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Wednesday: Words of Wisdom and “Perfect” Strangers

30 May

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.
Fyodor Dostoevsky
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Dallas Fort Worth Airport. It was a busy Memorial Day weekend. Terminal A was already bustling with stranded passengers from the bad storms that had grounded and cancelled dozens of flights the night before. Servicemen were scattered everywhere. I was catching a flight to Chicago, but my flight was delayed too, leaving me with few hours to kill.

I tried to shake hands with all the soldiers and thank them for their service, but I’m sure I missed a few. As fate would have it, I struck up a conversation with a soldier sitting all alone, and I asked him if I could buy him breakfast.

To make a long story short, we sat, ate a nutritious McDonald’s breakfast,(humor) and chatted for well over an hour. It turned out that Chaplain James Lewis was an army Major heading home on a four day pass before being deployed. He had been stranded overnight at DFW, losing a day of precious family time. We shared more than stories and email info that morning. We shared a small moment in time where The Lord lets you meet a fascinating, kind, and special person; a stranger who now becomes a friend.

Here is my first letter to Chaplain Jim and his response. I am truly blessed to have made a wonderful new friend.
(May 28, 2013)
Dear Chaplain Jim,
It was such an honor to meet you Saturday. I always say The Lord puts certain people in my path for a reason. I’ve had so much fun visiting with my sons, Mom, and my sister, and of course, sharing my story of the wonderful Chaplain I met at the airport. I hope you made it back home to your family without more delays.
As I told you, I write everyday, and thought I’d share my blog from Memorial Day. I’d be honored to hear from you now and then, and hope you don’t mind if I keep you in my email ramblings. I definitely will keep you in my prayers.
Your new friend,
Toni Andrukaitis

(Chaplain Jim’s response on May 28, 2013)

Toni–

Thanks for breakfast and the chance to share. I do intend to keep up with you and will include you in my Chaplain’s Chats weekly mailings, starting up again probably next week once we are in country.

It was fun to tell my wife that I got picked up by a gal at the airport eager to connect with a lonely Soldier! She’s a fun one– I think I’ll keep her. Next week will be our 26th anniversary.

She kept my trip home a secret from the kids– a good time was had by all, despite the rather cool weather as we were camping on the lake– counldn’t tell it was summer!

If I miss you next week, send again so I cann get you on my list when I’m building my new routines.
Keep being a blessing-

Jim

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I look forward to hearing from you, Chaplain Jim. Stay safe!

Tuesday:Tips and Tricks of the Trade

28 May

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.
Vincent Van Gogh

It’s been a great day so far. My friend Linda, from high school, came to visit me and Mom this afternoon. I’m only in town a couple weeks, so I hope to see some old friends. (Well, they’re not old.) We went to lunch and visited for several hours, catching up on the kids, friends, and family. We haven’t seen each other in quite a few years, but man…she looks just like she did over 40 years ago. Really! I’m not kidding! That’s always my first tip of the day…spend time with friends.

Mom and I haven’t started our paint-a-thon yet, but I thought I’d entice you with a little preview of painting on glass. I use Folkart Enamel paint, made for glass, tile, etc., and use the One-Stroke painting method.

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This is 12×12 clear glass, the white underneath is a plastic cloth. Tip: if you don’t feel comfortable painting freehand, you can put a picture under the glass to follow. I started with a few brown branches and green leaves, double loading my flat brush with one side color, the other side white.

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Next- double-side-load blue and white to form flowers. Upside-down hearts make a great petal shape. Then add a little green at the flower base and add stems with a fine liner brush.

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I put a piece of bronze paper underneath just to see the clarity. Try different backgrounds or scrap booking papers. You can frame it (the glass came from a frame) or use as a decorative piece. The possibilities are endless.

Last tip for today: Share what you make, bake, write, or paint. The more you give, the more you get back. Feel free to ask for further instructions or help.

Simple Sunday: Shapes and Shadows

27 May

The photos will speak for themselves. Simple shapes and shadows tell their own story.

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What do you see?

Friday: More Faces, More Firemen

25 May

I see faces everywhere, in my eggs in the frying pan, in my brownie batter, and today in my cheesecake mixture. Yes, faces everywhere! The fun part is, the funny faces in the batter always bring about smiling faces in the recipients of the finished product.

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When the eggs are dropped in, the face just happens. This is never done on purpose. A gift or a curse?

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The finished product…mini-cheesecakes.

With Memorial Day around the corner, I wanted to thank our local fire fighters with some homemade treats. They certainly go out of their way for us, don’t they!

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But sound aloud the praises, and give the victor-crown
To our noble-hearted Firemen, who fear not danger’s frown.
~Frederic G.W. Fenn, “Ode to our Firemen,” 1878

Wednesday: Words of Wisdom on Writing

23 May

“Writers write, but authors publish.” ~ Janet Harris PhD

Anyone can write, but not everyone will get published. So how do you become an author? If I could give you the answer to that right here in my lowly little blog, I’d be a magician or a genius. (I like to think I’m a little of each, but you know better.) What I can tell you is, while you need to listen to your heart, you also need to listen to as many other authors as you can. The more you listen, the more you learn.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of going to a lecture in the Texas Writers and Words Series at the Heard Craig Carriage House in McKinney. The speaker was the very knowledgeable and humorous Janet Harris from Brown Books Publishing Group. I scribbled down a few notes in between amusing anecdotes and useful tips.

Ms. Harris shared with us the importance of the opening sentence of a book grabbing the reader, enticing them to want to read more. Did my opening sentence intrigue you? Writers write… Here’s a brief video explaining the concept of the opening sentence. Also, one of her pet peeves was the word “it.” If we avoid using that word, our writing will improve. (I could have said, it will improve your writing.) Great tip…but now I’ll have to rewrite all my work. Dang!

The hour lecture flew by, but a few of us stopped to chat afterwards. I asked Janet if she was stopping for lunch, and she was. So, four of us walked over to Snug on the Square and had a great lunch and even a greater conversation. How often do you have the opportunity to hear an inspiring lecture and have lunch with the speaker?

I’m one lucky writer! But, now I have a lot of work to do. What could “IT” be?

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Tuesday: Tips and T-Storms

22 May

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.”
Aeschylus

Crazy weather here in North Texas today, but nothing compared to the devastation in Oklahoma. Mother Nature is not always kind. This morning the skies were clear, and it was so warm and muggy that you could perspire just standing still. I was already sweating before I walked in the door at the Y for my 8:30 Zumba class. The hour long class didn’t kill me, (I always consider it a plus when I live through an entire class) so I asked a few of the gals in class if they wanted to stop at McDonald’s afterwards. (Tip: Take time for friends.)

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We were laughing so hard and talking so loud that when the manager came over to our table, I thought for sure he was going to ask us to leave. He crouched down next to us and said, “Ladies, whatever your doing, keep it up. You’re having such a good time!” (Close call!) We told him if we got too loud, he could banish us into the kiddie play-land. He laughed and shared a story about how he got stuck at the top by the climbing slide when he tried to rescue a little kid. (Tip: If you’re gonna be rowdy, make friends with the manager.)

The dark clouds started rolling in fast, so we left our laugh-fest and headed home. A about an hour later, the skies opened up and all H..E..double hockey sticks broke out. (Tip: Make sure you have one of those severe alert weather radios and fresh batteries.)

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Rain pelted at the windows and the wind whipped the trees all around. The power didn’t go out here, but a few miles away, trees were toppled over and power lines snapped. After a few hours of torrential rain, the clouds drifted away, and the birds chirped a happy song. Oh yes, the dogs were happy to be back in the family room watching TV, and not huddled in the bathroom. (Tip: The doggies get scared too. When they jump in your lap, give them a little love and reassurance.)

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When all is said and done, any time you survive a storm…it’s a good thing.

Monday: Motivation, Mindless Meandering and Junk Mail

21 May

If you are the author of one of the many blogs that I follow, rest assured, I read your stories, poems and enjoy your photos. I often get motivated by your words. This morning, I was commiserating with the dieting waitress about her struggles to lose weight and keep up with exercise while working two jobs. I commented on her post, “You are an inspiration. I’m going to go and do some sit ups right now.” Guess what? I closed my iPad, turned on HGTV for background noise, and did 200 sit ups. See, I do get inspired!

Dan motivates me with his historical photos, Seth has knock-down gorgeous photos, and Becca is one wild and crazy gal. I get tips on writing, poetry, blogging, art and more. The blogging world is amazing.

After my inspirational exercise, I hopped in the car and drove over to Office Max to get some copies made of some of my artwork and photos. When you’re an artist, you get to know your friendly neighborhood copy guys. Here’s Daniel at the computer and Chris’ arm. Hi Guys!

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Next stop, Bed Bath and Beyond to buy some more wine glasses for painting. Then, next door to Half Price Books to check out the art books. I always find something good. A couple hours fly by, and I haven’t had lunch. Panera is my favorite people watching spot, (that isn’t on the Square.) Good time to check more emails and blogs. (I didn’t mention that all these places were within walking distance.)

Enough meandering, the dogs are home and getting hungry too.

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Oops! I needed a couple things from the store. Sorry puppies! Market Street was on the way home. I picked up a few things and scurried home, grabbing the mail on my way in the door. The mailbox was jam packed with junk mail. What’s with that? I think five full grown trees died just for today’s pile of paper. Don’t you hate that?

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Well, that was my day of meandering. Now we’ll see what inspiration arrives in my inbox tomorrow.

Saturday on the Square

19 May

I had something totally different to blog about today, but my Saturday on the Square in downtown McKinney always lends itself to a more exciting blog. (Hint: I’m saving the best for last.)

Our writing group meets at 10 at Coffee2. I am so lucky to have the greatest writing friends. They are so talented, not to mention helpful in every aspect of the writing process. I think we spend more time laughing and razzing each other than we do critiquing, and often bump into friends or neighbors popping in for coffee. Needless to say, we don’t always spend all our time working.

This morning, I had two different people say, “Hi, are you Toni?” The first was John Wynn, owner of Guitar Studio on the Square. He was talking to Kathy White, owner the the new bakery “Sweet Spot,” inside the coffee shop. We never formally met, but have been Facebook buddies for quite some time. I didn’t know who he was, but he knew me from my photo. I told him, “I didn’t recognize you, John. You’re so much taller than your half inch picture on Facebook.” We talked a while, and I vowed to get over there and take some lessons someday.

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A few minutes later I heard, “Excuse me, are you Toni?” Well, it was Laura Bartlett, Executive Producer, and one of the ladies who make up the hilarious comedy group, FOUR Funny Females. Again, a Facebook friend who I’d never met in person. It was a Facebook kinda day. We talked a long time, sharing stories about our backgrounds, hometowns, and mutual love of McKinney. Oh yes, we also discussed our mutual innate ability to procrastinate an entire day away.

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It was such a glorious day, that I decided to treat myself to a yummy lunch over at SNUG on the Square. As I sat waiting for my lunch, perusing my emails, and people watching, I saw the most delightful sight. An elderly couple strolled down the street, walking hand-in-hand. They stopped in front of SNUG, he held open the door for her, and they walked in. I couldn’t help but get all goose-bumply.(I think I made that up.) I wondered, how do they keep that beautiful magic alive? I sat there a while, still smiling. Yep, I couldn’t resist. I sauntered over and said, “Would you mind if I ask how long you’ve been married.”

The lovely lady replied, “We’ve been married fifty-five years, but we’ve known each other since the sixth grade.” I told them that I loved how they held hands while they walked down the street. The gentleman smiled and said, “We always hold hands.” I told them that they looked like newlyweds, and that if more couples held hands all the time, more marriages would last forever, like theirs. I asked their names and if I could take their picture. The charming Carol and Dave from Plano were more than happy to oblige.(I told you I saved the best for last.) Such a fun day!

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Friday: Friends, a Frosty Drink, and a Ford (Harrison that is)

18 May

Friday is my art day. I go over to Towne Creek around 2:30, but I was a little late, as I stopped at Michael’s Crafts. What can I say… there was a sale! I made cheese quesadillas for our snack and I did a demo of some hanging wisteria flowers with pastel chalk. No photo…I forgot. The hours really fly by when I’m painting, cooking, cleaning and answering a zillion art questions. (If I don’t know the correct answer, I just make stuff up. But, that’s OK. I told them up from that I do) So, that’s the friends part.

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Friday nights are my favorite. I always have a cocktail and the end of the busy day. Sometimes it’s just a rum and Coke, but today was warm and muggy out and that called for my famous Black Russian. A couple scoops of chocolate ice cream, 1 shot of Kahlúa, and 2 shots of vodka. Voilá…a frosty drink.

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While sitting in my Lazy Boy chair, (They really should market a Lazy Girl.) flipping through all the bazillion channels on the TV, I was left with a conundrum. What is that you ask? Well, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Presumed Innocent” were both on at the same time. I love Harrison Ford, so how do I choose between the two movies? Harrison’s hair is short and strangely weird in “Presumed Innocent,” and he plays an awful arrogant cad, but it’s an interesting story line. Then in “Raiders,” Dr. Jones is a ruggedly handsome archeologist who saves the Ark from the evil Nazis. What do I do? The answer…just flip back and forth and watch them both. Two Fords for the price of one. A little popcorn and my frosty drink, now that’s a fun Friday.

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Theme Song Thursday: Bosom Buddies

17 May

Wow! This wasn’t that long ago, but look how young Tom Hanks looks. “Bosom Buddies” didn’t last that long on television, (with good reason) but it had a great theme song.

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Wikepedia
[Original run November 27, 1980 – May 27, 1982
Bosom Buddies is an American sitcom starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari created by Robert L. Boyett, Thomas L. Miller and Chris Thompson (Miller/Milkis/Boyett Productions). It ran from 1980 to 1982 on ABC and in reruns in the summer of 1984 on NBC. The show features the misadventures of two single men, working in creative advertising, struggling in their industry while disguising themselves as women in order to live in the one apartment they could afford. Gender stereotypes and male/female interpersonal relationships were frequent themes.
The show became known for its quirky humor and its frequent use of improvisation, especially between stars Hanks and Scolari. Though the show started out with good ratings, it failed to hold the public’s interest and was canceled after two seasons.]

My Life Lyrics by Billy Joel Theme song for “Bosom Buddies”
Album:
52nd Street
Lyrics:
Got a call from an old friend
We used to be real close
Said he couldn’t go on the American way
Closed the shop, sold the house
Bought a ticket to the West Coast
Now he gives them a stand-up routine in L.A.

I don’t need you to worry for me cause I’m alright
I don’t want you to tell me it’s time to come home
I don’t care what you say anymore, this is my life
Go ahead with your own life and leave me alone…

The song goes on, but this is pretty good advice. “Go ahead with your own life and leave me alone.” In other words…live and let live.

I was thinking today how our two dogs are inseparable, kinda like bosom buddies, best friends. Ergo: theme song for today.

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