Tag Archives: McKinney

Tuesday:) Toni Talks About McKinney

16 Jan

Small towns make up for their lack of people by having everyone be more interesting.     

Doris “Granny D” Haddock

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McKinney feels like a small town even though it is growing by leaps and bounds. But, it still has that small town atmosphere. There are no strangers, just people you haven’t met yet. Hang out on the Square a while, and you’ll make new friends.

Monday afternoons, I go to the Senior Center for the country line dance. Growing up and spending nearly 50 years in the Chicago area, I know nothing about country music or dancing. Hey, you’re never too old to learn. Right? I’m learning. I’m having fun. Then, I stayed after for the group line dance instruction class.

No, I don’t wear boots and a cowboy hat, but it’s never too late.

After the dance and the instruction class, it was almost time to go to McKinney Creative Community over at the Cove. I was already on the east side, so I just hung around until 5:30.

This group of talented local artists, writers, musicians, and creative people meet the second Monday of every month for a pot-luck gathering, to share, care, and stare at one another. We usually have a wonderful guess speaker. This month, Rachel Reitan, provided a very interesting presentation on portrait art and the motivational and inspirational process of an artist. Fascinating!

It is so interesting to learn about other artists and their creative process. Rachel spends hours with her clients before and during their portrait painting session, learning about their life so she can express that feeling into the portrait. If you want a photo, take a photo. Don’t expect a portrait to look like a photo. If you want the heart and soul of a person reflected in a painted portrait, call Rachel Reitan. If you live somewhere far from McKinney, find a local artist to paint your special portrait.

I love living in my little town.

Monday Memories:) Tommy’s Back In Town

27 Nov

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

― Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Normally I have a montage Monday post, but today, when I was looking at my Facebook page, my friend Sherri posted a picture of a street musician sitting on a bench on the Square. I was so excited! It was my old friend Tommy.

I met Tommy a few years back while I was strolling the Square. He was playing his guitar on a bench outside of Snug, so I sat next to him and chatted when he took a break. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, and I started to worry that Tommy might have gone to the big music hall in the sky. He was a wandering minstrel that never put down roots or had a permanent job, just wandered around the country. I was so pleased to see that he was alive and well and back in McKinney. (Photo: Sherri Murphy)

Yay! Tommy’s back in town.

Here’s the story and poem I wrote a few years back when I first met Tommy.

Thought I’d share this story with all of you. )

TOMMY AND MABLE

Tommy sat on the cold metal bench outside a little coffee shop in downtown McKinney. His raspy muffled voice crooned a soft country song, while aged yet agile fingers strummed across the well worn strings of a blue acoustic guitar. Salt and pepper hair brushed across a ruddy bearded face as a crisp north wind kicked up. Tommy reached over to secure the two wrinkled dollar bills flapping inside the open guitar case. He carefully tucked the ends of the bills under the small stack of prized CDs bearing his image and that of Mable, his faithful companion of thirty-seven years.

Johnny Cash’s, “Ring of Fire,” soulfully echoed across the Square, and Tommy’s foot tapped along with each rhythmic beat. I dragged a wooden chair across the brick sidewalk, and then parked myself a couple feet away from the real-life Texas troubadour. I enjoyed each rendition of old familiar tunes, as well as the original compositions inspired by nearly forty years of life on the road.

“Tommy, would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself, ” I asked when he took his first cigarette break. “Where are you from?”

“I was born in McKinney, Texas. Haven’t been back here in over thirty years.” His tone and demeanor became a bit more serious when he described his early childhood.

“Yep, I was born right here in McKinney. My folks got killed when I was thirteen. They wanted to put me in foster care, so I took off and rode the rails. Never looked back. Been traveling ’round the country ever since.”

His eyes brightened and a little crooked smile appeared when he started talking about Mable. “We’ve been together for thirty-seven years now. I was rummaging around in a dumpster looking for cans one day, when I ran across this old black guitar with a broken neck. She was in bad shape, but I fixed her up with some glue and tightened up her strings.”

The adventures were mixed with making new friends and happy times, sprinkled with the hard hungry days.

“We’ve walked across all these forty-eight states, just playing music for folks and living off what they put in my guitar case.”

Tommy went on to describe the nomadic life of a traveling troubadour. “I’ve never run into anyone else who does this. It’s an honest livin’. I don’t beg. I just play my music and if folks like what they hear, they drop a dollar or two in my case. Sometimes I’d ride the rails from one town to the next or just walk ’till I couldn’t walk no more.”

I listened as he carefully crushed the tiny cigarette butt beneath his worn out walking shoe and tossed it in the trash can beside the bench. “I don’t stay in one town for more than a few days. Never had a wife or kids. Wouldn’t be right, with me movin’ round so much. Wouldn’t change a thing if I could.”

When I asked about Mable, he said she was named after his beloved grandmother. The old black acoustic guitar with hundreds of scrawled signatures from front to back, now sat in the window of Snug on the Square, just a few feet away. I asked if I could take a picture of him and Mable, so he walked over and took her out of the window. I could see the jagged repair on her neck and her strings were missing.

“Mable’s retired. When you retire a guitar, you take off the strings. Need ’em for the next one.” Then he pointed out the spot where Elvis had scribbled his name one rainy night in ’69 in Mobile, Alabama. But, he was just as proud of the signatures from a group of women that signed her after a Susan B. Koman walk a few years back.

“ I decided that it all began here, so it should end here. I’m leaving Mable with Sandra and these nice folks. I know they’ll take good care of her.”

Tommy mentioned that when he came back to McKinney after being gone for so long, he strolled along the unfamiliar streets and asked around at a few shops and restaurants downtown to see if he could set up somewhere and play his guitar. Sandra Nichols, owner of Snug on the Square, was the only one who welcomed him and treated him with respect. “That’s when I knew my Mable would have a good home and a good family right here. They’re going to keep her right there in the window.”

I was intrigued by the story of Tommy and old Mable, especially the long and loving relationship the two shared. So, of course, I was curious about the new acoustic.

“Tommy, what’s the name of your new guitar? I was sure it would be another interesting story.

He turned his whiskered face and answered, “Haven’t named her yet. She’s gotta earn it.”

After taking a few pictures and recording a couple segments of Tommy serenading and smiling at passers-by, I said farewell to the wandering minstrel from McKinney. I shook his talented weathered hand and dropped all the cash I had in the old black guitar case. Who knows when Tommy will be passing this way again?

Tommy and Mable

With silver hair and a crooked smile

Strumming tunes that make you want to sit awhile

As you tap your toes and start to sing along

He shares each word, and has lived each song

His guitar is closer than any family

And the road, the only home he’ll ever see

But he and Mable have a need to play

Her frame is worn and her strings won’t stay

They’ve seen the whole country from east to west

And the town they’re in, is the one that’s best

Mable’s been signed by many a star

Even Elvis scrawled his name on that old guitar

But the real country singer never settles down

‘Cause there’s another ballad and another town.

Toni Andrukaitis

Sunday Sermon and Honoring Those Who Served Our Country

12 Nov

“The valor and courage of our young women and men in the armed services are a shining example to all of the world, and we owe them and their families our deepest respect.”

~Bill Frist

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A very cold and breezy Sunday morning. How cold was it Miss Toni? It was SO called, I searched the closet for my warm gloves and sock monkey hat. Yay! It was sock monkey hat weather. And yes, I wear my silly hat to church. So, not only did I get a lot of hugs this morning while greeting at the door before 9 o’clock Mass, but, I also received dozens of compliments on my hat from the adults and smiles from the young children. I was warm and toasty out there.

Don’t worry, I did take my hat off when I got inside.

Today’s Gospel was the story of Jesus observing people putting money into the treasury. The rich gave large sums, but a poor widow gave all she had, just two small coins, and He considered that to be worth more than all the other contributions.

“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more

than all the other contributors to the treasury.

For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,

but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,

her whole livelihood.”

My take on it……it’s not the quantity but rather the quality of giving that counts most in life. This applies not only to contributions to charity, but also to love , friendship, and relationships. I think that giving your time and sharing your talents means so much more than writing out a check.

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This evening, my good friend and world’s greatest realtor (did I say that again?) Linda Grossman and I, joined by our friend and Viet Nam veteran, Bob Dunkerley, went over to the Veterans Memorial Park for the Veteran’s Day Sundown Ceremony.

The public was invited to join the City of McKinney and McKinney Armed Services Memorial Board in honoring the brave men and women who have served in the U.S. military. This year, there will be two ceremonies at Veterans Memorial Park. A sundown ceremony was held at Veterans Memorial Park that included the reading of over four hundred names displayed on the Wall of Honor followed by the playing of taps.

As we stood against the glossy black cold stone walls of the monument, it was difficult to hold back the tears as the many names of fallen heroes were read in the silence, in the stillness of the night, followed by the clanging of the bell and playing of taps. The photos will tell the story.

I’d like to thank all those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. Thank you.

Saturday:) MAST McKinney Art Studio Tour

11 Nov

“Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact. ”

― William S. Burroughs

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McKinney has recently been designated as a cultural District by the Texas Arts Commission, and the annual MAST, McKINNEY ART STUDIO TOUR, is a perfect demonstration of how local artists have created a thriving artist community.

This afternoon, my dear friend AND world’s great realtor, Linda Grossman and I visited a number of studios on the tour. And as always, it’s wonderful to see the talented artists that just so happen to be good friends of mine.

Kim Guthrie is known for her whimsical paper maché sculptures and adorable painted creatures, but also a wonderful teacher, sharing her many talents. She call The Cove her studio home away from home.

There were several artists at The Martin Place.

Jan Martin, Helen Bailey and other artist were demonstrating their various mediums. Patricia Crain. Elaine Herold, and Sheilian Lonian at The Martin Place.

Guy Giersch and Pernie Fallon opened their home to share their photography, pastel paintings and collaborative artworks, as seen on the wall behind them. Linda and I strolled through their lovely backyard to see Pernie’s backyard studio. I called it, “Pernie’s She Shed.

I commented how neat and organized Pernie is. Oh my, I could never have anyone go through my studio. I call it my “crap room.” Appropriately named.

A visit to the McKinney Art Studio made me have a hankerin’ to take a pottery class. So many talented artists with so many different and original techniques.

Over at the McKinney Art House, my friend Wendolin Mercado (top) gave me a few pointers on knife and star throwing. She’s a talented photographer, leather crafter, and artist of all trades.

My star throwing adventure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaMT-ObO3V

The McKinney Art House family. (Above)

My dear friends and amazing potters at Three Dog Studio. Steve, Alex and Minda Macias.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIu9sOXlh9s

Here a really cool video of a raku firing.

JB Phipps and Kerry Randol-Johnson also at Three Dog Studio.

Our final stop for the day was the gorgeous home of Jeffrey Jensen at his Cedar Street Studio. His architectural background lends itself to his intricate and beautiful watercolors.

Friday:) Friends, Fun Music, and (Yep) More Firemen)

10 Nov

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

~Plato

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Wow! Woke up to chilly weather, and had to bundle up to take Bella for a walk. Ok, I know youse guys (Chicago talk) up North got snow, but this is Texas, for goodness sakes. But, that doesn’t slow me down. I enjoyed the challenge. The vibrant fall colored leaves were scattered on the sidewalks as I walked.

I was looking forward to dinner and a concert with my Single Mingle friends tonight. But first, a stop at the fire station. I had a few brownies left and Miss Pat said I could take the leftover cookies from karaoke over to “my firemen.”

Our group met at Mellow Mushroom for dinner.

Then, over to MPAC for the concert Red, White and Big Band, featuring the McKinney Dance Band and the Swazzy Singers. They were honoring veterans with patriotic music and big band music of the different eras gone by.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GjiEO-Gowk

It was a fun day, and a great evening. Music always brightens my soul.

Theme Song Thursday:) “Bluebird” Cottage Cafe

26 Oct

“Birds fly Over The Rainbow. Why then, oh why can’t I? If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?”

L. Frank Baum

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Sherri Murphy and I zipped past a little cottage cafe on Lake Forrest in the middle of nowhere a couple of weeks ago on our way home from Meyers Event Center. We decided we would have to check it out. Today was the day.

We found some advertising and comments from the Bluebird Cottage and Cafe on Facebook and it looked so cute. They showed yummy homemade desserts and Paninis and salads.

Sherri and I decided to try it today, and I asked Lynne if she wanted to join us. She suggested we check with Sherry and Karen, and low and behold, all the TOTS were available last minute for lunch. Yay!

Sabrina Parker, our waitress, hostess, and owner was so enthusiastic about her new place. She described how it was really an old dream. After years of dreaming of opening her own cafe, her dream finally came true.

I had a wonderful grilled veggie panini and quinoa salad. Then… to try all the desserts! We each got different desserts and sampled some of each. All great!

There was just one drawback. I ate tooooo much, but loved every bite. It was worth it. ( I took a long walk when I got home.)

We al gave it a FIVE THUMBS UP. 👍👍👍👍👍

https://youtu.be/tG1LQpv3p3c

Saturday:) Still Time to See Silky Hart’s Exhibit at The Cove

22 Sep

“Life is the ultimate artistic masterpiece, and it’s up to you, the creator, to make it as wildly dazzling as possible.”

― Laura Resau

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Last night was the opening reception of Silky Hart’s exhibit at The Cove entitled OAXACA FIESTA.

Yesterday, I had brownies in the oven, anticipating the exhibit, when the skies opened up. It was raining and storming, lightning flashing in the sky. My weather alert on my phone sounded flood advisory. So, I did what any good friend would do. I wrapped up the brownies in layers of plastic, grabbed a raincoat and very carefully and slowly worked my way to The Cove. The streets were already filling with streams of rain. Well worth the effort. It is a lovely, colorful exhibit.

The Cove is located just north of the historic McKinney Square at 402 N. Tennessee St. in McKinney, Tx

You can also check out her work and get more information at silkyhart.com