Rick Ryckeley's blog

The cardboard house

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Years ago, I asked The English Teacher who edits my column just how long should a story be. Her answer came back in teacher-speak, “Each one should have a beginning, middle, and an end, and be long enough to tell the story. Not a word longer or shorter.”

Well, this story does have a beginning, middle, but — as of yet — no end. For you see, dear reader, the end will be written by you. Read More»

The Wayward Child

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Make no mistake about it; The Wife and I saw all the warning signs. We just chose to ignore them. No one wants to believe one of their beloved family members would intentionally put them through such a trying time.

Still, over the weekend, our wayward child went missing. Late Friday night, he got out of bed, got into trouble, and ended up in the custody of the local authorities. Read More»

The special ingredient

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The days are getting shorter. There’s a cool crispness in the air. Trees around here will soon be splashed with colors marking the change of the seasons. Fall is upon us once again.

October brings with it big orange pumpkins, which The Wife simply loves. Thanksgiving and Christmas have their own family traditions, and fond memories of simpler times.

Yes, this is my favorite time of the year, but not for the reasons you may expect. Fall makes me think of sandwiches. A little odd, I’ll admit. Then again, so am I. Read More»


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The young boy stood in the doorway and tried to fill his lungs with air. It was heavily scented with perfume and cigar smoke, but he managed a small sigh nonetheless.

He looked down at wooden floors and tried not to be noticed. He paused momentarily – a deliberate effort not to make eye contact with any of the attendees.

Wading into the sea of people gathered for evening dinner parties took great courage. Even for a 7-year-old. Read More»


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You see, it’s really not my fault. When God was handing out patience, the line was extremely long and I got tired of waiting.

I’m not impatient, mind you. Just don’t like waiting. Christmas was the first time I became aware of this – while growing up at 110 Flamingo Street.

Christmas only came once a year and someone put it way at the end. Back then I thought it was just to make us kids behave.

A year. Now if you’re a kid, that’s a long time to be good and wait for anything – even gifts. That’s why I’d sneak downstairs on Christmas Eve and look for Santa. Read More»


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Funny thing about life: a registered letter, phone call, or knock on the door in the middle of the night can derail the best laid plans.

Life’s journey can take us around turns and lead us down pathways we never could imagine for ourselves – some good and some not so good.

The good stuff anyone can take. Lessons are learned and character is built from how one handles the bad stuff, and we draw upon both of those to guide us through the rest of our lives. At least that’s what Dad always said. It’s one of the many lessons Dad taught us while growing up at 110 Flamingo Street. Read More»

Picnic on Blue Ridge Parkway

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Last week, at the county fair, I saw a mom pushing her baby stroller. The occupant, a happy little boy, had just grabbed a handful of pink cotton candy and was entertained by the sugary cloud. So much so, he stuffed not only the pink stuff, but his entire hand in his mouth and sucked each finger as if to make sure none would possibly be wasted.

I watched and smiled as they strolled past. Been a long time since I had the ability to do such a thing – place my entire hand in my mouth, and for good reason. As an adult there’s just no room. Usually my foot has taken up all the space. Read More»

Life by the numbers

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One was a very good number. Even though I was there, I don’t really remember much. It was day one, our first.

Twin Brother Mark and me were born in April many years ago. The doctors said that we were kicking each other to see who would be the one born first. He won.

Mark and me, we’ve been fighting ever since, and rightly so. Spend the first nine months and then the next 18 years with someone in the same cramped space, I bet you’d be fighting all the time too. Read More»

Holes in the fence

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If you have a brother, chances are you’ve been in a fight or two during your childhood.

I have three brothers. There were lots of battles while we were growing up at 110 Flamingo Street. Most were outside. A few were in. The ones inside got us into more trouble than the ones outside.

That’s how Twin Brother Mark and me found ourselves on the wrong side of Neighbor Thomas’s new fence. We were caught again running through the house throwing water balloons at each other. Read More»

Breaking up is easy

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That’s it! After 15 years, I’ve had enough. The anxiety, the sleepless nights, and the fighting have been going on way too long. It’s time to put an end to all of it. Ask anyone; they’ll say the same thing. Ending a long-term relationship is hard to do, but in my case, I disagree.

It’s gonna be easy, and we’re both looking forward to it. Read More»