Tag Archives: Texas Panhandle

World is my stage

This question comes to me from those who are aware of my left-leaning politics: How can you write this stuff on your blog, given where you live? 

My answer is simple. I write this stuff because the nature of this platform — my blog — allows me to reach far beyond the earthly boundaries of where my wife and I reside, which now is Collin County, Texas.

This is one of the many reasons why I love pursuing this version of my craft. I am able to speak my mind without reservation.

There once was a time when I had to be mindful of what I said and of the audience that was reading my thoughts. I worked for publications in the Texas Panhandle and in the Golden Triangle region of Texas that contained many readers who disagreed with my world view.

It’s not that it necessarily stopped me from speaking my mind. I just had to be a bit circumspect in the language I used. There would be no way I could refer to the 45th president of the United States as the Insurrectionist in Chief in, say, Amarillo, where he enjoyed tremendous political support during the most recent presidential elections.

Now that I am no longer employed by the newspaper that adhered to a pretty rigid conservative editorial policy, I am free to speak more freely. Which I do with gusto.

One of the struggles I fought during my nearly 18 years working in Amarillo and my nearly 11 years in Beaumont was trying to persuade readers that my signed columns were my opinion only and that they rarely reflected the editorial policy of the newspaper. I would write editorials on behalf of our editorial board that said one thing; I might be inclined to express a different view on a column that ran with my mug in a logo accompanying the text.

I no longer wage that struggle these days. The blog is mine. I own it. I also own the views I express on it.

Moreover, I am not constrained by my place of residence. The blog goes all around the world. How I do know that? Because I am able to track the sources of the hits I get on my blog. Over the span of a year, it covers our good Earth.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Why fret over this clown?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Some readers of this blog might be wondering why I spend any time  criticizing a member of Congress who represents a district where I no longer reside.

I will answer that query, presuming some of you are wondering.

I have spoken out about the Twitter rants of a Republican serving the 13th Congressional District of Texas. Ronny Jackson lives in Amarillo. He is a disgrace. I have said so, admittedly with extreme prejudice.

I care about that fellow’s rants for two reasons.

One is that my wife and I lived there for 23 years, longer than anywhere we have resided in our nearly 50 years of marriage. One of our sons still lives there. We have many friends there, too. I care about them. They should be represented by someone who (a) isn’t a carpetbagger and (b) isn’t prone to making defamatory remarks about the commander in chief, which Jackson does regularly about President Biden.

The second reason is that Ronny Jackson votes on legislation that affects every American. It’s the same reason I care about the goings-on involving other congressional fruitcakes and loons; Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell come immediately to mind. When they vote on federal legislation, they put their imprimatur on laws that have a direct impact on every single American.

Congressman: detestable! | High Plains Blogger

I won’t apologize for harboring these feelings about members of Congress, any more than I feel the need to justify why I support other members of the legislative branch of government. Or, for that matter, why I continue to support President Biden … even as he struggles with crises, as he is doing at this moment.

We have plenty of fruitcakes in North Texas, where we now live. I’ll be getting to them in due course. I just felt the urge to explain a thing or two about why I still look back fondly at our time on what I call the Texas Tundra and why I want the best for the good folks who still call it home.

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.

Eek!

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?