A compliment? Yes, by all means!

EUGENE, Ore. — An extraordinary statement of affirmation came my way today from a reader of this blog. I want to share it with you.

Readers of High Plains Blogger know about the trek I have taken out west to get away from my house in North Texas in the wake of my bride’s passing away from cancer in early February. My intention has been to clear my head and to mend my shattered heart.

Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to receive the statement I got today from a gentleman I do not know well; indeed, he and I are only acquainted via social media. He wrote me to say that a friend of his just lost his wife of 45 years to cancer and he will recommend, in due course, that he take the same action I did … which is to get out of the house.

I am going to accept that statement as a compliment for the work I have produced on the road. I didn’t intend for it to be the kind of “therapy” that others might recommend.

However, I am growing ever so slowly away from the intense pain that still flares. It comes unexpectedly. It surprises me, even as I drive my truck while stroking Toby the Puppy as he sits on the passenger seat next to me.

Those fits are becoming a bit more manageable as I wend my way through the Great American West. Thus, my social media friend has recognized it and has indicated a desire to have his good friend follow the course I have blazed on my own journey out of the darkness.

I wish my friend’s friend well as he begins his own recovery.


Don’t cuff Donald

Donald Trump is now headed for arguably the worst day of his life when he appears next week before a judge and will be indicted officially for a felony he allegedly committed.

OK, so here comes something that might surprise you. I do not believe Donald Trump needs to be handcuffed when he is “arrested,” read his rights and then photographed for his mug shot.

Why not cuff the ex-president? Because I believe it is too provocative a gesture … and a gratuitous one at that! There appears be some rumbling out there about protesting the Trump indictment. Putting the ex-POTUS in handcuffs well could spur the nut jobs among the Trump cult to re-create the havoc that erupted on 1/6.

The word is that Trump will travel to Manhattan, N.Y., for his indictment. The judge presiding over the procedure ought to issue a gag order to seek to silence Trump, who has lost his mind over the indictment. The process should play out peacefully, in an orderly fashion and in accordance with the rule of law.

One way to ensure a peaceful process is to avoid the spectacle of seeing Donald Trump in handcuffs.


Trump makes history!

Donald John Trump has made history, the kind of history that will be included in the first line of his obituary when that event arrives.

It will say he is the first former president of the United States indicted by a grand jury on allegations that he committed a crime.

Well … what now?

The law requires that the former POTUS show up to be charged formally. He will be fingerprinted, read his rights and will have his picture taken.

Oh … the allegation? The Manhattan, N.Y., grand jury says that he paid a porn start $130,000 to keep quiet about a one-night tumble he took with her in 2006, just weeks after his third wife gave birth to Trump’s fifth child. Trump denies he had the encounter with Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, but he paid her anyway. Go … figure, eh?

The grand jury indicted Trump on a charge that he paid the sum illegally in 2016 while he was running for POTUS the first time.

Ohhh, boy. Ain’t this just a kick in patootie?

Now we must face the obvious question of whether this is just the first of a series of indictments. We have the Georgia district attorney investigating whether Trump sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election there; we have that evidence recorded from a phone tirade he launched against the Georgia secretary of state.

Plus … we have the Justice Department examining whether Trump broke the law when he took classified documents from the White House as he was exiting the building and, of course, whether he incited the 1/6 insurrection that sought to overthrow the U.S. government. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said that “no one is above the law. No … one!” We’re going to find out if he means it.

I have thought the Georgia case was the easiest one to prosecute. Maybe that will pan out. Then again, there also appears to be mountains of evidence against the ex-POTUS on the insurrection and the classified documents matters as well.

But all that aside, what we have unfolding today is an unprecedented event in U.S. history with Trump standing alone as the only ex-POTUS to be charged with a felony.

This individual’s life is about to change forever.

Stand tall, Donald.


Rivers are, um … full!

EUGENE, Ore. — I am back in the state where I began my life on this good Earth and noticed something intriguing — but not at all surprising, given what we have heard and read — as I drove here.

The rivers are full, as in brimming full of water. They’re past their normal “full” settings.

The North and South Umpqua rivers? Full. The headwaters of the Willamette River? Full. Every creek was more than a creek as I drove past them.

That is what the “atmospheric river” has brought to the normally wet Pacific Northwest, or as one of my sisters calls it: the Great Northwet.

It’s good to be back, even though it is under circumstances I would trade for a moment, given the tragedy I have suffered in recent weeks. I said when Kathy Anne passed away that I wanted to get out of the North Texas home we shared. I have done so.

The trees are mighty tall. Many of the leafy varieties haven’t yet bloomed, but their day is coming soon.

The rivers look healthy, as do the playas that dot the landscape. The mountain sides have snow, and that, too, will help alleviate the drought conditions that have plagued this region in recent years.

Ah, yes. It’s good to be back, although I don’t call it “home” any longer. Home is where I live these days nine miles from my granddaughter.

Still, I intend to get caught up with family members and friends.

The journey has borne plenty of emotional fruit for me. I am glad and grateful to have taken this plunge.


The ‘river’ has arrived!

EUREKA, Calif. — I set out this morning headed northward from the San Francisco Bay Area, and with forecasters predicting a return visit of that Atmospheric River.

My sister expressed some faint hope that they would get it wrong.

They didn’t. It arrived with a vengeance … again!

I drove into the sucker from Oakland and it never dried out when I landed at my next stop just south of the Oregon border.

To be honest, I totally get why our California countrymen and women are tired of the wind, rain, and “wintry mix” that doesn’t seem to let up. We’re now well into the spring season and it feels damn near like winter.

You are welcome to spare the notion that the prolonged cold doesn’t mean our “climate is changing.” It damn sure is changing, so I won’t debate anyone here on the merits of climate change.

I just had hoped to avoid that “atmospheric river” nonsense on this westward trek. Hey, it has taken my mind off the sad event of a month ago that prompted me to leave my house in North Texas.

So, the trek continues into Oregon, the state where I came into this world more than seven decades ago … and where it rains for three days before anyone even notices.


Now it’s Nashville …

Nashville, Tenn., has joined the lengthy and growing list of communities scarred by random gun violence … but this tragedy has a twist, of sorts.

The shooter was a woman, a transgender individual whom police shot to death shortly after she took six lives.

Yes, I fear we are getting numb to the violence that keeps erupting. That the shooter was a woman is in itself a remarkable change from the lengthy history of these shootings in the United States. They all had been men prior to today’s tragedy.

This case is going to cause a lot of head-scratching, let alone mourning for those who perished.

But here again, we are facing the prospect of more resistance among federal and state lawmakers to enact legislation that makes it difficult for troubled individuals to put their hands on weaponry.


What did Hunter Biden do?

The MAGA wing of what passes for today’s Republican Party keeps insisting that Hunter Biden — the son of the president — is guilty of something, so it intends to probe whatever he has done.

I now will weigh in on what I believe to this day to be a nothing burger unworthy of the term “scandal.”

Hunter Biden accepted a role with a Ukrainian oil company. He has no experience as a petroleum engineer, or as a financial wizard. He happens to be the son of an important American politician. So, the oil company thought it could use Biden’s high-profile name to gin up its profits. As Hunter Biden’s dad once said: Big fu***** deal!

Is that a crime? Is it any different, say, than what Jared Kushner has done by being the son-in-law of another prominent American? Let’s also examine the income that Don Trump Jr. has earned by being the son of that American. Or … how about the other son, Eric Trump?

Look, I am not going to play he “what about?” game here. I just am baffled by the so-called interest in Hunter Biden’s business activities. I am willing to concede that it looks kinda shady that an individual with no practical or demonstrable experience would take a huge salary while possessing not a lick of experience in that field.

However, other politicians have lent their famous names to projects. I recall a politician who once represented me in Congress, Jack Brooks, a Beaumont Democrat, served on various bank boards during his 40 years in Congress. Was he a financial expert? Did he have actual banking experience? Uhh … no! But he earned a handsome income and left Congress in 1995 far wealthier than when he entered that body.

Did he do anything illegal? Did he compromise his service to the nation? No.

It is my strong sense that the MAGA cabal is going to come up as empty in its Hunter Biden probe as it did when they looked high and low for dirt on Hillary Clinton. They found nothing then. They will find nothing now.

It’s all just so much crap!


Atmospheric River update …

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — I am about to skedaddle from this lovely coastal city … apparently in the nick of time.

The weathermen and women tell us that the Atmospheric River is about to start “flowing” again over the region sometime Tuesday. Toby the Puppy and I hope to be on the road en route north to a coastal town just south of the Oregon border.

Does that mean we can breathe easily? Hardly, according to my family members here. One of them said we would be driving “into the belly of the beast.”

Well, OK. I am aware of the hazards. I have told ’em all that we are prepared to stop whenever the need arises.

The locals here are understandably full of the nervous jerks when it comes to this weather pattern. It has been — to say the very least — a highly unusual winter.

It has been a cold winter and a very wet one, indeed. The mountain snowpack isn’t quite a record, but I understand it’s close.

But, Toby the Puppy and I have a bit of a schedule to keep. Fortunately, we’ll be staying with family members over the course of the next several days on the road. Which means we aren’t bound by “cancellation policies” at various lodging establishments.

It’s been an adventure so far. I am just going to hope for the best as we motor on.


Journaling? Hmm … gotta ponder it

One of the bits of advice I have received from friends who have endured the loss of a loved one involves something I have resisted doing for as long as I have been writing professionally and publicly.

It deals with writing a journal. I have tried my hand at “journaling” and determined that — to put it simply — it just ain’t my thing.

My bride passed away suddenly of cancer in early February. I have been writing about my feelings concerning that shattering loss regularly through this blog. I hope I am not boring you with this, but it is serving as a balm for the pain that continues to tear at me. Many of you have gone through this already, so you know to what I am referring.

I keep thinking that blogging about it is tantamount to writing a journal. Maybe it is … in my mind and heart.

A dear friend suggested I write a journal and submit the entries in my own handwriting. There’s a “visceral quality” to expressing oneself in that fashion, he said, and it serves as more of a cleansing agent than typing entries onto a Word document.

I am going to ponder that for a little while. I’m on the road at the moment and will be winding my way back to North Texas soon. I have declared my intention for this journey to be to clear my head and start mending my heart.

My noggin is clearing a little each day. My heart still needs plenty of work.

I hope to decide soon whether I want to commence “journaling” as a way to start to mending my shattered heart. I will wait until the end of this journey. If I proceed, I won’t say a word here. I just thought you ought to know about this latest minor emotional tussle I am seeking to overcome.


Pacific Ocean: still gorgeous!

CARMEL, Calif. — Toby the Puppy and I came in search of some western beauty. We found a whole lot of it in this resort community.

My sister and her husband brought us here for lunch and a little sightseeing. I no longer see the Pacific Ocean with the frequency I enjoyed when I lived in Oregon many years ago. Although I haven’t exactly been a stranger to it. My bride, Kathy Anne, and I were here just a few months ago. We came a couple of years before that. We traveled out west many times since moving to Texas in 1984.

This trip was different, for reasons you know by now.

Toby the Puppy and I came to this location. I told my sis I could listen forever to the sound of waves crashing ashore. It is soothing to my ears and my senses.

We didn’t stay terribly long. I am happy to declare that I accomplished one of the missions of this journey, which was to see the ocean yet again.

It’s still gorgeous!


Oh, and just so you know, I saw no sign of the city’s most famous resident, former mayor Clint Eastwood. Dang! I hope he’s all right.