Tag Archives: Texas Panhandle

Lightning, thunder = excitement

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Bear with me as I write briefly about the weather.

My wife and I long have had a fascination with explosive weather. We got a first-hand look at just how explosive it can get when in 1984 we moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Beaumont proved to be a place where the lightning was extremely bright, was spectacular in its displays. The thunder it produced was noisy beyond belief.

And, oh yes, the rain comes in torrents, unlike in Oregon where it rains for three days before you even notice it.

Then we moved in 1995 to the Panhandle of Texas, the Caprock, along the Llano Estacado. They boast there about the lightning and thunder. To be honest, in our experience it didn’t measure up to what we saw and heard on the Gulf Coast.

We did experience a couple of baseball-size hail events that wrecked the roof of the house we built in Amarillo in late 1996. So, yes, we had our share of excitement.

Now we have settled in what they call North Texas, in Collin County, just NE of Dallas. It is storming as I write these few words. The intensity of the lighting and the accompanying thunder is beginning to remind us of our time in Beaumont.

It gives me a strangely pleasant diversion from the other things that usually occupy my time at the keyboard writing on this blog.

So my attention has been yanked away from the weirdness of the national and international news. I am fixated at the moment on Mother Nature’s sound and fury.

It will pass. Then I can think about the other matters that occupy my mind these days. Until then, I am going to stand in awe at the limitless power of our planet.

Trumpism boiled down

By John Kanelis / johnkanelils_92@hotmail.com

It occurs to me as I read my Twitter feed that the voters in the congressional district where I once lived are being exposed to a boiled-down version of Trumpism from their elected House of Representatives member.

Rep. Ronny Jackson is a Republican — duh!— who now lives in Amarillo. He didn’t live anywhere near the Texas Panhandle before deciding to run for the 13th Congressional District seat being vacated by fellow Republican Mac Thornberry. He moved to the region. He got elected in November.

Ever since taking office, Rep. Jackson has been doing something that Thornberry rarely did. He fires off Twitter taunts constantly.

He has suggested that President Biden is destroying the country. That Biden is leading us toward a “communist” state. That the border crisis is all on Biden. That Democrats are trying to take away people’s right to own firearms.

Do you get where I am going with this? Republican congressmen and women all across the land who adhere to Donald J. Trump’s view of how the world should be have taken to this social medium.

That’s Jackson. All the way, man.

He isn’t sending Twitter messages out about how to improve farm policy. Or about how to protect Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. Or how to preserve Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument — the only national monument in Texas! Hell, he isn’t even tweeting about whether Interstates 40 and 27 should be shored up in a national infrastructure bill.

Oh, no. This clown has hopped onto the Donald Trump clown car parade and is spewing the same brand of demagogic nonsense that flows from Trump’s pie hole.

I am going to presume that most of his constituents are OK with it. They just adore Donald Trump and might want him to run again for POTUS. Their congressman is parroting his hero, too.

You want to know what has happened to the Republican Party? Look no further than the 13th Congressional District of Texas.

It is so very disgusting.

Betsy backs Ginger

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson is touting a re-election endorsement she has received … from someone who lives way down the highway in Fort Worth.

The endorsement comes from Mayor Betsy Wright, who’s not seeking another term as Cowtown mayor.

I am not going to denigrate Betsy Wright’s mayoral legacy over yonder in Fort Worth. She appears to be quite popular among those she serves. Moreover, I happen to believe Ginger Nelson deserves another term as Amarillo mayor.

I do have a question: Does it really matter in real, tangible vote-harvesting terms to trumpet an endorsement from someone who serves a city that is more than 300 miles away?

Mayor Nelson could benefit in a real way with formal endorsements from those who work with her at the highest levels of government. How about a nod from, say, Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner and newly installed Randall County Judge Christy Dyer? Or from each of their commissioners courts? Or from mayors of the towns scattered across the Panhandle landscape?

All that said, from what I have witnessed from afar, Amarillo is continuing to make steady and enviable progress as it continues its journey from dusty burg to a city of major consequence.

So, with that she has my endorsement, too … and it likely won’t win Nelson a single vote.


Trump is no one’s POTUS

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Take a gander at this picture.

I don’t know precisely where it was taken. It showed up on my Facebook news feed with a caption that it implies it’s in Dallas.


Then someone else posted a note that said Donald Trump 2024 shirts are on sale somewhere in Amarillo. Now that doesn’t entirely surprise me, given the Texas Panhandle’s extreme right-wing tendencies. President Biden carried Dallas County by a handsome margin in 2020. Donald Trump rolled over Biden in Randall and Potter counties — which Amarillo straddles — also by handsome margins.

But … here’s the deal. Donald Trump lost the election. He would lose again were he to run a second time, in my view. I do not believe he is going to run for president again.

Trump has some legal and financial issues with which to contend. Prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga., and Manhattan, N.Y., are breathing down his neck. He has $400 million in debt that is coming due. It’s possible that he will remain blocked from social media platforms on the basis of the Big Lie he keeps spreading about so-called vote fraud in the 2020 election.

He’s already been revealed as a lying fraud. Just maybe lightning will strike, hell will freeze over and the sun will rise in the west one day, and that the Trumpkin Corps of believers will see that their guy is a first-class phony.

Happy Trails, Part 190: The journey continues

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Earlier today I realized something that I should’ve known when I crossed that threshold.

It is that I have lived most of life in a place I never dreamed when I was much younger I would find myself in retirement. That is Texas.

I am now 71 years of age. We moved to Beaumont, Texas in the spring of 1984 when I was a mere pup of 34. We gravitated from Beaumont to Amarillo nearly 11 years later. Then we pulled up our deeply rooted stakes on the Caprock and ventured to Collin County with our No. 1 goal to be near our granddaughter.

I mention all of this because when my wife and I got married nearly 50 years ago we never imagined, never even discussed the notion of moving to a place so far away from Oregon, where I was born and where my wife essentially grew up and came of age.

Texas beckoned in late 1983 with a phone call from my former boss, who had relocated to Beaumont to become executive editor of the Beaumont Enterprise. He wanted to know if I would be interested in working there as an editorial writer. My first reaction was to laugh.

One thing led to another in the course of the next day or two and I decided that, yes, I would like to explore that opportunity. I flew to Beaumont from Portland and spent a couple of days visiting with my old friend and mentor.

I returned to Oregon. I told my wife that the job looked appealing. My friend called, offered me the job, I accepted his offer and then relocated. Our sons were still quite young, 11 and 10 years old. My family joined me that summer.

My wife and I considered Beaumont to be part of a “three- to five-year plan.” We would live there, I could develop some more experience and then try to peddle my skills to another employer … somewhere else! Maybe back “home” in Oregon.

It didn’t transpire that way. Another opportunity did present itself in Amarillo. I flew from Beaumont to Amarillo in late 1994, spent a day interviewing at the Globe-News, returned home to Beaumont. The publisher offered me the job … etc. You know how this played out.

We are now happily retired. I still get to write. I have my blog. I also work as a freelance reporter for a couple who owns a group of weekly newspapers in Collin County. I write for the Farmersville Times. It is a serious, unabashed blast. I have returned, in a way, to where it all began for me in the 1970s: covering city council, school board and writing the occasional feature.

It has been a marvelous journey. Retirement is everything it’s cracked up to be. The road ahead still beckons and to be honest, I am thrilled that our three- to five-year plan never panned out.

Blizzard warning!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As I write these words, my fancy I-phone weather app tells me it is 72 degrees in Amarillo, Texas.

Tomorrow? Blizzard warning is in effect. It’s the middle of March!

Which brings me to a brief point. The weather in the Texas Panhandle keeps everyone on their toes. My wife and I lived there for 23 years. We saw snow in April; we also saw the temperature rise to, oh, 70 degrees on the same day!

Someone I met there once said you could “experience all the seasons of the year in a single day.” He wasn’t kidding!

It’s good to remember that Amarillo sits just about 3,700 feet above sea level. Rocky Mountains are about a three-hour drive to the west. The wind blows incessantly there from the north and west during the winter and early spring.

So today the warmth bathed the region. Snow is coming in just a few hours. And when the National Weather Service issues a “blizzard warning,” well … then you’d better unpack your parka.

The weather there is sure to give complete strangers something to talk about as they go through their day.

That wasn’t much fun

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We moved from what I have called The Texas Tundra to what I thought was something of a Banana Belt.

Silly me.

Rolling blackouts? Never experienced ’em in the Panhandle in our 23 years living there. I am sure some folks have experienced the joy of going without power for, oh, an hour or two to save energy.

However, the blackout from which we have just emerged wasn’t the “rolling” kind. It turns out that the power grid that serves the state of Texas isn’t equipped to handle zero-degree temperatures with extended regions of the vast state enduring wind chills in the neighborhood of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

We don’t have water just yet. The power went out at the Princeton water treatment plant, too. I have been advised by a neighbor in the know that the water will be flowing “in a few hours.”

I realize this might be a once-in-a-lifetime event for a lot of us. The wind chill factors have been punishing to say the least.

Our power went out late Sunday. It came back on for a time in wee hours Monday, then we went dark again. We awoke Monday to no electricity, but we had water. The temperature was about 15 degrees and heading south in a hurry.

We turned in early Monday night because the house was dark, we couldn’t read. So we figured, “What the hey?” We woke up this morning still with no lights.

Oh, and the temperature registered zero … degrees. 

The water went out during the night. We got up once or twice, turned on the faucets to let it drip. It did for a time. Then it stopped.

We hope we have powered through this crisis. It’s still early. The power came on and we did what we were advised to do: We unplugged all the unnecessary appliances, such as the toaster, blender, can opener, digital clock, the reclining living room couch.

Pray for us the rest of the way, will ya?

Meanwhile, I need to do a little research to determine whether our city fathers and mothers did all they could do to prepare for this event.

Winter blast is coming

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You have read blog posts from me over the years about the retirement journey on which my wife and I have embarked.

Well, this weekend that journey is going to provide us with a blast from the past. You see, we moved to the Metroplex a couple of years ago from the Texas Panhandle hoping — among many things — to escape the vicious winter weather that occasionally clobbers the High Plains region of Texas.

They’re telling us we’re going to get a good bit of snow. It will accumulate. The temperature is going to drop from an already frigid 20-something degrees to something a bit below — gulp! — zero degrees Fahrenheit.

I gotta tell ya, I didn’t count on this.

It’s not that we expected to move to the tropics when we relocated from southwest Amarillo, Texas, to Princeton, just a bit northeast of Dallas and, more to the point, only a handful of miles from our granddaughter in Allen.

It’s been said of the Panhandle that one could experience all four seasons in a single day. It’s true! We experienced it a time or two during our 23 years up yonder and, boy howdy, it got really cold.

I will give props to Panhandle motorists on one point. They know how to drive in the snow, in the wind. That’s not quite the case in the Metroplex, or so I have been told.

We’re just going to lie low for a few days waiting for the nasty weather to blow on by.

Our retirement journey has been a joy for both of us, even in this pandemic era through which we all are living. Now we have to cope with Mother Nature’s winter wrath.

Life is good … eh?

Is right-wing wackiness returning?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The phone rang the other morning, so I answered it and it was someone I used to know a long time ago back when we both worked in the Texas Panhandle.

My friend worked for a prominent Amarillo politician and called to pick my (already picked-over) brain about the state of politics and the media that cover it in Panhandle.

She offered a chilling summation of what she believes is occurring there: a resurgence of the conspiracy theory, far-right-wing wackiness of the Republican Party. Bear mind, too, that the individual with whom I spoke worked for a doctrinaire, conservative Republican. She is concerned that the nut jobs who once belonged to the John Birch Society and hung signs calling for the United States to pull out of the United Nations are gaining traction once again in the Texas Panhandle.

Well …

After talking to my friend, who is an astute political observer, I am beginning to worry about the state of political play in the place I called home for more than 23 years.

Indeed, the region’s congressman, Republican Mac Thornberry, is retiring in just a few days. He will be succeeded by Ronny Jackson, the retired U.S. Navy admiral, one-time White House physician and current Donald Trump acolyte who adheres to the idiocy that President-elect Joe Biden “stole” the 2020 election from his man Trump.

Therein lies the apparent heart of what should concern true-blue Republicans who sit in power throughout the Panhandle. The Party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan has now become the Party of Donald Trump. Are you … kidding me?

Are they going to continue to allow their party to be hijacked by the likes of those who swill the Kool-Aid offered by the carnival barker/con man/charlatan Donald Trump?

If they do, then by golly we might be in even more trouble than my friend fears is headed this way.

In the middle of the fight

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My wife and I moved two years ago from a remote region of Texas into the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex … and this election season is giving us a lesson in the difference between the region.

It lies in the volume of political ads we get plastered on our TV sets throughout any given day.

The Metroplex straddles multiple congressional and Texas legislative districts. The region’s TV stations broadcast far and wide, which means the candidates running for office must use the stations to broadcast their message.

We have no fewer than eight congressional districts being contested here. I have lost count of the legislative districts. When we watch our evening programming and they break for “commercials,” we can watch at least five, maybe six, political ads in that span of time. Next break? More of the same, quite often with the same ads!

Compare that with our TV viewing in the Texas Panhandle. Amarillo is in the midst of the 13th Congressional District. The region has four legislative districts. Here, though, is the rub: The legislative districts rarely feature two-party contests, with Republicans vs. Democrats. It’s usually just a GOP walk-over. So, we get none of the local pressure.

Of course, too, we have a hotly contested U.S. Senate race in 2020. GOP Sen. John Cornyn is fighting hard against Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar and the two of them are going hammer-and-tong against each other over the air.

Then we have the presidential race. Joe Biden is running ahead of Donald Trump and the tone and tenor of their respective ads reflect their relative standing in the polling.

Trump has gone all negative. Biden? He is telling us about his compassion and his pledge to be a president for “all Americans,” including those who don’t vote for him. I know that in most cases “negativity works,” but in this instance I am drawn more to the positive nature of the former VP’s TV ad spots.

What does all this mean? It means I am waiting anxiously for an end to this maelstrom. By all means I am hoping that the contest at the top of the ballot ends correctly … if you get my drift!