Tag Archives: retirement

Happy Trails, Part 158: Finding a new way to live

Now that I no longer have to worry about daily deadlines, or filling space on a blank newspaper page, or deciding which issues to comment on, I find myself pondering more personal matters.

One of them involves the way I live.

Oh, my wife and I have carved out a good life in retirement. We love our new home in Princeton, Texas; we laugh daily at Toby the Puppy; we enjoy spending more time with our granddaughter; we enjoy hauling our fifth wheel around the country.

The way I live, though, requires some tweaking. I got a lesson on it this morning. I visited the gym where I work out most morning and received a serious wakeup call from a personal trainer who conducted a full body scan on me and told me how I can shed the weight that has piled onto this old man’s body.

Yes, I’ve heard it all before. I have known for decades what I need to do. I need to exercise more, eat less and concentrate on maintaining that regimen for the rest of my life on Earth.

There. He told me — yet again! — what I know already.

This time it was a bit different. I saw the outline of my body as drawn by the scan. I saw the “tale of the tape,” so to speak. My gut is too big. My body fat ratio is out of whack. I saw the minimum calorie count I need to consume daily and, oh yes, I saw the maximum count I should not exceed.

So, with that I have decided to try a new way of living.

I have been blessed with relatively good health over many years. I don’t take a bucket load of pills each day. As I told the trainer this morning, however, I have discovered that it is “much easier to fall into bad habits than it is to acquire good ones.”

It’s not an old-age thing. It’s been part of my existence since, well, the beginning.

I’m going to turn the page beginning today. Time is no one’s friend, especially those of us who have much less of it ahead of us than behind us.

It’s time, therefore, to make the most of what’s left.

Happy Trails, Part 157: oh, the joy of anonymity

It takes me a while at times to recognize blessings when they present themselves, but I surely have found one related to our move from the Texas Panhandle to a small — but rapidly growing — community northeast of Dallas.

Forgive me if I sound a bit high-falutin’. It is not my intention, but please bear with me.

The blessing is in the anonymity I am enjoying in Princeton.

I spent many years in two Texas cities — Beaumont and then Amarillo — working in jobs that elevated my visibility. I wrote for newspapers that were essential to the communities they served. My face was in each publication fairly regularly; my name appeared on the pages’ editorial page mastheads daily. Those who read the papers — and they numbered in the tens of thousands in each region — got to know my name; many of them recognized my mug.

Even after I left daily journalism in August 2012 in Amarillo, I would hear from those who would ask, “Hey, aren’t you the guy from the newspaper?” Yes, I would say, although I might say that “the guy in the paper is my evil twin.”

Indeed, when my wife and I were preparing to sell our house in Amarillo, we moved into our fifth wheel, found an RV park on the east side of town. We checked in and the lady who worked the counter that day recognized my name and chortled, “Oh my! You’re famous!” It turned out she is related to a former neighbor of ours . . . but, I digress.

I no longer have those encounters in Princeton. I blend in. My wife and I are just two new folks strolling around our neighborhood with Toby the Puppy.

We go to the grocery store, we make our purchase, we leave. We’re just two folks doing whatever it is we want to do.

And so . . . I welcome this newfound status of being just another face in the crowd. Don’t misunderstand, I occasionally would get a rush over being recognized, especially when someone had a good word to say about the work I did at those earlier stops on our life’s journey. To be sure, not everyone I met in that fashion was complimentary, but that goes with the territory, too.

That was then. Those days are long gone. My life these days is so much better.

We aren’t alone in moving to the Metroplex!

This just in: My wife and I were part of a trend of those moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in 2018!

Who knew?

According to the Texas Tribune, the U.S. Census Bureau said more than 131,000 people moved to the D/FW area in 2017-18. The Metroplex remains the fastest-growing region in Texas, which is among the fastest-growing states in the nation.

In May 2018, my wife and I picked up our belongings and moved them to Fairview, a community tucked between Allen and McKinney in Collin County. Not satisfied with our living arrangement there, we then looked for a home to buy. We found one in Princeton, which also is in Collin County.

We have since learned a couple of things about Princeton. It is the fastest-growing community in Collin County and our investment here is going to accelerate rapidly over the next decade or so.

I have made no secret about why we moved from the Texas Panhandle to the Metroplex.

Is it at all possible that those other recent transplants to D/FW also have grandchildren they want to watch grow into adulthood?

Happy Trails, Part 155: Staying flexible

SLIDELL, La. — A news source back in Oregon once told me he was “so flexible I hurt all over.”

That would be me. Also my wife. Toby the Puppy? Oh, sure. Him, too!

Our retirement journey has imbued the feeling of flexibility as we travel here and there around this vast country of ours. Mother Nature’s wrath sometimes requires us to change our course, adjust our timetable, make changes . . . stay flexible.

We had intended to depart this New Orleans suburb on Wednesday. No can do, man! The weather is going to be too crappy at our next spot. We’re heading home later this week. We are quite likely to pull our fifth wheel into Princeton, Texas, on Friday.

But instead of spending two nights in Shreveport, La., we’re spending an extra night here. We’ll shove off a day later, staying in Shreveport only overnight.

Ahh, that’s what retirement has enabled us to do. Ain’t it grand? You bet it is!

We have been blessed with wonderful weather on almost all of our excursions. We ventured to the Pacific Northwest in October 2017 to attend my 50-year high school reunion in Portland. It poured the entire time we were there. So I’ll toss that trip aside.

The rest of our sojourns have been bathed in sunshine . . . more or less.

Now we’re having to wait out a thunderstorm that threatens our next stop on our way home. That’s OK. We can wait as long as we need to wait.

Flexibility allows us that luxury — even if it makes me hurt all over.

Silicon Gulch not exactly fully connected

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas — Yours truly’s string of consecutive blogging days came dangerously close to ending this week.

How could that happen? Here’s how: We hauled our fifth wheel recreational vehicle to Pedernales Falls State Park, set up our campsite and then discovered that our site had zero Internet accessibility and damn near no cell phone service.

Is that a bad thing? Not at all. Except that I want to keep the streak alive. It has survived. Here, though, is the quandary.

Pedernales Falls is near Austin, which I’ve always been led to believe is one of the most “connected” communities on Earth. Hey, it’s the hub of what they call the Silicon Gulch, that stretch of real estate between Austin and San Antonio. High-tech firms continue to sprout all over the region.

I didn’t anticipate being disconnected from rest of the planet, being that we are vacationing in this highly connected, 21st-century community.

There might come a day when I no longer want to keep this blogging streak alive. I have occasionally enjoyed being disconnected from the Cell Phone Universe.

The good news, though — if you want to call it that — is that we are to travel to my brother-in-law’s house in this suburban Austin community. It is from here that I am able to post these musings.

And so, the streak goes on.

Our travels will take us very soon to Sea Rim State Park in the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Texas. Let us hope — or let me hope — that we have Internet available there to keep this blogging streak on course.

Happy Trails, Part 153: Weekends galore!

Those who have been retired far longer than my wife and I have been will understand what I am about to say next.

I am having a bit of difficulty understanding that the term “weekend” no longer is relevant to either of us.

We have embarked on a two-week sojourn that will begin in Amarillo. We’ll pull our fifth wheel south to San Angelo, then to the Hill Country, down to the Golden Triangle, then to New Orleans, to Shreveport and then home.

What’s different about this particular journey is that we’ll be parking our RV in a new storage place just around the corner and down the street from our new home in Princeton, Texas.

Which brings me to the “weekend” point.

My wife has reminded me that we’ll be able to grab our fifth wheel and take it on short trips to any of the numerous state parks surrounding us in Collin County.

“Sure thing,” I have said. “We can plan a weekend trip.” She laughs out loud at me. “No-o-o-o! Don’t you get it? We don’t have to wait for the weekend,” she responds. “We can go in the middle of the week. No crowds. Others will be working.”

Well, duhhh.

I just will need to keep all of that in mind once we get a wild hair and want to haul our fifth wheel out of storage and head out for some quiet time in the woods, or next to a lake.

I’m getting the hang of this retirement thing. Every now and then, though, I need a knock on the noggin to be reminded that weekends are for working folks.

Happy Trails, Part 152: Sleepy town? Not for long

Our retirement journey has taken us to what we thought was a sleepy little town just northeast of where our granddaughter resides with her parents and her brother.

Today, I learned something about Princeton, Texas. It’s a sleepy town — more or less — at the moment, but it won’t be for very long.

I visited today with City Manager Derek Borg while on an assignment for KETR-FM radio. Borg said something quite astonishing.

He said the city is projecting a top-end population of about 110,000 residents. The 2010 census put Princeton’s population at 6,708. Today, the city is home to 12,000 to 13,000 residents, Borg told me.

OK. There’s a bit more. Borg said the city is adding about 1,000 single-family homes annually, accounting for an annual population growth of around 3,000 people. At that rate, presuming it holds up over time, the city will surpass 100,000 residents in fewer than 30 years.

Let’s see: I am 69 years of age now. I could still be among the walking and talking when this burg hits the 100 grand mark, if my health and my good luck hold up.

I was astounded to hear the city manager make that determination.

My story for KETR-FM is going to discuss the extensive highway construction that is under way along U.S. 380, the main arterial thoroughfare that cuts east-west through this Collin County community.

My hope for Princeton is that it manages its growth wisely, prudently and builds in this planned remarkable transition from a sleepy little town to a burgeoning urban center.

I’m glad to be able to watch all of this from our ringside seat.

Happy Trails, Part 151: Waiting to watch it grow

My wife and I lived long enough in our Amarillo, Texas, neighborhood to develop what I like to call “institutional memory.”

By that I mean we spent enough time to remember how “it used to be,” before it became the place we departed when we moved to Collin County. Indeed, our neighborhood in southwest Amarillo was still under construction when we staked our claim on a lot and then had our house built to our specifications. That was in late 1996. We stayed in the house until March 2018.

We’ve now moved into another new house in Princeton, Texas, about 370 miles southeast of our former Texas Panhandle digs.

One of the many joys we have living here is anticipating the building of more “institutional memory” of our new neighborhood.

It’s a curious way to look forward to our retirement years. At least it seems curious to me.

Our house is brand new. We didn’t buy some dirt and then have the house built on it. We purchased a newly constructed house. It’s a modest home, but it is perfect for the two of us . . . plus, of course, Toby the Puppy.

But there are still houses being erected on our street. And at the end of our street — on both ends! And on the streets to our north and south. Oh yes, and we have a school under construction a block away.

We figure our house is a wise purchase for us in at least one important aspect.

We see it as an investment that will appreciate in value as more development occurs around us. Hey, we’re both lifelong urban dwellers. Yes, I like peace and quiet, but I figure we’ll continue to have plenty of both when the sun goes down each night even after the neighborhood is complete.

The other element of perfection for us is that we’ll be able to invite our granddaughter for sleepovers. But . . . you probably knew that already.

Collin County is on the move. Princeton is reportedly the fastest-growing community in the county. I read something recently that Collin County will be larger than Dallas or Tarrant counties by 2050.

I’m looking forward to watching it unfold. I might grouse in the future occasionally about how “it used to be.” However, I am not one to want to turn back the clock.

The future looks quite inviting.

Happy Trails, Part 150: ‘Alexa’ joins the family

I guess you could say that our family has gained a new member.

Its — or perhaps I should say “her” — name is Alexa. This being doesn’t exist in human form. My wife and I spend time during our day telling “Alexa” to do certain things, perform certain tasks that we used to do all by ourselves.

Turn off the ceiling light in the living room? Alexa takes care of it. The floor lamp next to our couches? Alexa is on the job. The bedroom lamps? Same deal. How about locking and unlocking the front door? There’s Alexa again.

Here’s my favorite so far: Alexa now turns our furnace on and off for us. We issue the instruction, our “wish” is Alexa’s “command.” When we get into air-conditioning weather, Alexa will be there, too, to cool our house down.

Yep, we now are the proud owners of a “smart” home. We already have a smart puppy, Toby, whose vocabulary is increasing regularly. My wife and I are having to come up with different terminology to avoid getting our puppy overly excited for no reason.

I digress.

Having this being in our midst named “Alexa” is like having a third person in our house.

My wife and I are pinching ourselves, if not each other, while we try to visualize what we might have been thinking about when we started our life together nearly 48 years ago.

I know one thing that never crossed our minds: That we would be living with a ghost that obeys every instruction we toss out.

I am waiting now for Alexa to start talking back to us.

I’m also thinking of “HAL” the computer that takes over the space ship in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Happy Trails, Part 149: ‘Smart home,’ is it?

It’s come down to this: No longer do we just move into a structure, call it “home” and then arrange some furniture to make it comfortable.

That’s only part of it these days. In the 21st century, we now have a home that is equipped with technology that enables it to do certain things for us, such as turn lights on and off, play music, adjust the furnace temperature; if we were so inclined we could acquire technology that irrigates the lawn . . . all on voice command.

I refer to “Alexa,” the technology of the space age.

Indeed, I cannot help but think of “HAL,” the machine that took over the space ship in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” You remember how that turned out. “HAL” became a monster.

Will this happen with “Alexa”? I’m sure it won’t.

However, I am utterly amazed, amused and astonished at how much “Alexa” can do for us.

That’s what we got when we purchased this home in Princeton, Texas. I have to say that this is all pretty darn slick.

This retired guy is learning a whole lot of new things about “smart home” living.

We can peek at those on the front porch and answer the doorbell without opening the door. We can listen to music of our choice: name the genre and the system will play it for us.

I never thought retirement would introduce us to this whole new world. Then again, back when I started working for a living in print journalism I never imagine the course that newspapers would take with the invention and development of the Internet (thanks a bunch, Al Gore). 

We’re continuing to settle into our new digs. It’s going to take some added adjustment. But . . . that’s OK. After all we’ve been through on this life journey my wife and I started more than 47 years ago, the rest of it will be an easy ride.