Doodle Penance: "karton zorro"

This week's "Doodle Penance" is a simple two-word search term that for some reason we haven't addressed on the site. As usual, the search request yielded zero seconds of reading time from our searcher. Let's see if we can remedy that and provide some more helpful information for the next person who searches for "karton zorro."

Right away, I had a hunch what the Googler was looking for: you see, one of my colleagues who lives out in the countryside (a couple of towns away) was telling me recently that she and her neighbors regularly stage mock fox hunts. They rent a pack of foxhounds and ride after them on horses in pursuit of a mock fox. This mock fox, sometimes played by my colleague's husband if I'm getting the story right, carries something that's been soaked in fox pheromones or fox urine, to attract the dogged pursuit.

I figured that this colleague and her compeers, or some similar association, might have been looking on Google for some cut-rate South-of-the-Border fox pheromones. (Zorro, you see, is Spanish for "fox.") Getting a half-gallon of the stuff seems excessive, but if that's what our search term log wants...

Mike explains his own "doodle" thus this week:

—Since "karton" is Yiddish for "cardboard" and "zorro" is Spanish for fox, I have naturally cut an adorable cartoon fox out of a piece of cardboard. Herewith is a silhouette image of Fenwick Fuchs, the fennec fox.

... and adorable it is. (If that's not enough fox-cute for you, try scrolling down this page a little bit until you get to the fennecs.)

As long as we're on the subject of foxen, let me show you a couple of photos I took from the kitchen window this past October. This fellow (or perhaps she's a vixen?) made his way across our back yard just slowly enough for me to paparazzi him (her?) twice.

Yes, even in the city, here in Vermont, there's wildlife once in a while. Let's hope my colleague and her neighbors don't get wind of this.

Everyday oddities, every day.

I recently acquired a week of down time in which I'm not able to do any writing or editing of any kind, so I've been doing a lot of wandering around and getting lost in obscure parts of the city. In these travels I come across a lot of slightly strange and mildly comical sights, nothing too crazy or too hilarious, just medium-funny to borderline peculiar. A few that I documented:

It's good to have signs letting you know what things aren't. Sometimes, when I'm especially drunk, I might begin to put moves on a telephone pole thinking it is a beautiful woman, and it would be nice if there were a sign nearby telling me it's not.

The sign above this one says "Fire is hot."


Doorknob is in exact middle of the door. Curious to very odd!

Commuter god.

The picture is a nice idea, but it's sad that THIS is how David Hart Richmond will be remembered for all eternity:

Are You All Ready?

*** Update again--- I appreciate the good intentions of the comments left on this post. To be honest, though, I have found some of them to be a bit stress-producing. In an effort to protect my own heart and really seek the Lord's voice in how He would have us balance Isaac's place in our family, I have decided to close the comments on this post. If there is something that you would like to share that you believe would be an encouragement to me, you are certainly welcome to e-mail me. Thanks for understanding... ***

*** Update--- Just a quick update to say that as I have read through some of your comments, I have updated this post a little to better communicate my thoughts. :)***

With a 32 1/2 week pregnant tummy, I have been getting this question a lot lately. "So is everything ready?" people have been asking. "Are you all ready for Eliana to get here?"

I am already a mother, and thankfully, no one has phrased the question to me as, "Are you ready to be a mom?" I am a mom... Isaac is just not with me, though I deeply wish that he was.

With regard to being ready for Eliana to get here, the truth is, I don't know.

In some ways, yes... I am ready. I am excited to meet her! I am ready to hold her, I am ready to see whose nose she has and if her hair is strawberry-blond like Isaac's. I am ready to cuddle her and snuggle her and put her in all of the cute outfits we've been given for her to wear. I wonder what she will look like, how her personality will be, and whether she'll have as many hiccups out of the womb as she does in it!

In other ways, I have no idea whether or not I am ready. I have so many lingering questions and fears that I know all parents experience. Some of them are silly, like where do I put the infant bath tub when I bathe her? How will I know if she's too hot or too cold? What should I keep in my diaper bag? How many onesies do I really need? What if breastfeeding doesn't go as easily as I hope, or what if it doesn't really work out at all? What if I run out of diapers without realizing it?? :) Not that any of these are the things that really matter. And to be honest, I don't have a deep, profound worry about any of these things. It will take some figuring out, trial and error, and I am thankful to have such a strong support network of people who can help.

The place where I feel a bit stuck, and maybe not quite ready, didn't occur to me until a conversation with a good friend last night. Both she, and Spencer, have noticed how on edge I have seemed, and as we got to talking, she assured me that there will be times when I just won't have it all figured out. Times that Eliana will be crying, I will have tried everything, and still can't figure out what's wrong. She reminded me that really, we can do as much as we can as parents, but it really is God who ultimately protects us and our children. And I think this is where my hangup is.

Truthfully, I have been spending a lot of time preparing things around our house, making sure all of the paperwork for me to be out of work for the rest of the school year is filled out correctly... trying to make sure everything is just so. I guess trying to be in control. But in doing this, I am realizing that it is my way of making sure that Eliana will be okay, rather than believing God and trusting that He will look after her.

Because of losing Isaac, this is a really hard thing for me. Of course I know that from an eternal perspective, God will protect Eliana... but there's a part of me that struggles to trust Him for her well being in the day-to-day. I know deep in my heart that our circumstances don't change who He is... God is trustworthy, simply because He is. And I need to continue to step out in faith and trust Him.

So I would just really ask for your prayers in these last 4 1/2 weeks before we welcome our little daughter... that God would calm my fear and anxiety and provide His perfect peace, that He would daily remind me that I need to trust Him with Eliana's well-being, and that He would draw me into such close communion with Him.

Rocky Wonderland

66 pages into Becoming Isaac!

Ok, so I just wrote for a half hour and lost it all when I pushed publish so I am going to start over and hope it works.
I spent the morning glazing and then started writing at 1. I put in more than 9 hours today on the computer and feel like I made some really great progress. I am learning all sorts of things--namely that this is not my story. I tried to force something that wasnt working a couple of days ago, and it kicked back, getting me frustrated. Yesterday I learned again that this is not my story when, frustrated, I sat down to write after a long prayer and good night's sleep and it became clear to me that I had missed out on some really important things that needed to come out- that needed to be told. Michaelangelo once said when he sculpted stone, he felt like he was freeing the figures from the stone, that they were telling him what they wanted him to make them into. I thought I understood this as a potter, but I am really understanging it now as a writer. Things are coming together in a magical and strange way that I never could have imagined. Many of you have expressed your anticipation at what is going to happen next. I know exactly how you feel. I don't know either. It comes a day at a time, but I promise you, you are going to love book three. I am beginning to realize that this whole series is really just getting us ready for book three.
I have recieved another few reviews on Amazon. Thank you. Hearing how the books are affecting you makes the toil of writing them worthwhile. I would love to see more of your reviews on Amazon. It's easy and only takes a few minutes. if you dont know how, I have posted the instructions on my previous posts. Thanks. Ben

NYC Drawing



A photoshop sketch of the spider-man :)

Doodle Penance: "what does it mean to doodle balloons"

This week's "Doodle Penance" comes from someone who punched the question "What does it mean to doodle balloons?" into a search engine. Maybe it wasn't Google. I don't keep track.

Mike and I may seem to reveal something about our habits of thought when we answer this question. My thoughts went like this: Well, I haven't doodled balloons, so let me try it out. Perhaps the meaning will be revealed to me in the process. And so, during a lecture I attended this evening, I drew balloons instead of my usual pile of robots, kachinas, and puny hulks.

After twenty of thirty of these, I realized what I was drawing. Here's a somewhat scale-corrected version of the mini-doodle at the bottom of that image:

Maybe that's no big revelation, but I hadn't thought of it before.

Mike, meanwhile, resorted not to experimental methods but to literary analysis. Better click it so you can read it:

I believe he takes the palm this time around. I'm always pleased when Mike's doodle comes with doggerel.

Brownstones to Red Dirt Postcard Benefit

this painting is only 4 inches by alittle over 5 inches
I was lucky enough to have the honor of participating in a great benefit artwork auction put on by some folks over at bluesky studios. Over 150 artists are painting wooden postcards to be sold to raise funds for kids in sierra leone and brooklyn. To see some of the other entries, and to find out more information on the project and when the auction will be go...

for my entry i wanted to do something different. I had a lot of trouble coming up with ideas that would be fun that had to do with pen pals..mail men, mail trucks all sorts of ideas. Finally, i realised post offices are the MOST boring places on the face of the earth. so i tried to spiff it up a little bit. what would a cool post office look like/..hopefully like this! i was kind of thinking about funny postcards of motels and things like that with cheesy colors. Im happy with the turn out.

Drawing NIGHT starts

Myself and two good friends and artists have started a drawing night. I will post their work as well as mine. I only have photos of my work from our first night of doing this. Enjoy.

drawing night 1

drawing night 1a

Eliana's Song

A couple of months ago, after we had already named our daughter, a friend from high school left me a comment on Facebook that Christy Nockels, one of Christian music's finest, has a daughter named Elliana (spelled with two l's). While part of the group Watermark, they recorded and produced a song named after Christy's daughter, called Elliana's Song...

Baby woman, tiny in stature now
But your heart is a treasure
Little princess come follow behind me now
I am reaching for you

Elliana, God has answered my prayers
Elliana, God will conquer my fears
To mother a daughter, to look you in the eye
To know that I had everything, to walk with you in life
To give you to Jesus that He would impart
The wisdom that I'm longing for to mother your heart
Elliana, God has answered my prayers

There will be others to lead and to guide you girl
But only one you'll call Mother, the honor is all mine
To show you what a woman's like
I'm so glad you're mine


Tenderness of God is twirling around
In our living room tonight
Lighten up your daddy's eyes
And know that he just wants to freeze you in time


I think I have shared before that Eliana means "God has answered." Isn't it beautiful? Click here to listen.


I have been out for awhile. I was on tour with the Rhymesayers family for the last 5 months. Got home to Minneapolis crushed out this painting with artist Shawn McNulty for a colab show at Fox Tax. I then packed up my studio and stuff and moved to Brooklyn.

Birth of Man -  Isaac Arvold and Shawn McNulty

Fifty one pages in to Becoming Isaac

So, I am trying to find a balance between my work in the studio as a potter and book signings and what I really want to be doing most of the time--writing. I signed books yesterday in Bountifl after making 50 cereal bowls. I was hoping to get some writing done--ideas were burning holes in my head, but I didnt get to do any writing yesterday until very late. I wrote some on Monday after making bowls and again today after making bowls. I guess Ilike to make bowls. They take up space in my big kiln and feed my family, so what's not to like.

I have learned that if I don't make pots, I can't write. Somehow the world of writing is connected to the world of creation and silence found in my work at the wheel. This book is being different for me than the others have and I find myself learning and being taught by what is coming out of my fingers. I am learning a lot about the need for forgiveness. How many of us have been holding on to grudges and hurt in our relationships with family and friends? I never thought I did, but as I write about Amy and her dad and Sam and his son and Mr. Allan and his kids, there is a common theme that continues to rise to the surface. I feel like this book is working on me at least as much as I am working on it. There is contention in this book and I don't do contention very well. When I go back and read it, I dont feel it so much, but when I write it, it takes time and effort. Today, I spent the better part of an hour on one paragraph--learning and discovering pieces of myself--things I want to change--things I want to overcome. I don't know if others will feel similarly. I guess time will tell. I will say that is it really isnt fair that you as a reader can read in ten minutes what takes me a week to write. I either need to write faster or figure out a way to slow you down.

I will be signing at the Lehi Costco tomorrow from 2-6 and then speaking tomorrow night at a Mentors Series from 7-9 in the Olympus Cove area. Oh, and I am speaking to a book club tomorrow at noon. SO I wont be writing much tomorrow.

On Saturday, you can find me at the SLC Downtown Costco from noon -6.

Thanks to those who responded to my invitation to fill out a review on Amazon. I have already had four people respond, fortunately, with postitive reviews. I invite you to take five minutes and write your own review. Instructions can be found on the previous blog entry. Thanks and cheers. Ben

heres some in progress action, havent taken the time to really render a piece out in hand hurts haha.

R goes to Hollywood

Guys, at the risk of sinking this whole blog under the weight of all the good news lately:

Summit Entertainment is making a movie of Warm Bodies.

Yes, the Summit Entertainment responsible for films such as Memento, Once, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Hurt Locker, and, *cough*, The Twilight Saga.

Jonathan Levine, director of one of the best films nobody saw, The Wackness (here's the trailer, and it's a lot better than the trailer so go rent it you assholes.) has signed on to direct, and is writing the script right now, WHILE starting shooting on a new movie with Seth Rogen and James McAvoy. (That's multi-tasking, kids.)

I confess, I've known about this for a long time, but Hollywood is very cloak-and-dagger about this stuff and I've been wrist-slapped several times for even the vaguest innuendos posted on Facebook, so I haven't been able to say anything till now.

No hiding it anymore though, check it out:

Yes I'm X-ed out and zombiefied but that's my face on the front page of Variety, fools! And the blurb doesn't even make it sound stupid!
There's only one thing I can say about all this:  


Graphic design job

Berlin Manners Animated scene

I just finished another animation,
in this case scene for the upcoming documentary,
directed by Ivan Aranega, "Berlin Manners".

Here you can watch the teaser

A Time for Everything

It's an interesting thing when you get to pick your child's birthday... at least the day she is scheduled to be born. Of course, God could always be up to something else. I suppose it's that I want there to be a good story or meaning behind the day we chose, rather than, "Well, it was the only day that week we could get the first scheduled c-section of the morning, and I didn't want to have to wait around all day not eating or drinking anything."

I had spent time scouring scripture for verses looking for inspiration as to what day to select. Originally, we thought Eliana's birthday would be the week of March 15th. I looked up 3:15, 3:16, 3:17, 3:18, and 3:19 verses. Of course John 3:16 came to mind, but the one I really loved was Zephaniah 3:17... The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.

So when it was suggested we bump her delivery up two weeks, it caught me a little off guard. I know it is a good decision, but I hadn't really spent any time looking up 3:3, 3:4, or 3:5 verses ahead of time. After Eliana's delivery was scheduled for March 4th, I looked up 3:4 verses, and unless read in context, many of them are quite random.

Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. ~ James 3:4

Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" ~ Acts 3:4

For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?
~ 1 Corinthians 3:4

When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do." ~ Ruth 3:4

Yesterday my mom emailed me and shared that she had stumbled across Ecclesiastes 3:4 that morning. Ecclesiastes 3 is the well-known "A Time for Everything" passage... how there's a time for everything under the sun. Verse 4 of this chapter reads,

... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance...

The New Living Translation of this verse reads,

... a time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to grieve and a time to dance...

I was so struck by the juxtaposition of the opposing verbs. While I had always thought of this scripture as talking about a distinct time to weep versus a distinct time to laugh, or a distinct time to grieve versus a distinct time to dance, I couldn't help but think about how March 4th is likely to be a day of both. A day full of joy and dancing as we welcome our daughter into this world... yet a day of grieving that her big brother isn't here to welcome her, too. A day of laughing as we meet Eliana and chuckle at all the cute little things babies do... yet a day of grieving that our time with Isaac was cut so short.

Of course, this is how I am anticipating the day to be, and I really don't know what it will actually be like. In talking with other moms who have lost a child and since given birth to another, it seems pretty accurate. The joy of welcoming a new baby won't erase the ache of missing the one you've lost; both co-exist, as I've shared before.

As far as finding Ellie's verse, though, God led me 1 Peter 3:4...

You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

What beautiful advice for a daughter... and for all of us women, really.

Thanks for holding us in your prayers as we continue to prepare with great hope for Eliana's birthday!

Doodle Penance: "satisfactory and similar words"

This week's "Doodle Penance" comes from a Google-searcher who was looking for "satisfactory and similar words." That's a bit of a puzzler, isn't it? I mean, there are so many ways that words can be similar to each other: semantically, cryptographically, metrically, etymologically, or in terms of Scrabble scores...

Using my unerring intuition, however, I'm guessing that this week's Googler was looking for anagrams.

Here you go: satisfactory and a few anagrammatically similar two-word phrases:

Of course you recognize the mascots of Satisfactory Comics.

When we decide to imitate sartorially Mr. Frederick Herman Jones, our book becomes Ratify Ascots Comics.

When we try the 24-hour comic a few too many times in a row, our book becomes Ratty Fiascos Comics.

And when we have been immortalized in tofu by a dairy-free future civilization, our book will be known as Soy Artifacts Comics.

That's probably enough like Mike's sense of humor that he doesn't even need to draw something this week.