Prairie View

Friday, December 27, 2019

Cross-posting Dilemma: Hazard or Benefit?

This space has stayed fairly quiet lately since a great deal of my writing has been happening elsewhere.  I'm toying with a few ideas for some cross-posting, but am unsure if that makes sense. 

One possibility would be to simply paste into this space some of what I post on Facebook.  Many of my posts there are related to nature observations.  Others are links to articles that speak to an interest of mine, usually with my own brief commentary added.  Sometimes posts come in the form of public service announcements.  Occasionally I repost a pithy saying.  What I rarely do is post photos on Facebook.  I'm not opposed to doing that. I'm just not very savvy about doing it.

Reposting from Facebook has the distinct disadvantage of possibly being tedious and annoying to those who have already seen the content once.  On the other hand, not sharing FB posts here leaves a substantial group of friends outside one of my regular communication circles.

The second possibility would be to include some of what I'm writing elsewhere that fits loosely under the "memoir" genre. 

After a great deal of struggle in the process of settling on a "memoir" format that seemed right to/for me, I finally settled on something that seems like the best idea yet.  I'm  writing dated letters to "My Dear Children" and sending them as attachments to emails.  These letters are written in response to a writing prompt from my life in the present.  I usually note what the writing prompt was and then write a one or two-page letter detailing my thoughts about the matter.  Including memories happens right along with issuing advice and opinions. 

I find that writing letters to my children is a very forgiving format. For one thing, they are the most comfortable audience imaginable.  They know my faults and foibles and still love me.  They don't employ me or serve as authorities for me in any way, so I need not tiptoe around any related potential minefields. 

Another reason that this works well is that my children are really the ones I want most to know my thoughts.  I'm unsure whether publication will ever make sense or be possible, so this lets me get started on the first increments of a memoir project, even with no endgame certainty.  My logic is that doing things this way helps insure that I'm getting the priorities in proper order.

Also, keeping the audience small means that I can freely use real names and unveiled references without fear of offense or violation of privacy.  If publication ever happened, all of this risky content could be omitted or edited into a shareable format. 

A letter format also serves as an aid to narrowing the subject matter and limiting the writing to a suitable length.  When I tried to write memoir chapters under specific topics or to write chronologically, I couldn't get a handle on appropriate starting and stopping points.  I've found that even when I have three or four topics that come to the fore from my morning devotional reading, for example, when I ask the Lord to show me which one of these possibilities I should write about "today" I always know how to begin the letter to my children.  Furthermore, I can trust the Lord to bring those other temporarily discarded possibilities to mind in relation to later prompts if He wants me to write about them. 

I'm not ready to routinely post letters to "My Dear Children" to this blog.  I might consider, however, doing so occasionally, if the content seems suitable.

The third cross-posting possibility is putting my Christmas letter here.  I feel very conflicted about this.  Some of the reasons are too humiliating to spell out here.  Hint:  this is related to my dismal record for timeliness in many things, preparing and sending out Christmas mail among them.  I know also that what is of interest to part of my reading audience constitutes oversharing to other parts of the audience.

I think I've managed to create three dilemmas out of what is essentially one problem:  using effectively the "embarrassment of riches" that technology offers.  I think I need help.


If any reader has input on what you'd like to see on this blog, especially in relation to the above possibilities, I'd be happy to hear from you--in the comments or in an email to  Any other insights would be welcome as well.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

The Odor of Mendacity

I wonder if any of my Composition class students remember this "odor of mendacity" phrase from the textbook for the class.  The word mendacity appeared somewhere in the vocabulary lists for one of the chapters.  It means "untruth" or "lie."  The phrase in the title has a sinister-sounding ring and captures my imagination.  It was apparently used in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof which first aired in 1955--long before the class textbook was published.

I thought of the "odor of mendacity" today in connection with my recent choice of a  dental services provider.  I selected the dentist who, in my opinion, had the lowest levels in the "odor of mendacity" department.

I had the same dentist for about 35 years.  I first went to him when he was brand new in the practice of dentistry and I was a new mother.  I liked his work.  He was fast and gentle.  I followed him to his new location in Hutchinson, and he and his staff eventually provided dental care for our whole family.  He and his wife were having babies about the same time we were, and he was understanding when one of our children needed to get off the treatment chair to go to the bathroom. 

Somewhere along the line we gathered that all was not well in the dentist's personal life.  We heard rumors of an affair, and he and his wife were subsequently divorced.  Our neighbor did some work for him and garnered a DUI on his way home when the job and the celebration afterward were over.  Financial issues surfaced.  Gambling and misuse of funds were involved.  Finally the dental practice closed because of some of these matters. 

Hiromi was in the middle of getting dental work done when this happened, so he promptly transferred to another dentist in town so the work could be finished.  My dental work had been all caught up so I waited a bit to start elsewhere.  To my great astonishment, during this time our original dentist reopened his practice in the same location as before. 

Going back to my old dentist looked ever-so-easy.  I had already, however, begun some preliminary moves (transfer of records) toward seeing Dentist B who Hiromi was seeing.  Should I reverse course and stick with what was familiar?

In the end my decision came down to choosing the dentist whose personal values most nearly aligned with mine.  Dentist B is a person of faith, and he was a homeschool dad during our homeschooling years.  I was reasonably sure that none of the vices that had dogged my old dentist would show up with Dentist B.

I feel really sad for our old dentist.  In the time I've known him, he has gone from being successful and full of promise to experiencing a broken marriage, disgrace and serious consequences for his failures.   That has to be brutally painful. 

I'm obviously not responsible to fix his problems though, and, in the end,  I decided that the "odor of mendacity" was strong enough that continuing with him was not worth the risk.  I saw Dentist B for the first time recently. 

Following current events of late has necessitated thinking about what is true and knowable in the face of wildly divergent narratives about our president's motivations and conduct.  We have well-known Christian leaders labeling Christians who sense an "odor of mendacity" as being under demonic influence.  We have sober individuals with long records of credible public service in non-partisan roles--with unknown religious persuasions--who have testified that they witnessed what they believe to be criminal behavior. 

I  wish sorting this out were as inconsequential as choosing a dentist--where the "odor of mendacity" was enough to tip the scales for me.  I hope that those involved in impeachment proceedings have the ability to discern truth and the courage to act on it.  Till now I haven't thought of praying that they also have high-functioning olfactory senses, but if the "odor of mendacity" is present and points to truth, I hope they can smell it.