Stickers take flight on dragons’ wings!


These stickers are taking flight on dragons’ wings. Thank you for supporting the North Oakland Community Coalition. Your generosity has already produced $36.00 in donations.

For every ink + sky sticker that is sold, $1.00 is given to the NOCC to provide education and programming for local youth in these three critical areas:

  1. Underage drinking
  2. Substance abuse
  3. Mental health

If you would like to purchase ink + sky stickers for your water bottle, laptop, snowboard, or class binder, please click here.

Thank you for your generosity and support!


Skateboard Journal


This is my new journal, and I love it. Skateboards cover the front and back. The teenager in me, who recalls the “old guard” of skateboarders of the late 1980s, feels drawn to this notebook’s bright colors and playful graphics.

As a high school student, I remember Mike McGill, Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero and others gracing the covers of magazines like Thrasher and Transworld Skateboarding. Those publications still exist, and those athletes — especially ones like Tony Hawk — are still influential even though they are in their early 50s. And their original brand, Powell Peralta, continues to produce visually-stunning boards, including an annual Bones Brigade Series that draws on artwork from those legendary skaters’ first designs.

Here is what 2019’s Bones Brigade Series 11 looks like:


I never owned one of those boards — or any other one. Although I loved the bold graphics of the skating community, my personality did not align with those of my peers who were part of that scene. So I watched from a distance and admired the artwork of their boards, t-shirts, and stickers. And I paged through magazines, imagining what it might be like to be one of the guys featured on the glossy pages and in the cool ads.

Today, those gentlemen look like this:


When I stumbled upon this notebook in the clearance section of my local STAPLES store several months ago, I immediately scooped it up. It was only $1.00.

At the time, I didn’t think that I would use it myself. Rather, I imagined possibly making a blog post entitled something like “Journals for Teen Boys.” It would have featured the skateboard cover and others with designs that might appeal to adolescent males. Note — It does not escape my awareness that most members of this demographic are not hungry to embark on a personal writing campaign or keep a “diary.”

Little did I realize then that the adolescent male in me would begin feeling attracted enough to the skateboard journal that I did not hesitate to grab it after I filled up the last page in my New Year’s Adventure Journal.

And then I remembered something very compelling that I had lost track of while immersed in the essays, lessons plans, and letters-of-recommendation that filled much of my last few years of teaching: there is a professional skateboarder named Brian Bishop.

Here he is:


From what I have been able to learn online, Brian Bishop was in his prime in the early 2000s. He skated for a brand called Original, which was established in 2002 by brothers Scott and Brad Imbrie. Although Original is still producing skateboards, Bishop’s name almost cannot be found on its website. To the best of my knowledge, he has shifted his attention to a career in architecture and only occasionally shows up to skating events to lend support to his former brand.

Curiously, Brian Bishop did not use boards like those of the 1980s Bones Brigade squad. Rather than ride skateboards that were well-suited to stunts on half-pipes and acrobatics in empty swimming pools, Bishop piloted something called a longboard. As the name suggests, longboards are longer than their brethren: they measure 40 to 60 inches (nose to tail) instead of the 30-inch boards that were — and still are — ridden by the likes of Rodney Mullen, Tony Hawk, and Steve Caballero.

When I laid my eyes on the graphics of today’s longboards, I felt the same surge of excitement that I did as a teenager when admiring the artwork on boards from high school. Longboards look cool. Here is one from Koastal, which offers boards that are handmade in the USA. This is their 38″ Pin Tail, and its colors make my mouth water:


This sidewalk cruiser mixes modern materials, a classy script logo, and a retro-cool shape. I just love it. The top looks like it could be a surfboard from the 1950s.

Anyway, all of this has been resonating inside me recently. So when I opened the cover of this notebook a week ago and penned my first entry, this is what spilled out onto the page (transcription follows):


2-11-19  7:37 AM — kitchen table, Crow’s Nest

Skateboarding? Yes, this journal features a design that I didn’t think I would ever gravitate toward — but I have. There’s something so appealing about the multi-colored geometric designs and the small wheels and trucks. The skateboards look like little toys that a very tiny person could ride right off the cover! I admire the gray, slightly-textured background, too.

The tri-color deep blue/light blue/sea foam board draws my attention immediately. But I also like the green deck with the brown and white pinstripes running length-wise. I imagine that if I could turn that board over I’d see a textured maple underside with a glossy finish. The contrast between the natural wood and the plastic wheels and stainless steel trucks would be pleasing. Three elements combined to create a simple device for rolling along streets and sidewalks. Simple, yet a vehicle for hours of fun and afternoons of exploration.


Former pro longboarder Brian Bishop may be retired, but former high-school English teacher Brian Bishop may be headed toward the skate shop this spring. Lake Orion is the place where living is a vacation. Perhaps it’s time to connect my teenage awe with my forty-something curiosity and hop on a board when the snow thaws and the temperature rises.

My vacation could get started this year on four small wheels and a flexible platform of seven-ply maple. Thank you for helping to inspire me, Brian Bishop.

Now, what I’d really like to know is this: Can I get you interested in journaling?

Screen Shot 2019-02-18 at 9.07.07 AM.pngNote — The images featured above were borrowed from the Muirskate Longboard Shop, The Skate District, Powell Peralta, and Koastal Longboards.

I altered the bottom photograph of longboarder Brian Bishop by inserting the journal. If I knew he’d use it, I’d pick up one at STAPLES and mail it to him.IMG_5116 2

First wave of ink + sky postcards!


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.


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.


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

Postcard Project


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:


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.



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.


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.


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.

Mr. Bishop


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

Guest Spotlight — MT’s Greenroom Journal


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.


What does the company’s name refer to? In surf culture, the greenroom is — according to — 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.


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.


  • 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.


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.”


If you are looking for Greenroom notebooks, binders, or stationery, you have two options: your local Target store, or 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


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

I wonder about a bookstore…

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 4.43.21 PM

Would you support this small business in Lake Orion? Or would you browse, leave, and order books on Amazon for 20% less with FREE 2-day shipping? Please answer *honestly* below. I’m curious. And serious. 🙂

That new building at 120 South Broadway? I walked by it yesterday. Would an indy bookstore REALLY survive in our community? Your dollars would determine its success.

Amazon will always be cheaper — and open 24/7. You are probably a Prime member. Just click and the books arrive at your door. So easy, right?

Lake Orion: Where living is a vacation. 🌞

What if LO was also a place of culture, curiosity, and enlightenment?

Would you pay for that?

Postscript to a meal


If dessert marks the close of dinner, then a thank-you card serves as its postscript — an after-the-event affirmation of hours well spent and company fully valued. In this era of instant messages and time constraints, however, the thank-you card is often disregarded as either unnecessary or anachronistic. These beliefs could not be further from the truth. Rarely will a tweet or emoji-punctuated text make a memorable impression on a host. But a card featuring a personal greeting almost always will.

This blog post documents the process of preparing one such card for transit.

Two nights ago I enjoyed a wonderful evening of food and fellowship in the home of a dear friend. She and her husband — a man talented in both the woodworking studio and the kitchen — prepared a hearty meal of parmesan-encrusted chicken, cold corn-and-pepper salad with citrus vinegar dressing, steaming brown rice with peas, and freshly-baked cheese-herb bread pulled from a cast-iron skillet. Two other guests (my best friend and his wife) agreed that the fare was delicious.

After the meal, the five of us retired to the great room, where we sat in front of the fireplace and traded accounts of recent travels, memories of family courtships, and updates on hobbies ranging from photography to hatchet-throwing. As can occur on evenings spent indoors while wind rushes through snow-draped trees, time seemed to slow. Meanwhile, digestion proceeded steadily within our bellies. And before we knew it the hostess produced parfaits of fresh raspberries, brownie bites, and fluffy whipped cream. Our discussion continued as spoons clinked lightly while teasing the chilled dessert from tall glasses.

After returning home that night I dove into my supply of cards in search of the right thank-you to honor such a wonderful evening. The one I selected is pictured above. This card, which I purchased for $1 at Trader Joe’s, features artwork by printmaker Yoskiko Yamamoto (pictured below) of The Arts & Crafts Press in Tacoma, WA. Yamamoto and her husband, Bruce Smith, founded TA&CP in 1996. All of their publications “have been letterpress printed and bound by hand.” Please check out for an amazing selection of limited-edition woodblock prints, stationery, coasters, calendars, and more.

The Arts & Crafts Press

To my pleasant surprise, I realized that the hanging lamp on this card features a mission-style design. The same aesthetic is found on the beautiful handmade furniture in the host-couple’s great room. (The husband built it!) Mission furniture emerged in the United States in the late 1890s, and got its name from California’s Spanish-style missions. The furniture’s focus on simple horizontal and vertical lines — often showcased in oak tables, chairs, and chests — contrasts with the ornate Victorian furniture that had long been popular at the time.

Mission furniture, which is linked to the Arts and Crafts movement, was produced by several famous artisans including Gustav Stickley (1858-1942), an American born from German immigrants. A number of fascinating resources exist for learning more about this influential furniture manufacturer including The Stickley Museum in Fayetteville, NY and the 20th century estate home that he designed (now a National Historic Landmark) at The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms in Morris Plains, NJ.


My first step in preparing the card was working through a rough draft of the greeting by scribbling initial thoughts on a tablet. I almost always do this so that I do not make silly word-choice mistakes or run out of room when writing on the card itself.


Switching from print to cursive (which I find more smooth and formal) I then edited the draft even further while transferring it to the card’s interior. Observe the date in the upper-right corner, something that I believe every hand-written missive should possess so that the recipient — who is likely going to keep it — can place it accurately in history. Note — The salutation is unfinished in this photograph, but was completed prior to inserting the card into its envelope.


With the greeting composed, I next needed to choose a stamp to apply to the white envelope. I had a full sheet of “O Beautiful” stamps, which the U.S. Postal Service released on July 4, 2018. Each row of the stamps corresponds to a line from “America the Beautiful.” What we know today as one of our country’s most patriotic songs was actually first a poem published in 1895 by poet and social activist Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929). The bright and varied colors of these stamps make them perfect for white envelopes.


I chose the fourth stamp in “The Fruited Plain” series (second row from bottom) because it contained a collection of purples, greens, and golds that was similar to the colors in Yoshiko Yamamoto’s woodblock print. There is no reason that a stamp needs to coordinate with a card, but I found the parallels in palette to be very pleasing.


Postscript (or “PS) — The next time you are invited to a home-cooked meal, please send your host a card or brief note to recognize the occasion. He/she will appreciate the hand-written message of gratitude, and I suspect that you will feel a surge of pride and accomplishment for honoring the time, care, and attention that the host invested on your behalf. A thank-you card is always a sign of good taste.

Note — The photograph of Yoshiko Yamamoto was obtained from a 2016 article on the website of Spaceworks Tacoma. The photograph of Gustav Stickley was found on the website for The Stickley Museum in Fayetteville, NY.

Better than a Wookiee’s kiss


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

For my best friend’s birthday, I wanted to send a greeting card that would honor both a celebration that occurs only once per year — and the fact that STAR WARS serves as a key narrative extending back through the many years of our friendship.

Having grown up during the late 1970s and early 80s, he and I are fans of George Lucas‘ original space trilogy and the numerous ways it shaped our developing minds. As kids we stood in awe of the paradoxical strength and gentleness of the Force, and we reveled in the colorful characters who helped us understand that good and evil are not always so far apart. As adults we acknowledge that these lessons still influence our lives, and we recognize that cosmic conflicts starring Harrison Ford or Carrie Fisher can play out in everyday encounters set in Whole Foods or Crate & Barrel.

So when I glimpsed the ominously-shadowed Death Star while browsing through the Wonderfolds 3D offerings at my local Hallmark store, I knew immediately that I had found the perfect birthday greeting. This was the card I was looking for — and I moved along to the register to barter with the clerks.

Hallmark’s Wonderfolds cards, which are available in over 50 different styles to recognize occasions from weddings to graduations, range in price from $6 to $10. Unless Han Solo can smuggle one out of your nearest store in his Millennium Falcon, the STAR WARS card will set you back $7.99. This may seem like an excessive price for “just a card,” but I assure you that it is a reasonable bounty given its unique features.


There are several qualities of this gift that I really appreciate:

  • First and foremost — its 3D structure allows it to stand up securely on a dresser, table, or desk. Therefore, it exists as not only a card, but a small celebratory artifact — an intergalactic paperboard statue whose folds are more rugged than an origami crane, yet just as visually pleasing.
  • Second — the card has two sides presenting two distinct themes: one for the Rebel Alliance, and one for the Empire. Traditional open-and-close birthday cards rarely feature dual images like this, so I love that this one pays homage to heroes and villains in separate but equally-compelling ways. Each side gathers together a half-dozen key characters who are arranged in a compact, colorful display.
  • Third — the characters look like the actors who filled those roles. You don’t feel the disagreeable sensation of wondering why Luke Skywalker bears little resemblance to Mark Hamill. In fact, the image of Obi-Wan Kenobi looks startlingly like the legendary British actor Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000).
  • Fourth — the centrally-placed STAR WARS logo, which is formed from silver foil, is suspended by two tiny pieces of fishing line from its paperboard enclosure. As a result, the logo rocks gently back and forth with shifts of wind; this movement is subtle, but it is more than sufficient for the silver logo to reflect light and catch the eyes of passersby. Few open-and-close cards possess a moving part that functions when the card is on display (e.g. stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet, etc.).

This card has a fifth feature that would be worthy of a bullet-point if it were not for one fundamental flaw. The Wonderfolds’ packaging touts that it “INCLUDES REMOVABLE CARD,” which is a reference to the tiny piece shown below:


Although this separate pull-out card’s exterior carries bold red-and-white lettering, its interior is disappointing. Rather than being formed from white paperboard, the inside is dark gray — a color that significantly interferes with the visibility of any color ink. Therefore, if you wish to pen a greeting for the recipient, your words will be nearly invisible against the dark background. For a dime more per card, Hallmark could have prevented this seemingly obvious limitation. After all, there is no where else on the 8-inch-tall 3D display to write “happy birthday” or “best wishes.” Even a dismantled droid would know better!


For a thick, oversized card like this one, additional postage is required. In this case, $1.21 was necessary. Curiously, when the envelope arrived at my friend’s house, the three stamps that fueled its flight were not cancelled. (?) The Force must have been with this happy-birthday missive as it made the jump to first-class speed.

What if you are not a STAR WARS fan? Should you still consider the Wonderfolds series? I believe so. Although several of the cards feature only moderately-inspiring graphics, many are very appealing in their unique and eye-catching presentations. Here are two of my favorites, which possess strikingly different — yet equally creative — aesthetics:


Yes, this circus-themed card offers both light and sound — carnival music!


For a “just because” occasion, this lotus and dragonfly card serves as a beautiful momento to display on a bookshelf or deep window sill.

If you are a die-hard STAR WARS fan — or would simply like to learn more about the original trilogy and/or the latest film previews, collectibles, and events — please see the official website.

screen shot 2019-01-20 at 2.52.18 pm

Note — The images of the Wonderfolds cards were obtained from They are available at local stores and online.