Archive | April, 2016

Saturday On The Square:) Arts In Bloom

10 Apr

Surround yourself with friends, and you’ll never be alone. Surround yourself with art, and you’ll always have beauty. I’m surrounded by so many  friends who are artists, I’ve got it all.

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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Today was Artis In Bloom in downtown McKinney. After my writing group, I headed over to the square. It was already packed by noon, with little to no parking for blocks and blocks. I was fortunate to find a young mother with a stroller walking towards her car, getting ready to leave. Blinker on, I waited.

My first friend sighting was Officer Paul and Justice. A quick hello and pat on Justice’s nose, then off to check out the art, friends, food and festivities.

  

   
Lynda displayed her beautiful abstract art tiles. She is not only a good friend, but current Art Club of McKinney president.

 
Maribeth works with alcohol inks and is a fantastic teacher. I believe she has taug half the population of McKinney her alcohol ink technique.

   

Kanyi, had some great photographs. He was talking to Guy, also a great photographer.
  

Steve is an amazing potter, and young Alex follows in her daddy’s talented footsteps. I have and treasure several of their pieces in my home. 

  

Miss Annie has been instrumental in visualizing, creating, and promoting many of the art venues in McKinney. A who’s who person to know,
 

The cloudy and sometime drizzly day did not keep the visitors from this fun festival. 

  

I bumped into my dear friend, Bonita. We walked around together, chatted with friends, and stopped at Sweet Spot Bakery for a great big Blue Bell ice cream cone. (Selfie time)
   
 
The juried art show at MPAC featured many talented local artist.

  
On my way back to my car, I visited with Brad. My good friend, Karen, told me her husband, Brad, was showing some of his paintings, but I had no idea that the recent hobby had turned into a prolific and fantastic passion. Unique and creative.

  
My final nostalgic sight was all three of the magnificent horses and the always delightful McKinney Mounted Patrol. Officer Kevin w/Ranger, Officer John w/Ontario, and Officer Lindsey w/Justice. Each steed received a farewell pat on the nose from yours truly. 

Friday:) A Few of My Favorite Things

9 Apr

“Phone calls from friends and family, a glorious sunset, the ducks waddling by the pond, an old classic musical on tv, and my special black Russian ice cream drink every Friday night, these are a few of my favorite things. Life is good!”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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No kickboxing for me this morning. My right knee has been acting up. Old age, old bones. But, I did walk four half hour walks instead of one or two long walks. I had the pleasure of doggie sitting for Miss Bella today. She’s so cute. 

 We spent the day together. Selfie time.

  
 Then, I had a nice lunch at Panera with my neighbor and friend, Diane. More walks with Bella, a nap, and sitting out in the back yard. 

  
Another walk. I always enjoy seeing the ducks at the pond. They’re so used to seeing me every day, they don’t even waddle away when I approach. 

   
   
Wild flowers along my way. Nature’s every day beauty. 

  
While I was  writing here, I heard a loud…whoosh sound.  I ran outside, and there was a hot air balloon just a few feet over my head. I waved to the travelers and took a picture. They waved back.

  
Diane came over for Black Russian Friday. A very important tradition. 

  

Theme Song Thursday:) Happy Birthday Miss Laura  

8 Apr

“To fill your life with joy and happiness, the greatest gift that you can give is love and kindness. Wishing you a memorable birthday!” 
― Debasish Mridha

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A beautiful day here in McKinney. A great day to celebrate our good friend, Laura Canfield’s birthday at Tupps Brewery. Miss Laura is an amazing artist, potter, and good friend to many. Not surprising that so many good friends came to celebrate her special day. A special day, for a special lady.

  
   
    
 

Wednesday:) What Wonders We See

7 Apr

“The small wonders, the simple nuances, are the sites that make your eyes see what the soul searches for.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour.” 

― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

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That William Blake was a pretty perceptive dude. What you see is what you get, and if you see amazing things, you get amazing feelings in return. I always see or find the most amazing sites on my walks each day. Today, I saw a blue feather on the ground, then another nearby. They were so bright, I wasn’t sure if they were man-made feathers or from some freaky fluorescent bird. There was a white one a few feet away, too. But, to be honest, it was garbage day, and a windy day at that. So, maybe they flew out of someone’s trash. Or, more likely , a freaky fluorescent blue bird flew by.  I like that idea better. Makes for a better story. But, some lucky feathers were placed in my path, none the less.

  
Also, on my walk, I found a tiny rusty screw,(perhaps, saving someone from a flat tire.) the white feather and a shiny metal washer.

  
Very interesting, right? Stop shaking your head! It’s a lucky feather thing! 

This evening was our DAS support group at St. Gabriel’s. I like to get to church  a little early to enjoy a little quiet personal prayer time. It’s such a simple, unadorned, peaceful church. I especially love the crucifix with its natural rustic wooden features. The rows of white lilies were lined up like trumpets by the altar, proclaiming the resurrection. 

It’s the little things you see. The small wonders, the simple nuances, are the sites that make your eyes see what the soul searches for. Can you see the glow from the skylights above and the door? 

   
I was the only one there at that moment. Just me and my thoughts and prayers. The wonders that we see, if we only look.

Tuesday:) Toni’s Tip:) Take a Closer Look

6 Apr

“Sometimes the most beautiful things are in front of our eyes, and we don’t even notice because we’re either too busy or too afraid to take a closer look.” 

― Katja Michael

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I always see the most amazing sights on my daily walks. If you just look a little closer at all the beauty that surrounds you, you’d be amazed. Stop and smell the roses, or whatever flower you come upon, and don’t forget to take a picture.

  
  
  
  

Montage Monday:) A Beautiful Day

5 Apr

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
— Marcus Aurelius
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It was an amazing , gorgeous, beautiful, sunny day today. A great way to start the week. 

  
What a precious privilege it is to be alive!

Sunday Sermon and Some New Friends

4 Apr

“It only takes a moment, a smile, or a handshake to make a new friend. That friendship may last only a few months, but, then again, it may last a lifetime.” 

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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Today is Sunday of Divine Mercy. I went early to church to greet for 9 o’clock Mass, only to find this very large, burly and jovial man already passing out the Mass pamphlets and greeting. Oh my! He was standing on my side of the double doors. Mary was out of town, so I manned her side. Gordon had a joke and a handshake for just about everyone who entered, often times backing up he procession of parishioners scurrying in to find a seat. It was nice to meet Gordon, also a Knights of Columbus gentleman. 

I saw Mr. Jerry on his way in. He usually sits behind me and Miss Virginia, and he mentioned a couple of weeks ago that he was going to Turkey on vacation. I asked him how his trip was as he walked past me. He smiled and said,”Great!” Before he got too far, I asked, “What are you doing after Mass. Want to get a coffee at McDonald’s?” He said sure.

About the sermon, being Divine Mercy Sunday…OH! I had a BIG problem with that. Father Charles talked about the woman who forgave the people who killed and tortured her family. Sorry! I couldn’t do that. If you harm me, my family, or my friends on purpose, knowingly, with malice, no remorse, I am not forgiving anybody. Sorry! I sang my hymns and recited my prayers, and thought about the sermon. I searched my soul. There are just some things and some people I will never be able to forgive.

I only knew Jerry as the man who sits behind me at church with the lovely voice. We only said hello and shook hands at the “Peace be with you” part of the Mass. Today, he drank coffee and I drank tea, and I heard all about his adventures and fabulous sight seeing in Turkey. I know about his daughter and grandkids. He knows about my family in Chicago, my art, my writing, and how I hate the smell of coffee. We shared stories and laughed.

Now, the man who sits behind me on Sunday is not a stranger, he’s  my new friend Jerry. 

  

Saturday:) Some Special Old Friends and Sites on the Square

3 Apr

“They talked in the shorthand of old friends and shared memories.” ― Dee Henderson, Before I Wake

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A sunny, lazy Saturday, a nice long walk and a leisurely lunch. Then, off to the square to visit my friends Kathy and Elizabeth at Sweet Spot Bakery. We joked about my encounter with George Clooney yesterday. I had a few people fooled with my April Fool’s Day story. 

We sat outside and did some people watching. There usually is a wedding at the Grand Hotel on Saturday, and we watched the guests, bridal party, and bride and groom come and go.  The couple walked around the square for special photos with old buildings for the back drop.

   
My friend, Laura Moore, was having her opening art exhibit at the Martin Place this evening. It was wonderful to see my old friend, and all the old friends who stopped by to support Laura Moore. 

   
Laura on the right.

 
  
It’s great having talented, creative friends. It was fun visiting with many of them today.

Fantabulous Friday:) Famous People, Celebrity Citing and a Selfie

2 Apr

A celebrity is a person who works hard all of their life to become well known, and then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.
~ Fred A. allen

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O my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!!!!. I can’t believe this happened to ME. IT WAS LIKE A DREAM! 

I woke up this morning at 7, with all the best intentions of going to kickboxing at the Y. My tooth extraction is doing better, but my right knee is killing me. I over did it at Zumba and walking yesterday. Old age!

I have been procrastinating for over two years on working on my “Great American Novel.” So, I decided today would be the perfect day to write. It was a grey and gloomy morning.  I get too distracted at home, so I decided to gather up my notes, rough draft, and iPad, and head off to the square and hang out at Sweet Spot Bakery until my senior art group at 2.  It’s nice and quiet there, and they have great coffee and sweet treats.

The square is normally pretty dead at 8 am, but today there were four or five nondescript big white paneled vans parked in the loading zone, and all kinds of cars in front of the Grand Hotel next to the bakery. I ended up parking a block away, dodging all kinds of people and equipment on my way. “Must be a pretty big wedding, and it’s only Friday,” I thought, as I plopped down in my usual chair by the window at Sweet Spot. 

All my notes we scattered on the table as I started tapping on my iPad. More commotion and people zipping past the window. About 8:30, I heard Miss Elizabeth let out a loud, “Oh man!” As she clicked off her phone. I wandered over to the counter and asked, “You OK?” 

She said, “I just got an order for six lattes and six blueberry scones, and they want me to deliver them next door ASAP. I’m here alone until Kathy gets here at 9.” She looked flustered as the noisy coffee machine hissed and sputtered.

I said, “I’ll run them over. I’m not busy.” There were also five or six people waiting in line, on a usual dead Friday morning. She whipped up the coffees and bagged the scones like a storm trooper. I grabbed the tray of coffees and bag of scones and proceeded next door to the hotel.

When I arrived, there was no one at the front desk, and there was some thick yellow plastic tape across the entrance. I ducked under the tape, miraculously not spilling or dropping anything. I could see a group of people at the end of the long corridor, so I walked down the hall and shouted, “Hi, are you the folks that ordered the six coffees from next door?”

With that, a bunch of people flew out of an adjoining room, and this big bald guy kept yelling, “CUT, CUT!” Then he looked at me and said, “What do you think you’re doing lady? We’re trying to film here!”

I would have been really, really  upset, but when I looked up, OH MY GOD!…It was George Clooney in the flesh. My mouth fell open, and I nearly dropped the coffees. He quickly grabbed the containers before they slipped from my hand. Smart move. He would have been wearing a gallon of scalding hot lattes.

After my initial shock and having the foresight to close my gaping mouth, I asked, “Mr. Clooney, would you, ah…mind terribly if, ah…I took a picture?” I fumbled for my phone in my pocket while his entourage approached, trying to shoo me away. Mr. Clooney graciously raised his hand with that…it’s ok gesture. With trembling hands, I punched in my cell code, incorrectly a couple of times, then finally tapped the camera icon. Everyone waited patiently, reaching for their coffee, rolling their eyes, while I snapped a picture. A selfie!  CLICK… I LOVE YOU MR. CLOONEY!

  
IT WAS A DREAM! Damn!  When I clicked the selfie… I woke up from my dream. A vivid, lovely dream. I wrote down all the details so I wouldn’t forget any of it. I told my mom about my dream when I called her at 9 am, and she suggested I save it for my April Fools Day blog. Great idea Mom. 

I still love you Mr. Clooney! 

Happy April Fools Day my friends! 

But, who’s the fool? You missed out George Clooney!

Theme Song Thursday:) It Just Takes Some Time

1 Apr

“The power of prayer is like electricity. You can’t see it, but it is a powerful energy that can light up the world.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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“Time didn’t heal, but it anesthetized. The human mind could only feel so much.” 
― P.D. James

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Today was filled with joy, music, sunshine, friendship and healing prayers. After an exhilileraring Zumba class, I met my friend Mary at McDonald’s for coffee and a chat. I met her last year at church when we both volunteered to be greeters at 9 o’clock Mass. She has become a good friend. A little before 11, she said she had to run off to church for her prayer group, we started our farewells when she asked, “You want to join us?” I’m not the prayer group, Bible study, halleluliah kinda gal, but something inside said it would be a good thing. 

When I arrived, a group of about twenty or more ladies were gathered in the front of the church. I sat next to Mary and listened, read, and sang along with the group. The purpose of the group is to offer prayers or request prayers for special intentions. Everyone shared thoughts and prayers. I truly felt a powerful energy from the group. I’ve always believed that prayers, thoughts or intentions are real forms of energy, rather like electricity. You can’t see it, but it works. I requested, not for myself, but special prayers for our newly formed divorced and separated support group at church. I said that I was in a much better place than I was a couple of years ago, but there are so many suffering excruciating pain and heartbreak that could use our prayers. The moving part was, they all came over, raised hands or touched me, and prayed for my intention. I could really feel the energy. I’m so glad I decided to go.

  
On my way home, I heard this song on the radio. “It just takes some time.” Not only was it a perfectly appropriate song, but I love this song. My boys used to play this, not only on a cd, but when they jammed on guitar way back when. It reminded me of better, happier days. Days of youth, innocence, and joy. When I drove home, I tapped the steering wheel, bobbed my head like a teenager, and rocked out, singing along. I was filled with joy, the power of prayer and rock and roll. 

Listen to this song, listen to the words, and…ROCK ON!