Category Archives: doodles

twists and turns

The last week has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride.

After a week off from commuting, I had an extra day of meetings in Boston. I also was busy getting ready for Phoebe’s birthday party, which was on Saturday. (Yes, Phoebe’s birthday was in February. We’re a little behind.) The party came and went on Saturday, and it all went well, though it was quite a lot of work. (We had it at our local playground, so there was lots of stuff to be transported, especially since (me being me) I had to make things complicated.)

Saturday night came, and I was pretty zonked, but happy with how things turned out with the party. I thought about calling my mother, but decided to wait until Sunday. As it turns out, she wasn’t home Saturday night, anyhow.

My mother went into the hospital on Saturday with acute G.I. distress , which had started on Friday, and was diagnosed with a bowel obstruction. There was talk of surgery, and she wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything until the blockage in her small intestines was cleared. She went through tons of tests and procedures, and there was talk of new diagnoses. The short story is that by Tuesday, it was determined that she didn’t need surgery. X-rays showed that the obstruction had resolved, and further tests confirmed. By Tuesday evening she was allowed to have clear liquids again, and by Tuesday night she could eat (soft) solid food. I was elated!

More good news is that no evidence of cancer was found, and no new disease. The doctors now think that there was an adhesion related to her 2011 surgery. As of yesterday, she is home and recovering.

As you might imagine, the last few days were on the stressful and busy side. There were lots of phone calls and emails with friends and family. There were flashbacks to so many of the previous crises, including my mother’s cancer scare of 2011, and of course my little nephew’s ordeals with cancer and all the surgeries related to that. (Including, you may remember, 2 surgeries for bowel obstructions.) My own insides felt like they were twisted into knots. I checked out flights to California, and started to try to figure out my schedule for a trip out there to help with my mother’s recovery. It looked like things might go on for many days if not weeks, and recovery from surgery is never easy.

Now I’m feeling a bit dizzy from the week’s crazy ride. I’m so relieved that my mother didn’t need surgery, but sorry that I’m not out there. I’m so glad that my sister lives near enough to be there to help, but I wish I could be there, too. I don’t get to see my mother, my sister, or my sister’s family nearly enough. It’s times like this that the country feels entirely too large.

On Monday night, when John and Phoebe were out at their karate classes, Theo asked me to sit and draw with him. I drew the doodle above with colored pencils on a large index card, and found it to be very relaxing. I must have spent over an hour just drawing and coloring it, transferring much of the tension of the day into pressure of the pencils as I lay down the swirls and twists of color. It was only later that night that I realized how very intestine-like my drawing turned out to be! Twisty, turny, tangled and complicated. Much like life.


Here is Theo’s version of the squiggly doodle.

Dude, where’s my doodle?

Back in September, my blog rolled over the 1 million pageviews mark. In anticipation of this event, I had given people the opportunity to guess the date of the upcoming rollover, and offered these fabulous non-cash prizes:¹

Guess the day (and a time, too, if you like) that my blog will hit 1,000,000 pageviews. Whoever gets closest will win a choice of one of the following:

• An original crayon doodle in the style of my blog header created by me
• An original haiku created by me
• An original dust bunny created by my extraordinarily subpar housekeeping skills
• A walk-in appearance in my next novel. (I’ve never written a novel. But I might some day, and you’d totally get to be in it.)
• A walk-in appearance in my dissertation, should I ever actually write one. (Expect delayed gratification. Very delayed.²)
• A post here on the topic of your choosing
• A surprise, chosen by me³

Maria, aka Madame Meow of A Daily Dose of Zen Sarcasm!, picked the actual date of the rollover, and I therefore declared her to be the winner. She chose the doodle prize, which felt like as much of a prize for me. A reason to doodle! I immediately put “doodle for Maria” on my to-do list.

Here it is, over 4 months later, and I have yet to mail Maria her doodle. I had a little bit of a sense of déjà vu. I had a little bit of a sense of déjà vu. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) You see, I had a drawing back in 2008 for some chocolate I’d brought back from Brazil, and Maria was by chance the winner that time, and I was “slow” to follow through.⁴ It’s funny how back in June of 2008, I felt like I was being slow by waiting a week or 2.⁵ Here we are over 4 years later, and I am barely embarrassed to be running 4+ months late.

In any case, I did doodle for Maria. Over a month ago, even. I used some of the difficult-to-work-due-to-no-childcare time down at my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving. (I also used only the crayons that were available there, which were a bit of a mixed bag. The black that I used for my outline was a little stub of a thing, and a few were really waxy, poor-quality ones. But mostly it was fun to work within the constraints. Plus it was fun to draw with the kids, both of whom were inspired by my doodles. (Maybe later I will share their versions.))

So, here is your doodle, Maria. I photographed it in stages (against the background my mother-in-law’s tablecloth), which can be viewed in the slideshow below. At some point, I will mail you the paper version. But first I will have to find it.

Because I don’t remember what I did with it after I packed it up to bring home after Thanksgiving.

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¹ Note that the footnotes in the quote below are from the quoted post.
² See footnote 1.
³ Hi.
⁴ Note that my post title for that post was, “Dude, where’s my chocolate?
⁵ Note that back in June of 2008, I as yet had only one child (not counting the bun that was in the oven).

my so-called doodles

Not the most productive day, but Phoebe and I spent some time drawing together, which I enjoyed. She had picked out a set of oil pastels for my birthday present, and I had yet to try them out. They turned out to work out quite well for the sort of doodley shapes I like to draw. (My previous doodles, which live here on my blog, were done in crayon.) This doodle is not yet done, but I don’t when I’m likely to finish it.

In somewhat related news, I’m amused (proud?) to see that my doodles are coming up in the world. When I google “doodle” (as opposed to “google doodle,” or opposed to doodling google), 2 of my posts come up on the first page. And one of my doodles is in the first 10 images on google images.

I must admit, though, that my use of the word doodle may not fully mesh with the standard doodle definition (and definitely not with the standard poodle definition). Cf. what can be seen on Wikipedia: “an unfocused drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied.” (This, by the way, is the definition for doodle, not poodle. Just so we’re clear.) I supposed that in each of my alleged acts of doodling, my attention has somewhat been otherwise occupied by parenting, but I have very intentionally set out to draw. Does that make it a doodle in your book? No, no, I’m not saying I’m doodling in your book. I don’t even doodle in my books. But I did used to doodle in my notebooks. I was an avid doodler in many of my classes. My recent so-called doodles have their roots in the margins of many class notes, scribbled along with the occasional haiku. I suppose the reason that I tend to call them doodles, as opposed to drawings, is that I don’t generally have a plan. I start off with a blob of some sort, and keep going. I’m pretty much doing what I used to do when doodling in the margins of my notebooks, except that I have more space. And more colors to work with. (Because, let’s face it, it wouldn’t have been too subtle to sit in class with a big tray of crayons during a lecture on semantics.)

new doodle

(Old doodle.)

more than one way to shovel a driveway

It was snowing heavily when I woke up this morning. I’m not sure how many inches accumulated before things turned to rain. Then the sun came out. The result was that by late afternoon, everything was covered with about an inch of very wet, very dense slush-snow. Since John has been sick for the last couple of days with a fever, it was up to me to get the driveway cleared before the inevitable night-time freeze.

If you have ever shoveled slush, you will know that it is very heavy, and slides off the shovel pretty easily. Which made it pretty hard to throw as you might do when shovelling fluffy snow. So I spent a lot of time scraping up a shovel-load of snow, and walking it to the side of the drive to dump it. It was very slow going. After clearing the area in front of our garage, I was mightily bored. So as I worked towards clearing the way up to the street, I got a bit more creative.

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Ok, I had a bit of reason for doing this. Namely, I wanted to get up to the mailbox without traipsing through the snow, which can lead to harder shovelling. The side paths were to walk over my shovelfuls. Of course, once I’d started a pattern, I felt like going a bit further with that.

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And since I’d bothered to go inside to get my camera, why not go all out?

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As I was working on that last bit, a couple of people out for a walk strolled by and said “hello.” I can only wonder what they thought of me.

(Just so you know, I did actually finish clearing the driveway.)

I do doodle. Do you?

I doodled today. I do like to doodle. (I also like to say the word doodle. Also noodle. I may well have to doodle a noodle just so I can talk about it.) Anyhow, here is what I did doodle.

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My doodle, as photographed by John.

Today we went into Boston (John, Phoebe and me) to go to a computational linguistics meeting. We (that is John and I, not Phoebe) were part of the group’s foundation almost 6 years ago, and were very active in the group for several years. But for that past few months, the group has been largely hibernating. (Not the people so much. They’ve been largely awake. But busy.) We’ve decided to reanimate the group, though. Which is great. I did, however, volunteer to do actual work for said group, before my mind had a chance to catch up with my mouth. And as such, I have given myself even more metaphorical bagel over which to spread my figurative cream cheese.

After the meeting, John wanted to go to a camera shop in Cambridge. This seemed fair, especially since all during the meeting, John had been pretty tied up with Phoebe. (Don’t worry, not literally tied up. We used duct tape, not rope. No, no, no, I mean John was busy keeping Phoebe occupied.) We’d brought a few toys, but they didn’t hold interest her for long. John and Phoebe went wandering for a bit, and came back with, among other items, a new box of crayons and a pad of drawing paper.

By the time the meeting finished, over an hour past Phoebe’s usual naptime, Phoebe was both wired and tired. Within a few minutes of being back in the car, though, she was out. (As in asleep. But still in the car.) So when we stopped at the camera store, I decided to just hang out in the car with Phoebe so she could nap. I figured I had my laptop to keep me busy, anyhow, and I could even do some work. However, my laptop ran out of battery within a few minutes. And I found myself with no reading material other than a sort of sad little board book we’d gotten from the pediatrician’s office.

So I decided to take advantage of the crayons.

Here’s what I doodled while waiting in the car. (I did a bit of the coloring after we were moving, but discovered that I get carsick when drawing in the car. Not something I’d known. I can’t read in the car, but I didn’t realize doodling would be a problem.)

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I added a bit more to it while John was giving Phoebe a bath.
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Then I finished it up once Phoebe was in bed.

I also fiddled a bit with the levels in iPhoto, since I had trouble getting the color right in the picture. (These 4 photos are ones I took, by the way.) And I stumbled across this weird effect: when I boosted the saturation and the contrast, there was a point in the levels adjustment where the white paper appeared black, and the opaque crayon bits came out white. Nifty, huh?
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