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Natchez couple stays active, creative

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Dot Sanders practices sheet music Sunday evening on the Chickering baby grand piano in the house she shares with her husband Jim. Dot also plays the organ. Although it cannot be played, the organ, at left, was her grandmother’s organ and is more than 100 years old.

NATCHEZ — Whether its refurbishing a piece of antique furniture, decorating their home or simply taking it easy on the porch, Dot Sanders and her husband Jim find ways to stay busy.

And staying busy is what they were doing Sunday afternoon when The Dart landed on the corner of Union and B Street.

Married in August of 1960, Dot and Jim have spent the last 52 years working with their hands whenever possible.

Jim admits Dot is the more creative of the two. He said she could always see the potential in things, whereas he saw only work.

“She has an eye for things,” Jim said. “She can see the final picture on projects.”

Some of Dot’s many talents include oil painting and playing the piano and organ.

Dot couldn’t remember the exact age she started playing the piano, but she knows she was very young.

She started playing the organ for her church when she was 13, and she said her father even offered to send her to Europe to become a professional pianist as an alternative to the wedding proposal she received just after high school.

“I just couldn’t see myself sitting there for eight hours playing the piano,” Dot said.

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — A picture of Jim and Dot Sanders sits on the piano as Dot practices the piano Sunday evening at their home. The Sanders have been married for 52 years and have let their creativity shine through playing music, creating art and restoring furniture and older homes.

“I always joke with her and say, ‘just think what you could have been if you would have went to college,’” Jim said.

Even now, Dot fills in at church when needed.

“I don’t want to get rusty. I keep practicing,” she said. “I try to challenge myself and take on harder music.”

Dot picked up oil painting in the early 1970s when they were living in Atlanta.

“She is very talented,” Jim said. “She can’t draw a stick man, but she can paint.”

Dot attributes her success to having a good eye.

“I think everyone can paint,” she said. “I’ve taught classes, but you have to have an eye for it.”

She said everyone could look at a tree or leaf and see it is green, but most people can’t see the different shades of green.

Dot said she enjoys painting fruit.

“I like oils because you can go back if you make a mistake,” Dot said. “If I don’t succeed, I put it aside and say ‘it’s just another failure.’”

Scattered along the walls of their house, is a gallery of fruit pictures, country scenes, flowers and birds such as ducks and geese.

“I spent a lot of time on the feathers,” Dot said.

Another favorite pastime for the Sanders is antiquing. They got started early in their marriage when Jim said they couldn’t afford a lot of furniture.

“You look at modern furniture, and you can say, ‘that’s nice” and that’s it,” Jim said. “Antique furniture has a history to it.”

As the years have passed, Jim and Dot admit they have slowed down, but through all the ups and downs Jim said they find ways to laugh and have fun.