Tag Archives: McKinney

Throwback Thursday: Tommy and Mabel

22 Oct

Modern storytellers are the descendants of an immense and ancient community of holy people, troubadours, bards, griots, cantadoras, cantors, traveling poets, bums, hags and crazy people. – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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Normally, my Thursday is my Quarantined Karaoke Thursday post, but when I was checking Facebook today, I saw my old story about Tommy the wandering troubadour. No one has seen him around McKinney for a few years. I sure hope he is O.K. and singing, laughing and making new friends. (Tommy singing “Homeward Bound,” below. Check out the YouTube video. Has anyone seen Tommy?)

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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

September 11th~ 9-11…Never Forget

12 Sep

“When Americans lend a hand to one another, nothing is impossible. We’re not about what happened on 9/11. We’re about what happened on 9/12.”

~Jeff Parness

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September 11th is a day to remember. Never forget. A day that all Americans wept at the horrific tragedy, yet all gathered together to help and console one another, and appreciate our life and our country.

We certainly are going through some tough times now, but maybe 9/11 will remind us that together we can get through anything. The keyword here is TOGETHER.

As is my custom, I try and get to a few of my local fire stations with treats on 9/11. This year has been crazy with the Covid dilemma, and my friends at the stations haven’t been able to accept Miss Toni’s homemade treats in a while. (They are getting skinny) But, they can receive prepackaged sealed items.

So, my theme for today was …HOT STUFF…FIRE AND WATER. I gathered up a case of water and the fixings for “Nacho” average firehouse nachos. “Hot stuff.” I even made a video for instructions. The key ingredient is my favorite Bernard’s Gourmet Foods Salsa, and a big thank you to David and Michele Bernard for providing the awesome salsa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WaWdMYtnXs

My first stop was my Fire Station 9, just a few blocks away. They were thrilled receive the goodies, and they thought the fire truck with the screeching siren was pretty cool too.

My next stop was Station 2, over by the college, but no one answered, so I left the bag at the front door. (Station 5 said they’d give them a call later.)

My last stop, Station 5, my original favorite station that I started visiting in ’04 when I moved to Texas. The names and faces have changed along the way, but one thing remains the same… these firefighters are awesome.

Firefighter Allbritten answered the door at Station 5. I hadn’t met her before, but I had to tell her that she had the most beautiful eyes. Look at those eyes. She appreciated the compliment and the bag of goodies saying, “I was just about to go out and get something for our lunch. You just saved me a trip.” Nice!

I appreciate all our first responders. I didn’t get over to all the stations, (I did last year) nor did I visit the police station, but I certainly admire and appreciate each and every person. It only takes a little time to say thank you, and it means so much. THANK YOU McKINNEY FD.

Wednesday:) What’s Happenin’, Miss Toni

3 Sep

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” —

~Audrey Hepburn

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Yesterday was a dark and stormy day. My good friend Helene and I had made plans to go over to Holy Family School, over on the east side of town. We both have been including our friends at the school in our shopping trips. We get excited when we find a great bargain on apple juice, peanut butter, snacks, baby wipes or school supplies for the little kiddos over there. We purchase a few items every week, and when we’ve accumulated a trunkload of goodies, we drive over with our donations and visit.

This wonderful non-profit preschool in McKinney is dedicated to providing a safe, loving, education environment for children in the community. Our good friend, Miss Sondra, and her staff always welcome our modest contribution with delight.

Helene picked up a whole bunch of crayons and markers, along with snacks.

I found some deals on juice, peanut butter, etc. And, when I mentioned our trip to the school the other day, my friend Zelda, reached in her purse and handed me some cash to donate to the cause. How sweet.

When you have two hands, it’s nice to reach out with one and help someone else, especially a little child.

A big thank you to all the teachers and staff at Holy Family School. A great legacy carried on to honor the works of the Vega family.

Saturday:) Some Seriously Awesome Artists and Musicians

1 Mar

“We see art with our eyes and we feel music with our soul, and we need both for a happy heart.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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So many awesome artists to visit at the MillHouse Art Fest today, and so little time. So, I’ll just show you some cool photos of what we saw today. Linda, Mercedes and I spent the afternoon at the Cotton Mill, checking out our talented local artists at the MillHouse Art Fest today.

We stopped for lunch at Square Burger on the Square. By the time I got back to my car at 5:30, I had just enough time to drive over to Delaney’s to meet the gang for the Texas Bluesmen performance. Our friends Justin and Paul are the stars of this cool Blues Brother’s tribute band. It was a really fun and entertaining evening.

Another busy and awesome day with friends. Art and music for the heart and soul.

Timeless Tuesday:) Friendship Is Ageless & Timeless

5 Feb

As long as I’m learning every day of my life, I will never feel old. Never. And I don’t feel old; I feel in my head and in my heart – I don’t know, ageless!

Pat Mitchell

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This morning, a group of abeles and timeless friends gathered at the lovely Dulaney Cottage in the Historic Chestnut Square Village in downtown McKinney.

Our international, world traveling, and amazing friend, Annie Stokes, invited all of her local McKinney friends to join her for brunch at the Delaney Cottage this morning. Annie rarely stays in one city, much less one country long enough to spend much time with her friends, so this was more of a reunion and celebration. The beautiful historic home was the perfect setting for a gathering of talented and fascinating ladies whose ages spanned nine decades. The informal brunch provided time to visit with old friends, and the best part, time to meet new people and make new friends.

The adorable Annie Stokes, orchestrating the yummy brunch, along side another dear friend, Lynne Weinberger.

Some of the ladies had to leave early for other appointments, but the majority of us lingered long through the morning to chat, hear fascinating historical stories, and make new friends. There’s something really special about sitting in an old historic home, imagining all the history and stories the old building could tell. We became part of that history as we sat there continuing the tradition of friendship and community. McKinney, “Unique by Nature,” is our motto, most appropriately penned.

Thank you Annie Stokes for arranging such a lovely reunion.

If you haven’t been to Historic Chestnut Square, it’s a charming timeless place to visit, with farmer’s markets, wedding venues, tours, and many activities. Check it out.

https://www.chestnutsquare.org/

Friday:) Sharing and Caring and My Firefighters

30 Nov

“For pleasure has no relish unless we share it.”

― Virginia Woolf

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Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I am am very thankful for the wonderful meal I shared with my friends the Murphy’s. I am also thankful that I didn’t bring home any leftovers that were so kindly offered. I did a lot of baking, so I had no room in my fridge or my tummy.

I have to admit that this batch of brownies I made were probably my best ever. Not only did I use mini marshmallows and chopped up Mars Candy Bars, but I also chopped up several dark chocolate gourmet chocolate bars that I sprinkled on the top. Can you believe that I didn’t get a chance to eat them? My friends always give me chocolate gifts.

The brownies were going over to Station 9 because they got a Snicker Peanut Butter pie last week. Station 5 was getting a Snicker pie. Both stations were receiving a hand painted Christmas ornament for their tree.

Station 9 has only been around for a couple of years, and they just so happen to be less than a mile from my house, so they get a lot of Miss Toni visits.

Fire Station 5 was the first station I started visiting with my baked treats back in 2004 when I first moved to Texas. I don’t get there as often as station 9 since I moved, but I absolutely had to give them one of my special hand painted ornaments for their tree. It’s a tradition. They should have about 15 of them by now. I remember running into a few Station 5 fire fighters last year at the grocery store, and one young man said, “You’re the Christmas ornament lady.” What a nice compliment.

Well, there were a few brownies left over, so I know the mailman always appreciates a surprise.

“For pleasure has no relish unless we share it.”

― Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader

Oh, I almost forgot it was Friday… Thanksgiving always confuses my internal calendar.

I can’t forget Black Russian Friday… my personal Friday tradition.

Cheers, Happy Friday, my friends!

Sunday Sermon and More Magnificent MAST Artists

11 Nov

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.”

~William Blake

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What a gorgeous Sunday morning! A beautiful early morning walk with the dog around the pond. Then, a quick make up more penne pasta to add to a big container for my firemen at Station 9. I had a lot of sauce left over from Friday, so I decided to share.

It was wonderful to be back at St. Gabriel, greeting at the door before Mass and hugging all my friends, and singing hymns. Sundays are such a joy.

Today’s Gospel was the story of the Sadducees trying to put Jesus on the spot with a tricky question about death. They asked Him if, as per tradition, if a man dies leaving a childless wife, that the brother marries her, and that man dies and the next brother marries her, and so on with seven brothers, when after all are dead and time of the resurrection, whose wife will she be?

Jesus said to them,

“The children of this age marry and remarry;

but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age

and to the resurrection of the dead

neither marry nor are given in marriage.

They can no longer die,

for they are like angels;

and they are the children of God

because they are the ones who will rise.

My take on it…. WHAT DOES IT MATTER? You’re in heaven. All will be good and perfect and happy.

After Mass, I was asked to help put at the WELCOME DESK in the vestibule. I hadn’t done it before so I had to wing it, just passing out info to new parishioners or visitors and checking off names for people picking up directories. One lady asked me if there was a lost and found. I said that I’d find out. She left me with a wallet that she found. I looked inside and there was just a driver’s license and a credit card, with no phone number. The name looked kind of familiar. I think it’s a lady I met two weeks ago. After Mass, Helene and I stopped at McDonald’s for coffee and I did a google search of the name, as it wasn’t in the church directory. I called the number, but it said not in order. Later, we drove to the house that was on the license. No one home, so I talked to the neighbor next door, and he said the house was vacant and he’d never heard that name. Yikes! Well, I know where this lady works, so I’m going over there in the morning to give her the wallet and hope she wasn’t in a panic without it for a day. I know I’d be going crazy. Sometimes I think God puts these little mysteries in my path, just to keep me on my toes. (Wish me luck)

After our adventure, Helene and I headed over to downtown McKinney to visit a few more art studios on THE MAST TOUR.

We had such a good time seeing all the artists in their studios and hearing about their techniques and inspirations. Wendolin Mercado, over at The Art House, is such a creative funky soul. We did some knife throwing and painted on her fence. I had to get one of her beautiful hand-tooled leather cuffs, perfect for a Sunday.

Kerry Johnston made this gorgeous platter that needed to come home with me. I love to collect different artists’ work.

Thank you Kerry. Isn’t she amazing? Look at this huge leaf platter.

Then, the Magnificent Macias family was firing and throwing up a storm over at the Three Dog Studio, along with other potters and wood turners. I love this picture!

Alex Macias is one of my all time favorite artists. She is so young and so talented, and willing to do a goofy pose for Miss Toni.

I can’t think of a better place for an artist or creative person to live than right here in McKinney Texas. We not only have the most talented artists in the whole wide world, but they are the kindest and friendliest and most loving, AND I am honored to know them and call them FRIENDS.

Happy Sunday, my friends! ❤️

Thankful Thursday~ Holy Family School

17 Oct

“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”

~John Wooden

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Well, Mr. Wooden pretty much covered all the bases on how to live a perfect life. Now, if we all could follow these guide lines, it would be a perfect world. As much as we try to make that happen, we don’t always succeed. So, all we can do is do our best. I try to follow these steps, but I’ll admit, I’m not much of a reader, the “Good Book” or otherwise. I do a lot of short reading, but not novels or classics or even the Bible. I think I just can’t sit still that long.

Today, I was feeling particularly thankful for my wonderful life, great friends, and fantastic family. And, I do consider each day a masterpiece and try to be true to myself. I have made friendship a fine art, and I do love to help others.

This morning, my side-kick Sherri and I went over to Holy Family School on the east side. Sherri had some early childhood instructional books and materials to donate, and I had apples and several boxes of cereal, and Zelda had picked up more granola bars, and Helene more cereal for the children.

Miss Sondra and Miss Maria were thrilled to see us. Sherri had also inquired about volunteering occasionally, perhaps doing craft projects, and I said I’d like to read some stories in Spanish. Wouldn’t that be fun? The children are so adorable. We arrived during lunchtime, and the 4 year old group loved the visit. We were treated to hand shakes, high fives, fist pumps, and a rousing medley of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

After lunch, they were getting ready for nap time and our presence had made them a little loud and distracted. We exited with more fist pumps and giggles. What adorable children. Miss Sondra said we were welcome any time.

Sherri and I left the school all invigorated and looking forward to sharing our talents and time with these youngsters.

Sherri and I had lunch, stopped at the thrift store, then ventured home. I had errands to run later, but I took a few minutes to stop at St. Gabriel’s for Adoration and a few prayers of thanks and pray for guidance.

There’s always something to be thank for, and I could use all the guidance I can get. Amen…

Tuesday:) Talking About McKinney Creative Community

16 Oct

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” –

~Coretta Scott King

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The second Monday of every month, a wonderful group of talented artists, writers, musicians, and local creative people gather at The Cove for a potluck gathering and meeting of the minds.

What a fabulous group of people, and the potluck dinner is always over the top. Some people bring wine, teas and beverages, and there are all kinds of yummy food, snacks and desserts. (I bring brownies every time. I’d be kicked out if I didn’t bring my brownies.)

We always have a fascinating guest speaker. Our speaker yesterday was Colleen Hartley who spoke to the group about how to promote their artistic endeavors through Brand Identity.

Colleen gave us some interesting insight into the importance of websites and creating our personal branding. She works with clients to promote their business, but she also shared many tips, free websites, and ways that we can all promote our artistic endeavors. As artists and creatives, we usually don’t know the best way to promote our work. Colleen gave us some great ideas on how to accomplish this.

McKinney Creative Community is open to anyone interested in meeting other like-minded people, sharing ideas, learning, and making new friends. You can find more info on Facebook.

We have a great community and compassionate members who take action to make it so.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

Thursday:) The Art Club of McKinney

11 Oct

“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.”

― Oscar Wilde

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This morning was our monthly Art Club of McKinney meeting. After our general meeting, we have our raffle, and artist of the month presentation. Artists are encouraged to bring artwork and members vote on their favorite. It’s always interesting to see what other artists are working on.

After the “show and tell,” we break for refreshments. Members take turns setting up and providing the most amazing table of refreshments and brunch. It seems like every month is better than the last. The hostesses for October out did themselves.

Our guest speaker and demonstrator today was the fabulous Jeni Tomlinson. Her presentation was informative, funny, and inspirational. After a brief PowerPoint history of famous artists and masters, Jeni explained her personal techniques on oil painting tips, and tricks of the trade.

The Tomlinson technique consists of under painting with a series of soft layers of glazing. Her humorous tips of “cheap” ways to cut costs on expensive art materials and paints had us all giggling, but at the same time, taking notes for future reference. She brought all kinds of samples and booklets to share with the group, and answered dozens of questions. Personally, I never cared for working with oil paints because of the powerful and irritating smell of the solvents and mediums. Jeni had products that had no annoying odors. I just may give it another try. Thanks Jeni.

You can see more of Jeni’s work at http://www.jenitomlinsonstudios.com

Beside oil painting, Jeni and her husband Charlie work miracles with refinishing furniture and creative and decorative painting.

We are very fortunate to have such talented and inspirational artists right here in our own community. The Art Club of McKinney is not only the oldest art club in the state of Texas, but, in my opinion, it is the best art club on the planet.

A big thank you to all the artists, volunteers, and members who make it all possible.