I voted.

Today was the big election day in the U.S., but I actually voted a couple of weeks ago. I got my mail-in ballot, and dropped it into an official ballot drop box at my town hall. So, no “I voted” sticker for me. I decided to doodle myself an “I voted” design to mark the occasion.

Polls are closed in Massachusetts and the rest of the East Coast, but still open in the Western States. I don’t know when we’ll know the results of the presidential race. And there are a lot of down-ballot races I care about, including some local ones. I’m a tangled mess of hope and worry. Like so many, I’m still scarred from the 2016 results.

I’m pretty tired from a long day, filled mostly with holding signs at my town polling place. It was a very windy day, so it was actually some physical work. Plus I’m worn out from days, weeks, months, years of worry. So, I may just go to bed, and hope that I have good news to wake up to.

mailing my worries away (if only)

Here it is, November 1st. It’s hard to think about much else beyond the impending U.S. Presidential election, not to mention all the other critical down-ballot races near and far. I’ve been channeling some of my nervous energy (read “anxiety bordering on panic”) into voter outreach efforts, including good old-fashioned mailing. (Bonus: support given to the US postal service!) I participated in a variety of mailing projects to reach voters, including helping to stamp and label more than a thousand postcards for a couple of local candidates I support. I also coordinated the writing and sending of over 4000 pieces of hand-written mail to voters in various states, mostly swing states. I recruited dozens of people to help me with these projects, and it was very satisfying (if occasionally stressful). And I personally wrote over 645 postcards and notes. I spent a lot of quality time with my pens. For some of the projects, there were pre-printed postcards. For others I had to provide my own cards. I bought quite a few printed cards, but also enjoyed making a bunch of my own. I was able to direct my doodling urges into voting-themed designs. Here are a few of my projects.

1000 postcards to Michigan that I took charge of. I distributed almost 800 of them to local friends, and wrote the other 200+ myself.

November means that it’s that time of year when I remember that I have a blog with a bit more regularity, and try to post every day. I think this month is going to be a rough ride, so perhaps this outlet will help.

destination doodle

This was a doodle I made last year that was inspired by my trip to Poland. poland-doodle

Inspirations included stained glass, architectural details, food, and folk art. Can you find any of the elements?

Here are a few stages of the doodle.

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I’m sad to say that I have hardly doodled this year. (I did, however, manage a couple of big trips, so I have many more photos to share.)

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).