While I got several meaningful gifts for my birthday, there were a few that stood out from the rest.  Right after Kitten died, I came across some pet drawings that my friend Jessica Bush did and posted on Instagram.  Someone had commissioned her to do a portrait of their dog, and she did it under the name “Judy Critters.”  I quickly discovered that she had a website (judycritters.com) and immediately asked her if she drew cats.  She said yes.  Next thing I know, my mom and I are ordering three for my birthday – one for Kitten, one for Baby Kitty, and one for Sammy Jo (who Mike has now).  The plan was for her to do the big reveal at my birthday part on Sunday night…which she did.  I just knew I was going to cry, and when I saw sweet Kitten’s little face the tears just started flowing.  The thing is that they weren’t sad tears, they were very much happy.  It was so wonderful to see her spirit and face captured in such a stylized way by a dear friend.  I love my sweet kitty portraits sooooo much.  You guys should check out her website…Jessica has a quirky, endearing style and honestly doesn’t charge enough for what she does.

Another great gift was a signed copy of “The Look of Love: Miniatures from the Skier Collection”, written by my dear friend Graham Boettcher, who is the William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art.  He wrote a beautiful inscription in the front for my birthday, and it is something I will treasure forever.  My mom took home some of my presents during my party, and when I came to fetch the ones that she had she promptly told me that she was already a third of the way through the book.  🙂   I can’t wait to read it myself!  I’m proud to have such an accomplished friend.

Speaking of friends who are writers, tonight I am having dinner with Gin Phillips whose first book “The Well and the Mine” was compared to “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  That’s no small potatoes.  She is going to give me advice on my own book and how to go about getting published once I am finished with it.  I remember when she was writing her first and the time it took to complete it.  So I am looking forward to picking her brain about all things book related tonight.  She just completed her book tour for her latest novel “Come In and Cover Me.

So if anyone ever tells you that we don’t have some pretty amazing people here in Birmingham, please reference any of these three folks that I’ve mentioned today.  They all live here and love to call this town home.  And there are many more where they came from…

Judy Critter Kitten

Judy Critter Baby Kitty

Judy Critter Sammy Jo

Midnight in Paris