a lovely celebration this weekend for Jessica and JC, my sister and her husband. They wed 18 months ago in New York City. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we gathered 70 or so friends and family from California to Florida and lots of places in between. Here are some photographs that were taken by Roderick Red of Red Squared Productions.

Jessica Crosby-Pitchamootoo and JC Pitchamootoo.

Dave Crosby
Dave Crosby, giving a toast.

the crowd
Everyone gathered in Dave and Patty Crosby’s backyard.

the kids table
The kids’ table now has a new generation.


So does the grownups’ table.


Gee and Sarah

Gustina Atlas with me.

Terry and Jenny
Uncle Terry and Aunt Jenny.


Taylor White, just after she finished singing “At Last,” for Jess and JC.

PG teachers and studentsOur teachers, Cynthia Patten-Barfield, Pearl Wilson, and Gustina Atlas, with students from Addison Jr. High and Port Gibson High.