Daily writing prompt
What is your favorite hobby or pastime?

I like to imagine.

I like to imagine a world the way I think it should be. I’m a perpetual dreamer. I look at things the way they are and then think about the way they should be. Sometimes, I write down what I imagine and hope others will discover my wisdom. I imagine a big celebration on the day my dreams are accepted by the masses.

But, now, gentle readers (Do I dare call you gentle readers? That’s been done before.) So, now fellow bloggers, I ask you to indulge me as I share my favorite hobby. Please. Join me, and let’s imagine together.

Imagine Fridays becoming days to celebrate learning. Picture it: each week ends with a lively festival of knowledge. Imagine. Imagine a world where the pursuit of wisdom is met with excitement and enthusiasm, and classrooms transform into playgrounds of endless discovery. Just imagine.

What if we all chose to free ourselves from our electronic ball and chains. What if, instead, we all embraced the historical habit of walking? And talking. Face to face. Streets would transform into bustling avenues of friendship, where each step brings us closer to healing the world’s heartbeat. Hushed conversations would replace the honks and hums of engines, and nature’s song would return to center stage. Imagine traffic jams a distant memory. Imagine the only road rage a playful race to the ice cream truck. Imagine.

What if we unanimously decided to turn off the anger that seems to be broadcast from every corner of our lives? Imagine. Kindness, understanding, and empathy would fill our drought-stricken rivers and flow freely, drowning out conflict’s discordant noises. Imagine that. Laughter is contagious, and smiles would replace scowls. Imagine a reality where debates are settled with reason and political rallies are just massive potlucks where everyone brings their favorite dish and ideas to share? I’d vote for that.

The world I imagine is a world where boundaries of reality blur, a world where hope takes root and blooms, and a world where wildest dreams can flourish into a sweet reality of tomorrow. I believe that, some day, we might be celebrating our discoveries and our dreams on a Friday, strolling towards a world where anger fades into spectacular sunsets, and sharing our neighbors sweetest ambitions. Imagine. And to think, we got through this dream sequence without a single John Lennon quote, though I’m sure he’d be proud of our imaginative endeavors!

Woeful Soul

Daily writing prompt
What would you do if you lost all your possessions?

Welcome the party no one wants to attend. Picture it: me, penniless, just like Job of Old, in a world that is unprepared for my destitute, disrobed debut. Nobody wants to see that, especially me, exposed in this wild modern life!

So, in order to tackle this dilemma, let’s break down my three-pronged strategy for dealing with this “Naked, Not-Yet-Famous, and Very Afraid” mess:

Prong 1: Clothe the Naked

To begin, I need some simple threads. Sure, naked I came into this world, and naked I shall leave, but in the meantime, nobody should be threatened with that much exposure. Did I already mention that? Thankfully, we are blessed with a variety of local thrift stores. At each location, I’ll bargain a deal: a Hawaiian shirt paired, plaid pants, slippers, and socks, in exchange for me channeling the vibe of a fashion-forward influencer on their social media channels. If I can’t be rich, I might as well offer my fashion emergency for marketing clicks. Business owners are always willing to make deals like this, right? Right?

I could become the latest TikTok trend. Just like those guys who provide fashion tips for clicks. I could be the next Effortless Chap, Dapper Daniel, or Clotheshorse Cal. Oh, oh, oh, I’d need to throw in some glow up tips, so maybe I should talk with a gym to secure regular soapy showers.

Prong 2: House the Houseless

Next, my compelling sitcom or reality show pitch: “Lost Stuff, Found Shipping Container.” Once again, it begins with me, broke and stark naked in a world of excess. Nobody wants to see that, especially not me, and I’ve already become a somewhat famous social media thrift store star.

I’d again use my negotiating skills to snag two shipping containers. Then, I’d gather discarded styrofoam for insulation and scavenge other materials to construct a trendy tiny house just outside the toniest landfill. I’d plant daffodils and daisies on my rooftop garden. The internet would document my transformation, and it’d go viral, collecting clicks and a bit of cash along the way.

It’s wild. It’s all about negotiating, about scavenging, and about riding the internet wave. Since life handed me lemons in this scenario, I might as well make a trendy, viral shipping container lemonade stand.

Prong 3: Feed the Hungry

So, I’ve sort of conquered the fashion and shipping container scene, but what about sustenance? A once-naked gardener can’t thrive on clicks alone!

I might begin by employing my social charm to become a connoisseur of free samples, but cheese cubes and pretzel bites won’t sustain in the long run. Back up on my rooftop garden, I’d cultivate a colorful medley of veggies: heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers that put on a real show and combine for a rather tasty gazpacho, by the way. Let’s not forget a few berry bushes – strawberries tumbling over the sides and raspberries big enough to make a supermarket blush. Throw in some zucchinis ready to conquer the world, and I’ve got the happiest of garden adventures. Who says I can’t be an urban farmer cultivating life-sustaining veggies and berries?

My three-pronged survival strategy for this woeful soul who’s lost it all includes dressing in the finest thrift store finds, building my shipping container kingdom, and becoming the finest rooftop gardener. After all, if life insists on delivering lemons, I might as well find a way to enjoy the lemonade.

I Love Overeducated Women

My father’s parents
Met in high school
And dated while in college
And supported one another
As they each earned
College degrees

Mom’s mother
Moved to the city
To study
Before earning her degree
And supporting her family
During the Great Depression
As a bank manager
And the town’s only

My mother
And all eight,
Yes eight,
Aunts attended
College and earned

This tradition
Continued with my
Sisters, cousins, nieces,
And their kids
Because education
Enriches life

I love

Do you love overeducated women?

I’m Stumped

It’s been over 20 years since I moved into my house. A perk of building a new home that I was excited to embrace was the ability to design the landscape exactly how I wanted the property. I was excited to choose trees and shrubs that would add curb appeal to my home. I thought I had a great plan, but I made several mistakes with that landscape plan. One of the biggest was including a poplar in the mix.

“Don’t confuse poor decision-making with destiny. Own your mistakes. It’s ok; we all make them. Learn from them so they can empower you!”

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

I thought I had carefully researched plants that would thrive in our climate and also enhance my property, but I obviously missed some important warnings about poplars. I purchased a collection of trees and shrubs from a local nursery before moving into my new house and planted them according to a landscape guide I built online. The young poplar was planted in an 8-foot wide space between my driveway and the vacant lot to the north.

Unlike other trees I planted, the poplar thrived. Many trees planted in my young neighborhood suffered various diseases and died. I was pleased, however, to see my poplar survive and grow quickly. Unfortunately, that giddiness was fleeting. Poplar trees, unfortunately, have invasive roots that can cause damage to sewer lines and push up pavement. The root system also spreads tree shoots that can invade a wide patch of land. My neighbors to the north and I battled one particularly invasive spring and summer as new tree shoots sprang up all over the place.

A Mighty Wind

Several years later, a series of storms and microburst winds passed through my area, and the force split my large poplar tree into three damaged sections. I was at work when it happened, but a kind neighbor was already cutting down the debris before I arrived home. I knew that he was an avid camper, so I offered the wood for his campfire supplies as an expression of my thanks. It didn’t take much for him to accept the offer.

After the damage was cleaned up, I had a huge stump to remove. I researched solutions, and the choice I made was the second big mistake I made with this poplar tree. I purchased a product that guaranteed rapid stump and root decomposition for easy removal. The testimonials for this product seemed so authentic, and I was eager to test what appeared to be the easiest of solutions. Never opt for easy solutions.

Everything seemed fine for the remainder of the fall season. Snow soon hid the stump, and I assumed the product was working its magic. Unfortunately, the following spring brought a new surprise. Branches began growing in the stump gaps, and, by the time I scheduled time to do something about it, a thriving new tree was taking over the spot. I decided to let it grow until I had enough money to hire a professional to remove the tree and the stump. Mistake number three.

Is Hindsight 2020?

So, that now brings me to 2020. That tree grew and thrived. In fact, it looked healthier than it had in the past. Perhaps, poplars are great trees when planted in spaces with plenty of room to expand, but my limited yard was not one of those places. The tree didn’t seem to be causing any serious problems, however, so I let it remain planted in its spot. My neighbors and I learned how to control the root spread, and we all liked the shade the tree provided in the summer. 

At 7:09 AM on March 18, 2020 a 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit the area. Although we had just begun distance learning with our students due to the pandemic, I decided to work on my lesson plans and online instruction from my school building. I thought I had hit a section of damaged road on my commute, but I was soon informed by coworkers waiting outside the building what had happened.

I returned home to inspect for house damage. My house structure was fine. The earthquake, however, forced the roots of my poplar tree up and created a crack across the width of my driveway. With each of the subsequent aftershocks over the course of the next month, that crack became more pronounced; one section of my driveway has been pushed up nearly two inches from it’s previous level.

Everything changed on March 18.

I knew I needed to finally remove the tree, but I didn’t have the means to do it. The poplar tree had grown to nearly 40 feet tall, and I didn’t have the tools nor knowledge to safely cut it down. I would wait, I told myself, to remove it when I could afford to pay some professionals to do it. Finally, in July, I hired a contractor to cut it down. It would take nearly a full day for two people to cut and clean up all the debris, and I was committed to paying them a fair wage. Unfortunately, I did not have the extra money to pay for stump removal, so I decided it would have to wait for another time. Mistake number four?

 As I am stashing extra money to pay for the stump removal, I am experimenting with new ways to kill and deteriorate the stump. As you can see in my photo, I have begun to pound copper nails into the stump. This should be a suitable solution as winter approaches. I will need, however, to use at least fifty nails to make it work. Wish me luck.

Hopefully I am learning from past mistakes and will be able to move on from them. My plan is to save enough money, successfully kill the stump, and fully remove it by early spring. After that, I hope to replace and widen my damaged driveway for a cleaner landscape with greater curb appeal. I will post the progress as it happens.