Rick Ryckeley's blog

The red sweater

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The doors of the university library opened just as a gust of wintery wind howled across the main concourse. An invisible frigid hand reached through the opening and turned pages of magazines and newspapers stacked on the front desk, startling the student attendant.

The reaction garnered a smile from the old man hunched alone at the table closest to the windows, just as it had the week before. This time, the aged skin around his eyes crinkled almost to the point of cracking. In this life, he didn’t smile too often. He didn’t have much cause to do so. Or so his story goes. Read More»

Crazily optimistic

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They say doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result is the definition of crazy. Don’t really know who “they” are, but yesterday morning that’s exactly what I did.

Even though I’d done the same thing for years, I hoped for a different outcome. Just call me crazy – crazily optimistic. Surprisingly, this time, the final outcome was indeed different. But for the beginning of this story, we have to travel back some 45 years. Read More»

Rub dirt on it

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Someone once said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Obviously that person never spent anytime growing up on Flamingo Street.

Back then, ask any kid in our neighborhood and they’ll tell ya — many injuries came from playing with sticks and stones, but the worst injuries came from words. Five little words to be precise – “I double dog dare ya.” Read More»

I feel small

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Well, here it is again — that old familiar feeling. Just when I think I’m big and important in the world, I suddenly realize just the opposite is true. Now, this may not be the most positive way to start the New Year, but at least it’s honest.

Did I have this revelation in our little sleepy, but zombie-infested, hometown of Senoia, Ga.? Nope, this time The Wife and me, we had to travel all the way to Europe. Read More»

Let it go

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If you have children 12 years old or younger, chances are you’ve seen the hit Disney movie “Frozen” about a gazillion times, and rightfully so. It’s quite possibly the best kid’s movie of all time.

Not just because the movie features Olaf, an adorable snowman whose singing and dancing ranks right up there with Fred Astaire, but because all the music is infectious. This is especially true of the message and lyrics of the Oscar-winning song, “Let it go.” Read More»

Christmas traditions

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If asked, most folks will say they have traditions surrounding the holidays unique only to their family.

Some have ugly sweater parties, others collect nutcrackers from all corners of the world, and at least one neighbor decorates their house with so many lights that the display can be seen from outer space.

While growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, my family was no exception when it came to having family traditions.

Although, looking back, some of those traditions might seem downright strange. Read More»

A toyless Christmas

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Ask any parent. There’s just about nothing better than watching a child’s face on Christmas morning.

Parents, awakened early, are dragged out of bed and pulled down hallways by children excited to see if Santa actually stopped by their house during the night.

Smiles on little faces seem to grow wide with wonder as each present under the Christmas tree is unwrapped and revealed.

Yes, the face of a child on Christmas morning is truly unforgettable, and it’s almost always happy — almost. Read More»

I saw Santa

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With just three weeks left to shop for all those important Christmas gifts, there’s no need to worry. You can now mark me off your list.

Last week I received the one gift that I’d been wishing for all my life. Yep, yours truly got to meet the man himself. I got to meet the real Santa!

The Wife and I had gone to the Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta to see a Christmas concert by Mannheim Steamroller. We arrived a little early, made our way to our seats, but didn’t stay seated long. Read More»

Eating my own words

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This Thanksgiving, I’m departing from our regular feast of turkey, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, and all the other traditional foods for dinner. And I won’t be eating pumpkin or apple pie for dessert either.

This year I’ll be eating my words for the main course and then a heaping serving of humble pie for dessert.

What has caused such a drastic change in the holiday menu at our house, you may ask? Read More»

Lost and forlorn

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Okay, I’ll admit it. Sometimes I’m directionally challenged. I could get lost in an elevator or go the wrong way on an escalator.

No matter what age you may be, the experience of being lost is the same for everyone: complete and utter hopelessness.

I should know. I found myself lost last weekend, and an old familiar wave of dread washed over me and almost knocked me down.

But how I found myself lost in the middle of a crowd of over a thousand strangers, out of breath, and weeping…well, that’s the end of this story. Here’s the beginning: Read More»