Tag Archives: retirement

Happy Trails, Part 145: Yes, we like this better

I cannot believe this question stumped me for a moment . . . but, it did.

My wife and I were closing on the purchase of our new home in Princeton, Texas, when we hit a quiet spell in the process. The title clerk asked a simple question: Do you like it better here than Amarillo? 

That’s a direct question, yes? Of course it is! However, there are some hidden complexities in it.

I froze for just a bit. I rolled it around in my head, trying to figure out the best way to answer it.

Here’s what I came up with:

Amarillo is a lovely city. It is growing. It has about 200,000 residents, which makes it a significant community. We made many friends there and we’ll miss seeing them. The major difference between there and here is that despite the size of Amarillo, it’s out there all by itself. In order to get anywhere in the Texas Panhandle, to see or do anything in a place other than Amarillo, you’ve got drive a long way. 

That is not nearly the situation in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Here, we are surrounded by, well . . . damn near everything!

We live in Fairview at the moment. Princeton will be our home in short order. Princeton is not far from McKinney, Allen, Plano, Frisco, Richardson, Carrollton and Dallas. If we want to drive just a little bit farther, we can find things to do and see in Grapevine, Arlington, Keller and Fort Worth.

It’s a fairly significant leap to move from a metro area comprising about 500,000 residents to a metro area that is home to more than 7 million folks. Thus, one can get lost in the crowd here, unlike in Amarillo, where one can see the same folks almost weekly just when you go about your day.

Of course, I didn’t factor into my answer the most significant reason why we like it “better” here than Amarillo. That would be our granddaughter, Emma, who is the primary reason we moved from there to here in the first place.

Thus, do we like it better here than we did in the place where we used to live? Yep. Absolutely!

Happy Trails, Part 144: The move-in will commence

PRINCETON, Texas — Pardon me for showing you this picture once again. I just have to divulge that we’ve signed on many dotted lines. We did so late this morning as we “closed” on the purchase of our “forever home.”

So what happens now?

The move-in will commence. However, given that we’re now retired and given also that we have a bit of time left before our tenancy in our apartment expires, we’re going to take just a bit of time to make this move.

But . . . not too much time.

We’ve got some muscle signed up to help us. Our sons are here. Both of ’em. So we’re going to employ them for as long as we can. We’ll be moving smaller items in our vehicles over the course of the next several days.

This move is a bit different from any we’ve done before. For example, the most recent relocation before this one occurred in March 2018. We vacated our house in Amarillo and moved into our fifth wheel. We emptied the house of all its furnishings, putting them in storage. We painted the place. We replaced some fixtures, seeking to “modernize” them.

Then we accepted an offer. We intended to close a bit later than we did, but the buyer wanted in right away. We had to expedite the move before we shoved off on an RV trip we had planned. We got a little frazzled as we signed the house away.

I don’t expect any frazzling to occur with this move. We have decided to be deliberate, systematic, highly choreographed.

But today was a huge day in our retirement journey. We intended to make our apartment our “forever home.” It didn’t work out that way.

Now, however, we believe we have found the end of our rainbow.

It’s a beautiful sight.

Happy Trails, Part 143: ‘Forever’ comes into view

PRINCETON, Texas — This picture reveals to you where my wife, Toby the Puppy and I plan to live . . . hopefully for the duration, if you get my drift.

The “Sold” sign means we are in the process of purchasing it. Our retirement journey is taking a gigantic step forward this week. We will “close” on our house purchase in Princeton, about 6 miles or so east of McKinney in Collin County. We’ll lay down some cash, sign a large stack of papers, accept our “smart house” keys and we’ll be on our way.

My wife plans to start immediately laying down shelf liners in the kitchen. We’ll start moving the next day. We’ll take our time, but we won’t dawdle.

Yes, dear reader, this is our final stop.

What fascinates me as I think about it is that Princeton was one of the towns we considered when we first started pondering our move from the Texas Panhandle to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. The thought process came right about the time our son and daughter-in-law informed us that “You are going to be grandparents.”

That was more than six years ago. It took some time for us to make this move, but we did.

I already have told you about how we came upon his dwelling.

I only want to affirm once more the idea that even old folks — such as me — are able to adapt to new surroundings. I long thought of myself as a staid fellow, resistant to change. Then career opportunity knocked in 1984 and we moved our young family from a suburban community near Portland, Ore., to Beaumont, Texas. We stayed in Beaumont for nearly 11 years; our sons graduated from high school and were finishing up their college educations when my wife and I packed up again and moved from the Golden Triangle to the Texas Panhandle. We stayed in Amarillo for 23 years. The arrival of our granddaughter in March 2013 precipitated the move that is about to conclude in very short order in the house you see pictured with this blog post.

This is going to be a huge week for us.

I await it with great joy and excitement. Retirement is no time for complacency.

Puppy Tales, Part 65: A sibling . . . maybe?

Psst. Don’t let this get out just yet, but there might be a surprise awaiting Toby the Puppy in a few months.

When he joined our family more than four years ago, he entered a household with two cats: Socks and Mittens. Neither of his new siblings thought much of him when he took up residence in our home. They viewed him initially as an uninvited guest.

Socks grew to tolerate the new family member; Mittens, not so much. We lost them both eventually. They had grown older and had lived great lives with us. Then we just had Toby. He took over right away. It was love at first sight; us with him and vice versa.

Well, Toby’s mother and I are talking openly now about adopting another furry family member. It’s going to occur in a few months. We have a couple of trips to take in our fifth wheel RV. We’re heading soon to New Orleans by way of the Hill Country and the Golden Triangle. Later this year, probably in late summer, we’re hoping to take a “bucket list” journey across Canada; we would venture northwest toward Vancouver and head east along Highway 1 toward the Maritime Provinces. There might be a short trip or two between those two adventures.

After that epic journey way up north, though, we just might surprise Toby the Puppy.

We’ve long been cat parents. We raised many kitties over our many years together. Toby joined us in September 2014 in a strange fashion. However, we love him so very much. We tell him so every day. He knows what we are saying when we tell him we love him.

How might he react to a feline addition to our family? I am as confident as I can be that he will adapt beautifully. Toby is as well-adjusted, well-behaved and settled a canine as I can imagine.

So, with that, we intend to keep it a secret from Toby the Puppy until the moment we decide to expand our family.

Mum’s the word.

Happy Trails, Part 142: Moving into transition

One of the more exciting aspects about the next — and hopefully final — stop on our retirement journey has been the changing nature of the community we’re going to call home.

Princeton, Texas, sits east of McKinney — the Collin County seat. The next town to the east along U.S. 380 is Farmersville; the one after that is Greenville, hometown of the late Audie Murphy, the Medal of Honor recipient and the Army’s most decorated soldier of World War II.

Princeton is still a rural community. It is home to around 10,000 residents. When you drive east from McKinney you see lots of orange barrels, cones and “Road Work Ahead” signs. They’re tearing up the highway, expanding it, improving access and exits.

The residential neighborhood we’re entering also is under construction. Indeed, our street is cluttered with construction vehicles.

I am getting the strong sense that McKinney is inching its way east toward Princeton. The rural community will become an urban one in due course.

It has all the requisite urban accoutrements: a postal ZIP code, plenty of commercial outlets, heavy traffic (at times), traffic signals, sewer service. You know, all those things associated with urban life.

I find it strangely exciting to witnessing this change from the front end. We had a similar ringside seat to all that change in Amarillo. We moved into our newly built house in late 1996. Our home was one block from civilization as we knew it in Amarillo. Beyond the busy street to our west were literally miles of pasture land. You could hear coyotes yipping and yapping in the early morning hours when you went out to fetch the newspaper.

It all changed rapidly. They built the Greenways residential complex west of Coulter Street. It went up in a major hurry. The range land gave way to manicured lawns. Urbana arrived in far west Amarillo.

We’re going to witness it yet again in our new home.

I plan to welcome the change . . . as long as it arrives in an orderly fashion.

Happy Trails, Part 141: ‘Forever’ is approaching rapidly

PRINCETON, Texas — Our intention was to make an apartment in nearby Fairview our “forever home.”

Then we decided fairly soon after moving in that apartment living isn’t our bag. So . . . we went looking for a house to purchase. What you see in the background of this picture, on the yard marked by the “Sold” sign, is what we have decided is actually our “forever home.”

It’s in Princeton, in eastern Collin County.

It is in a subdivision that is still under construction, although our street is mostly done.

Our retirement journey is about to make the turn down the stretch.

This new home of ours is modest. It’s not a sprawling spread. But for two people who are in the station of life that my wife and I now enjoy, this place is damn near perfect. 

Our retirement years are still going to include plenty of travel in our fifth wheel RV. We already have one trip mapped out this spring. Another one is coming up this summer. Beyond that, well, we are leaving our options wide open.

I suppose everyone — retired folks or working stiffs — needs something to which they can look forward.

We looked forward for a while to our retirement years. That time arrived a bit ahead of schedule, but now that it did, we have embraced it fully.

Our retirement now includes planning for one more move. It won’t be nearly as long a haul as our previous move from Beaumont to Amarillo. This one will entail just a few miles east along a well-traveled highway.

I am so looking forward to settling into this dwelling — for the duration.

Happy Trails, Part 140: Retirement journey takes surprising turn

COMMERCE, Texas — Life is a journey that is full of surprises. Some of them sadden us. The one that has just presented itself to my wife and me, however, fills me with excitement.

We came to this college town today to discuss an opportunity that fell out of the sky. We met with Mark Haslett, a friend and former colleague of mine. We worked briefly together at the Amarillo Globe-News, but I knew him before that, when he was news director at High Plains Public Radio in Amarillo.

He now is news director at KETR-FM, the public radio station headquartered on the campus of Texas A&M University-Commerce.

What’s the surprise? Haslett has asked if I would be interested in writing for the station’s web site. The potential assignment that awaits me is quite similar to the first part-time freelance gig I scored shortly after quitting my post at the Globe-News; I wrote blogs for Panhandle PBS for a time.

This project is still a work in progress. Haslett and I haven’t yet set a start date. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that it’s not far off at all. Yes, we still have some more details to work out.

My wife and I — along with Toby the Puppy — are getting ready to move into a new home in Princeton, in eastern Collin County, which Haslett told us over lunch today is in the KETR-FM coverage area. He prefers that I write about issues pertinent to Collin County and the area surrounding Princeton, which is a growing community in what — for the time being — sits in one of the few remaining rural areas of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

OK, so here we are. Retirement remains a wonderful life for my wife and me. It does present some opportunities that we cannot foresee. This is one of them.

I don’t yet know where this particular journey will take us. I am grateful that my friend believes I have something of value to contribute to his listenership at KETR. There also might be some radio air time to discuss this new project and where we intend for it to go..

Meanwhile, I’ll be able to write about whatever moves me as we get settled in at our new digs in Princeton.

And so . . . the journey continues.

Happy Trails, Part 139: The fun has no end

I discovered something quickly not long after my career in print journalism came to a screeching halt.

It was that separation anxiety from work is vastly overrated. I also discovered — if you’ll pardon the cliché — that when one door slams shut in your face other doors open widely.

My career as a full-time editorial writer and editor ended on Aug. 31, 2012. I was the “victim” of a changing media landscape. My wife and I departed that very day on a vacation on the East Coast.

We returned a couple of weeks later and opportunity knocked. Amarillo College’s public TV station, KACV, called me with the opportunity. Would I like to write a blog for the Panhandle PBS web site? Of course I would! So I did for a little more than year.

I was given the task of writing on public affairs programming that aired on KACV-TV. They would post it on the web site. The idea was to call attention to programming that discussed news of the day, or on prevailing public issues.

That job lasted a while. Changes at the station brought changes in philosophy and management style. We parted company.

Then another media opportunity came along. My wife and I ran into the general manager of KFDA News Channel 10. He asked me: Why don’t you write for us? I wasn’t sure that was a serious query. I called him later and asked him, “Was that a serious question?” He said it was. We worked out a deal later in the year and I was given the chance to write about “Whatever happened to …” stories that News Channel 10 had covered. That series of features morphed into another series telling the stories of all those historical markers one sees along the highways of West Texas.

Again, I wrote those features for the station’s web site. The news anchors would call attention to the stories on the air and reporters would provide a two-minute summary of the story during the station’s even news broadcasts.

Eventually, that gig played itself out, too.

Then came another media-related opportunity. A longtime friend and a former colleague offered me a chance to earn some scratch working from home. Would I be willing to edit the copy of a reporter who worked for the Quay County Sun, a weekly newspaper in Tucumcari, N.M.? I could do it from my home in Amarillo. I then could proof-read pages as they were assembled by the young man in Quay County.

What a blast that turned out to be as well! However, that chapter closed eventually, too.

Retirement, thus, hasn’t always been what it has become for my wife and me most recently. I spend my time these days writing this blog and commenting on things such as this post and — quite naturally — on issues of the day.

We have settled into a new life in Collin County. It’s a quiet life these days, although the pace is going to pick up soon as we prepare to move into a new home we are purchasing in a more rural part of the county. We get to spend more time with our granddaughter and we get to come and go as we please. Of course, there’s also travel in our RV that we have enjoyed and will enjoy in the future.

But . . . there well might be another media opportunity knocking. I mean, it’s what I do. Who knows what’s in store?

Happy Trails, Part 138: Now it’s ‘home orientation’?

My wife and I are in the processing of purchasing the fifth home we have shared over more than 47 years of marriage.

The previous four home purchases — two in Oregon and two in Texas — have all gone about the same way: We select a house, we settle on a price, we obtain the financing, then we close the deal. “Closing” on the sale involved signing a lot of papers, then the title company person hands us the keys to the house — and maybe a garage-door opener — and says, in effect, “Have a nice life.”

Boom! Done! Off we went.

Now, though, it’s different. We got word today of a closing date. But before that happens, we get to take part in what the builder calls a “home orientation” session. The message we received tells us that the session “is designed to teach you about how your home works.”

How it works? Yep. We’re buying one of those “smart homes.”

I’ve mentioned already that it is a modest home in Princeton, Texas, in northeast Collin County. It is part of a brand new subdivision.

Unlike the four previous homes we purchased, this one comes with some razzle dazzle, a few bells and whistles. If we want to make it smarter than I am — which isn’t hard to do — we can subscribe to a service that provides an “Alexa” device that does things on voice command: dim the lights, turn on the TV, lower the shades; I’m wondering if there’s an “app” that tucks me in at night.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not going to resist this “home orientation” lesson. I welcome it. I’ll need it. It just kind of blows my mind, given that I am 69 years of age and while I am getting a bit more tech savvy as time marches on, I am far from the “geek” that my sons would prefer me to be.

The “home orientation” awaits in just a few days.

Bring it!

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.