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.)

And then there were two…

Thursday night was a blessing, a confirmation of my decision to “pass the baton” of my photography class to Cheryl. While I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on composition that evening, as 9:00 pm rolled around I was tired and ready to call it a night. One of my students asked a question about capturing the little raindrop splashes formed when rain hits existing puddles. I froze — not because I couldn’t answer, but because class was over and unlike in the past, I did not want to stay late.

Cheryl jumped in and offered to take the two students who’d stayed behind (everyone else was gone) out to a fountain near the entrance of the building. She said they could play with their cameras and see what they came up with. I put my things in my car and then wondered over to the fountain to see how the impromptu shoot was going.

I could not be putting this class in better hands! Cheryl very generously explained some technical concepts required for shooting both moving water and shooting in low light. She then offered to pull her car around so the two students could use its headlights  to play a little longer, since by this time it was well past 9:30 pm.

We have two classes left (if you don’t count the Saturday field trip to Galveston that I throw in as a “bonus”). I’m feeling a little bittersweet, but in a good way. I’ve already given some of my resource materials to Cheryl to use (or not) as she sees fit. There’s a lightening in my spirit with the passing of this particular responsibility.

I expect I’ll always enjoy making photographs of the things that I find lovely. For that reason, I expect my blog name will continue to be “A Scribbler & A Shutterbug” for the random occasion I share a visual story with you.

 

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I regret not picking up this Baby Brownie I saw in an antique store in Comfort, Texas last May. Aside from the fact that it’s so stinkin’ cute, I wonder who owned it and what memories he or she captured with its lens. 

 

Highly Recommended:

Anything taught by Ron Rozelle. I didn’t grow up in the Brazosport area, so I didn’t have the good luck to sit at the feet of Brazoswood High’s most excellent creative writing teacher. Fortunately, since retiring, Ron has chosen to share his writerly wisdom by teaching three day workshops for those seeking to unleash their inner Hemingway,  Bradbury, or whomever. If you work, I can’t think of a better use of a vacation day or two. If you’re retired, all the better. I attended his Wordsmithing 101 class at the beginning of January and it was worth every penny of the registration fee. Great teaching well-seasoned with entertaining stories and encouragement.

If you’re in the Brazosport area or out near Brenham, I urge you to avail yourself of Ron’s expertise. You won’t be sorry.

Two upcoming events on my agenda that I’m very much looking forward to are a repeat of my Wordsmithing 101 workshop in Clute, in the Brazosport area south of Houston, in March and a memoir workshop in Brenham, Texas in June. Both communities have excellent hotels, good places to eat, and interesting things to […]

via Two upcoming writing workshops — Ron Rozelle Wordsmith

Image Magazine

The first issue of 2018 is now available and yours truly has THREE contributions within its pages! My first story in the spring of 2016 was about the Alvin Historical Museum, and readers enjoyed it so much that I was asked to continue with a series on the museums throughout Brazoria County. A few months later I pitched the idea of a series of short articles on the historical markers throughout the county. Thus were born two regular series: Museum Go-Round and Park at the Mark.

Park at the Mark: The Confederate Cemetery (page 28)

Out of the Storm: The Marguerite Rogers House Museum (page 30)

I also have a Writer’s Reflections  piece in this issue, thinking back on the half marathon I walked in 2017.

The Friendship Race (page 36)

I hope you enjoy my articles, as well as those of the delightfully talented writers I am honored to work with!

Keep choosing joy!

Laura

P.S. — In addition to writing our articles, we also do all our own photography, unless otherwise noted.

 

Grace’s Beauty Shop

When the blue-haired ladies of Liberty went to Grace’s for a shampoo and set, they entered the East Texas beauty parlor through the door located on Hawthorne Street. When I went to my MaMaw’s beauty shop, it was always after hours and I let myself in through a swinging door hinged along the top, which separated the shop from MaMaw’s home. We were never allowed to go between the house and the shop during business hours. We would have to go out the back door, through the carport, down the sidewalk and back up to the door on Hawthorne Street. Health department rules or some such nonsense.

When we’d go for a visit, MaMaw and my mama would sit at the kitchen table drinking coffee and sharing recipes MaMaw had collected from her Eastern Star sisters. The shop was much more interesting than their recipe-trading, and MaMaw never minded my playing in there as long as I put things back where they belonged. I remember pushing that strange swinging door with all my six year old might, making just enough space to slip in, letting go quick enough so I didn’t pinch my small fingers when the door swung shut with a loud smack.

Once I’d navigated the dangerous door with all my extremities intact, I found myself in a shop that was a treasure trove of grown-up beauty for a little girl just recently allowed to use Tinkerbell “cosmetics.” The mingling fragrances of shampoo, setting lotions and hairspray were intoxicating, and to this day when I smell the laquer-y scent of Lamaur Vita/E hairspray — still sold in the same brownish-gold can — I’m immediately transported back to MaMaw’s.

Two black vinyl chairs beneath two slick black porcelain shampoo bowls were situated to the left of the swinging door, opposite MaMaw’s chair where she took care of her clients. A tiered stand stood nearby; its bins held pink, blue, purple, yellow and gray Toni perm rods of varying sizes. The nubby plastic rods were thinner in the middle than on the ends. Little stretchy bands attached to one end and connected to a stopper that plugged into the other end once hair and perm papers were wrapped around the rods. I enjoyed putting all the plugs in the ends of the rods. Now I realize it might have made MaMaw’s work a little harder the next day. At least I made sure to keep the colors separated!

My beautiful pictureMy short legs didn’t need the foot rest on any of the chairs, but a telephone book worked fine the time MaMaw gave me a shampoo and a pixie haircut. (My daddy didn’t speak to her or Mama for three days.) I sat in MaMaw’s chair when she took care of me, trimming my hair with the precise snip snip snip of her shiny hair shears. Sometimes she’d use a little Dippity Do and curl my hair with brush rollers and long white plastic picks that held the rollers in place. Those picks were a little uncomfortable, but I felt so grown up, I didn’t mind. MaMaw would perch me on the trusty phonebook and I’d stretch as tall as I could when she lowered the hard plastic helmet of the hair dryer and the warm air flowed over my head.

There were two additional chairs near the dryers — I can only assume other beauticians worked there at times, although I don’t remember them clearly since I was usually there after hours. A small rolling table used for manicures stood in the corner. I’d get the nail buffer out of the table’s little drawer and rub the soft chamois across my bitten nails. MaMaw would sometimes give me a quarter for the slider Coca Cola machine across the room. Standing on my tip toes, I could just barely slide the Coke along the rail to the opening on the left which allowed removal of the bottle after depositing my coin. MaMaw would help me clamber back through the swinging door opening where I’d sit at the kitchen table and drink my Coke, feeling every bit as special as those blue-haired ladies of Liberty.

Re-boot

I’m in the middle of a re-boot of sorts. Moving stuff around in my office, hoping to make things a little more user friendly. One of the things I’ve done is move my computer to a standing desk. I find that when I’m working on the computer, I sit way too long without getting up and moving around. My hope is that I’ll move back and forth between the computer and my desk — doing some work standing and other work sitting, and reduce the amount of sedentary time each day.IMG_1215

It’s a quirky setup, but so far it seems to be working. I’m moving around more and I’m becoming a little more conscientious of my posture. Which is terrible. But won’t be for long. The other bonus is I now have a five foot table that is for the most part clear. The goal is to keep it that way. If I have business to take care of, I have room to spread out my papers and prepare quotes. Then the papers get filed and the table is clear if I want to work on a photo project (organizing, scanning, scrapbooking). But I have to put things away when I’m finished for the day. The trick will be disciplining myself to do that. I’m not always good at putting things away. But I’m working on it.

Funk

FUNK. Not that other word. 😮

funk

noun

he was in a funk because his wife ran out on him: A (STATE OF) DEPRESSION, a bad mood, a low, the dumps, the doldrums, a blue funk.

I really do strive for honesty here. If I ever write fiction, you’ll know it. There’s no fiction to the fact that I’ve really been struggling with the doldrums lately, a real blue funk if you will. The reasons for this low can be counted on several fingers:

  1. I miss my mom. I miss her and I regret a lot of things about the last few years she was here. I regret not being as patient as I should have been. I regret wasting time thinking more of myself than her. I regret getting angry when she would offer advice without my asking. I catch myself doing the same thing with my daughter, and I see the same frustration on her face that I felt when I was in her shoes. The fact is, we moms are at loose ends when our kids grow up. It’s difficult to shut off the “mom switch” when our kids grow up, and it’s hard to accept that we aren’t needed as much as we were when they were younger.
  2. I miss the younger me. I miss the legal secretary that juggled the work and phone calls of three sharp lawyers and a very sharp legal assistant, prepared PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) filing packets, managed to squeeze in lunch, and still made all the deadlines on her docket calendar. I struggle to get the laundry done, the pantry stocked, dinner cooked, and my small business running. I struggle to find time for the things that don’t seem important, but are important to ME. Things like organizing my family photos (both mine and those from my mom). Things like spending more time writing, both for the magazine and the novel I started a ridiculous number of years ago. This funk, though. It just sucks the energy out of me and it’s hard to work on those things when so many things are screaming for my attention. (See Reason #1 above — I never understood why my mom struggled with getting things done. Now I do.)
  3. I struggle with worrying about the future. I am not a numbers person by any stretch of the imagination, but in more recent years my mind plays a little math “game” that I really don’t want to play. When I hear of someone passing away (dying, if we’re blunt), I immediately calculate how much older they were than I am now. Someone’s Aunt Mabel passed away at 74? She was only 21 years older than me. That’s not that many years, especially when I think of how quickly the last 21 years have flown by. Do I have 21 years left? Is that enough time to do what I want/need to do? I am a Christian and I have put my faith in Jesus. I know others who say the same and say they can’t wait to go on to be with the Lord. I get it. I really do. But I still struggle with wanting to see my daughter marry and have children, with wanting to go on many more road trips with my husband. And then guilt sets in because it sounds as though I am putting my family here ahead of the Lord. Is it any wonder that I’m struggling with a funk, the doldrums, a depression?

A couple of weeks ago I got off to a roaring start, blogging almost every day for a week. And then we lost our golden retriever. And then I had a lot going on and then the funk I’d been running from caught up with me and I’ve had a hard time thinking of something interesting or entertaining to write. I knew if I didn’t write something, the days were going to stretch into weeks and then this blog would be neglected for months again.

I am working on getting ahead of the funk. Of choosing joy. Because the Lord’s joy is my strength. I just have to keep reminding myself of that and keep putting my trust in Him.

Monday Morning Good Stuff

Monday Morning Good Stuff …

Truth be told, I didn’t have anything good to report this morning, and then put off writing anything at all until this evening. Saturday evening our twelve year old golden retriever died. We’d gone to Galveston for the day, first to attend the Greek Festival and then we hung around for ArtWalk. Dinner with the fam and when we got home late that evening, my husband found her in the backyard. He said she looked like she’d been lying in the sun (it felt good to her old joints) where she’d just fallen asleep.

Early Sunday morning, before church, he dug a grave for her next to our daughter’s Chorkie, Evelyn, who passed away in 2016. They are both under the sycamore tree, side by side, which seems appropriate. When Evelyn was still alive, she would climb on top of Hurley and use her for a cushion. Hurley was the sweetest dog ever, and mothered Evelyn, even though they were not biologically related. So I like the idea of their final resting places being so near each other.

I think at some point we are going to put a little birdbath out there as a marker. Or maybe some wind chimes in the tree. But there’s no hurry.

Be joyful, y’all. Even in loss there is joy for the memories.

Laura

Just Keep Trying…

I was very proud of myself when I managed to post three days in a  row. Then I got a little distracted by other responsibilities and missed a day. So here we are — I don’t have a whole lot to say, but in the interest of building better, stronger habits, I am determined to just keep trying.

Ran a few errands today and came home to continue working on my decluttering project. I am feeling very happy about progress so far. Of the eight items I posted on VarageSale, I’ve sold six. Six items that no longer take up room in my house or require any attention from me. Hooray!

I may have mentioned it earlier, but if not — I also have an Etsy store specifically geared toward things that are vintage, collectible, probably worth a little more than what I can get for them on a virtual garage sale site. You can check out my listings here: MoMo’s Attic Treasures  I’ll be listing mid-century china, vintage cookbooks, collectibles and the like. It is a bit time consuming, since I have to take photos, upload them, describe the items, etc. But I think I may enjoy it as I become more proficient at the process.

Some of the “goodies” that I hope will find new homes:

I am challenging myself to write interesting descriptions of each item listed. Little stories, if you will. For example, that chartreuse creamer has a tiny chip in the glaze on the handle. So I came up with a story to explain how the chip got there:

After a delightful afternoon playing bridge, Barbara offered to stay and help Lottie clean up. She carefully took the coffee service tray adorned with brightly colored Fiestaware to the kitchen.

Setting the tray on the counter, she asked “Wasn’t Midge’s dress adorable?” She turned to face Lottie, and accidentally brushed the little chartreuse creamer across the counter, slightly chipping the ring handle.

“Oh, Lottie! I’m so sorry!” Barbara just felt sick, but her friend smiled comfortingly.

“No harm done, dear. No harm done.”

This vintage creamer dates back to the mid-fifties and while in very good condition, does have a small chip on the handle, showing it was in service and not just for display. Priced accordingly.

While I’m no J. Peterman, I’d say it’s moderately entertaining, and not even half bad.

Be joyful, y’all —

Laura

Timing is Everything

I’m a night owl, it is true. I tend to putter around in the wee hours because there are no distractions, no interruptions. For more than a while I’ve noticed that when I publish a blog post late at night, I don’t get that much feedback from readers on my side of the world. I’ll get likes and sometimes comments from people on the other side of the world, where the sun is shining at 1:00 am my time. I need to find that perfect “publish button” time — the time where one side of the world is waking up and the other is about to head to bed, but both have opportunity to stop by for a quick visit.

Do you notice one time being better than another for publishing your blog posts?