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A near miss

21 Jan

Second last light before I was home.

I sat, waiting for the red light to turn green, anxious to be home and anxiously looking in my rearview mirror at the young man texting behind me.  I hope he puts his phone away before he starts driving, I thought, worried about getting rear-ended. I have book club tonight and didn’t need the hassle of a traffic accident.

The intersection was a tricky one, where three streets met – two perpendicularly and one diagonally. Left turns were tricky, but I was simply going straight through. I watched as the traffic lights turned from green to red for the people on the road perpendicular to me, and waited for my red to become green.

My light turned green and I counted in my head before moving my foot from the brake to the accelerator. As I did so, the van beside me honked. I assumed it was turning left and someone was in its way. I slowly moved into the intersection, still worried about the texter behind me.

Thank goodness for the honker because I had enough time to slam on my brakes as a grey sedan barreled through a red light, clearly speeding. I hadn’t been able to see it until I pulled forward because of the size of the van.

Thank goodness I had just begun to accelerate because if I had been going the speed limit, I would have been T-boned.

Thank goodness that young man behind me had been on his phone because he was late following behind me.

I was a little shaky as I drove the rest of the way home, but thankful that it was a near miss.





14 Jan

Early last week, meteorologists started predicting snow for the middle of this week. It was out first week back and people were feeling tired, so you can understand their desire for a snow day. Throughout the school adults were whipping out their phones and pulling up their preferred weather apps, all of which showed big snowflakes.

The thing is, they failed to read the fine print.

Chance of snow.

Little to no accumulation.

I was skeptical, but cautiously optimistic. I love my job, but who doesn’t love a snow day?

As this week started, I was a little more hopeful, but as I looked at the forecast last night, my hopes were dashed.

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Those big flakes make it look like a big storm. But do you see what I see? Only a 30% chance of snow Tuesday night. That means a 70% chance of no snow. An maybe more importantly, there is this:

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Half an inch does not a snow day make.

I am a realist and I am really disappointed.


The Creep

7 Jan


Lucy starts the night on her side of the bed. This is usually on the side closest to the wall because I read or knit in bed before going to sleep and like to be near the light and the side table.

At some point during the night one of us has to get up. Whether it is just me, or both if us, Lucy usually takes the spot where I’d been sleeping. If I was the one to get up, Lucy steals the warm spot I left behind. If we both get up, I like to switch to the wall side because I know the creep will happen soon.

The Creep starts in the middle of the night, when the bedroom is colder than it had been when we first went to sleep. We are both blessed with the innate ability to fall back asleep quickly. In this second round of sleep, Lucy decides she wants to get closer. My heart thinks it is love. My brain knows it is all about body heat because Lucy is a heat vampire.

She wedges herself closer to me. I adapt. More wedging. More adaptation. Until I wake up and she is in the middle of the bed and I am relegated to the mattress quarter nearest the wall. Fortunately, I know this is coming and have a secret strategy to ensure I get the majority of the bedding. It’s a win-win.





They’re listening

10 Dec

Friday afternoon. I was tidying the classroom in that half-hearted way you do when you just want to get the heck out of Dodge. I had picked up a pencil or two, straightened some books on shelves, all the while keeping one eye on the windows, to see when the buses left so I could leave.

As I looked out, I noticed a sticky note stuck to the wall. What the…. I half thought, half muttered as I strode forward ready to rip it off the wall. I reached my hand towards it and stopped.


It was a misquote of something from our class read aloud, Posted by John David Anderson,  but it touched my heart.

Not all the 6th teachers at my school do read aloud and I am certain almost no 7th and 8th grade teachers do it. But my 8th grade teacher, Mr. Ziegler, did and it is one of my favorite things to do.

Very few kids just sit and listen. Many draw, some read their own book. I  am very liberal when it comes to this because, in my heart, I hope that they are listening because I choose my read alouds carefully. I like to think that they give us a common language, a shared experience that we can apply to what we do in class, and in our lives.

I plucked that sticky note off the wall and brought it home and stuck it on my computer. I brought it back to school on Monday and stuck it on the wall behind my desk where I keep the pictures students draw for me. I still don’t know who wrote it, but I see you.



A terrible horrible really great day

3 Dec

Monday started off well. It was December 2nd, so I got to open day two of my Advent calendar. That was the best pat about my morning.

Lucy, my basset hound, didn’t want to eat her breakfast. I tried topping it with all her favorite coercions, but she only managed about half.

Later,  on our way out  for her morning constitutional, she vomited in front of the back door.

While walking, I noticed a darkish patch on the cyst that had bled a little the day before. When we got in the house, I could see it was a fully blown cyst and cleaned it up. Having had bassets for over 20 years, I keep a good first aid kit for situations like this. It’s still a gross job.

We had a staff development day at school, so I didn’t bring a lunch. The previous week, our principal told us that we would get work time in the morning and they would do their half of the day after lunch. When I got to school and school. the schedule had changed. We were starting at 11 and would have  a 30 minute lunch from 12 to 12:30. Cursing, I graded some tests then did a quick run to the grocery store five minutes from school, where I got a mediocre salad. Half an hour after I returned, the schedule was changed and we would, indeed, start at 12:30 as originally planned. By the time I was walking to the cafeteria for the Admins’ PD, I was not in a great mood.

It’s funny how your mood can change quickly. The PD I had been dreading was not at all what I expected. We were going to paint! The Admins were treating us to a pop up paint class.


We each had an easel to work at and all the supplies we’d need. Then, a team of teachers walked us through each step of the painting, in which we recreated the iconic deer of the Portland sign. There was a lot of laughter, as I am sure you can imagine.

Until we had a beautiful, if not slightly wonky, finished product.


My day that started out poorly, ended wonderfully.

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get

26 Nov

My route was laid out. I had a number of errands to run Saturday morning and a workshop that started at one in the afternoon. Only precise execution of my plan would make the day a success.

As I left the house, I picked up the bag I wanted to add to the boxes I would be dropping off at Goodwill, my first stop, and patted my pockets. House keys? Check. Car keys? Check. I pulled the door shut, ready to face the day.

No one was at the Goodwill when I arrived and I was in and out in less than five minutes, on my way to my second stop, Kinkos. The week before I had drafted, proofread, corrected and printed the end-of-the-year donation letter I was going to copy on behalf of Oregon Basset Hound Rescue. Parking at the nearest Kinkos can be tricky and I cheered as I pulled into the empty four-space lot. I unbuckled my seat belt, grabbed my purse and reached for the folder with the master copy. It wasn’t there.

Crap, I thought, I am an idiot.  I’d set the folder in the Goodwill bag so I wouldn’t leave it The hurrier I go, the behinder I get, reverberated through my head. I rebuckled my seatbelt and drove back to Goodwill.

Did you know Goodwill has a form for things you accidentally donated but want to get back? Fortunately, no one else had come since my drop-off and the folder was easy to find. I was in and out in another five minutes, back on the road to Kinkos.

The rest of the day unfolded without incident. Errands were run. I made it to my class on time. It was a cross-stitch class and I was happy to sit and work peacefully on my Christmas ornament after my busy morning. The instructor told us we wouldn’t have time to finish the project in class. She was correct, but I worked on it that evening and the next day.

All in all, I am happy with how the day – and the ornament – turned out.


The Appointment

19 Nov

I was caught up on my grading and my students were working quietly, so I decided to check my email. I always feel a little guilty when I do this, worried that it looks as though I am not doing my job. And, like my students, checking my email can sometimes turn into a rabbit-hole of clicking and suddenly you are deep into the warren.

This day seemed no different, and most of the emails were routine, except this one:

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I had filled out the YALSA volunteer form months ago and had stopped thinking about it. YALSA is the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association and the run several book award committees I checked off on the volunteer form, including the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. I tried to calm myself before opening the email. Don’t put the cart before the horse, I cautioned myself, as my heart pounded in anticipation.

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The students were still working quietly. I must have gasped or giggled because one of the students looked up, a quizzical look on her face.

“I just got some really good news,” I simply stated, smiling slightly, though inside I was jumping around and shouting. What I wanted to say was “Holy crap!” but a teacher can’t say that, not even when they are excited and nervous because they never expected to be the Chair of a book award committee.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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