News? What news?

So … I am sitting on the back patio in Princeton, Texas, with my sister and we’re chatting about the loss we have suffered and how our minds have been taken away from our usual “routine.”

“I realize I don’t miss the news,” Liz said. Which made me nod in agreement. We fancy ourselves as news junkies. Hey, I spent a career seeking to keep pace with breaking news. My sis has pursued other career paths, but her interest is deep as well.

I usually spend a good bit of time watching TV news channels and scouring various Internet sites for the news of the day.

However, our minds and hearts have been pulled away by grief over the passing of my bride, Kathy Anne.

But as I ponder the observation about “not missing the news,” I am struck by how little all these national and world events mean to me. Indeed, at this moment, they mean nothing at all.

The developing presidential campaign in 2024? The Ukraine War? Congress’s efforts to get organized? Debt ceiling?


Honest to goodness, I truly don’t care — at this moment — about any damn bit of it!

Will it change? Yeah. Sure it will. It’s just going to take some time.

For now, I’ve got more important — and deeply personal — matters filling my noggin and my heart. And none of it has a thing to do with that thing called “the news.”

This tells the story of her life

I want to post this video that we displayed Saturday at a memorial service that celebrated the life of my beloved bride, Kathy Anne.

It is a product of one of my sons, Nathan, who assembled the photos from a vast collection of prints taken over the span of my bride’s 71 years on this Earth.

It brings tears to my eyes, but I thought those who have been following this blog and my telling of my journey through the darkness of grief would like to see the moving tribute my son has put together.

I would say “enjoy,” but … well, you know.

Now comes the hard part

It is done.

I have returned to my North Texas home after being showered with love, affection and sympathy aimed at my beloved bride, Kathy Anne, who we memorialized over the weekend among our church family members in Amarillo, Texas.

We called it a “celebration of life.” It lived up to its billing. Our friend, the Rev. Murray Gossett, sprinkled his remarks about Kathy Anne with plenty of humor, along with some fond remembrances he had of knowing her for more than two decades.

We laughed and we cried.

Now comes a more arduous journey through my grief at this terrible loss. I now must navigate my way through the rest of my own life. There won’t always be a large crowd of friends around. There will be moments when I am lonesome.

Yes, I will have my immediate family upon whom I can lean. Those who don’t live in North Texas are just a phone call away. However, only I can chart the path I intend to take the rest of the way.

However, for this moment, I am feeling a sense of relief that we have completed this joyful task of remembering the woman of my dreams, my partner who in January 1971 appeared before me like a vision at a college student union building.

We built a marvelous life together. We traveled to all but two of the 50 states of this country and a couple dozen nations around the world. We saw holy sites, historical sites, nature’s most splendid grandeur … and we did it while holding hands and proving daily that we truly were made for each other.

Those are what we celebrated this weekend. I am grateful for the memories I know will continue to remind me of Kathy Anne.

Calm has settled in

AMARILLO, Texas — At this very moment I am feeling an odd sense of calm. Why? Because we have conducted a memorial service to celebrate the glorious life of the woman of my dreams.

Kathy Anne passed away about three weeks ago from an aggressive brain cancer. We buried her next to her mother in McKinney. Today we came back to where we lived for the longest stint of our married life and celebrated the joy she brought to those who knew and loved her.

Yes, there were moments of intense sadness. It gave way to laughter as the Rev. Murray Gossett — a longtime friend of ours — retold stories that illustrated her humility, her zest for life and her servant’s heart.

I came to see friends we met along the way during our time in Amarillo. They came to our service to honor her and to tell my family and me that we are not alone, that we have friends who love us and who share our intense sadness at Kathy Anne’s passing.

It is the love that consumed us today that, I believe, is the source of the calm I am feeling at this moment. It’s a remarkable feeling of warmth and that I do not want to lose.

Not … ever!

How am I supposed to feel?

AMARILLO, Texas — Allow me this bit of candor, which is my admission that I do not know how I am supposed to feel upon returning to a city my wife and I called home for 23 years.

We moved to the Metroplex in early 2019 to be near our granddaughter, but my sons and I are gathered here to say goodbye to my dear bride, Kathy Anne, who passed away barely three weeks ago after a brief, but fierce battle with brain cancer.

Our granddaughter and our daughter-in-law have joined us for what we will call a “celebration of life” on Saturday that Kathy Anne led. We will be among many friends. They will offer their love for her they will remember her as a joyful servant to her Christian faith.

I find myself feeling wistful at times, wishing it were different, but knowing the brutal truth about why we have come back here.

Yes, my journey continues through this dark passage we call grief. I know there will be light. When I will see it remains an open question for my family and me. We miss her terribly. Our celebration will not be free of tears.

Joe Biden himself — a man who has experienced the painful loss of two children and a spouse — has said it well many times … that the tears we shed today will give way to a smile when we remember the loved one we have lost.

I am prepared to wait for as long as it takes for that moment to arrive. Right now? I am just preparing for what likely will be a day filled with as much pain as joy.

Happy anniversary, Vlad!

This is an “anniversary” that Russian goon/strongman Vladmir Putin likely never presumed he would commemorate.

It’s been one year since the Russian tyrant launched his illegal and immoral war against Ukraine. He sought to bring the former Soviet republic to its knees in days. It didn’t happen.

What Putin is now realizing, even if he doesn’t admit it, is that people whose sovereignty is threatened by an evil aggressor will fight to the death to protect themselves and their nation.

Ukraine has done that … and then some!

Yes, the Ukrainians have had help. It has come from President Biden, whose leadership has melded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into a cohesive alliance hell-bent on ensuring the Russians do not attack NATO. Doing so would doom the Russians.

Putin’s cakewalk into Kyiv has turned into a stumble-bum quagmire.

May the Russians continue to suffer the shame they have earned by their conduct on the battlefield. May they also be denied a second “anniversary” of this disgraceful episode.

Learning lessons of life

My journey through the darkness of mourning the loss of my bride is teaching many life lessons along the way.

I believe many millions of others have learned them, too. Indeed, I take comfort in knowing I am not the first person or the last person — and damn sure not the only one — ever to be thrust into this “life-lesson classroom.”

In many ways, I am taking a page from Kathy Anne’s own book. She imbued in me during our 51 years of marriage the knowledge that “everything happens for a reason.” We don’t know the reason, nor can we anticipate its arrival. I certainly did not expect the cancer diagnosis we received on Dec. 26 to produce the conclusion that it did.

Her belief that fate is not a blind exercise taught me well. I adopted that philosophy for myself, although I will admit freely that at this moment it is difficult for me to wrap my arms around the “reason” for my intense sadness.

But it is a lesson in life that I am learning.

I will be on the road soon to get away from the home we shared for just a few years. I will return with what I hope are wounds that continue to heal. Then … who knows what lies ahead?

My effort to get on with living might include a part-time job; I’ll keep writing for the weekly newspaper group that signed me on a couple of years ago, as I am having too much fun doing what comes quite naturally.

My bride would insist on it. Honest.

Should we pay ’em more?

The reporting on three Texas legislators being eligible to collect a whopping six-figure salary after serving in the Legislature for a long time brings to mind an issue that has stuck in my craw for as long as I have lived in Texas.

Do we pay these men and women enough to serve in the Legislature?

State Sen. John Whitmire and state Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Tom Craddick now are eligible to collect salaries totaling $144,000 annually, thanks to a law enacted in 2021 that rewards legislators for their lengthy terms of service. Whitmire turned it down; Thompson and Craddick haven’t disclosed their plans.

They earn normally just $7,200 per year, plus a per diem expense when the Legislature meets every other year for 140 days.

Is that enough to sustain these individuals’ interest in public service? I tend to think it’s a challenge.

Many legislatures put their members on full-time salary status. Yes, they become professional politicians. Then again, so do Texas legislators, even though we pay them a mere pittance to write laws. Even the lieutenant governor — as the Texas Senate’s presiding officer — draws the same measly “salary” as the senators over whom he presides.

This chintzy salary structure makes it nearly impossible for a working man or woman — someone with a regular job — to take time away, to spend five months every other year in Austin. How does that work for a guy who, say, sells shoes for a living at JC Penney? Have you seen any shoe salespeople serving in the Legislature? I didn’t think so!

What’s left? We get seriously rich men and women, such as heirs to family fortunes. A “citizen legislature” ought to be a place where working men and women can serve. I am not sure we have that now.

I am not suggesting a hefty six-figure sum is in order, but something a good bit more than the chump change they receive now is worth at least some serious discussion.

How does MTG get away with this?

Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of the MAGA cultists who routinely blasts what she refers to as the “mainstream media.”

That is so rich it defies any rational response. Why? Because the second-term Georgia congresswoman — and reigning QAnon queen of the House — somehow manages to get the very same media to cover the nonsense that flies out of her pie hole.

The idiot Republican has pitched some notion of a “national divorce,” with conservative Americans separating from liberal Americans. Hmm. Ponder that one. She wants a civil war? Is that what this moron suggests?

The media cover her rubbish. Bloggers such as me comment on it, too. Therefore, I will assume responsibility for giving this nimrod far more coverage that in a perfect political world wouldn’t get it. But … she does receive it!

She has proclaimed her belief that the U.S. is a “Christian nation.” It isn’t! She derides President Biden for visiting Ukraine to proclaim the nation’s support for that nation’s war against Russian invaders.

Seemingly every utterance she makes become punch lines.

I would pledge at this moment to never cover another statement she makes, except for this bit of wisdom. Which is that it is better to keep your adversaries out front in plain sight, lest they be allowed to hide in the shadows where they could do even more harm.

Double dipping = bad optics

Surely I am not the only Texan who is aghast at reports of three Texas state legislators being able to collect $144,000 annually in salary just because they’ve each been in office for more than 43 years.

Democratic Sen. John Whitmire, Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson, both of Houston, and Republican Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland qualify for a “double-dipping” perk to which they are entitled.

Wow! Talk about “bad optics!”

The Texas Legislature has long prided itself as being a collection of 181 “citizen legislators” who travel to Austin every other year to do state business for 140 or so days. Then they go home to suffer the consequences or reap the rewards of the laws they enact. They do so for just $7,200 per year, plus a per diem expense when the Legislature is in session.

They all say they don’t serve “for the money,” that they are driven by the desire for engage in “public service” to the state or the districts they represent.

Now we hear about this? The 2021 Legislature passed this law that enables senior lawmakers to haul in a huge salary.

The Texas Tribune reports: Jon Taylor, a political science professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has taught public administration ethics, said the arrangement has problematic optics.

Whitmire and Thompson both have served for 50 years. Craddick is the senior House member, with 54 years of service under his belt. Craddick and Thompson haven’t said whether they are collecting the windfall, according to the Tribune. Whitmire said he turned it down.

Why three Texas lawmakers are now eligible for an extra $140,000 a year | The Texas Tribune

This falls under a quirk in the Texas Employee Retirement System, which is a creation of the Legislature.

I will admit this law got past me in 2021 when the Legislature enacted it. It’s in full view now. I don’t like it. Not one little bit.