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Heat and greet

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Well, the Texas heat, even north of the Big D, has arrived in full force. It's hot no matter how you read the thermometer, and I've been outside a lot.

CHEERLEADERS AND COACHING
I first took the award-winning Blue Ridge High School cheerleaders to "Cheer Camp" the third week of June. We traveled by school bus (yes, that's right) to Tarleton State University for four intense days of cheerleading. I had "coach" classes I attended too, and I learned a lot.

This particular camp was geared for 3A and under schools, and there were some large squads and some small ones too. The four cheerleaders really came together by the end of the week, and the squad walked away with "Most Improved Squad" out of about 35+ teams present that week! I was BESIDE MYSELF with joy at how hard they worked! Three of the darlings also were nominated for "NCA All-American" cheerleader, which is a big deal. :)

The BR Mascot, Tucker the Tiger, also walked away with several awards and also a NCA Mascot Bid for All-American! This year's mascot is a tumbling machine! I can't wait to see him tumble in the Mascot uniform! It'll be intense!

Staying in a dorm was alright, and practically all of the squad got a touch of homesickness, but it was a great week to begin a great year!


KELSEY ARRIVES HOME TO AMERICA
After that week, I came home and one day later we went to collect Kelsey, my globe-trotting, missionary-ish daughter from the DFW Airport and to welcome her home for her year of working for God! It was great to see her and she came home to TEXAS WEATHER! I believe it was 100 F the day she returned home! It was great having her home and I even checked in on her a few times to watch her sleep. Love that kid!






BOY SCOUT CAMP
The next week, Peyton and I headed to Possum Kingdom Lake for Boy Scout Camp at Camp Constantin. Tent camping in 100 F-ish weather wasn't the easiest thing I've ever done, but the week was great. My official job was to dispense the medication, keep a log of what everyone took, and to oversee first aid efforts. I had the boys who have earned their first aid merit badge help out the others who needed minor repairs. Only a few of the boys had injuries or ailments that required a visit to the clinic.

Speaking of the camp nurse, she was a cutie pie named, Rena, and she is a senior this coming year at Baylor finishing up her RN degree. Word got out among the teenage boys that there was a gorgeous nurse on the campgrounds, so as the week went on, more and more people went to see her. :)

Some of the highlights of the week at Scout Camp: the salad bar and baked potatoes offered so the adults wouldn't fully rebel at the food, the A/C charging station in the "Upper Deck" which is really an air conditioned room for the adults to check email and the like, the uber-clean WalMart restroom I used when I drove into town; the hot showers I took two times a day, the hike up Johnson's Peak with Peyton and learning about the underground town of Pickwick, Texas that was flooded in the making of Possum Kingdom Lake, the "Order of the Arrow" call out ceremony and helping hold the paperwork for the Troop 1199 Scouts called out, my new love for Kool-Aid at lunch and dinner, not having a Dr. Pepper all week and surviving, reassuring the very homesick Scouts that they could make it through the week and as much as they begged, we weren't going to let them call home to talk to mom or dad.

I also learned some stuff about me: I can basically sleep in the same thing all week long and change in an uber-small tent fully zipped up for privacy. I can go a week without talking to a female if needed and not feel weird about being a gender-minority for the week. I also was reminded that I absolutely LOVE camping and I'm thankful that I'm moving to a neighborhood where I can walk less than a mile to a campsite and have nature at my doorstep. :)



BLUE RIDGE RODEO
This week, July 9-11, the Blue Ridge Riding Club sponsored its annual Rodeo, and it was a BLAST to attend. We went on July 10 just because and had so much fun, that we invited our friends the Adkins and my sister, Allison, and her fiancé, Anthony, to go with us. From the rodeo clown, to the bull riding, the event was a big one for the town.

I kept looking at the many people in the crowd whose faces seem a blur and hoping that by next summer I know a lot more of them. Teaching in BR should help me get to know people, but I'm just glad that we have moved to BR. I can't really explain it, but it was the right move, and I know God was in the move and wants us here.

MARY POPPINS AND THE DENTIST
I love Kelsey for a number of reasons, but last Thursday she melted my heart even more. I have a "temperamental" tooth that keeps bothering me, and in the spring, really the week we moved to BR, I discovered that I needed "eventually" to get a crown as I had worn down the teeth due to old age. :( I sound like a cow who has chewed too much grass. Anyhow, I went to the dentist and put off getting the work done until last Thursday.

The last time I got a partial crown, my touch of OCD had me pry off the temporary crown as it didn't feel right in my mouth. Then, the dentist was amazed that I suffered through having bone exposed to air rather than keep the crown on, so this time, I wanted to get the work done while I was still in summer mode so I could chillax more and not worry about having to talk so much.

I sat in the dental chair, received some pina colada flavored "Oral Gel" and waited for the shots. After asking the dentist to not shake my mouth, he injected three shots and waited for me to get flubber mouth. I THOUGHT I was numb to the world as I sounded like Fat Albert, but drill, drill, drill, SHOCK! My butt practically came out of the chair and I said, "STOP!" I guess I wasn't numbed up enough, so ANOTHER shot was given but this one didn't hurt and I waited some more. This time the shot REALLY worked and the entire back of my throat was numb. Great for no more drilling pain, not so great for needing to swallow and not feeling it. I then had two options: drool on the paper thingie around my neck, or have the lady suck out the yuck with that straw vacuum. Option two worked for the procedure, and once my tooth was fashioned into a pointy post ready to receive a nice white composite tooth in two weeks, a temporary crown was placed (think big piece of bubble gum that sort of lines up with your teeth) and I was on my way home, spitting into the napkin and convinced that I would die from not being able to swallow properly!

I rolled into the house, all flubber-jawed, and (cue Hallelujah Chorus here) Kelsey aka "Mary Poppins" has cleaned with the little Raymers' assistance, the entire house top to bottom. Clothes were put away, the kitchen was clean, and it was just lovely all away around.

You can imagine how thankful I was for this as I didn't feel peachy at all, but she did it all on her own. She even sent the youngest Raymer to her room for not following the rules! Anyone need a nanny? Just call Kelsey!

ADJUSTING TO COUNTRY DRIVING
Kelsey has had a bit of adjustment to country driving and is currently in the "everything is so far" stage, but that will pass in a few weeks. She's also experienced the generosity of a neighbor (think "stranger" for you city folks) as she ran out of gasoline in front of a guy's home and he gave her enough fuel to get to town. :) She is driving a borrowed truck right now and though the oil gauge was the gas gauge. Ooops! So, to the nice man at 9998 FM 545, thank you for helping Kelsey. Chocolate Chip Cookies are coming your way this week. :)

Snakes, and Tigers, and Poisonous Plants, Oh My!

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Folks,

This city-girl got a dose of country-reality-check yesterday when my sweet neighbor from across the street, Amy, (the one who rescued my fly-away mail) came over to tell me a bit of neighborhood news.  It wasn't gossip as the information was useful!  A man down the street, while working in his yard, got BIT BY A COPPERHEAD SNAKE and was rushed to the hospital!  He called 911 and the Blue Ridge Fire Department came rushing and carted him off to the hospital, where he'll be in for about a week "detoxing" from that dog-gone snake!

After Amy helped me pick my jaw up from the ground, she told me that the snakes are BAD this time of year and to be careful in the yard.  I always thought copperheads liked "copper colored" areas in the fall, but I guess the snakes do have to live during the summer waiting for fall.  So, she suggested:
-looking where we walk
-wearing shoes outside 
-paying careful attention to the tall grass in the back yard
-putting mothballs outside as if the snakes eat them they will die? (Must research this).
-not walking in the grass at night.


Website to help you identify poisonous snakes found in Texas:  http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/junior_naturalists/safesnake.phtml 

I've also learned NOT to tell people stories like this one, as they retort with their OWN snake story.  Case in point: this morning I told our builder about our neighbor and the builder said, "Yup.  Last week my husband and I were driving and we saw snake after snake crossing the road and even hit one.  When we went back later, it was a copperhead."  The snakes have little serpentine families!  

YIKES!

My mind does crazy things like wander when I hear stories like this.  I DO want to adjust fully to BR, but if that means encountering a snake, count me OUT!  Note to self: no woodpiles or debris, etc. at the new place.  Now what to do about those woods we have....

The Tiger Cheerleaders have Summer Camp next week.  I thought we were riding to the cheerleading camp in the district's minivan driven by me, but alas, the district is using the van for the ESL darlings during the summer, so instead we'll be chauffeured in a school bus.  It's not exactly the fairy tale I had planned, but it will have to do.  We leave for camp on Monday and return on Thursday.  I'm going to take lots of pictures, so I can tell you visually all about the week!  Ready?  OKAY!

POISONOUS PLANTS:
I believe I have learned my lesson about Poison Ivy, but this morning I have a suspicious mark on my leg that's a bit itchy.  I'm hoping it is an out of control mosquito bite as I can't take another bout of Poison Ivy especially since Cheer Camp and Boy Scout Camp are back-to-back upon me starting next week.

What does that Ivy look like?  Trick question!

The house is progressing.  It's almost completely framed out.  Next is the "boring stuff" according to my builder. Electrical and plumbing, etc.  No fun, but quite necessary.  :)

Sunflowers, Benadryl and Softball

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When one decides on a whim to plant sunflower seeds in tall weeds, remember to check for poisonous plants.   The sunflowers are growing, but so is the rash on my leg.  :(

 I’ve had the leg funk for a few weeks!  Not fun.  At first we thought it might be a Staph infection, which grosses out most anyone I tell, and yesterday I returned to the doctor, where she told me it might be something poisonous.  So, after a shot of “get rid of it” in the rump, I came home to tell myself all afternoon, “I must not itch, I must not itch….”

 After a dose of Benadryl, a miracle drug created by angels sent from God, I took a much-needed nap.  I am also thankful that I got a substitute for today at the last minute and I had the foresight to leave lessons plans on my desk, just in case.  J

 So, it is expensive living in a small town.  Since the school doesn’t have a lot of money, parents have to raise funds for almost everything.  We’ve been blessed that we can afford things, but I’ve been thinking a lot about those who can’t.  While I haven’t ventured out much, I hope this town doesn’t have a “have and a have-not” culture.  

I have some cool things lined up for next school year, and it’s all a God thing how it has happened.  More to come soon about this.

Raining cats and dogs with a few tornados thrown in

Claire has had TWO weeks of no softball.  The first week was due to rain and this week is a preventative measure for stopping the Swine Flu (H1N1 Influenza) from spreading.  Since my kids have barely left the town, I think we’re good.  We’ve also become obsessive hand-washers and learned recently to sing the “ABCs” while we are washing our hands.  I’m doing that each time I need the soap and sink.  J

This Saturday Claire has a TRIPLE HEADER for softball.  After that we have an Eagle Ceremony in Garland to attend, so it’s outdoors all-day long for the Raymers, minus Peyton who will no doubt skip two of Claire’s games so he can be a “gamer” and play PS3 some.

Peyton leaves next week for an AWESOME trip with his school traveling practically all over Texas to see several historic sites.  There was a last-minute opening for him, and I’m so thankful he wants to go.  I wish there was a trip like that when I was in the Seventh Grade.  His teacher is really great, so I know he’ll come home fact-filled and tired. 

He tells me that his history grade the last report card was lower than his other classes as his teacher’s room is so filled with memorabilia.  It’s hard for his ADHD-Inattentive self to stay focused when there is so much to look at while in her room.  J  His teacher is retiring this year, and I imagine it will take a while to take down all of her decorations and treasures.

I have some important meetings this week at school; please pray these will go as planned.  I also have a packed calendar thanks to “softball catch up.”  Kent, buy those butt-cushions for the bleachers ASAP or we’ll “shoulda, coulda, woulda” this weekend without them.  

P.S.  We closed on our construction loan last Thursday and it has rained ever since!  We need some dry days to get the foundation and framing done.  :)


Twist and Turns

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Today was NOT the day I had planned, but God was totally in it.  It's really amazing how we can think we know what we need and want and God just slaps us otherwise.  

We close on our construction loan this Wednesday, and dirt, as my friend Larry Renne says, "starts flying" hopefully Thursday.  (http://texasvineyardhomes.com/)

I'm really going to have a "bluh" week.  TAKS is this week, and I'm proctoring the test three of the four days.  For my ADHD-self, nothing is longer.  Watching kids take a test and giving them permission to use the restroom isn't my cup of tea.  However, we'll have some extra time this week to take a break from homework, which SHOULD allow me to catch up on grading, and for that I'm thankful.  

I never seem to be "caught up" with grading.  It COULD be that I am outnumbered 158 to one or it could be I try to grade too much?  I'm not sure.

I met some really nice people today and had a few small world moments.  I saw a lady I used to teach with at Rowlett in Melissa, Texas, (Rhonda Smith) and we met a man who is from Fordyce, AR, where he was a "Redbug."  He knows some Raymers from Fordyce, but it turns out they were "Reimers" and not "Raymers."  Anyhow, finding someone who knew the little town where Kent's parents are from in Arkansas, was a small world.

Saturday the kids and I, without the assistance of the GPS, drove to McKinney to get groceries.  Of course I chose WalMart because I had a few home-improvement things to buy, but man, that was a rookie country girl mistake.  WalMart was CROWDED beyond belief and the three of us, all unmedicated were bouncing off the aisles.  The little Raymers really did keep their "May I get this" questions in check, but the trip, after getting REALLY lost finding the store, was a beating--hair in one of the cart wheels and all.

I managed to make it through the grocery list without having any MOMMY DEAREST moments, and God showed me a bit of mercy by having the crowded store have one checkout lane with NO ONE in front of us.  We unloaded our cart ASAP and were back on the road to Blue Ridge.  I called Kent and warned him that I was "checking out" when I got home and to PLEASE unload the groceries.  He so graciously did this; he could probably hear the foul mood over the telephone.

One cool thing I discovered is that Macaroni Grill now has "make it at home" kits for many of their popular restaurant dishes.  Tonight I made the Chicken Alfredo kit, and it was quite tasty.  (I did not look at the calorie count; the most important thing on the box was the "READY IN UNDER 20 MINUTES" label.

So, now WalMart has TWO items I can't seemingly live without.  Stacy's Cinnamon Pita Chips and the Macaroni Grill products.  http://www.walmart.com/search/search-ng.do?search_constraint=976759&ic=48_0&search_query=macaroni+grill&Find.x=0&Find.y=0&Find=Find

Must find a real grocery store, must find a real grocery store.

Also as sort of a postscript, there is a wind turbine in the WalMart parking lot; the turbine is HUGE!  I drove by a wind farm last summer driving to Boy Scout Camp in Colorado, but I saw the windmills from the safety of my Ford Windstar (ironic) moving swiftly down the interstate.  Up close morbid thoughts about the propellers flying off and taking out shoppers crossed our minds.  We even wondered "Is that thing safe, etc.?"  My brainwashed kids proceeded to tell me how "green energy" can actually hurt the environment, yada yada yada.  I told them, "Don't believe everything you hear," and backed away quickly from the thing.  IF I venture back into the WalMart (which I'm sure I will) I'm parking on the other end of the lot next time and hoping that doomsday doesn't happen on our or anyone else's watch.

Building our Home

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We have picked a builder and are about to close on our construction loan.  Please PRAY that this process goes smoothly.  You throw two people together who have specific ideas about his/her "dream home" and things don't always mesh easily.  However, I feel we are on the same page MOST of the time.

Last weekend I dog-earred about fifty pages of thin
gs I liked and Sharpee marked specific things, so hopefully, Kent will "see" my vision.  

It's hard to know what you want and then picking out the real thing in an item.  I feel like I'm having to shoe shop for a lifetime of shoes and plan ahead for trends, things I'll like, "shoes" I'll wear when I'm old and having to make space/room/plan for the future people who will also wear shoes in our house!  Ahhh!  

Here are some pictures of the lot.  Stage 1:  Move dirt around and dream three-dimensionally from a one-dimensional blue print!

Interesting Post Script:  I am NOT allergic (yet) to Poison Ivy.  We were removing "vines" last week at our property, the base of which were about 2-3" thick.  (This was last week sometime and Kent told me TODAY that it was PI.)  Anyhow, we washed our hands when we got home, but indeed unless it has a freakishly-late rash outbreak period, I've dodged the evil vine this time.  (It is my worst nightmare to have this horrible itch, especially when my friend Peter, last year at Scout Camp in Colorado, had a HORRIBLE outbreak, and it festered even more because of the heat.)

The drive to the city

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5:05 a.m.  5:00 a.m. 5:35 a.m.  Each morning the alarm clock is set for something different.  I just know if I don't LEAVE Blue Ridge to head to Garland by 6:00 a.m. I am HOSED as the traffic on US75/ Central Expressway is CRAZY with folks doing the same thing as me--commuting!  

I pull into the Naaman parking lot most days at 6:45 a.m. and have students waiting at the door for me.  Some days they are there to make up work, some days they want a safe place to "chill" before the 7:20 bell summons them to class.  Other days I end up having "mom talks" and giving advice to them about college; what they should and shouldn't do on the weekends.  Things like that.

My day proceeds usually without any trouble.  I have second period conference and get to see some of my best friends at Naaman!  (I LOVE second period conference.)  I then teach another 90-minutes, and I am supposed to go to lunch, but I've been "powering down" instead.  I've discovered if I make my room dark and lock the door, I can get a serious power nap in before the children return from lunch fed and ready to learn for another 30-minutes.  (Yeah, right?)  The last class, another 90 minutes, usually flies by, then I run my after-school errands or tutor kids AGAIN.  I am out of the building most days at 3:15 and home in Blue Ridge by 4:00 p.m. where I seem to fix dinner quickly and attempt to watch the news but usually fall asleep again!

I used to work midnights and I lived to sleep.  I wasn't depressed at all; just really tired.  I feel that way again.  I don't really mind the drive; it's the whole "wake up early" thing that is hard.

Listening to NPR has passed the time, but the station is in the middle of its "annual fundraising campaign" and the break in "regularly-scheduled programing" is as annoying as when PBS used to nix SESEME STREET for hours at a time to promote their annual campaign.  Instead of Big Bird and Ernie I stared impatiently at the screen looking at happy people picking up ringing telephones.  

I SHOULD call in and do my part to raise money, but the Spirit hasn't moved to do this.  There is this cool gadget at the $125.00 level, but it will have to wait for my monthly budget meeting.

Critters and curvy roads and remembering to wave

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Today we had to take two vehicles to church as I had a meeting after "big church."  Kent and the children went for a drive in the country, and I went to Half Price Books and Target.

 I didn't mean to waste any time, but it was about 3:30 p.m. when I came home!  Kent had been napping and unbeknownst to me, I had about a bazillion text messages wondering, "Where are u?" from Claire and Kent.  Pate was probably oblivious to me not being home. 

I found some cool things at Target and just wondered around for a while yet had "Dave Ramsey" stuck in the back of my head.

 On one of my last hairpin turns back to Blue Ridge, it happened again!  A darn roadrunner ran out into the road!  RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!  This is the second time we've seen one, but the first time I've been behind the wheel and if I "slo mo" the event, I can tell you the following.

 It seems that the bird intentionally dogged out into the road.  It looked over its left shoulder as to say, "Yeah, I see you!" as it darted across the road.  It is a beautiful bird and I was in its way.  The creature delighted in scaring me to death and it was about the size of a squirrel?  (A City-girl reference for critters is still in place.)  

 After I made it home I asked Kent if he thought the thing was waiting for someone to come by or if it just by chance nearly became a hood ornament.  He gave me that, "Are you seriously asking this as a serious question?" look and said, "Stacey.  It was a coincidence."  Still, doubt lingered so tonight I went to the all-knowing website, wikipedia.org, for a little bird-brained insights.

 Here's a few links to all things roadrunner:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roadrunner

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wile_E._Coyote_and_Road_Runner

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/nonpwdpubs/introducing_birds/roadrunners/

 Some fun things I learned:

1.  Roadrunners are from the Cuckoo family!  

2.  They have, on each foot, two toes in the front and two in the back.

3.  They mate for life.  Awwwh!  How sweet!  LOVE BIRDS!  This makes me want to avoid killing them even more.  I don't want to widow or widower any bird in an untimely fashion!  

 It's a small world

This weekend Claire was getting her "hair done" and I remarked to the stylist that I'd seen a roadrunner!  She matter-of-fact-ly told me that the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had reintroduced roadrunners and BOBCATS to the area a while back!  

 I think the roadrunners are "reintroducing" just fine OR I've seen the same bird twice!  Now, about those bobcats....  Yikes!  

Country Kindness

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Yesterday I heard, over the intercom system, for "Stacey Raymer" to call the front office.  I never receive pages, so I immediately freaked out.

I called the front office assistant, and she asked me, "Do you live in Blue Ridge????"  I said, "Yes," thinking the school was calling about one of my kids.  (What have they done now?)

The assistant proceeded to tell me she had the weirdest telephone call.

Back-story:
My husband was out of town from Friday-Wednesday morning.  As I was trying to be a parent AND another parent while he was gone, I basically lived out my car and took lots of short cuts to survive.  We didn't deep clean the house or shine any silver while Kent was gone, that's for sure.  

I guess on Wednesday, after Kent returned home and when I was switching my book bags and things from my his vehicle, which I got to drive while he was gone, to my SUV and had all the vehicles' doors opened in the process, the winds of the Blue Ridge prairie swept away several pieces of important mail.  The yet-to-be mailed documents landed across the street in my neighbor's yard, but since we are so new, she hadn't met us yet.

I have been doing "moving chores" like changing addresses with businesses, organizations, etc. during my conference period at school, and I used a Naaman Forest envelope to process my paperwork updating my address with the Teacher Retirement System, all I needed was a stamp, so I brought the envelope home with me to affix a stamp then take to the post office.  Slight problem--I forgot about taking it inside as I had a bazillion things on my mind.  

My neighbor, unknowingly inheriting my to-be-mailed mail through wind propagation, only saw the return address of "Naaman Forest High School, care of Stacey Raymer" and she took the time to telephone the school to see if a "Stacey Raymer" worked there.

Long story short, I would have NEVER realized the mail was missing until a few weeks later and then proceeded to tear apart, in vain, my house looking for it.  In addition to the TRS letter, which had my social security number tucked inside of it, my new vehicle registration sticker blew into her yard as did an important piece of mail for Kelsey from the World Wildlife Fund (She has a thing for panda bears.)

After I got home yesterday, I crossed to street (road?) to thank properly Amy for being a kind person and taking time out of her day to investigate a strange event caused by an absent-minded former city girl.  

I marveled afterwards at the series of events that led my neighbor to call Naaman.  If Amy's example is country hospitality at it's finest, I'll take more of it.  

The First Grade...

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Something I wrote today as an example for my students who are about to begin a PenPal project.  A true story about me....

Dear Hello Kitty, 

I’m having a tough day.  While I am excited about this project, I’m not sure who you are!  Tough days remind me of tough times.  I remember when I was in the first grade and something traumatic, life altering, happened to me. 

It all started normally, I suppose, until lunch came.  I’m pretty hyper active and usually, daily really, I would ask my teacher, Mrs. Walls, if I could use the restroom.  Sometimes I would preen and sometimes I would primp and sometimes I would USE the restroom, but no matter what, Mrs. Walls would say, “Yes, you may go” after I asked permission. 

My school was shaped like a big horseshoe and the first grade restrooms were equidistant to the fifth grade restrooms, but something made me go left instead of right, and I ended up in the fifth grade girls’ restroom.  As a first grader, I couldn’t wait to be a fifth grader!  These students ruled the school!  They could wear makeup and the girls wore bras!   

Inside the horseshoe-shaped restroom, I encountered two goddesses—real and beautiful and tall and intimidating and scary and fifth grade girls.  They glared at me; said, “Get out of here little first grader!”  And, I did!  I left!  But not all of me left; you see, this was one of those times when I really needed to use the restroom.  And, I did.  Down the leg of my pants and into my blue sneakers and trickling on the floor, I left.  The goddesses just laughed and laughed.   

Dejected, I walked, bowlegged to avoid the cold and the stinging to my teacher, who said, “Oh, honey, let’s get you to the nurse.”  There I sat, in borrowed clothing until my mom, pulled from an important business meeting at her important job, came to collect me.  She drove me home as I cried where a hot bubble bath waited for me to help me reclaim my dignity. 
 

Blue Green Ridge