Tag Archives: North Texas

Puppy Tales, Part 88: Brave and skittish

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Toby the Puppy has a remarkable memory.

He once was fearless. Nothing seemed to bother him when he joined our family in early September 2014. Then we went to a Fourth of July celebration in the summer of 2019. He heard fireworks exploding and, shall we say, became frightened by its sound.

Toby the Puppy hasn’t been the same ever since.

It is stormy tonight in North Texas. The sky is lighting up. The thunder is loud. My wife and I enjoy the sound. Not our beloved puppy.

The sounds that never used to make him flinch, now send him scurrying for cover.

Bear in mind that this is the same pooch who acts tough in the presence of much larger doggie beasts. He acts — and sounds with his big, throaty bark — like the meanest Rottweiler you’ll ever hear.

However, he isn’t mean. Not at all. He is gentle and let’s not forget that he weighs about 13 pounds.

Not even a Rottweiler could overpower the sounds we’re hearing tonight. So, our puppy is in good company.

If only we could persuade him that the thunder and lightning won’t hurt him. Or us.

Partisan bickering could cost more lives

Oh, my goodness. The partisan bickering is filtering from Austin to county courthouses throughout Texas.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is issuing warnings to Democratic mayors and county judges to back off their local coronavirus pandemic mandates because, Paxton says, they do not conform with what Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has declared.

This is rich, man.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, one of those Democrats, has emerged as a champion in my eyes as he seeks to battle the viral infection outbreak in North Texas. Oh, I need to mention that my wife, one of our sons and his family and I reside in next-door Collin County.

Jenkins has ordered that everyone “shall” wear masks when they do business; Abbott’s order doesn’t require the wearing of masks. Thus, Paxton said that Jenkins and other get-tough local officials are overstepping their authority.

C’mon, Mr. AG. The judge is seeking to save Texans’ lives!

It’s all part of what looks like a deepening and widening of the partisan divide in Washington as Democrats and Republicans squabble over how to fight this pandemic. This won’t surprise you, but I do believe Democrats are on the correct side in that D.C. fight, with Donald Trump continuing to muddle his messages and continuing to pick fights with Democratic governors needlessly.

It’s now happening in Austin, where Republican state officials are haggling with Democratic local officials over which of them is taking the correct course. GOP officials want to reopen the economy more rapidly than their Democratic colleagues. Why are Democrats dragging their feet? Let’s see. Oh, they fear that a too-rapid reopening puts Texans’ lives in danger!

Hey, that concern is good enough for me.

So, with that, allow me this rejoinder: Mr. Texas Attorney General … back off!

Sounds of spring are upon us!

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

I get that it ain’t spring … just yet!

We’ve got another three weeks or so until the vernal equinox arrives, but in North Texas I am hearing the sounds of spring already.

They are?

Well, let’s see. We have birds chirping at dawn. That’s a sure sign that winter is giving way to spring.

Then there’s the sound of lawn mowers cranking up. Some of them are sputtering a bit as they get going in our Princeton neighborhood. I root for them to get going. Accordingly we hear the sound of weed whackers and the occasional child squealing as he or she speeds by on a bicycle.

This clearly is my favorite season of the year, which I have declared already on this blog. I think I’ve said it more than once, so pardon me for repeating myself. It’s the time of year when we awaken from winter slumber and the grumbling about the cold.

Our grass grows dormant. Then it — pardon the pun — springs to life.

With all the other baloney, malarkey, crapola, nonsense going on this crazy world, I just want to welcome the onset of my favorite time of the year. If only it could overshadow what awaits.

For now, I am going to enjoy the day.

Happy Trails, Part 161: Meeting the neighbors

I am living, breathing, talking proof that rear-entry driveways have helped damage neighborly relations among folks.

How do I know this? We sold our house in Amarillo more than a year ago after living in it for more than two decades. We had it built from the ground up. It had a rear-entry garage that allowed us to drive our vehicle from an alley that ran along the rear of our homes.

We had infrequent exchanges with our neighbors. Why? We hardly ever saw them.

It’s different these days. Our retirement journey has taken us to Princeton. Our new home has a driveway that faces onto the street.

Here’s the benefit we have accrued from this new arrangement: We have gotten acquainted early with several our neighbors on our side of the street and also across the street.

My wife and I know the names of folks living in two residences across the street; we know the names of both our next-door neighbors, as well as the neighbors two and three doors to our east.

I have concluded that with front-entry driveways we have returned to a more neighborly environment than what we experienced for 22 years living in our Amarillo home.

It’s not that our neighbors in Princeton are friendlier than they were in Amarillo. Indeed, we became good friends with several of the families living on our street in Amarillo. It took some time, given the rear-entry garages that prevented a lot of regular face-to-face interaction with them.

Make no mistake that Panhandle residents pride themselves on their friendliness, their sense of community. We would hear about it regularly as we went through our day over many years.

Now, though, our daily routine as we go about our day in the home with our front-entry driveway includes a lot more frequent interaction with our neighbors along our street.

It’s nice to know the folks with whom we share this neighborhood.

Casting my gaze over my shoulder

I love my life in my new home. There’s much to explore about Collin County, the rest of North Texas, the Metroplex. The growth all around our home is astonishing.

However, I remain committed to casting my gaze backward, perhaps for beyond the foreseeable future. I know that might seem counterintuitive, looking backward as we move forward.

However, the community my wife and I departed in 2018 has some issues that are boiling. Two of them stand out:

  • Downtown Amarillo is moving into a new existence, with a new energy and a new purpose. I want to keep my eye on how that progresses. I have high hope that the city’s future is looking brighter week by week.
  • The Amarillo Independent School District is facing some potentially critical policy debates over the short and perhaps the medium terms. The board of trustees is suffering a lack of community confidence. It has fumbled — in my view — in its handling of the resignation of a high school girls volleyball coach and the alleged misconduct by one of the elected trustees.

I am in touch with Amarillo ISD residents who are intent on getting to the bottom of matters. I intend to stay in touch with them and I intend to keep talking about those issues on this blog. I want the Amarillo ISD to resolve these problems constructively and permanently.

But I have to tell you that based on what I am hearing, there well might be some more AISD issues to tackle than what I’ve laid out with this brief blog post.

I also intend to get more involved with the community where my wife and I — along with our precious puppy, Toby — have settled. Princeton is a community on the move. My still-developing relationship with KETR-FM public radio will allow me a chance to get more deeply acquainted with the individuals and groups who are calling the shots in Collin County and throughout KETR’s listening area.

So . . . retirement has brought some new challenges my way. They involve getting involved with our new surroundings.

And keeping tabs on the community we recently departed, but did not leave behind.

Learning my way through North Texas

My new gig as a blogger for a public radio station has set me on a course to learn more intimately about Collin County and much of the rest of North Texas, where my wife and I now call home.

KETR-FM, based at Texas A&M University-Commerce, has given me a chance to write for its website. I’ve submitted three posts already. More will be on the way.

The next one is going to bring a challenge or two.

Mark Haslett, news director at KETR-FM, has given me an idea to examine. It’ll be about traffic, road construction and what in the world is happening along U.S. 380, the highway that cuts through several North Texas counties. Indeed, it runs about a half-mile north of where my wife and I live.

The highway is undergoing major work at this moment, and likely for past the foreseeable future. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is the lead public agency with responsibility for all that road work.

I’ve put in a phone call. I am awaiting a call back from NCTCOG’s media relations fellow. I am confident it will come soon.

Why is this a big deal? I’ve written before how much I learned about all the communities where I lived and work. Whether it was in Clackamas County, Ore., or in the Golden Triangle of Texas or in the Texas Panhandle, I took away a good bit of local knowledge from each place.

I now intend to launch my learning curve in North Texas.

My new “career” as a blogger continues to bring rewards. They’re difficult to quantify. The knowledge I will gain about my new home still will be of considerable value.

Happy Trails, Part 116: Puppy now knows Emma

I was torn between filing this blog item under a Happy Trails installment or a Puppy Tales episode. I settled on the Happy Trails route, as it helps explain another milestone that our retirement journey has passed.

It actually arrived some time ago, but I noticed again today.

Our granddaughter visited us briefly this morning at our place prior to taking her downtown to see the Dallas World Aquarium. When she walked through the front door, Toby the Puppy greeted her precisely the way he greets my wife and me whenever we’re away for more than 10 minutes: tail wags, licks and running around vigorously in circles.

This is the kind of greeting Emma can expect whenever she sees Toby. It’s also the greeting she’ll get with increasing frequency now that her Grandma and I have moved to our new digs in Collin County.

She’s used to enthusiastic greetings from dogs. She has one of her own. Madden is much larger than Toby. He also is just as cheerful and affectionate when he sees Emma. For that matter, he greets Toby the same way; Toby is more than happy to return the affection to his much larger family relative. I hasten to add that Madden greets my wife and me with plenty of licks and tail wags, too.

This is one of those transitions we expected to occur once we resettled in North Texas. I enjoy watching it every time it occurs.

Today was no exception. I am so looking forward to many more of these greetings.

I should add that Emma loves Toby as much as he loves her.

Happy Trails, Part 115: First house guest arrives

I am happy to report that our first house guest arrived, spent the night and then departed for points north.

Why is this a big deal? Because it occurred in our new home.

Our dear friend lives in Roanoke, Va. He was visiting his mother-in-law in East Texas. His wife, another dear friend, had stayed behind to spend more time with her mother.

I’ll stipulate that we’ve actually had another person spend the night with us prior to our friend. That other person, though, is our granddaughter and, given that she is family, I won’t count her as a “first house guest.” Emma isn’t a “guest” in our home, if you know what I mean.

This is a big deal because of the hard work my wife — aka Wonder Woman — has done to assemble our new digs in Fairview, making them livable and comfortable not just for us, but for those who choose to visit.

I know there will be others who’ll come to see us. We will welcome them.

Just not all at once. Our new place isn’t that big. It is, however, big enough for us, for our granddaughter, for Toby the Puppy and those who want to share some time with us.

I’m just thrilled to have spent some fellowship in our new dwelling with someone who came from far away.

Driverless car service? Umm, no thanks!

As a soon-to-be resident of a North Texas community, I believe I shall declare here and now that I have zero intention of ever partaking of a new service that a neighboring community will allow.

Frisco is going to allow a driverless service. Yep. Get into a motor vehicle and let it take you where you want to go.

No-o-o-o thank you!

The Texas Tribune reports: The service, reported Monday by The Dallas Morning News, will first be accessible in July for roughly 10,000 employees working in a bevy of corporate offices located less than a mile away from The Star, a retail and dining area that also serves as headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys. The service will also be free for the first six months.

The service reportedly will expand beyond this limited accessibility … eventually.

Until the day comes when there can be an ironclad guarantee that this technology is absolutely, unequivocally fool-proof, I always will sit in a motor vehicle with a fellow fallible human being sitting behind the steering wheel.

The idea of an even more -fallible “Drone Car” mingling on our streets and highways with the rest of us scares the bejabbers out of me.

There. I’m out.

Happy Trails, Part 100

So many questions get tossed at us as we prepare for this next big phase in our life together.

We have let it be known that we intend to rent our next dwelling. We sold our house and then decided that we no longer want to be saddled with the responsibility of home ownership: no more yard care, no more home repairs, no more property taxes.

We are moving soon into a “luxury apartment” just north of Allen, Texas.

The question associated with this move? Are you going to move into one of those 55-and-older “retirement” communities?

My answer? Hah! You’ve got to be kidding! I might be an old man, but I don’t feel like one and I don’t want to hang around a bunch of old folks.

Yes, we looked at some of those “retirement communities” on our search for new digs in North Texas. We opted out of them. I was a bit turned off by the pitch from property managers that extolled all the “activities” available to residents: tours, shopping, shuffleboard. They pick up residents up and ferry them around to do things as a group.

Umm. No thanks.

We decided instead on a place that provides us easy access to entertainment, shopping and dining — that we can enjoy on our own time! What’s more, it’s only about 30 minutes from Dallas, 45 minutes from Fort Worth, and even closer to outdoor activities where we can haul our fifth wheel RV for a weekend outing.

Our retirement journey has taken us to this critical juncture in our life. We are preparing to vacate the “home” we’ve known for the past 23 years. We intend to forge new friendships, familiarize ourselves with new surroundings.

However, our retirement will not slow us down for a moment from our intention to travel throughout North America. We’ve seen a lot of it already, but there’s a lot more of it to enjoy.

Oh, yes. We also have a precious, adorable and beautiful granddaughter with whom we intend to share this new life.