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Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Last week I talked about how my teenaged daughter thinks she needs a hedgehog despite the fact that we have a perfectly nice dog.  I thought I had better give a little backstory to how we acquired Juneau, our nine-year-old husky.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We have a perfectly good dog.  She’s a nine-year-old Siberian husky named Juneau.  Her arrival in our lives coincides with my last weak moment.

What I love about Juneau is that she is long past the puppy stage.  She has settled into a quiet, late-middle-aged dog who calmly patrols the backyard.  This is a huge improvement upon the digging, ripping-open-trash, nipping, yapping, chewing, tearing-off-her-collar, barfing, jumping, running away, yanking the leash, wetting on the porch stage.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

This month on Little Spouse on the Prairie, we are sharing funny stories of pranks and tricks in honor of April Fool’s Day.  Continuing with the theme of ornery teachers, I have a story about one whose birthday is actually on April 1st.  I still haven’t forgiven him. 

It feels odd to even say the sentence, but it seems to be true: live music is BACK! Today on High Plains Morning, I had a blast visiting with Nate Green, owner of the Starlight Canyon Bed & Breakfast, about their new music series, Concerts in the Canyon.

Our bowl runneth over on High Plains Morning after a visit from Tina Brohlin of High Plains Food Bank. She stopped by the studio to remind Amarillo-area residents about Empty Bowls, an annual fundraiser for the Kids Cafe that'll take place on April 20th at 5:30 - 7:30 pm CT.

This week, we checked in with High Plains hero Joyce Knight at the Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle. Tonight, they host their Annual Salt & Pepper event (which is usually a luncheon, but it’s going virtual for 2021).

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I don’t respond well to practical jokes.  Typically, I have a pretty violent response.  My hope is always that, when these pranksters see how startled I am by their shenanigans, they will feel remorse and apologize and cease making me the butt of their jokes.

Last week on High Plains Morning, we had a delightful visit from Marcy McKay, an Amarillo-based author and regular HPPR Radio Readers Book Club contributor about her latest book, When Life Feels Like a House Fire: Transforming Your COVID-19 Stress.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

When Joel and I got married several years ago, he had never attended an estate auction.  Weirdly, he wasn’t even interested in digging through other people’s old junk! Like the good wife that I was, I immediately began conversion therapy. 

High Plains Public Radio has an exciting new perk for our station's members!

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Miscommunication can provide some hilarious moments in marriage. Frequently, Joel and I can have entire conversations, make detailed plans, and agree on solutions to problems, only to realize a few days later that one participant (or at least I thought he was a participant) in the conversation has no recollection of the exchange at all.  And he claims the only time I really tune in to his vocalizations is when he’s snoring.

The High Plains has always been populated by generous, community-minded people that look after one another in good times and bad. So this week we welcomed representatives from two of Amarillo’s most prominent service organizations in the barrio neighborhood on our city’s north side.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Speaking of board games, why do 12-year-old boys love Monopoly so much?  After a 30-minute negotiation about whether the kids have to play a board game with their parents, our family then spends another 30 minutes trying to decide which game to play. Invariably, my son Dashiell lobbies for Monotony – I mean Monopoly.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

My world works better if things are in their places.  My anxiety is considerably less if the items in the junk drawer are alphabetized.

I did not, however, choose to alphabetize our board game storage. Initially, I did alphabetize, but all of the boxes are different sizes, and that method of filing resulted in haphazard, wobbly stacks.  Incidentally, why on earth don’t game companies band together, for the betterment of humanity, and make all game boxes the same size?

Today on High Plains Morning, we had Jami Cowart, the Voter Registration Coordinator at the Amarillo League of Women Voters on the air to discuss the upcoming elections in the Texas panhandle. However, keeping on top of voter registration status is something EVERY HPPR LISTENER should be doing—so check out our conversation on the link below.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Although I talked about nicknames a few episodes ago, I have an update. Joel’s new nickname for me is Large Curd.  I’m just about as impressed with this one as I was Val Movement from back in grade school.  Let me explain.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The desk chair in our study is vintage.  It’s one of those old oak banker’s chairs with the vertical slats on the back, a scooped seat, and four casters.  It’s a beautiful piece to look at, made even more attractive by the fact that I paid ten dollars for it an auction.

For the sixth year in a row, the Texas Municipal Library Directors Association has honored Amarillo Public Library with its Award of Excellence. Only 56 of Texas’ 568 public library systems earned this distinction for 2020, placing APL in the top 10% of all public libraries in the state.

Thanks to Beth Duke of Center City of Amarillo for stopping by HPPR studios to share information about the forthcoming 2021 Amarillo Community Market. Vendor applications are now open for submission, so check it out if you wanted to have a booth at the weekly market—which is now in its 6th season! Deadline for applications is April 30, 2021; you can apply online here.

This week, High Plains Morning caught up with Sophia Britto, one of four students at West Texas A&M University taking part in the 2021 Public Relations Student Society of America Bateman Competition.

We have all seen the national coverage of power outages across the US as a result of Winter Storm Uri, especially how it affected families across Texas. Today, we invited Wes Reeves, Senior Media Relations Representative at Xcel Energy, into the studio to unpack some of the complicated logistics of the power grids of the Lone Star state.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The third project I tackled during my winter break was by far the largest, and one that I knew was going to take at least two full days.  I wanted to organize our DVDs.

When I told my brother of my plans, he remarked, “You still have DVDs?” 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Remember how we discussed the snowballing strategy for tackling debt and long lists of projects?  Despite my initial difficulty with the first sewing task, presumably the smallest job on this list during winter break, I was determined to make this January one of the most productive ever.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Listeners know, I am not domestically inclined, but I am organized and thrifty.  So, I do have a few redeeming qualities. Optimism, however, isn’t one of those. Weirdly though, the one thing I do usually overestimate is how much I can accomplish in two weeks of winter vacation time.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Nicknames come about in interesting ways. I have relatives who have received nicknames based on the color of their hair, something funny they said as small children, and, unfortunately, their size.  My very tall and imposing grandma was called Tiny, a name she despised.  A great uncle went by Sauce.  I thought it was because he drank a lot. When he died, his obituary revealed his real name, which I had never heard until then: It was Alfredo.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Sunday Drive

Jan 22, 2021
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The Sunday drive: a peaceful, rural tradition in America.  The family loads up in the automobile and meanders through the pastoral landscape, talking quietly about the view outside the unrolled window. If it’s winter, I’ll pack a thermos of hot cocoa.  If it’s summer, we’ll stop and get a cherry limeade as we roll back into town. (Rewind sound effect).

After a record-breaking year helping families in need across the Texas Panhandle, the Amarillo-based High Plains Food Bank continues churning out food boxes around the clock. Today, we spoke with Tina Brohlin, HPFB’s Director of Development, about their organization’s need for volunteers in their warehouse facility, primarily assembling food boxes for expedited delivery. “Due to the increased demand and distribution, we critically need volunteer support to get food out to individuals and families across the Texas Panhandle,” Brohlin said.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Some Like It Hot

Jan 15, 2021
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

As in many a typical family, everyone at my house has a different level of body heat regulation.  This, coupled with the fact that we live in a large, old, drafty house, can make for some interesting arguments.

The City of Amarillo Public Health Department is currently administering COVID-19 vaccines to all individuals identified in the State of Texas Phase 1A and 1B Vaccine Allocation Plan.

--Phase 1A: Includes front-line healthcare workers, staff, and residents of long-term care facilities.

As we have all seen, it’s not easy keeping communities connected throughout a pandemic—especially when the groups with whom you work already have a possible language barrier and cultural differences that make socializing a challenge. Today on High Plains Morning, we talked to Ryan Pennington, the Executive Director of Refugee Language Project in Amarillo, TX. He’s presenting the first-ever Amarillo Refugee State of the Union on Tuesday, January 12th at 7:00 p.m.