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Saturday: Several Extraordinary Women

31 Aug

“I was not born to live up to society’s expectations of who I should be but rather I define my own individuality and my uniqueness for I chose to follow the path of being an extraordinary instead of just being ordinary.”
― Elizabeth E. Castillo
I had the pleasure of attending a book signing at Sharla’s on the Square today. The book is called “McKinney Women Making a Difference,” and several of the women sharing their stories happen to be friends and neighbors of mine who have also made a difference in my life.

Erin Botsford, Sheila Johnson, and Stephanie Henry Ricchi have been
neighbors and good friends to me over the years, and indeed are courageous and extraordinary women. I am honored to know them. The other nine women are also talented women who have made a difference in our community and are wonderful role models. What they all have in common is, they appreciate their blessings and have felt the need to help others. They have chosen “to follow the path of being an extraordinary instead of just being ordinary.”

Sheila Johnson, Erin Botsford, and Maylee Thomas-Fuller

After my visit, I felt motivated and encouraged to continue my writing, and perhaps one day soon, I’ll be sitting at my own book signing, motivating others. I’d like to think that I am unique and extraordinary and not just ordinary. There are so many friends to make, lives to be a part of, and stories to share.



Friday First Impressions: Again and Again

30 Aug

“Whenever we have something that we are good at–something we care about–that experience and passion fundamentally change the nature of our first impressions.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
A sad/happy day, taking Matt to the airport at 4am for his early flight back to Chicago. Sad to see him go, but happy for the week he spent helping me move and get settled. Happy for all the lunches, dinners, and ice cream stops we shared, sad coming home without him.

Back to unpacking and the real world, back to visiting with my senior art group at Towne Creek. I stopped at the bank, and found yet another lucky feather at the base of the stairs.

At Towne Creek, we worked on more glass painting. I should have taken more pictures. Very cool stuff.

I stopped at Sweet Spot Bakery afterwards and visited with Miss Kathy and Miss Elizabeth. They are so sweet, really, We sat outside in the sun for a bit, while I waited for Linda Grossman (World’s greatest realtor), who was meeting me for dinner.

We couldn’t decide where to eat on the Square, but Linda suggested Amato’s Trattoria on Virginia. I was hesitant at first. I’d been there a year ago and was not impressed. But,we gave it another try, and I’m very pleased that we did.
The new owner, Rick Salcedo, was a charming gentleman who spent a lot of time chatting with his patrons. We talked about the previous business and the hopes and aspirations of the new establishment. Rick told us about the launch party of Lone Star Vodka that he sponsored, so of course, I had to share my recipe for chocolate ice cream Black Russians. I said he would have to name the drink after me. Linda had some great marketing tips for him, too. But, all-in-all, the food was delicious, and the cheesecake to die for.(Well, maybe just sit and rest for. It was huge.)

So, if you’ve been to the old Amato’s restaurant and were not more than pleased, your first impressions could have been stopping you from going back, especially if you didn’t know about the new owner and the new look. Now, Amato’s Trattoria, 216 E. Virginia St. On the Square is a fun, happening place for lunch or dinner. Give it another try. I will, again and again.



Friday: Free the Moth and a Funny Phone Call

15 Aug

“Between our birth and death we may touch understanding, As a moth brushes a window with its wing”
Christopher Fry quotes (English Writer, 1907-2005)
Last night, a friend came over to pick up an old refrigerator and desk. He had to take the back door of the hinges, leaving the house exposed and open for a couple of hours. All kinds of flying insects decided to come join the party. A big ol’ black moth fluttered in. I tried to shoo him out, but he didn’t cooperate.

This morning, old Mr. Moth lay lifeless by the back door. I carefully picked him up and set him outside on the cool pavement. He flapped his wings a bit, so I was relieved. When I got home from my walk, no moth in sight. Ah! Saved to fly another day. I like to think that I have a gentle heart and a caring soul for all God’s creatures. (Scorpions and snakes the exception. They can be outside, just not in my house.)

My analogy is, sometimes we get attracted to the light, like the moth, and we flutter about through life, crashing into the glass, thrashing about. Hopefully there will be someone to pick you up when you lay helpless on the ground. I’ve been that moth!

Now, my funny phone call… I spent half the day calling electric, gas, phone, and city utilities to change service before I move next week. It was taking FOREVER. I tried doing a few online, but that was taking even longer. Existing accounts said they didn’t recognize my number etc. Well, after three or for hours of exasperating calls and “your wait time will be 17 minutes,” I called the City of McKinney services and they said, “No, you need to call this other number.” So, I jotted down the number and called. Someone answered and mumbled something. I asked, “Is this water billing? I’m moving and have to transfer my service.” A friendly voice on the other end said, “No. You’re probably looking for City of McKinney.” As the soft voice continued, it sounded very familiar. Hmmm?

I asked, “Your voice sounds familiar. Is this Miss Gilda?” Well, it turned out to be my friend, Gilda Garza who works at a different agency. What a small world. I had transposed one number when dialing. But, the good news is, I got to chat with Gilda a few minutes and catch up before trudging along with my phone calls. A nice break.


Teamwork Tuesday

13 Aug

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller
McKinney Creative Community meets the second Tuesday of each month at SPARC Art School, Art Gallery. SPARC (St. Peter’s Artist Run Community) – SPARC is a new ministry of St. Peter’s in McKinney, Texas. A very diverse group of creative and talented people meet to share ideas, hospitality, and some very good food.

The group has grown in numbers, but also it’s vitality. There’s a special energy you can feel in this room of creative people, all wanting to share their ideas and dreams of making McKinney a flourishing artistic communty.

Today, we discussed how important social media and networking is to any community group. I love sharing all the wonderful things about McKinney and all the beautiful people in this charming city. McKinney Creative Community is a great place to meet artistic, talented souls and become part of a team, “Together we can do much,”






Saturday: Singing and Shadows

10 Aug

“Fancies are like shadows…you can’t cage them, they’re such wayward, dancing things.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
I’m sitting here at Sweet Spot Bakery on the Square, a Second Saturday ritual. Good music and good friends.

The scorching summer sun has set, leaving simmering shadows in the night.

The night casts a long shadow in the absence of day.



Saturday: Singing and Shadows

10 Aug

“Fancies are like shadows…you can’t cage them, they’re such wayward, dancing things.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
It’s Second Saturday on the Square. I’m sitting with Miss Kathy and the gang, singing and sharing good times.

The scorching summer sun has set and left only simmering shadows in the night.

Then comes the darkness, where the shadows dance.



Theme Song Thursday: Piano Man

1 Aug

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
Unknown Quotes Author
What’s on your bucket list? There are always those little things that you always intended on doing, or interesting place you always wanted to go. I’m terrified of water, and I always wanted to learn to swim. Well, I took two sessions of Terrified of Water at the YMCA about twenty years ago. Needless to say, I’m still terrified of water. But, the good thing is, I did give it the old college try. (Just flunked out)

Another thing on my bucket list is to learn to play piano. My friend, Linda Grossman, (world’s greatest realtor) asked me if I’d be interested in taking piano lessons with Aaron Rollins. Yesterday, we went over to Aaron’s studio/home, upstairs from Mom and Pop Popcorn on the square. We met for a quick orientation on piano lessons using the Simply Music method. It sounds like an interesting, simple method of learning to play.

I’m pretty crazy busy right now, but I’m definitely going to give this a try when my life slows down after the move. I need to start checking off items on my bucket list. At least I’m not terrified of the piano, and I couldn’t possibly drown in the process. Aaron is an awesome and talented musician, and I think he’ll be a great teacher. Let’s just call him “The Piano Man.”

Now, I hope I don’t kick the bucket before I learn to play the piano.



Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Never Give Up

24 Jul

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t. ~Henry Ward Beecher
You know what’s almost as exciting as your own personal success? It’s when one of your dear friends accomplishes something fantastic. Mandy Griffith is a wonderful writer, but like most writers, it’s difficult to get published or recognized, even after years of hard work, determination, and stacks of rejection letters. But, she never gave up, continued to plug away, (or type a way) kept sending out those query letters, taking workshops, and rewriting and rewriting.

Our small writing group has been been meeting for quite a few years, everyone working on different types of stories, with very distinctive voices. What we all have in common is…we love to write, we support each other, and we refuse to give up or feel discouraged.

Here’s the long-deserved recognition for Mandy. Congratulations Mandy! I’m glad you’re obstinate.

McKinney native wins $2,000 in UNT writing competition
Staff report | McKinney Courier Gazette

Amanda Griffith of McKinney received the second-place award of $2,000 in the Reported Narrative writing competition sponsored by this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

Griffith received her award Saturday during the conference, which is hosted each July by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at University of North Texas’s Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Jounalism. The conference brings together approximately 300 participants interested in writing narrative nonfiction to learn from renowned journalists and storytellers in different genres.

Her reported narrative, titled “Iranian Women of Independence,” tells of an Iranian family fleeing their city after Iraqi soldiers invaded it in 1980, settling in a safer place, then returning to the city and living under the shadow of war.

From its first years, the conference has held its Personal Essay, Book Manuscript and Reported Narrative contests to recognize extraordinary literary journalism and creative nonfiction from writers of unpublished work. This year’s conference awarded $3,000 each to the first-place winners of the Personal Essay and Reported Narrative, as well as awarding the first-place cash award in the Book Manuscript competition.

Second-place winners in all three categories each received $2,000, while the third-place winners each received $1,000. The winners were announced Saturday at the conference’s Literary Lights Dinner, which featured Lawrence Wright, staff writer for The New Yorker, as the guest speaker.

All six winning Personal Essay and Reported Narrative entries and four runners up selected from these two categories will be published in Ten Spurs, a literary nonfiction journal published by the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism. The edition featuring this year’s contest winners will be published just before the 2015 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.



Saturday: Sit Back and Do Something Special

20 Jul

“I think people who are creative are the luckiest people on earth. I know that there are no shortcuts, but you must keep your faith in something Greater than You, and keep doing what you love. Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.”

Judy Collins
Another whirlwind of a day. I got up early and walked about three miles, then went to Saturday Zumba at 9:30-10:30. I didn’t have my usual writing group, so Zumba was a special treat. Then, scramble home, shower, straighten the house for a showing, and get out the door by 11 am. Can you say, “Run around like a mad woman?”

I decided to hang out on the Square, have my yummy yogurt parfait at Snug, visit Dana and Judy at Art on the Veranda, and then paint champagne flutes at Sweet Spot and visit with my buddies there.

Painting glassware is one of my favorite creative pastimes. It is so gratifying to take a plain ol’ glass item and turn it into a work of art. I haven’t painted in so long, mostly because I don’t want to make a mess in the house, but really, I just haven’t been motivated. I’ve been wanting to work on a project for a special gift, and I knew that I could grab my paints and go over to Sweet Spot Bakery, and just hang out and paint. (It’s great to have friends everywhere.)

I sat by the front window, painted champagne flutes, chatted with friends, and watched people walk by.

A few hours later, here is the beautiful finished product. Now, do you see why this is so much fun? I’ve painted hundreds, if not thousands of items. I’ve taught many, many people how to paint wine glasses, vases, ornaments, etc., when they thought they couldn’t. (I’m just a darn good teacher.)

(Close up)
Yes, I think creative people are the luckiest people on earth. I’m going to keep doing what I love and find a way to get it out to the world. Art on the Veranda has dozens of my painted glassware items for sale in their shop. They display work of many local artists, and offer many fun jewelry, painting, and creative classes, including my wine glass painting workshop. Somewhere down the line, after I get my act together, I’d like to offer some in-home painting parties. I think it would be fun to have a bunch of girlfriends over, drink wine, eat snacks, and learn to paint your very own wine glasses. . “I’d like to teach the world to paint, in perfect harmony…” You knew there’d be a song in there somewhere, didn’t ya?


Theme Song Thursday

18 Jul

“It should not be denied… that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.”
Wallace Stegner

There’s nothing like watching people singing and dancing to lift your spirits. I had the pleasure of attending the McKinney Summer Musical “FOOTLOOSE,” at McKinney Boyd High School tonight.The dreary rainy evening was forgotten once the exhilarating dancing and spectacular songs rocked the auditorium.

As I’ve mentioned before, I plan to dance in my kitchen and sing show tunes. Life is to short to sit still and mope around all day. This morning I danced, shook and shimmied at Zumba, and this afternoon, I was dancing to “West Side Story, ” in my kitchen. Tomorrow, I’ll dance to “”Footloose.” Give it a try. “Everybody cut….”

Now, you want to cut loose, don’t ya?