Tag Archives: Emma

The perfect antidote to all the craziness

I have discovered the perfect antidote — the remedy, if you will — to take one’s mind off the bizarre antics of those in power in Washington, D.C.

It is to take your granddaughter to a Christmas tree lighting in the community where you live — and then to watch your little pride and joy get asked to throw some fairy dust on the tree when Santa Claus arrives from the North Pole.

That’s what we did tonight. Emma had a blast. Grandma had more fun than she can stand, too. So … did I.

We drove the short distance to Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Princeton, Texas, a bit early. The activities began at 4 p.m.; we got there around 5. They wouldn’t light the three until 7:15. We had plenty of time to, um, waste.

We did. We walked around, visited with parents and grandparents of little ones enjoying the spirit of the season. Emma got to strap on some ice skates and “skate” her way around a rink that comprised a sort of plastic material that was interlocked like a puzzle. She only fell once, but got up and was just fine.

The sun set beautifully. Then a young woman who said she works for the city approached Emma and asked her if she wanted to throw some fairy dust on the tree when it the time arrived for the lighting. Emma, quite naturally, agreed. We called her Mommy and Daddy and she told them what she was about to do.

Then came the time. Santa arrived aboard a Princeton Fire Department truck, accompanied by an elf. Mayor John-Mark Caldwell wished us all a Merry Christmas and counted down. When he got to zero, Emma and four little acquaintances who also got recruited tossed the fairy dust on the tree. It lit up spectacularly. We all cheered.

Emma could not have been happier. Neither could her grandparents.

It was a moment of unfettered joy. It took my mind off the more serious matters about which I have been commenting on in this blog. I’ll get back to that in due course.

Tonight, though, I am filled with a child’s joy at welcoming Santa Claus to our community.

I will sleep well tonight.

Puppy Tales, Part 76: Doggie door update

Listen up. I am making an announcement.

Toby the Puppy has mastered the doggie door his mother and I purchased just for him.

Is that a big deal? You bet it is!

It’s not that I ever doubted Toby’s ability to learn how to work the door. I knew he would. I was just not prepared initially for his mastery of the device to take as long as it did.

But you know already that I believe — with all due love and respect to our grandpuppy Madden — that Toby the Puppy is the smartest pooch on Earth. Toby is so smart, he responds to people’s names. For instance, when we mention our granddaughter Emma is coming over, Toby the Puppy goes nuts. He stands at the living room window waiting for her. When we drive to her house, he knows the moment we make the turn prior to turning directly onto her street that he’s close. He starts wagging his tail and rushes out of the car when we park it.

OK, so we’ve cleared this latest hurdle. He knows how to use the doggie door without requiring us to stand nearby. He goes in and out … all by himself.

I am a happy fellow.

Having trouble letting go

I must admit to a peculiar circumstance that I will not define as a “problem.”

It is an unwillingness to let go of affairs occurring in the city where my wife and I used to live. I refer to Amarillo, Texas, way up yonder in the Texas Panhandle, on the Caprock … in a place I used to “affectionately” refer to as the Texas Tundra.

We moved away a little more than a year ago, yet I am continuing to devote a bit of High Plains Blogger’s posts to events that occur in the Texas Panhandle’s unofficial “capital” city.

You know what? I am going to keep both eyes and both ears attuned to what’s happening there. Why? The city is undergoing a significant change of personality, if not character. I want to watchdog it. I want to keep my channels of communication open to the community my wife and I called home for 23 years.

The truth is my wife and I lived in Amarillo longer than have lived in any community during our nearly 48 years of married life together. We were married in Portland, Ore., but moved to Beaumont 13 years later; we stayed on the Gulf Coast for not quite 11 years before heading northwest to the other end of this vast state.

I enjoyed some modest success during all those years as a working man. Retirement arrived in 2012. We stayed in our home until late 2017. We moved into our recreational vehicle, then sold our house in March 2018. Our granddaughter’s birth in 2013 and our desire to be near her as she grows up lured us to the Metroplex … but you know about that already.

But Amarillo retains a peculiar hold on my interests.

I am delighted with the progress of the city’s downtown redevelopment. The city’s baseball fans are turning out in droves to watch the Sod Poodles play AA minor-league hardball. Texas Tech University is marching full speed toward opening a school of veterinary medicine at Tech’s Health Sciences Center campus at the western edge of Amarillo. The Texas highway department is going to begin work soon on an extension of Loop 335 along Helium Road. Interstates 40 and 27 are under extensive construction.

I want to keep up with the progress that’s occurring in Amarillo.

I also intend to stay alert to problems that might arise along the way.

So, I intend to declare my intention to devote a good bit of this blog for the foreseeable future on matters affecting a fascinating — albeit at times infuriating — community.

Although we no longer call Amarillo our “home,” the community is not far from my heart.

Puppy Tales, Part 71: He’s playing us like a fiddle

Toby the Puppy doesn’t have what I would call a “cunning” face.

But I am believing now with every fiber of my being that he is playing his mother and me like a country fiddle.

You know by now that I consider Toby to be the smartest canine God ever created. For example, he is learning how spell certain words that we used to spell out because the sound of the word would fill him with expectations. He knows the sound of names, such as Emma our granddaughter; we mention her name and he gets amazingly excited. Just the other day, my wife and I were talking to each other about when Emma would arrive. Toby heard her name and ran to the front door, tail wagging … waiting for her arrival, which occurred a few moments later.

I also am believing that he can read lips and for all I know he can lock and unlock doors to our house and our vehicles.

We installed a puppy door in the rear of the house. Toby hasn’t yet walked through it on his own. I do believe, though, that he knows how to do it, but that he is refusing to do so because he enjoys watching us get up and nudge him through the doggie door.

Therein lies the playing factor.

We’ve sent him outside and kept him there. We have sat in the house and waited for him to finally push his way back through the door. He doesn’t budge. He sits at the door. Nose fogging up the plastic doggie entrance. He waits us out. The puppy has patience.

I am not angry with him. Perhaps I’m a bit frustrated at this moment because I wish he would just suck it up and walk through the doggie door like I know he can do it.

But he’s having a bit too much fun making us jump up at his every implied command.

I won’t give up on him, although I likely will have to prepare myself for a lengthy battle of wills.

Puppy Tales, Part 67: His reactions speak volumes

The more time Toby the Puppy spends with us the more able we are to read his body language. We know what certain reactions mean when we say certain things.

Our puppy has developed a new response that we interpret to mean: “Yep. I’m all in!”

What does he do?

Well, when we ask him whether he wants to go for a walk, or ride in the car or truck, or whether he wants to see Emma or our grandpuppy Madden aka “Mad Dog,” he jumps around and then fetches whatever toy he most recently is playing with.

The reaction often includes at least a couple of complete spins.

Then he grabs the toy — one of his many plastic balls or perhaps one of the squeakers scattered around the house — and brings it to us. He might drop it, or . . . he might just hold on. His tail wags, his ears perk up, he looks for all the world as if he’s bought in fully to what we have mentioned.

I see this as a certain growth in Toby’s development. He need not “speak” to us, bark or yelp or do whatever it is dogs do to vocalize. All he needs to do is grab a toy. That tells my wife and me all we need to know what’s on his mind or in his heart. He wants to accompany us wherever we intend to go.

This puppy continues to make us laugh.

Every. Single. Day.

Happy Trails, Part 137: The final stop . . . found!

I have been waiting for the right moment to reveal this bit of news for readers of this blog. That moment arrived today, around 1 p.m.

That was when my wife and I — in the presence of our daughter-in-law, son and granddaughter — tendered an offer on a new home that we intend to purchase.

Why is that a big deal? Here’s why.

We had intended to retire forever and ever in an apartment in Fairview, Texas, sandwiched between Allen and McKinney just north of Dallas. Then we discovered almost immediately that apartment living wasn’t in the cards. The location of the place is perfect; it is near plenty of shopping and entertainment opportunities; it is close to our granddaughter; it’s a comfortable pad that my wife has turned into a nice home for us.

We just don’t want to stay here for “the duration.”

So we began looking around for a house to purchase. We came up empty, until just this week!

We ventured Friday to Princeton, Texas, about 10 miles from our dwelling in Fairview. We found a new development. We talked to the builder’s on-site managers. We looked at some houses and we settled on one of them.

We got in touch with our daughter-in-law, who happens to be a Realtor. We sat with her, our son and little Emma to talk about crafting an offer. Our daughter-in-law/Realtor — Stephanie — came up with a figure and today she presented it to the builder on our behalf. She and the builder’s rep went back and forth for a bit.

Then we settled on a figure. Signed a whole stack of documents. The deal got done!

So, our retirement journey is taking one final turn, one more lap.

Then we’ll be done. We have found our “forever home.” It’s a modest abode, but it’s just about perfect for my wife and me, along with Toby the Puppy. It is a brand-new dwelling. We intend to be its residents for as long as is humanly possible.

This wasn’t part of our original plan. However, having made this decision, we are extremely happy with the path our retirement life has taken.

Oh, our fifth-wheel RV, the one we take on the road? It’s still there, waiting for its next journey. That’s coming up, too.

Yep, life is quite good.

Puppy Tales, Part 50

I am absolutely certain that a number of you are concerned about Toby the Puppy’s adjustment to his new home.

The three of us — my wife, Toby and yours truly — have moved to Fairview, Texas. My wife and I spent more than two decades in the Texas Panhandle. Toby’s time there? All four years of his life on Earth.

How’s he doing? Better than I am, to be candid.

Our puppy is the most adaptable creature God ever produced. Nothing — not a single thing — bothers him as long as he is within earshot and eyesight of his mother and me. I kid you not!

He hasn’t lost a single night of sleep. He hasn’t missed a meal. He continues to insist we dote on him constantly, which my wife and I are more than willing, let alone able, to do.

Here might be the coolest part yet: Our move puts us closer to our granddaughter and to her puppy, a hulking black Lab named Madden — who happens to be one of Toby’s best friends.

Emma is so very loving with Toby; she’s gentle and she is acutely aware of how to approach him. As for our puppy, he loves little Emma — a lot!

And Madden, aka “Mad Dog”? Toby cannot wait to see him every time we approach our son and daughter-in-law’s house in Allen. He pulls on his leash, quick-stepping his way to the front door, as if he’s saying, “Let me at him!”

Our move now enables Toby the Puppy and his BFF, Madden/Mad Dog, to spend more quality time together running at dead sprints across Madden’s back yard.

This retirement journey on which my wife and I have launched doesn’t just involve our lives. We have Toby the Puppy to consider, too.

I am happy to report here and now that our puppy is doing just fine.

Puppy Tales, Part 48

Toby the Puppy’s vocabulary is growing.

Yes, he understands English. He is now forcing his mother and me to spell more words to avoid getting him too excited.

We live in an RV park on the east side of Amarillo. We have horses grazing in a pasture to our east. Our RV park is swarming with rabbits. We’ve begun seeing some cats wandering through the site and among the vehicles parked throughout.

So, rather than say the words “horse,” “bunnies,” and “kitties” when we notice them, my wife and I now must spell the words out.

Why? Because if we say, for instance, “look at the horses,” Toby’s ears perk up, he jumps on the chair at the rear of our fifth wheel and starts peering in the direction of where we have spotted our equine neighbors. Then, quite naturally, he insists on going outside. We get the same reaction from Toby whenever we mention “bunnies” or “kitties.”

The words “walk” and “treat” long ago became grist for the in-house spelling bee. If we mention either word out loud in Toby’s presence, well, you get what happens.

Here’s some other info for you to consider: When we mention our granddaughter’s name, Toby gets excited beyond all reason. “Do you want to see Emma?” we ask him as we approach where she lives in Allen. He knows Emma’s name and responds with excitement in the extreme.

What’s more, he gives the same response when we mention Madden, the large black Lab who is part of Emma’s family. When we mention Madden, or “Mad Dog” as we also call him, Toby goes ballistic, as he and Mad Dog are good buddies.

So help me, I never thought puppy parenthood could get so complicated.

Don’t try to solve this life’s mystery

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

I have been having a series of conversations lately with some young colleagues of mine at the auto dealership where — for now — I work part time.

They go something like this:

Me: I need to tell you that I’ve given notice and I am leaving.

Colleague: Really? Congratulations! What will you do?

Me: I’m retiring.

Colleague: Where will you go?

Me: I don’t know.

Colleague: That’s so cool. I am so happy for you. I cannot wait for the day when I can do that. It so far off.

Here is where I give these youngsters a tiny, good-natured but sincere lecture.

This is difficult to explain, but consider this to be one of those unsolvable mysteries of life.

You likely will not realize it in real time. You might not know it a week, month or even years from now. But before you know it — and you’ll know when it arrives — it will occur to you that it’s time to hang it up.

And when you make that decision, you’re going to look back over one or both of your shoulders and say, “What the hell happened? Where did the time go?”

That is my way of imparting to them a piece of wisdom my dear late mother gave to me: Do not wish your life away. Live your life one day at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be much farther down the road and you’ll realize that the time — your time — has arrived. You will have worked hard and you will know it is time to reap the reward.

It’s not worth the effort to seek a solution to this mystery.

I know one thing only: The time for my wife and me to get on down the road has just about arrived. No, we don’t know precisely where that road will take us. Members of our family have a pretty good general idea where we’ll end up. We will settle on a destination in due course.

Suffice to say, however, that our destination will involve our precious granddaughter.

Preparing for the next big adventure


This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Take a look at this little girl. Her name is Emma. She is our 3-year-old granddaughter. She makes our hearts sing.

Emma accompanied her father, the younger of our two sons, to Amarillo this weekend. She spent plenty of time playing with Grandma.

We are preparing to commence to get ready for the next big chapter in our life. It involves a big change for us. We’re going to relocate from Amarillo to somewhere near where this little girl lives with her parents and her two brothers.

That event will occur about the time I declare myself to be retired fully from the working world. I’m not there just yet.

My myriad part-time jobs have been winnowed down to just two. I like it that way.

Some time back I reported to you on this blog that my wife and I have made the emotional commitment to move.

Now, before we start getting the bum’s rush to scram from the High Plains, I want to stipulate that our move isn’t going to happen any time soon. That is, we aren’t yet ready to sell the home we built 20-plus years ago. We’ll get there … eventually.

We hope it will be sooner rather than later.

You see, our attachment to this little girl is getting stronger each time we see her, which we admit isn’t nearly as often as we would like.

I realized something about myself in 1984 when we moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Texas Gulf Coast to open another major chapter in our life story: It was that I am far more adaptable than I thought I would be. We made the move and we settled in nicely in Beaumont. Our sons came of age, grew up, went off to pursue their higher education and they have become fine men.

We went through a lesser — but still significant — change when we moved from Beaumont to Amarillo more than two decades ago. Again, we adapted easily to our new life on the High Plains.

My adaptability went through another stern test four years ago when my daily print journalism career came to a sudden conclusion.

But hey, no worries. The shock of that event wore off quickly, I should add. We’ve enjoyed ourselves immensely ever since.

Well, the next big chapter awaits. It involves the little girl in the picture.

Retirement will be a very good thing.