Archive | March, 2013

Theme Song Thursday: McKinney, Where Everybody Knows Your Name

21 Mar

You know what I love about living in McKinney, Texas? Well, just about everything. I’m not extremely fond of the summer heat that can get into triple digits, but that’s what air conditioning is for. Right? That’s it. I love all the rest. The people are great, the economy is thriving, and there are so many things to do and places to go. There are great restaurants, wonderful shops, and fun activities. From the day we moved here in ’04, McKinney has been a Shangri-La. I’ve made hundreds of friends here, and when I take a stroll on the Square, I bump into dozens of people who say, “Hi, Toni! How’s it going?” It’s kinda like CHEERS. “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, And they’re always glad you came…”

Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Stuart Pearlman of Town Square Buzz about why I love my town and all the things I’m involved in. We didn’t even get into my tennis teams, neighborhood activities, and art groups. We would have needed a 5 hour mini-series. I like to call it my 5 minutes of fame.

Cheers – Themesong lyrics

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got;
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?

All those night when you’ve got no lights,
The check is in the mail;
And your little angel
Hung the cat up by it’s tail;
And your third fiance didn’t show;

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee’s dead;
The morning’s looking bright;
And your shrink ran off to Europe,
And didn’t even write;
And your husband wants to be a girl;

Be glad there’s one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to go where people know,
People are all the same;
You want to go where everybody knows your name.

Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came.


Wednesday Words of Wisdom

21 Mar

“If your dog doesn’t like someone you probably shouldn’t either.” author unknown

There are many great quotes about dogs, probably because they are loyal, happy, and love you unconditionally. They are not pretentious and you always know what they’re thinking. If their tails are wagging, they are happy, and that’s good. If their shiny sharp teeth are showing and you hear a low pitched growl, you’re in big trouble. I guess dogs are smarter than we think, and they think we are smarter than we really are.

Here’s an oil painting I did a few years back. It was painted from an old family photo taken in the 50’s. The boy in the photo is my husband when he was about 5 years old, and the Weimaraner’s name was Prince. We have our own Prince now. It’s 50 years later, a different dog, but the same faithful companion.


“A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.”
-Roger Caras



“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”
– Unknown

Tuesday: Tips and Tricks

20 Mar

Today is a good day to share a few tips and tricks that I’ve seen on Facebook or Pinterest. I’ve learned so much from others sharing their discoveries. There is SO much information available. What did we ever do without the magic of the Internet? Something as simple as egg whites can help heal and ease the pain of mild to severe burns on your skin. Who knew?


You can clean old crusty paint brushes with Murphy Oil Soap that you use to clean your floors and woodwork. Just soak over night.


Make your own cooking spray by mixing 5 parts water to 1 part olive oil in spray bottle, shake and spray. Easy!


Place a wad of aluminum foil in your dryer to help with static cling instead of costly fabric softener. Keep in there for weeks. I’ve tried this. It works!


And for an interesting trick for those tricky times tables, this is pretty cool!


If you have any great tips and tricks, you should share with the world. Or at least, share with me.

Monday Memories

18 Mar

(words & music by bill strange – scott davis)

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine

Quiet thought come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
Like golden autumn leaves around my feet
I touched them and they burst apart with sweet memories,
Sweet memories

Of holding hands and red bouquets
And twilight trimmed in purple haze
And laughing eyes and simple ways
And quiet nights and gentle days with you

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine,
Memories, memories, sweet memories


A walk down memory lane…Elvis singing a nostalgic melody…Memories of days gone by…

I played some tennis this morning. It was a little cool at first, but the cloudless sky quickly warmed with the sun’s unwavering warmth. Either that, or a little running around the courts warmed me up. We had a tennis drill for an hour and a half, then stayed to play doubles another hour. I love tennis, always have, always will. Unfortunately, I am reminded by my old body, ancient knees, arthritis, and sore wrist, that I am no spring chicken. I’m more like one of those yellow rubber chickens they sell at the novelty store.


As I was sitting here, reminiscing about when I first picked up a tennis racket, I indeed became nostalgic. It was way back in high school in the late 60’s. Our school didn’t build tennis courts until my senior year, but our neighborhood park had a couple courts, and that’s where we would hang out after school or in the summer. My friends and I never had a lesson, but we bought rackets and had a go at it. It wasn’t pretty! And, it was probably a good year before we stopped hitting the balls over the chain link fence, but we kept on trying.

I went to Amos Alonzo Stagg H.S in Palos Hills, Illinois. The school was just a few years old when I was a freshman in ’67. Mr. Caroll, my old art teacher and I still keep in touch. He informed me recently that next year is the school’s 50th anniversary. Man…that was a zillion years ago! My girlfriends and I would walk over to the park after school and pretend to play tennis. We played for hours, chasing the balls that went flying over the fence, and even played when the nets were down for winter. The park was our home away from home, and tennis was our excuse to get away, to goof off and to meet boys. Diane, Linda, Mary and I still keep in touch, thanks to the cyber-miracle of Facebook.

So, when I wax nostalgic,(no actual wax or cleaning products involved) I remember the sport of tennis most fondly, “pressed between the pages of my mind, sweetened through the ages just like wine.”


Sidecar Sunday: Sharing and Pairing

17 Mar




We’re standing here up on the hill
Watching cars and trucks drive by.
The hunters shoot and try to kill
We cannot fathom why.
How would you like it if we came
And broke into your house?
It sure would be a crying shame
If we killed your kids and spouse!

Toni Andrukaitis

I always enjoy Seth Johnson’s wonderful photography, and I always find his photos a source of inspiration for a poem. I love the way artists can inspire each other. If you get a chance to visit his site, you’ll be inspired too.

Here’s the pairing. A couple of wild and crazy dogs, taking a little nap…thank goodness. They’re driving me nuts! So far today, Buck jumped up on me, spilling my hot tea all over me, grabbed my notecards that I painted yesterday from the middle of the dining room table and ate 2 of them, stole a cut lime from the kitchen, chewed up the back door welcome mat, and has scratched at the door to be let out at least 50 times. What’s he up to now? It’s not even 2 pm. Help!!!



Saturday: Sun and Fun on the Square

16 Mar

It was a glorious Saturday in McKinney, Texas. With nothing on my agenda, I decided to take some of my paints, brushes, and blank note cards, and head over to Snug on the Square for a yummy breakfast. After breakfast, I set up my paints and worked on a few note cards.



My old/new friend Tommy, the wandering Troubadour, was sitting on a bench, playing some toe-tapping melodies. I bumped into a few friends while soaking in the sunshine and painting. Oh, I also bumped into Mayor Brian Loughmiller and wife, Donna, as I was getting ready to leave. We chatted a while about my Towne Creek senior art group, his re-election campaign, and tennis. Where else can you chat with the mayor on a street corner, and he even knows your name? McKinney is a great town.


Before leaving, I couldn’t resist sitting on the bench with Tommy while he played a few more tunes. I even sang along, took some photos, and watched the people pass by, dropping dollar bills into the black guitar case. Tommy said it was a good day.


Right now, I’m home, sitting on the back patio with the dogs, my iPad and some more sunshine. What a great day!


Friday Night Lights or Lack There Of

16 Mar


The glow of light through shutters stream
Misty shadows in an empty dream
Silhouettes dance in shades of grey
As the evening sun comes out to play.

Toni Andrukaitis

I just love the happy shadows that play on the walls at sunset. They’re an art form unto themselves. I noticed the silhouette made by my cup of tea sitting on top of a couple books? So cool! Now, I look a little closer at the evening shadows and admire a little longer. Next time you see a fascinating shadow, stop, enjoy, and maybe take a photo. I’d love to see your shadows.

Theme Song Thursday:”Making Our Dreams Come True”

14 Mar

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
Schemeel, schlemazel, Hasenfeff Inc
We’re gonna do it!

Give us any chance – we’ll take it
Read us any rule – we’ll break it
We’re gonna make our dreams come true….
Doin’ it our way

Nothin’s gonna turn us back now
Straight ahead and on the track now
We’re gonna make our dreams come true…
Doin’ it our way

There is nothing we won’t try
Never heard the word impossible
This time there’s no stopping us
We’re gonna do it

On your mark, get set and go now
Got a dream and we just know now
We’re gonna make our dream come true
And we’ll do it our way – yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
And do it our way – yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you


Music is wonderful! There’s a theme song for just about everything. Today was a very fun day in little ol’ McKinney. I went to the monthly Art Club of McKinney meeting after meeting a dear friend at Starbucks this morning. More fun and friendship, with a little dose of art. Then a few of us stopped for lunch at Snug on the Square, our favorite place to go.

Snug is one of those special places. The minute you walk in the door, there’s a special ambience, an electricity of friendship and family. There are hundreds of regulars and locals who think of Snug as their special place. Hey, it’s MY special place! Sandra, the perky pint-sized owner, had a dream of creating a cozy little coffee/cafe shop on the Square, where everyone who walks in the door becomes family. Well, she and her wonderful staff made that dream come true.

When I was thinking about my theme song for today, I thought how perfect. Someone has taken a dream, did it her way, and is making her dreams come true. She also encourages others to make their dreams happen by promoting local artists and musicians. Here’s young Ryan Cline serenading us at lunch today.


Wednesday: Words of Wisdom and Quote of the Day

13 Mar

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Percy Bysshe Shelley


Winter has been coming and going like a revolving door here in North Texas. One day, it might be 80 degrees and another in the 30’s. The parched grey lawns are starting to show little patches of pale green, and the trees and bushes are beginning to flower. The colorful palette of Spring is painting the landscape with glorious color. Enjoy each blossom and appreciate each day. Thank goodness for Spring!



Tuesday with Tommy the Wandering Troubadour

12 Mar


Just when I thought today would be another uneventful day, it turned out to be amazing. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Stuart Pearlman from Town Square Buzz in the morning. There’s nothing more enjoyable than talking about yourself for over an hour.(Not really, but it was fun talking about why I love McKinney and all the cool people that make it a great place to live.)

Afterwards, I was ready to hop in my car and go home, when I decided to pop into Snug on the Square for a quick iced tea. What was I thinking? Anytime I stop in for a minute, I end up running into a couple friends, and it’s more like a “three hour tour.” (A “Gilligan’s Island” reference, in case you missed that.)

I was pleasantly surprised when Tommy, the wandering troubadour, was sitting on a bench outside of Snug. He left town last Fall. This time, Tommy had a pretty blonde on his arm and a song in his heart. I met Tommy last October as he played his guitar on the Square, singing a soulful ballad. That’s when I first chatted with him, asked about his wandering life, and took a few pictures. (I’ll add that story later, if you haven’t read it.)

Tommy had been in Wisconsin for a few months, attending a wedding, visiting with friends, playing his guitar, and doing a little ice fishing. “Gonna stay a little longer this time. Maybe ’til summer.”

Now, as to the blonde. When last I met Tommy, he had a blue acoustic guitar with no name. Mable, his old guitar that now sits retired in the window at Snug, had been lovingly named for his grandmother. The blue guitar from last year, had no name because Tommy said she had to earn a name. When I asked Tommy about this new “blonde” guitar, (had you going there, didn’t I?) he said, “I haven’t named her yet either. Maybe I should give her a name.” He thought about it for a few minutes, then said, “Snuggles, I’m gonna call her Snuggles, after the folks here at Snug.”

So, if you’re on the Square in McKinney, and you see a scruffy gentleman playing a blonde guitar and singing a lovely ballad, drop a few dollars in his guitar case, and say, “Hey,Tommy!”

Story of Tommy and Mable from October, 2012:


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