Category Archives: local news

Trouble with that ‘d’ word

I never in a million years envisioned having trouble with a certain word after losing someone so dear to me.

But I am … having trouble saying a certain word out loud when I discuss the loss of Kathy Anne to cancer. I won’t even write it. Not here on the blog. Nowhere, man!

You know the word. The word and its variations all start with the letter “d.”

Maybe this isn’t new to anyone who has undergone this level of loss, followed by grief and mourning. You know about which I am writing this brief post.

When I was writing for newspapers for all those decades, I was told by my editors to use the “d” word when describing someone who has left this Earth. No “passing away” allowed when writing hard copy for news stories or even for opinion pieces. Can’t have euphemisms, editors would tell me. Got it!

That’s all changed for me now. I am in control of this blog and I am the boss of what appears on it. Therefore, as I comment on Kathy Anne’s life with me and my family, I will refrain — for the foreseeable future and maybe even beyond — from using that word. We spent 52 years together. Her illness was brief, but so very savage.

I am acutely aware of the finality of what has transpired. I just am not ready to say or write the word or words that tell me what I already know.

I believe you will understand. Maybe even cut me a bit of slack.

The journey continues

Well, gang, I have made another command decision from my North Texas man cave, which is that Toby the Puppy and I are going to hit the road again soon.

I returned in mid-April from a monthlong sojourn out west to clear my head and begin to mend my heart shattered by the loss of my dear bride, Kathy Anne, to glioblastoma … as savage a form of cancer as one can imagine.

I’ve had time to collect myself. One of my sons has moved in with me into my Princeton home. He brought his two kitties and they have done well getting acclimated to their new surroundings — not to mention to the presence of the king of our house, Toby the Puppy.

But I have decided I need more time away from my digs. This time, it’s points east where we’ll go. Unlike the westward trek, which took us to the Pacific Ocean, this journey won’t allow us to look at the Atlantic. We’ll go as far as just south of Raleigh, N.C., where I’ll spend some time visiting my cousin and her two young sons.

Then we’ll head to Roanoke, Va., where we will see two of our dearest friends on Earth, a couple my bride and I have known for more than 30 years.

After that I will visit another friend in Charleston, W.Va., a fellow with whom I worked at the Amarillo Globe-News.

Then I’ll park for two nights in Louisville, Ky., where I will spend a day at the Muhammad Ali Museum. Oh, I do look forward to paying my respects to The Greatest.

My head is a whole lot clearer as I prepare to embark on this trip than it was when I headed west. My heart, though, remains a work in progress. I do believe what many have said, which is that my heart is likely permanently damaged. I’ll just have to cope.

I can do that. First things first. The open road awaits.

Trump wants to meet with AG?

Donald J. Trump’s lawyers, apparently feeling the fire burning under them, have reached out for a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland.

They want to meet with the AG to discuss the investigation that reportedly is being wrapped up by the special counsel whom Garland appointed to investigate the 1/6 assault on our government and the classified documents that Trump took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, Fla.

OK, now. Here’s a quick answer to Trump’s legal team: Merrick Garland is not going to meet with you.

Why do you think he appointed special counsel Jack Smith to complete the probe into the insurrection and the document grab? He did it to remove himself from the probe, removing any suspicion that might come at him if a grand jury indicts the former POTUS.

It looks to me as if special counsel Smith is closing in on some indictments. Moreover, we now hear from lawyers who used to work for Trump who tell us they believe Trump is going to serve prison time if he’s convicted.

Donald Trump’s life is about to get so very messy.

AG Paxton is getting some serious heat … finally!

Well now, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who’s been under felony indictment nearly for as long as he has been in office — is facing even more trouble.

This time it’s coming from his fellow Republicans who serve in the Legislature.

Can it be that finally the AG is going to get his long- and well-deserved comeuppance? You may count me as one Texas resident who wants to see it happen to the former legislator who has disgraced the office he has occupied since 2015.

The Hill newspaper reports:

On Wednesday, four former state prosecutors commissioned by the state House publicly unveiled the results of their sweeping investigation into years of alleged misconduct by Paxton.

Headlining those allegations: charges that the attorney general took bribes from an Austin real estate developer, then fired four deputies for reporting it to law enforcement — and then leaving taxpayers on the hook for a $3.3 million settlement with the whistleblowers. 

Paxton is also accused of seeking a sweetheart job for a woman he was having an affair with and who had worked in his wife’s office. 

The House General Investigations Committee, which recommended the ouster of former state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City, is now looking into Paxton’s conduct. The allegations against Paxton “curl my mustache,” said Committee Chairman Andrew Murr, R-Junction.

Paxton has managed to avoid a trial since a Collin County grand jury indicted him for securities fraud. That he has been re-elected twice as the state’s chief law enforcement official has been enough to make me question the wisdom of Texas voters. But he has and I accept the voters’ verdict, even if I disagree with it.

Still, the guy needs to go.

I have been alarmed at the notion of Paxton rising to call for the resignation of House Speaker Dade Phelan after a video emerged showing Phelan slurring his words at the end of a long day at the podium in the House chamber.

That such a call would come from an indicted public official is laughable on its face … except that I ain’t laughing.

Battle rages in Texas between AG Paxton and GOP-controlled House | The Hill

So, what can come from the House committee’s probe of the AG? Let’s say it out loud: He could be impeached and then put on trial in the Texas Senate.

I can’t stop shaking my head.

Nazis would spur Dad to action

My father wasn’t an overly political individual, in that he didn’t wear his politics on his sleeve or bellow his views out loud.

However, if there is a cause that might spur Dad into action, it well could be the emergence of these Nazi groups showing up at rallies to protest things like drag shows or those who are accused of mass shootings in schools, shopping malls or churches.

Dad was a proud Navy veteran who fought the Nazis from 1942 until 1945 in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He endured 105 consecutive days of aerial bombardment from German and Italian warplanes.

He enlisted on Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed our fleet at Pearl Harbor; he wanted to join the Marine Corps, the USMC office in Portland was closed that Sunday, so he walked across the hall and joined the Navy.

Dad didn’t boast about his service to the nation or the role he played in ridding the world of tyranny, but he did speak easily about that time — when someone asked him!

I have been thinking of Dad lately as I see these stories about Nazis rearing their ugliness across the country, seemingly feeling comfortable and “mainstream” in spewing their vicious hatred.

This was the kind of monstrosity that the Greatest Generation suited up to fight after the United States entered World War II.

Dad was one of the 16 million Americans who answered the call.

And this non-political American patriot — the late Pete Kanelis –would be aghast at what he is hearing from the mouths of those whose forebears sought to kill him.

Paxton calls on speaker to quit? Huh … ?

Wow! That’s all I should have to say on this matter, but of course I’ll add a couple of cents’ worth.

Of all the elected officials serving in this great state of mine, it falls on an indicted Texas attorney general to call for the resignation of the speaker of the Texas House.

What in the world is wrong with this picture?

AG Ken Paxton, who’s been under criminal indictment almost his entire time as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, said this week that Speaker Dade Phelan was drunk while presiding over the House. Paxton said Phelan should resign at the end of the current session of the Legislature.

For the life of me I cannot fathom what in the world is happening to this state.

A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton in 2015 of securities fraud, stemming from an allegation that he failed to notify investors of his relationship with a securities firm. Eight years later and the case hasn’t gone to trial … yet!

Then we have allegations of corruption within the AG’s office. There has been a settlement on that matter, but several top lawyers in the office resigned after blowing the whistle on what they said were improper relationships between Paxton and a key political supporter and donor.

Paxton is a joke! Actually, he needs to resign his office.

Now he declares that Dade Phelan has been sipping the sauce. A video of Phelan has gone viral, showing him slurring his words a bit while conducting the House’s business.

“After much consideration, it is with profound disappointment that I call on Speaker Dade Phelan to resign at the end of this legislation session,” Paxton said in a statement posted on Twitter. “His conduct has negatively impacted the legislative process and constitutes a failure to live up to his duty to the public.”

Ken Paxton calls on Dade Phelan to resign, citing apparent intoxication | The Texas Tribune

I suppose, of course, that Phelan’s resistance to some of Paxton’s top legislative priorities has nothing to do with the AG’s call for the speaker to resign. Texas’s top Republican officeholders have been squabbling a good bit of late. They can’t agree on some of the priorities being pushed by, say, Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott.

Now it has come down to this, with the state’s indicted attorney general offering an armchair medical diagnosis of the House speaker.


‘New normal’ still out there

My search for the “new normal” life I intend to live remains an active endeavor. I haven’t found it just yet, but I am putting some pieces together that I hope will create the normal life I am seeking.

One piece fit nicely. I joined a gym. Actually, I have returned to a gym where my wife and I once belonged before we quit.

Why did I quit? I wasn’t achieving the results I wanted. It was my fault. I had no one else to blame. And I didn’t level any blame; I accepted it. So did Kathy Anne

My new normal is going to include making a commitment where I failed previously. The workout club in Princeton, Texas, has a wide array of equipment. My intention will be to use as much of as possible.

I long have had this problem with food. I adhere to what we all call a “see food diet.” You know the punchline.

The new normal also involves me forgoing some of my culinary guilty pleasures. I have done that. As it was more than 43 years ago when I quit smoking, it is imperative that I give up these food items cold turkey. I cannot snitch a little here, a little there, any more than I could sneak a drag on a cigarette after I quit.

So, that part of the new normal isn’t so new, right?

The rest of it remains new to me. I am an old man, so I am acutely aware that it will take some work to shed the weight I have gained.

My task now is to adopt this new normal as part of every-day living.

I can do this.

City bustles … to what end?

As I drive through the community I call home I am filled with wonder — that to be truthful borders on awe — at all the construction activity I am witnessing.

Princeton, Texas, is a city on the move. I am still trying to wrap my arms around understanding its destination. I don’t yet know where Princeton is going or even how it intends to get there.

I know I am going to miss a project or three, but I am witnessing …

Burgeoning neighborhoods sprouting up south of my home. There’s a new development rising out of the North Texas dirt just west of the subdivision where I live; that subdivision, by the way, is now officially “closed” to new development.

Just north of a bank branch on U.S. 380 I have witnessed work crews preparing a large section of land for development. I asked a banker at said branch the other day what’s going on. I am reluctant to give you the specifics of what she said, but spoke with authority in telling me of two major businesses going onto that property.

A gigantic luxury apartment complex is rising next door to Wal-Mart just east of us.

Car washes are going up, along with storage warehouses. The Princeton Herald recently published a story about a complex of single-family rental homes being built south of me along FM 982.

Oh, and then we have all that street work along Second Street, Main Street, and next to Veterans Memorial Park in what I refer to casually as “downtown” Princeton.

The city is undergoing explosive growth. Every demographer, economist, urban planner knows what’s happening here. What I want to learn more about, though, is where it ends up.

What kind of a city will Princeton become? A commercial hub? A recreational destination? A bedroom community with lots of homes filled with families who will need travel to Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Allen to “do something”?

My wife’s recent passing has produced a spate of phone calls and other messages from real estate investors asking if I want to sell the home we purchased in February 2019. Are you kidding me?

I have to stay and watch this city continue to evolve.

Poignancy added to this exhibit

FORT WORTH — I have visited this exhibit many times over the years, dating back to the time before my wife and I relocated to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

You’ll find it across the street from the Fort Worth Convention Center and in front of the hotel where President and Mrs. Kennedy spent the president’s final night on Earth before flying to Love Field in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

We all know what happened next.

My son and I went there this weekend to gander and gawk at downtown Fort Worth, just take in the sights of the place. I saw the pictures behind JFK’s statue and was struck immediately about their poignancy.

They were taken literally hours before a gunman killed the president. The president was smiling, as was his wife. One photo shows JFK standing in front of then-Texas Gov. John Connally, who also would be injured by a gunshot on that horrible day in downtown Dallas.

The poignancy was heightened, strange as it might seem, by the loss I have just suffered in my own life. A little more than three months ago, cancer took my bride, Kathy Anne, from me, robbing my sons of their mother, my daughter-in-law of her good friend and confidante and my granddaughter of Grandma, who loved her beyond measure.

Seeing pictures such as what my son and I saw reminded me as well of how precious life is and how we must treat it as a gift we should treasure.

Just a short time — a few weeks, actually — prior to the terrible diagnosis we got regarding Kathy Anne, we were returning from a lengthy RV trip out west and we were looking forward to spending the rest of our life charting new journeys and adventures.

My life without my beloved bride is taking an entirely different course. I don’t know where it will lead me. I am just intending to be ready to embark when the time comes.

Never thought I’d see this

Even when you grow up in the shadow of a string of volcanic peaks, you hardly ever expect to see one of them explode … at least I never expected it!

But it did. In a big way 43 years ago to this very day.

Mount St. Helens, one of those peaks about 50 or so miles northeast of my hometown of Portland, Ore., blew apart on May 18, 1980. The U.S. Geological Survey expected it, as the peak had begun what I like to call a “pre-eruption eruption” beginning in March of that year.

Then it happened. It was a Sunday morning. It was overcast that day, so we didn’t get to witness the explosive plume soar 80,000 feet into the sky.

The USGS had been monitoring the quakes that had been rattling the peak. A young geologist was stationed across Spirit Lake, Wash. The Big Quake shook the north face of the mountain loose, prompting David Johnston to radio to his headquarters in Vancouver, Wash.: Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!

The “it” was a pyroclastic cloud of rocks and dirt that roared across the lake at 500 mph. The blast vaporized Johnston.

Allow me this personal privilege. I had taken an up-close look at the summit in March 1980. I asked a young acquaintance to fly me to the mountain when the summit began cratering. Back and forth we flew over Mount St. Helens, allowing me to photograph the very beginning of what would become a seminal event in the region.

A reporter who worked with me at the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier drove to the region to interview David Johnston, the young man who would die when the mountain exploded.

One does not — one cannot — forget what happened that day when a peak sporting a seemingly symmetrical snow-capped cone would by the end of a day would be scarred forever by an unimaginable force of Mother Nature.

To be sure, it was a sight I never imagined seeing. Oh, and Mount St. Helens’s status today? The USGS calls it an “active volcano.” My advice to the locals? Get and stay ready to get the hell out of there!