Dividing Hostas

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Dividing Hostas

From morning on the tallest days
a humble woman stretches low,
to work beneath the speckled rays:
she gathers limbs and pushes strays—
the brittle leaves from fall’s last show.

All through the summer space she’ll toil
to give the clustered plants a view.
On stiffened knees she surveys loyal
the crowded den of stalk and soil
to yield more ground for one or two.

A warm wind from the west then blows,
and gently bends the oaks which stare:
her steady arms stretch to expose
the arching hosta stems she’s chose—
from single plant she forms a pair.

And timid lilies watch the art:
this hunch-backed woman giving birth.
A spade digs sure a hole to start.
With care she nurses stems apart:
one plant—now two—fills back the earth.

Dividing hostas times the tides.
This call of garden work’s the prayer.
The strength of mother lies inside;
to these—her young—her reach confides
to halve the burdens of despair.

While empty home behind her sighs–
the haunting hush of void’s redress.
And from its windows peer the eyes:
two sons who’ve gone their lives to press.
Now verdant twins mend loneliness.

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“Dividing Hostas” was written in August of 2006, almost two years before my mother was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2008. She passed on February 15, 2009 — and has been my Valentine ever since.

Unfortunately, she never saw this piece.

I love you, Mom.

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Note — The photograph of the “Rainbow’s End” hosta was borrowed from the website of Connecticut’s White Flower Farm.

Have scarf? Will sled!

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With a few fresh fluffy inches of white powder on the ground, Kermit could not resist this opportunity to indulge in a little downhill fun. Sledding is best enjoyed with a friend, however, so he teamed up with the Christmas Moose for a morning on the local slope.

A good time was had by all!

If you missed Kermit’s first foray into the winter wild — an adventure that put him onto thin ice — please visit…

“I’m fine. Really — I’m fine!” 

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But don’t worry — the green guy was okay!

If you missed the Christmas Moose emerging from the wilderness back in November, please visit…

“First sighting of the Christmas Moose!”

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Finally, if you choose to head out into the snow today with your friends, your kids, or your significant other, I believe you’ll find that the wind and the cold are worth it.

The fun to be had outdoors reminds us of some of the most important things in lifeadventure, joy, and the security of knowing that someone else is along for the ride.

Let Kermit and the Christmas Moose remind you how it’s done…

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P.S. — Grab a scarf before you take to the slopes. You’ll thank me.

First wave of ink + sky postcards!

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The first wave of ink + sky postcards was mailed out yesterday to a group of former students. They live in states including Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, and Illinois. The second wave of postcards departed this morning.

If you are a former student of mine and would like to participate in the Postcard Project, please message me on Facebook. I have three cards remaining. There is no cost for you to be involved; I am taking care of all of the shipping expenses.

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The envelopes pictured above, which I found at STAPLES, feature stamps from the O Beautiful” series that was released by the United States Postal Service on July 4, 2018. Unfortunately, they are no longer available for purchase.

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Note — The image of the “O Beautiful” stamps was found at the United States Postal Service’s website.

Send your love a letter

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With all due respect to the appeal of flowers, chocolates, and fancy dinners, have you considered writing a letter to express your feelings? There’s still time.

It can be simple, inexpensive, and absent of rhyme. (Leave the poetry to the poets.)

But your note can possess the strength to last forever — to serve as a timeless symbol of your devotion, your gratitude, and your heartfelt sentiments.

Try something different this year: send your love a letter.

Postcard Project

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Dear former students,

This website, ink + sky, functions like a classroom; it is a place for learning, growth, community, and creativity. It is a safe space. Like my former classroom, my blog is not a place for harm or hate.

It is also not a platform for advancing others’ personal agendas or promotional campaigns. We all possess invaluable First Amendment rights, and venues and vehicles exist for us to exercise those rights. Please take advantage of those resources instead of attempting to use ink + sky. Thank you.

Please read the following information carefully before you request a postcard:

Harm

If your response to the writing prompt (“I am trying to figure out…”) suggests any of the following, your postcard will not be published:

  • Harming yourself.
  • Harming someone else.
  • Being harmed by someone else.

For help in these matters, please contact local law enforcement, a health-care provider, and/or a trusted friend or family member.

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Hate

If your response suggests any of the following, your postcard will not be published:

  • Hate language of any kind, including symbols and/or images that represent hate groups, their missions, and/or their tactics.
  • Religious or political criticism.
  • Slurs and/or derogatory language related to gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, ethnic and/or racial identity, age, class, financial status, and disability.
  • Defamation of another’s character.
  • Support for any activity (criminal in nature) that could result in distress to people and/or animals.

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Personal Agendas and Promotional Campaigns 

To exercise your rights of free speech and expression, please consider starting your own blog if you would like to advance a personal agenda or distribute promotional media. 

If your response suggests any of the following, your postcard will not be published:

  • Religious or political commentary. This includes contentious public policy issues (border wall, immigration, health care, etc.).
  • Profanity beyond those words permitted in classrooms (i.e. Mr. Bishop’s).
  • Recreational drug use, even of legal substances (e.g. alcohol and marijuana).
  • Any references to the debates about abortion, gun control, euthanasia, the drinking age, and/or drug legalization.
  • The naming, description, and/or imagery of genitals and/or sexual acts.
  • Advertising for non-profit organizations or for-profit entities (companies, individuals, etc.).
  • Marketing (web addresses, phone numbers, street addresses, QR codes, etc.).
  • Publicity for gangs and/or gang membership.
  • “Secret codes” of numbers, letters, and/or symbols that could be used to transmit information to others in order to advance a personal agenda.

Classroom

My blog, ink + sky, functions like a classroom; it is a place for learning, growth, community, and creativity. It is a safe space.

Assuming you have read this far — and that you agree to the parameters described above — please message me on Facebook and include this phrase: make it count. I will mail you a pre-stamped postcard like the one below. Directions are printed on its reverse side. The rest is up to you.

Note — A limited number of postcards have been created. Please request one only if you are committed to completing it and mailing it back to me. I am covering all of the expenses of this writing project. Be mindful of that fact.

We are all people first.

Sincerely,
Mr. Bishop

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Note — The photograph featuring the “no hate” sign was taken by T. Chick McClure, and it is available on unsplash.com. The image of the binder and bar chart is by rawpixel, and it was obtained from unsplash.com.

Guest Spotlight — MT’s Greenroom Journal

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If this notebook’s black cover leads you to suspect that its backstory might be ominous, think again. The narrative behind it is full of light. Margaret Trudeau’s 6″ x 8″ journal is a product of Greenroom, an innovative producer of eco-conscious writing materials founded by Southern California’s David Imbernino and his wife, Hyun Mi Oh. The husband-and-wife team is anything but subdued, as their diverse and often colorful line of notebooks, binders, greeting cards, and stationery can attest. When the light hits Margaret’s journal, those gold foil dots sparkle like droplets of water on a seal’s back.

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What does the company’s name refer to? In surf culture, the greenroom is — according to greenroomeco.com — the “perfect space inside the curve of a wave when the water completely encircles the surfer.” The man below, who was captured by photographer Jeremy Bishop, is experiencing the fleeting beauty and power of this space.

All of Greenroom’s products feature recycled paper and soy-based inks, two qualities that reduce their impact on Mother Nature. As a college senior with a keen awareness of her place in the natural world, Margaret is someone who reduces her carbon footprint when possible — so this 190-page journal, which is composed of 60-70% recycled materials, is an obvious fit.

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As a busy young woman who is finishing her last year at the University of Michigan, preparing for her wedding in 2020, and planning for a move to Lansing in the summer, Margaret keeps many balls in the air. And that is one reason why she was drawn to journaling last year. She explains: “With so much going on, setting aside time to reflect is a necessary meditation for my daily schedule.”

Let’s let Margaret, who will soon be earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Culture with a minor in Digital Studies, explain how she uses her notebook:

“Many of my classes cover philosophical arguments that bring up more questions than answers. This journal is a great way for me to form my own arguments, angrily scribble my annoyances (if necessary), and plan for future events and assignments. The content of my journal ebbs and flows with my mood; however, many features remain constant:”

  • List making: I am prone to making lists of things I need to do, upcoming exams and due dates, and items to be packed for vacations and weekend trips. These lists take the form of pros/cons, weekly schedules, and creative project descriptions.
  • Planning: The freshness of a new page excites the part of me that likes to plan four steps (read: four months) ahead. Many wedding plans, coursework requirements, vacations, apartment hunting thoughts, and job search updates are to be found in my journal.

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  • Sarcasm: At times, the beauty of journaling makes itself apparent in the moment for me, when overhearing nearby conversations to which I wish to respond, for example. The privacy of a journal holds my comments safely inside for my entertainment. Excerpt from 1.10.19, second day of my last semester of undergrad school: “SI 410. First meeting. I’m sandwiched between two men who seem to disregard their showers.”
  • Reflection and observation: Many entries in my journal are a digestion of my day, which lends itself nicely to comprehending conversations and observing the world around me. Excerpt from 12.5.18. Writing about what life will look like as we move to Lansing, and what opportunities are there for me. “In Lansing, there is Michigan State (the enemy), and the State of Michigan (funny how prepositions rearrange a college into a government).”

When Margaret is laying down ink on the page, she uses Pilot G2 Ultra Fine Point (0.38mm) black pens. You can learn more about these high-quality gel-ink pens on ink + sky’s Materials page.

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Margeret’s preferred mode of transfer is cursive (not print). Why? She “[finds] the cursive font encourages an unending flow of information and thought.”

Before she dashes back out into the welcoming surf of her daily life, Margaret has these final words to share: “I thoroughly enjoy journaling, and having a record of my thoughts helps to keep track of where I’ve been, and where I’m going in all parts of life.”

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If you are looking for Greenroom notebooks, binders, or stationery, you have two options: your local Target store, or Target.com. In 2005, Greenroom formed an exclusive partnership with the national retailer; therefore, you won’t find its unique, eco-friendly products at office supply stores or Amazon.com.

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Note — The photograph of the surfer and the woman wearing a watch were taken by Jeremy Bishop, and they were obtained from Unsplash.com. The photograph of the seal was captured by British photographer Samuel Scrimshaw, and it was borrowed from Unsplash.com. The photograph of the two pairs of shoes was taken by Marc A. Sporys and is available at Unsplash.com. The image of the Pilot G2 pens was taken from Target.com. The image of the Target puppy gift card was found on wdwinfo.com.

We’re interrupting winter

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Man from the Mist

I do not know the paddler. He just appeared. Sometimes the person you didn’t know that you needed can materialize from the mist. This photograph was taken at Square Lake on September 23, 2018 at 7:38am. I used my iPhone 6. No filters, no Photoshop.