I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

diatribe | ˈdīəˌtrīb | noun. a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something: a diatribe against the Roman Catholic Church.

An encounter on Instagram yesterday motivated Mr Polite in Public (the_crossroad_saints on Instagram) to come here, to my blog, and leave a rather ugly comment on my “Who Is This Scribbler?” page. As is the case with his kind, he provided no context and completely misrepresented our exchange. His comment:

If you enjoyed her lovely little persona here, disagree with her diatribes on Instagram. Quite a different experience I assure you. Above all, worship Donald Trump or else.

Let me set one thing straight before we get into the meat of the matter: I do not worship Donald Trump. I am able to recognize his shortcomings and truth be told, I struggled with voting for him in 2016. I almost chose to abstain from voting altogether. My interaction with the_crossroad_saints was completely focused on his misrepresentation of the facts.

When did it become verboten to express an opinion, especially when that opinion is based upon documented evidence? Much like the frog simmering in a pot of water until it’s too late, I think our Constitutional freedom of speech has been slipping away from us at a barely discernible rate. Because of “feelings,” and the inability to discuss differing views in a civilized fashion, more and more restrictions are being placed on public discourse. Mr Polite in Public’s comment brings into question my “lovely little persona,” makes it sound as though I was forceful and bitter in our Instagram exchange, and even insinuates I was threatening with his use of the words “or else.” Nothing could be further from the truth. He was motivated to come here, to my home on the web, because he had no rational response to the presentation of facts. So here we are.

Social media makes it possible for participants to express their views via the written word, photographs, and video, and to do so quickly. Until recently, Facebook seemed to be the place for words, while Instagram was the place for aesthetics: foodie photos, makers’ masterpieces, selfies, and the like.

It happened gradually, but at some point Instagram began shifting from the platform of creative expression toward something increasingly similar to Facebook. Where it was once possible to escape the Facebook wars between the left and right by visiting Instagram, now political commentary, memes, activist rants, videos, etc. populate the Gram. Scrolling through all that to find the good stuff takes more and more time. Sometimes the posts are good–like a Instagram video of the president handing a White House pen to a little kid he noticed standing nearby. It’s a sweet moment. A human moment. A moment that doesn’t get reported on the regular news, because ORANGE MAN BAD.

I watched the video and thought, “How cool is that? Wonder if that kid will use that pen to do his homework? And tell all the other kids, ‘Hey! Look what the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES gave ME?”

And then I made the mistake of reading the comments. The majority of the comments are Trump supporters: people who appreciate the good that this flawed human being has managed to accomplish in spite of his flaws and in spite of his opponents attempting to block his every move, because their hatred of him is greater than their commitment to America.

And then there are comments from people like the_crossroad_saints, who made unfounded accusations regarding the roles played by the Trump “children.” I responded to his comment thusly, to point out presidents have surrounded themselves with family members since forever. Note the link to the not conservative HuffPo article:

You must be too young to remember Jimmy Carter and all his hillbilly relatives–his mama, Miss Lillian, and his brother, Billy, who came out with Billy Beer. And wasn’t it Obama’s mother-in-law who lived at the White House with them? If we go back further, Lyndon B. Johnson’s brother worked as an administrative aide in the White House, and before that John F. Kennedy appointed his younger brother, a completely unqualified Robert F. Kennedy as the U.S. Attorney General. More recently, Bill Clinton appointed Hillary to head up the White House task force on healthcare. Here’s an article discussing the issue throughout US history: Nepotism in the White House: It’s All Relative.

So the_crossroad_saints responded:

I don’t remember any of the Carter family being on the payroll do you? .And no, a president Kennedy did not bring in other family members into his presidential administration. Are you too simple to understand the difference?

As did I:

Get your facts straight. The Trump children volunteer. They are not on the payroll. President Kennedy made his BROTHER the US Attorney General before he was assassinated in Dallas. Read the article I linked (which is from HuffPo, so not a conservative source by any stretch of the imagination). Liberals like you just can’t handle facts, so you ignore them.

So did the_crossroad_saints read the HuffPo article? I don’t know. But here’s what he said next:

Yes, trumps trust fund baby grifter spawn are most certainly on the payroll. You don’t care much for objective reality do you.

I have to admit, I did get a little snarky, but I’m not sure it would qualify for a “forceful and bitter” attack:

Trump Derangement Syndrome is strong in you. So sad.

You probably didn’t even read the HuffPo article to get a more balanced view of presidential family involvements in administrations. It’s easier to ignore facts like the Kennedys, the Johnsons, and the Clintons, who proudly proclaimed they were a “2 for the price of 1” when Bill and Hillary Clinton won.

I have to admit, his next comment was pretty clever:

There are variant strains are there not, See your healthcare professional.

These grifters of Don’s have absolutely no experience in anything other than deadbeat trust fund baby grifting, and you know it.

My last comment was this:

Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton. You ignore the truth because you can’t handle it.

And this is where our Instagram exchange ended. When I woke up at 6:00 am this morning, I discovered the comment left on my blog at 3:04 am Mr Polite in Public’s time, wherever it is that he lives.

I’m just dumbfounded by the conscious rejection of what is historical fact when it doesn’t fit the narrative. John F. Kennedy did make his brother the United States Attorney General in 1961. It was this appointment that became the basis for the The Federal Anti-Nepotism Rule (sometimes called the “Bobby Kennedy Law.”) More recently legal opinion has determined the law applies to federal agencies and not the White House:

Finally, we believe that this result—that the President may appoint relatives to his immediate staff of advisors in the White House Office—makes sense when considered in light of other applicable legal principles. Congress has not blocked, and most likely could not block, the President from seeking advice from family members in their personal capacities.
———-
A President wanting a relative’s advice on governmental matters therefore has a choice: to seek that advice on an unofficial, ad hoc basis without conferring the status and imposing the responsibilities that accompany formal White House positions; or to appoint his relative to the White House under title 3 and subject him to substantial restrictions against conflicts of interest.
———–
In choosing his personal staff, the President enjoys an unusual degree of freedom, which Congress found suitable to the demands of his office. Any appointment to that staff, however, carries with it a set of legal restrictions, by which Congress has regulated and fenced in the conduct of federal officials.

There are some interesting articles online regarding the role played by the children of a variety of presidents over the course of multiple administrations. Rather than remain ignorant of history (like my wee morning hour visitor), check these out and then form an educated opinion about the roles played by the hardworking Trump children and other presidential kids.

Behind the Law That May Keep Donald Trump’s Children from White House Jobs

Donald Trump’s Children Wouldn’t Be the First Presidential Kids to Work in the White House

It seems that in addition to concerns about possible conflicts of interest, people like our friend, Mr Polite in Public, get their shorts in knots because they think the Trump children are getting rich off the American taxpayer. Here are a couple of articles that disclose who gets paid what at the White House. The first article has to do with White House salaries and the second is a comparison between what Michelle Obama’s 24 staff members and Melania Trump’s 9 were paid. It seems to me with the president, Ivanka, and Jared working for free, and Melania having one staff member for every 2.7 staff members employed by Michelle, the Trumps are a bargain.

White House Salaries: Who Makes What?

Michelle Obama’s Staff

(Michelle Obama’s staff was paid $1.5 million in 2010. Melania Trump’s staff was paid $486,700 in 2017.)

20,699

That’s the number of days I’ve been alive as of today. I’ve been alive 56 years, 8 months, 2 days, if we want to get specific. The authors of the website where I found this information also said I was X number of hours old and X number of minutes old, but I don’t think those numbers can be accurate, because they don’t know what time of day I was born.

I cringe to think how many of those days have been wasted. If I make it to my 90th birthday, here’s what’s left:

12,175

I think I need to really work toward living more intentionally than I have for the last 20,699 days.

Psalms 119:37 (ESV)

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.

We think hurricane season is pretty much over for Texas – Space City Weather

We think hurricane season is pretty much over for Texas – Space City Weather
— Read on spacecityweather.com/we-think-hurricane-season-is-pretty-much-over-for-texas/

Praise the Lord. I know it’s not 100% certain, but these guys are pretty reliable.

I’m No Quitter

I’ll just start typing and maybe something of interest will appear. (Cross your fingers and maybe say a prayer.) A lot has happened since my last post LAST YEAR. Ridiculous, I know. I’m a crappy scribbler, and an even crappier shutterbug. But at least I’m also a really crappy quitter, which means I might disappear for a while, but I’ll always come back.

So to catch up whomever might be reading this:
We celebrated our first Christmas as empty nesters, which wasn’t all that bad since the Married Ones came over to spend Christmas Day afternoon with us. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember what we did New Year’s Eve; I turned 56 in January (which might explain the iffy memory issues); and we celebrated our 28th anniversary in February. I attended a wonderful women’s retreat through our church the last weekend that same month, and as I think back on it and what a delight it was, it’s so weird to realize that two weeks later everything would change drastically around the entire world for everyone.

I vaguely remember hearing about some flu in China, and a few days later the news started using the word “epidemic,” but we didn’t have anything to worry about, and suddenly it was a PANDEMIC and it was HERE. Even then, it was on the west coast and it seemed very far away. My guy (a teacher for the correctional system) was off for spring break the second week in March and we spent most of it working on our house. He went back to work for two days, and then the state decided to send everyone home because the PANDEMIC wasn’t just on the West Coast. It was on the East Coast, and it was in New Orleans, and Dallas, and Houston, and everywhere and anywhere you might even THINK about being…but one thing that wasn’t here, there, or anywhere was toilet paper…and hand soap…and sanitizer…and Lysol wipes. It seemed like we went to sleep one night and the next morning the world had lost its collective mind.

It’s kind of strange because in the early days of the PANDEMIC, I watched ALL THE THINGS. If President Trump, Vice President Pence, and/or the coronavirus task force were speaking, I was listening. And listened to all the other things on the radio. And all the other things on Facebook. And all the OTHER THINGS being said around town…until we were told not to go to town, unless absolutely necessary. So I stayed home. Except to pick up groceries curbside. And that was weird, because where I used to order groceries and schedule a pickup the next day…now pickup slots were a week out. So my usual habit of deciding what to have very shortly before actually having it…well, that was shot to hell in a hand basket. And then restaurants started offering curbside because they were trying to stay ALIVE in an economy that was slowly, slowly, slowly dying. Ordering food online or by phone was the equivalent of hooking the local diner up to a ventilator, the owners praying to survive long enough to make a come back when their patients could be unplugged from this very strange way of doing business. We indulged in curbside restaurant fare more than we probably should have, but HEY! We were doing our part to help keep the independent businesses alive and kicking—even if the social distancing required to get our order made it feel like our dinners were drop kicked from their doorways to the trunk of our car. Our daughter and son-in-law came over for family dinner once a week—I lasted all of 20 minutes without hugging her and then said, “Screw it.”

This went on for a week…two weeks…a month? Maybe six weeks? I forget. It all became such a blur and more often than not, I wasn’t even sure what day of the week it was. I did manage to brush my teeth every day. Dental hygiene is important, you know. And then the powers that be…the president, Congress, the governors, the scientists…someone decided it was kind of safe to move about the cabin. So we began venturing from our homes very cautiously. I remember the night my husband and I decided to actually go to a restaurant for dinner and we were confused by the concept of walking through the door, sitting at a table and waiting for someone to bring us our meals. It was such a treat.

But numbers started going up and BAM! YOU MUST WEAR A MASK. YOU MUST STAY SIX FEET APART. And every time we turned around, someone official was saying something completely contradictory to whatever they’d said the day before or contradictory to their political opponent…we began to think maybe they were just being contradictory for the sake of being contradictory—because good news is no news—and bad news keeps the cameras rolling.

And then we were made to feel uncaring because we questioned and suspected that maybe some of what was being said was more for the sake of ratings than because it was true. Because of all the numbers of people testing positive and being counted as sick, we were almost five months into this thing before I actually KNEW someone who came down with COVID-19. My 46 year old sister, who works as a labor and delivery nurse in Corpus Christi, started feeling really bad the last weekend in July. Some sadist named Grunhilda shoved a long Q-tip up her nose, touching the back of her brain and announced “You’re positive.” She went home to the RV fifth wheel she lives in with her boyfriend and said, “I’m sorry.”

Strangely enough, the world’s most dangerous virus made her feel like crap for five days and then she woke up on day six and felt great. Almost two months later, she still feels fine, and her boyfriend? He never got it, even though they were both confined to that small RV for the entirety of her quarantine.

Having said this, I don’t doubt for a minute that there are people who get very, very sick from this wretched thing, and there are people who die from this wretched thing. That is a tragedy that can’t be measured. But I keep wondering about the quality of the life we’re living and if maybe the “cure” is worse than the disease. What if by staying away from each other, we are possibly living longer because we’re avoiding each other…but WE’RE AVOIDING EACH OTHER, and what kind of living is that? We’re a social people, who need interaction, who need conversation, who need HUGS.

I keep thinking that if all this is only to delay the inevitable, then dammit, what the hell are we doing wasting this, our last? I remember a country song from years ago, sung by Tim McGraw, about a man who got some very bad news from his doctor and then made some changes in his life:

He said
“I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

There’s got to be some kind of compromise—a way to protect ourselves and others.

I just don’t know what it is.

Swing: Vintage Book Review

I was super thrilled to read the following excellent review of Swing, which was written by my friend, Lindsey Backen. To learn more about Lindsey, her books, and her passion for story crafting, visit her here. Might I mention she has a new book coming out soon?

Source: Swing: Vintage Book Review

A Little Sneak Peek

Our wedding photographer is still working on Jami and Dustin’s wedding photos, but she shared a little “sneak peek” with us via Facebook. (When I get the USB with all the files, I’ll share some better quality images – FB does a little compression thing that reduces quality on downloads. I couldn’t wait to share these, though.)

This one of my guy with our girl gets me in all the feels. There are no other people on this planet I love more than these two. He is the light of my life, and she is the sparkle.

And I guess I’ll admit that this new guy that joined the family last Sunday has a pretty special place in my heart, too. Even though he’s a bear at 6′ 5″, I’ll call him the “twinkle” that goes with my “sparkle.” Our family isn’t huge, but it’s a mighty fine blessing, and I’m so very grateful.

Photo credit: Starling Hope Photography

The Mister and Missus

We made it! This past Sunday, the Engaged Girl tied the knot with the Tall One, and they became the Married Ones. I’m still in a bit of a daze—the five and one half months leading up to the Big Event just about did me in. Honestly, I’m just tired and a little emotionally drained. Overall, there were few hitches and everyone said it was a lovely wedding and reception. As soon as the photographers finish editing the photos, I’ll share some here.

Probably the biggest hiccup happened the Wednesday before the ceremony. The Tall One went to pick up his suit from DXL in Webster, Texas only to learn the pants were nine inches too short. We still haven’t figured out why someone would order pants that short for a man who stands 6′ 5″ in his socks. They promised to have the problem corrected by Friday. When he went back to pick them up Friday evening, they were still 3 1/2 inches too short.

Maybe they knew the flooding was coming later in the week?

I thought I was going to have a coronary when I learned they offered to sew some extra fabric around the bottom to make them longer. Um…I don’t think so.

Eventually they discovered his pants had been sent to Seguin, Texas, about three hours from us. They said the store opened at 10:00 am on Saturday and closed at noon, but the manager would be willing to wait until 1:00 pm if we wanted to drive to Seguin to pick them up. Can you believe that???

Fortunately, the Tall One had invested in a beautiful Ralph Lauren suit back in April, but he had not yet had the pants hemmed. OM (Jami’s “Other Mom”) is a brilliant seamstress, so she was able to hem the pants for him the night before the wedding on Sunday.

All’s well that ends well — presenting the Married Ones — the Doddroes!

It’s a shame DXL isn’t a little more cognizant of the power of a happy customer. If they’d come through for us, we would have been happy to recommend them to everyone we know. They did not come through for us, and thus far I’ve posted three one star reviews (Google, Yelp, and YP) along with a photo documenting the kind of service they provide. We are still waiting for them to offer some sort of compensation for our inconvenience. But we’re not holding our breath.

Well, that didn’t last long…

The Engaged Girl is getting married on September 15, and I’ll be standing in front of a photography class again on September 24. How did this happen, you might ask?

My friend who took the class when I “retired” last fall had a health scare with breast cancer this summer. Fortunately, treatment is going well and it looks like she is going to triumph in her battle with the Big C. As is often the case with people who go head to head with life threatening illnesses, she has reevaluated her priorities and decided that there are some things she wants to do now, rather than later. She and her husband have a big camper they took on a road trip to the Northwest over a year ago, and it sounds like they want to put some more miles on that baby. A LOT MORE MILES. I say “GO FOR IT!”

When she mentioned she would not be teaching this fall, I found myself offering to come back if she didn’t have anyone else lined up. I honestly don’t know where that came from, except I kind of miss it. I know I said a lot of stuff in a previous post about “passing the torch,” and it being time to move on. I guess a woman always reserves the right to change her mind. Ha!

The class will be starting nine days after my husband and I become “empty nesters,” so it might be a grand opportunity to refocus on some past loves. Watching photography tutorials to refresh my knowledge and find new ways to explain concepts will help lessen the silence in our home during the day while my husband is at work, and getting back out there to capture more photos should help add steps to my FitBit. And I’ll get to meet some more lovely people—which is always a delight.

The Shutterbug is back!

Choosing a Positive Perspective

It’s 10:27 pm and I’m choosing to write a quick post before taking care of business. It’s no secret that I have time management issues and am somewhat of a procrastinator. Oh, let’s call a spade a spade and correct that:

I am a procrastinator.

There. That’s much more honest. Ha!

A while ago I was internally bemoaning that there’s so much yet to do with the Engaged Girl’s wedding and my business has suddenly gotten very busy. Clients are wanting quotes on custom window treatments. I need to find shoes for the wedding. I need to trim and frame the table numbers for the reception. I still have to design, print, and assemble wedding program fans (because an outdoor wedding in Texas in September could go either way when it comes to (a) what we hope for—that first tiny breath of a cool front, or (b) August, The Sequel.)

The positive perspective on this is thank goodness, there are clients wanting window treatments! And thank goodness, my dress for the wedding is long, so a simple pair of flats (either navy or nude) will do fine. And thank goodness, the fans will not be that hard to put together while we watch a movie (Father of the Bride, anyone?) and will serve double-duty in an adorable way.

So here’s to looking at all life throws our way from a positive perspective!

50 days and counting

Until Miss Jinkins becomes Mrs. Doddroe. Oh, my!

Amazingly, we are in pretty good shape with wedding preparations. The venue has been secured, along with an all-inclusive caterer (he does linens, china, food, cakes, table decor, and wedding party flowers! Yay!), the photographer, videographer, DJ, and makeup/hair stylists.

Invitations were mailed and reply cards are coming back. The bridal shower is mid-August, and for the most part we are all calm, cool, and relatively collected. In a midnight online shopping adventure, I actually found my dress — ordered from Dillards.com. I was so worried about finding a dress I’d like. This was the only one I tried on, and I love it! Yay!

I need to find some flats so I can have it hemmed. I’m not wearing heels. The skirt is long and no one would see them anyway. Ha!