The Reading Under the Gun (or RUG” was a timed writing assignment. I gave students a limited period of time, a short text, some provoking questions, and required them to write until I said stop. The assignment was worth five points. Even if you answered the questions wrong or went off topic, so long as you wrote, you got the points. Sound simple? It was harder for some than you would think. Some didn’t want to do more than the minimum, they filled a page and then wanted to stare into space. I could be sticky about it.

It was a grade-builder, rewarded for effort. If I did my part well enough, they learned how to read quickly and think deeply about texts. They observed and recorded the obvious. They took risks and made personal connections. They didn’t always appreciate it. Regardless, they almost always liked the particular reading below. It was often their favorite of the year.

Some of my students were lucky people and had been protected and blessed all of their lives. But that good fortune doesn’t last for anyone. We do not get to live pretty lives all of the time. All of us suffer and change happens and we grieve for what is lost or never arrived. But every one of us has moments worth treasuring. The snapshots we hope are true.

From Life magazine, September 1991, “Picturing Happiness” by Lynda Barry:

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“Happiness is happiness, no matter how things turn out. It still counts. And when you see it caught perfectly in a picture taken nearly 40 years ago, look closely. You’re holding a fragile, sweet, gorgeous bird in your hands.”

We saw the black oystercatcher baby yesterday morning and it’s doing fine, my center panel is joined together and the 3″ frame is cut and pieced, the next quilt is already in planning, and I made blueberry crisp.


  1. I confess that I ate most of the blueberry crisp, found the lost pen, stopped at Blicks, and saved the Designated Barker at least once on the beach—happy moments—oink!

    Liked by 1 person

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