Tag Archives: North Texas

Puppy Tales, Part 101: New roommates

Let it never be said that Toby the Puppy cannot learn to adapt.

He is doing precisely that as I write these words. You see, he has acquired two fur-baby roomies who now share his house with him. They are Macy and Marlowe, the cats who arrived with my son the other day.

My son moved to Princeton from Amarillo, way up yonder in the Texas Panhandle. He drove the distance with Macy and Marlowe tucked away in their kennels. No problems en route, my son reported.

Then they arrived. Did trouble erupt when they encountered my puppy for the first time? Nothing serious.

Toby let them know immediately that they were in his house.

They scampered into the garage, where they hid for the first few days and nights.

But … the atmosphere is changing daily. They have made eye contact. The kitties, who actually are both very sweet and docile, have looked Toby over, checked him out. He has returned the gaze — and checked them out as well.

I had notified him in advance of their arrival. He didn’t seem overly concerned when he got the word. I trust my son informed his kitties of the change that would greet them as well once they arrived in North Texas.

All told? It’s going to be all right.

Good puppy. Good kitties.


Now for the return

MONITOR, Wash. — I am getting ready to make the turn and head for the house.

My return to North Texas will commence in a couple of days, after I visit with a couple of family members and we get caught up on what’s happening in our lives.

They know my story, as I have been chronicling it on this blog.

To be candid, I am ready to start the return to familiar haunts … not that those I have seen already aren’t plenty familiar to these 73-year-old eyes.

The constant rain that has fallen during my entire stay in the Pacific Northwest is maddeningly familiar to be sure. I grew up in Portland, where it seemingly drizzles forever and then some. Yes, I also saw old friends, five high school classmates, plenty of family, my godmother (who also is family, according to Orthodox Church tradition) and some old haunts.

But it’s time to make the trek back to Collin County. I’ll take a different route than the one that brought me to this place on the eastern slope of the Cascade Range.

What’s more, I am going to travel along some highways that I’ve never seen before. I trust that my late bride, Kathy Anne, will smile in approval as Toby the Puppy and I wind our way back to the house.

More family will greet us in the Texas Hill Country and some friends await us in West Texas.

This journey was intended for me to simply get away from the nearness of the event that broke my heart in early February. I will miss Kathy Anne forever and then some.

But I am ready to start assembling my life for the still-unknown journey that awaits.


How am I doing? Umm … OK

PORTLAND — The question is inevitable as I make my way across the western United States and begin thinking about the return trip to my home in North Texas.

“How are you doing?” my friends and family members ask with the look of those who know the pain I am feeling.

My answer is truthful. “Oh … I’m OK.” They know I’m not really OK, but they understand the reason the shrug I give them and the look in my eyes.

But in truth, I actually am doing a bit better than just OK. It’s not a lot better, but it’s a little bit so.

I embarked on this venture to clear my head after my wife passed away suddenly in early February after getting a cancer diagnosis that knocked me for a loop … but which seemed in the moment to have been something Kathy Anne might have expected.

She was stoic and steadfast in her response to the doctor: “Let’s just get it out of there.”

I had to leave the house. So, I did. I am very close to the halfway point. Soon I’ll be turning my pickup around and heading toward the house.

My sense is that I’ll be able to walk into my Princeton home feeling a bit of emotional relief as a result of the time I have taken away.

To be sure, there are likely to be more of these ventures in my near and medium-term future. This one, though, has been fairly successful in that I have been able to accomplish much of what I intended when Toby the Puppy and I hit the road nearly two weeks ago.

I’ll get more of the “How are you doing?” questions along the way. Those who ask it will get the same answer I’ve been giving. I trust they’ll understand.


Bring on the expansion!

Days like today make me wish for all I’m worth for the Texas highway department to get cracking on the improvements it is planning for a major North Texas highway that leads me to the house.

I spent the bulk of my day at the hospital visiting with my wife as she continues her recovery from brain surgery. I left — wouldn’t you know? — at rush hour for the (supposedly) 15- to 20-minute drive home to Princeton.

Silly me …

I diverted the truck north along the Central Expressway to avoid getting caught in the stopped traffic along Texas Highway 5 near the hospital.

I made the turn at U.S. 380 in McKinney and headed east. So far so good. Then I got to Airport Drive.

Then the traffic came to a screeching stop. No one moved. An endless stream of vehicles with brake lines shining loomed ahead of me. We crept along like the proverbial snail. My 15-minute drive then turned to a 40-minute ordeal.

The Texas Department of Transportation is planning to expand U.S. 380 from four to six lanes. Then it will — eventually! — build a freeway pass around Princeton.

Yes, it was moment like what I experienced today that make me wish for the sight of those ubiquitous orange construction cones.

Bring it on! Sooner rather than later!


Thank goodness for weather forecasters

We had a bit of a scare this morning, which prompts me to offer a good word to those men and women who keep us informed on what’s happening in our world.

Mama Nature took aim at North Texas today, sending tornadoes raking across the land. We were safe in our Collin County home. I didn’t hear any sirens warning us of pending danger. Believe me, we have a tornado siren real close to our home, so had it gone off we would have heard it.

But we had our TV turned on to the local ABC News affiliate, intending to watch “Good Morning America,” which we do most mornings. Instead, we got lots of weather news.

What I found strangely reassuring was that the forecasters working this morning — Mariel Ruiz and Greg Fields — did not burden us with details about “hook echoes” or other terminology that only meteorologists understand. To my ears, it frequently sounds like jargon that only weathermen and women can grasp. I have lived in communities in Texas where the weather guys become enamored with sharing their knowledge of “weatherspeak” to those who don’t understand what the hell they’re saying.

Today, they gave us the basics: the direction of the storm as it swept over us from west to east, its speed as it coursed through our communities, damage that it was inflicting, and what we need to do to protect ourselves … the critical news that we need to hear.

I am not inclined generally to give these kinds of reviews on this blog. It’s just that today, when they told us excitedly that “tornado warnings have been issued for Collin County,” we sat up and took particular notice.

Our North Texas counties are small in geographic area, so when they tell us of a storm “warning,” there is a decent chance it could roar through our neighborhood. Collin County comprises 886 square miles, which means it’s about 30 miles across in any direction. That ain’t much, man.

Well … it didn’t come close to us. I am grateful for that, obviously. I also am grateful for the constant information flow that kept us all wide awake and aware of what might happen.

Thanks, everyone. This TV watcher appreciates the work you do and the service you perform.


Population sign already obsolete

Whenever they get around to posting these signs at the Princeton city limits, the city and the Texas Department of Transportation will have to consider replacing them with fresh signs … and numbers.

The 2020 Census puts Princeton’s population at 17,027 residents; the 2010 Census had our once-sleepy little town at 6,807 individuals. The increase has nearly tripled between those two Census periods. 

However, the 17,027 figure already is old news. I can tell you that without a doubt there are many more people living in Princeton at this moment than there were when they stopped counting for the most recent Census.

If I were in charge of keeping track of that number, I would go dizzy trying to catch up with the rapid growth that is occurring along our stretch of U.S. 380 in Collin County, Texas.

I’m just sayin’, man.

For sure, our city is far from alone in this exercise in frustration. McKinney is exploding, as is Plano, Wylie, Farmersville, Frisco, Allen, Anna, Prosper, Melissa and many other North Texas communities. 

When you see the 17,027-resident figure whenever they post the next signs at the edges of our city, just know that the number doesn’t mean a thing. The real number of residents no doubt is far greater.


Prepared for worst …

My bride and I live by the credo that whenever we prepare for the worst the worst hardly ever arrives.

Thus, when the weather forecasters told us today that the latest round of North Texas spring storms could bring hail stones the size of golf balls or (gulp!) baseballs, we prepared for the arrival of the monstrous storm.

We moved our big ol’ pickup — Big Jake — into our garage. Jake’s rear end stuck out about a foot, given that it’s too big to fit completely into our garage. We covered the exposed portion with two layers of plastic. The wind was howling. We had a bit of rain.

The hail stones? Hah! They never arrived!

Is that an omen? Maybe it is. We won’t take anything for granted as we push our way through the spring, which in North Texas provides a weather-related surprise seemingly every day. It reminds us a bit of the Panhandle, where we lived for more than 20 years before we relocated to the Dallas ‘burbs.

So, we’ll trudge on preparing for the worst whenever the weathermen and women tell us to be alert to Mother Nature’s wrath.


Rainbows shine a light of peace

First, an admission: I didn’t take this picture; it showed up on my Facebook feed and I grabbed it to post here.

Someone who lives in my neighborhood snapped it. However, I just want to offer a brief comment on it.

The rainbow came after two hailstorm bursts that pounded our North Texas subdivision. The rain is moving east. It caused a bit of uproar around here. Hailstones the size of medium-sized marbles forced a few of us to move our vehicles indoors; we moved our pickup (most of the way) into our garage.

However, the rainbow after the storm just seemed so refreshing and hopeful to my eyes, given all the distress that bombards us these days.

I just had to share this and hope we can some more hopeful signs of light and peace.


Moving day at City Hall

Princeton City Hall is about to pack up and move to a new location down the road a bit.

It figures to be a proverbial cakewalk, according to City Manager Derek Borg, who once told me he has been through this already and, thus, he expects a relatively smooth transition from the cramped quarters that City Hall occupies into a vastly more spacious and modern complex east along U.S. Highway 380.

Moving day actually will occur over the span of two days, Jan. 27 and 28, city officials announced recently. There will be a grand opening set for March 11. Mayor Brianna Chacon wants to have it during students’ spring break to ensure that residents can be available to attend and relish what the city will unveil to the public.

It’s a huge deal.

The city spent $20 million to build the municipal complex on donated land on the north side of the highway. It’s a fabulous array of office space, comprising about eight times the space the city now uses. Borg told me the new complex will bring virtually all municipal government departments under one roof.

The complex will feature plenty of glass, lots of windows as a symbolic statement of the “transparency” the city hopes to convey to the public. Future plans call for plenty of green space, retail space and an entertainment venue for residents to enjoy, according to the city manager.

But … first things first.

I don’t think Derek Borg is predicting a hiccup-free move. However, he will take on whatever challenges arise with joyful determination that once everyone settles in, they will be able to provide top-flight municipal service to the residents who are footing the bill.

Good luck to you all.


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.