Rescuing a Critter and the Word “Digitize”

treeIn November, one of our cats discovered an unexpected house guest who had bedded for the winter in a potted plant we had brought in for the winter two months before. I was stretched out on the couch with my fractured leg propped up, when I noticed Peter’s gaze, his head motionless and his eyes glued to the plants that are in front of the window. Something definitely had his attention.

Suddenly, he jumped from the top of the couch – his throne, as we call it – and came to an abrupt halt in front of the the plants; his nose daring to sniff at something. I considered it might be a mouse – not an impossibility, but a rarity in a house with three cats, so considering I was in no shape to rise and investigate, I told myself it was just a spider, turning my attention back to the movie running on my Kindle Fire. Through my peripheral vision, I saw his Edward Scissorhands paw reach up slowly, tap gently on the side of one of the pots, much too close to my late aunt’s antique lace curtains. “Nooo!” I scolded, and sat straight up, enduring the sharp pain that shot through my knee, while the Kindle slid to the floor with a thud.  Peter didn’t budge.  Unusual.  Any ding-dong, bang or whistle normally sends him running to his haven under the bed.

But Peter wasn’t attacking as he would a mouse, so it had to be something he found pretty darn curious. Now, I didn’t much care that he was at play with a bug, and would have actually appreciated his effort to send whatever it was to the next world, but the thought of shredded lace was quite upsetting.  I summoned The Man from his Cave.

“A baby toad,” my hubby announced, stretching out his hand to show me thetoad gray, warted little beast.  Don’t get me wrong, I like toads. They keep my veggie garden free of nasty bugs.  But I did not want a toad living in my house!  I looked out the window at the snow falling and back at the helpless critter curled up to the size less than a silver dollar in Kevin’s large palm, obviously too weak to be frightened.  It wasn’t the toad’s fault, really.  I should have run a pencil through the soil of the pot before bringing it inside.  And it’s not like we didn’t have the equipment to offer temporary shelter, having had our share of turtles and lizards (Kevin has a thing for amphibians).  Then I saw the plea in his eyes when he promised, “Just until Spring.”    Geez.   Okay, I gave in, but only if we agreed it was not a pet and it would not get named.  So, he brought out the lizard tank and made a trip to the local pet shop for a few dozen baby crickets.

After about a month I noticed the toad was a little greener some days than others, its eyes were getting bulgy and its legs seemed to stretch out quite long.  Even the tiny warts on its head seemed to flatten and raise again with darker spots coming and going, as well.  One morning, we found it looking very green in one of several puddles on the floor.  No doubt it had made quite a splash when it somehow pushed open the tank lid and escaped with a giant leap to the neighboring, topless, 55-gallon aquarium for a midnight swim.  Okay, probably not a toad, but definitely an amphibian.

PaddyKevin secured the lid and to appease the little critter we put a bigger pool in its tank, replacing the mayonnaise jar top with a recycled frozen dinner dish. It immediately took a swim and jumped to the side of the tank.    Wait a minute.  Do frogs stick to glass like that?    Then I got a good look at its toes – or perhaps “pad-like suction cups” is a better description.  A quick search at some of the web sites where I’d been surfing for emergency amphibian care revealed that the yellow stripes on its legs clarified it was a Minnesota Tree Frog – a species that has warts and changes color almost like a chameleon.  It’s important to know whether it is a toad, a frog or a tree frog to give it proper care.  Although they are all amphibians, they each need a little something that the other doesn’t and if I’m not careful, this rescueTreeFrog operation could turn deadly.  So after four months of calling it “the toad” we began annoying each other with continuous corrections or we would sputter out, “the toad … uh, frog … er, tree … that dang critter in the tank!”

And that brings me to my two stitches for this post:  

I am a digitizer.   I am not a digitalizer.   To digitize is to create a derivative via technology.  To digitalize is to administer digitalis or digoxin.  (Do not ask me to do any digitalizing for you.  I might kill you.)

There is a growing acceptance of using the word digitalize in place of digitize and it has even become the #2 meaning in some dictionaries.  I suppose it’s because everything has gone “digital” in today’s world.  Look up digitalizing or its base word of digitalis and you’ll find a slew of explanations from its original floral reference to the name of a recording studio.  Look up digitize (or digitise, as it’s spelled across the pond) and it has one precise technological meaning.

It’s my observation that the world trends with whatever is most commonly used, I suppose because it becomes tiring and seemingly rude to correct folks.  It’s one thing to not offend a customer, but it’s another to ignore the misuse stated by an industry professional.  While a novice in this industry, I referred to a Melco Digitrac as a “digitalis”, to the repeated frustration of my boss, so I’m not innocent of that error and certainly not trying to judge.  But for the sake of clarity, I’d like to encourage the experienced to kindly correct the newbie.  Don’t let it just slide by.  Maybe my personal plea is a battle I’ll lose in years to come, but eventually, I hope folks will see the value of sustaining a word with one precise meaning and the nonsense of using one with multiple meanings, as well as more syllables than necessary.

In my opinion, if one has trouble getting it right, the word “punching” would be the appropriate alternative.  Although it, too, has many other different meanings, it is quite acceptable, because punching tapes to create an embroidery design was the original method; hence, the original appropriate terminology.

That’s exactly how we are settling our current problem when referring to the critter residing in the lizard tank.  It just seemed to need a word with less syllables than “the tree frog” – a simple, yet more appropriate, word to eliminate confusion (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).  Kevin has named it “Paddy”.     Is it Spring yet? 

Digitized by Oklahoma Embroidery - EmbroideryDesigns.com

Digitized by Oklahoma Embroidery – EmbroideryDesigns.com

 

Turning the Page

January buzzed by without one word from me. Considering that it was my blog “anniversary” month, now at three years of babbling, I feel a bit disappointed I’d let it slide, but I won’t be too hard on myself. It was only a temporary blog pause that was necessary to make way for the “new”.

My recent leg injury forced a few changes that have helped me take a good, hard look at where I’m headed. Although I’ve always felt it best to live in the moment, I think I had been a bit too ignorant of particular consequences.   Artists are like that.   If not for keen focus, many contracted works of the masters would not be completed. (The Sistine Chapel might be bare, if not for Michelangelo‘s passionate discipline.) But there comes a time for all of us creative types when the reality hits – when you realize your own creative needs are being neglected while everything that you are accomplishing is for someone else. Yes, getting paid to be “someone else’s pencil” is pretty cool and a great way to make a living, but there has to be balance. Without equalizing the playing field of creating for self as much as for others, one might be led to cut off an ear.

Self Portrait - Vincent Van Gogh(Okay, so I’ve heard that Van Gogh actually may have lost his ear at the hand of his rival Gauguin, but it definitely reveals the time bomb reactions that can churn inside the frustrated mind of a working artist.)

During the last few months, I found it impossible to take on any new custom digitizing orders and I couldn’t even allow myself to give an “I’ll be back” notice. Instead I placed an announcement on my web site stating, “Custom services are no longer available.” And after all the changes that occurred in January, I’ve decided that notice will remain permanently. No, I am not leaving the embroidery industry. I am simply putting custom services at Moonlight Design to rest.

Actually, I’ve been planning my retirement days since I purchased my first digitizing system at the shocking cost of $25,000 (in 1995 that was considered a bargain – one half the cost of the previous decade). At that time I was employed as the in-house puncher for a 50-head embroidery shop, Write-On Embroidery, a great place to work, run by wonderful employers. But I was looking to find a way to work from a home office, believing I’d be more productive in my solitary peace, away from daily business interruptions and roaring machines. I was also hoping to establish my future “retirement job”. (Who in today’s world can completely retire? Besides, I’d shrivel without a job to wake up to, and flipping Mc-Burgers or greeting Wal-Mart customers are not of my forte. I am more capable of creating their logo and need those particular folks to make my lunch and point me in the right direction. Alas, we each have an important purpose in this world.)

The only way to afford such a luxury of having my own digitizing equipment was to take on custom orders, which indeed helped pay for the machine, computers and necessary software programs. When the payments were complete, I found myself obligated to an established client base whose work generated profits on a roller coaster margin as it followed the erratic economy. During the up years, it was necessary to resign my position at the embroidery shop, and then during the down years I had a choice: walk away from digitizing completely and find another line of work; or market, market, market and work a zillion hours to meet a zillion deadlines in order to stay afloat. I chose the latter. I didn’t get much sleep.

So a few years ago, I decided to take a part-time position working from my home office as a customer service rep for EmbroideryDesigns.com, which offered a steady income to count on when custom orders were slow. Every day since I’ve enjoyed conversations with EmbroideryDesign.com’s customers who need help shopping the web site, using their designs, and while sharing my knowledge about everything embroidery. In return, I discover what embroiderers like or don’t like or what they want to see on the design market – inspiration for my own stock design sales. They reveal their hair-pulling woes, offering ideas for my articles in Stitches Magazine or issues I can address in this blog. And at the same time, I am representing the work of some of the highest quality digitizers; many of whom I’m fortunate enough to call a colleague and whose work I respect with the highest regard. I love that job!

Last November when I injured my leg, I was suddenly forced to reduce the hours I sat in front of a computer each day, and even though it was during the time of year that custom orders bring in the highest profit, choosing to work only for EmbroideryDesigns.com was the most logical decision to make. What a wonderful freedom I had found – no burning the midnight oil to meet those “yesterday” deadlines or contacting clients with the disappointing statement of “sorry for the delay”. It even allowed for more time “playing” with the ever-evolving I-Cliqq software, taking my time and having fun with my own creative expressions.

So recently, when I was offered a full-time position at EmbroideryDesigns.com, I accepted without hesitation. I’m not sure how my physical time clock is going to handle 8:30-5:30, Monday thru Friday. My body and brain may very well panic, but it’s time for me to take charge of such things. I have to look at the bright side. For the first time in years I will be working a routine schedule of weekends off and will actually have opportunity for those 4-day weekends that I hear most folks cheer over; not to mention I’ll finally understand the true meaning of TGIF. But I doubt if I’ll be a Monday hater – without a day to begin a new work-week, surely, the alternative would be to sit idle, feeling useless. No, thank you.

Digitized by Machine Embroidery Designs

I admit I have had a bit of an argument with myself with this decision, fearing I might be deserting a few favored clients, but I am wise enough to know I am not the only master digitizer out there who can handle their work. I’ve never been a competitor, but a team player, and I’m most confident my colleagues, as well as the promising new punchers, won’t mind if I leave custom services to them.  After all, I’m not closing the book, but simply sailing on to the next chapter.  

Today, I saw a status on my Facebook stream that said something similar to: “I’ve reached that age where my brain went from You probably shouldn’t do that to what the hell, let’s see what happens.” Yeah, that’s where I’m at. The future may hold a bit of mystery, but I’m now quite certain that I won’t be cutting off my ear any time soon – or anyone else’s, for that matter. 🙂

Good Intentions – Dusty, Hoppy Endings

by Concord Collections – EmbroideryDesigns.com

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with family and friends! Personally, I ate a scrumptious plate of turkey, with all the fixin’s that my husband handed to me when he returned from his family’s dinner. There I sat in the middle of the kitchen on one of my office chairs, devouring every little morsel, deeply grateful and not even noticing that dear hubby had dashed down the stairs to the Man Cave to get his football fill; nor did I care that the three cats were circling around me, hoping for a share. Ah, yes, exciting as it does not sound, it truly was a grateful moment for me!

Now, I know that might sound a bit odd, so let’s back up a few days to the previous Sunday. It was a glorious morning. I felt great and eager with a well thought-out plan. By golly, this Thanksgiving Eve was not going to be a terror trying to get things done! I was determined to get the house cleaned, bake a few goodies and maybe even put up the Christmas tree – something I normally don’t do till December, but since it fit on the agenda, why not?!

I finished a brief, early morning shift as customer service rep for EmbroideryDesigns.com, and closed the office door with a to-do list in my hand. First on the list was to fetch my grandmother’s holiday dishes she used for cookies down from a top shelf. I recently acquired them after finding them on Ebay (among those finds I previously blogged about). I climbed up one step of the step stool, found the dishes and set them on the counter. Then I noticed what appeared to be the top of a salt shaker that had been lost for years and took another step up to get a better look. Cool! I grabbed the silver top, along with a few plastic straws that didn’t belong there and descended by taking one step back down.

The straws flew from my hands; one straw landing inside one of the toaster slots and I immediately worried that hubby may have just used that for one of his favorite breakfasts of French Toast Bagels. But thoughts of a melted plastic mess disappeared, while an excruciating pain shot from my heal to thigh, forcing my knee to buckle.

With my right leg still in the air, my body came down in what felt like slow motion, while a million thoughts raced through my head. No! Don’t break the fall with my hand and arm! I don’t want another shoulder wound! Last time it took almost two years of diligent Yoga to heal – I couldn’t type, I couldn’t digitize, I couldn’t do anything without pain. Think! what to do? The answer came from somewhere in the recesses of my mind, stored from a 1960s gymnastics class.Tuck and roll!

Well, I couldn’t completely tuck, and rolling was certainly out of the question, but I managed to bring my head down and pulled both folded arms inward to my chest. The outside of my right shoulder hit the linoleum with a THUMP!! and my right leg hit the stool, which toppled to the side with a crash, coming to rest on the left leg. I heard the silver shaker top bounce on the floor and land – somewhere. I listened to the reverberating tinkle as it came to a stop, and then I zeroed in on my shoulder. Immediately, I began to massage it with a little prayer, and after a few seconds realized no pain. Whew! Lucked out!  I then decided it best to lay still a minute to be sure and rested my cheek on the floor. Oh, geeez, look at all the cat hair and kitty nibbles under the counter cabinets – I’ll tackle that later. Now, where did that shaker top go?

by Embroidery Patterns – EmbroideryDesigns.com

I turned in the direction of where I’d heard the shaker top drop, getting as far as laying on my back. Check: back is okay. I tried to move my left leg that was now trapped under the stool, and let out one helluva yowl. Egad! The possibility of a broken lower limb had not crossed my mind. Maybe it’s just bruised. I pried the stool up with my right foot and wriggled away, as a sharp pain raced upward, closing my left eye and then the right. Anger exploded.  Nooooo! Dammit!  I had also just recovered after limping for a year with broken toes on this same leg that then put stress on the other leg, causing my PAD to flair. After heeding to a healthy diet and Yoga, I had just gotten to where I was finally walking on two legs again and feeling spiffy.

I tried to calm down, acknowledging that anger can make one sick; while on the other side of things, gratitude induces healing.  As well, smiling has its benefits, even if pried by a pencil clenched sideways in the mouth. … sigh … well, it was a nice last few months of balanced walking, thank you God; at least I’m used to this. I smiled, teeth clenched.

Obviously, I wasn’t going anywhere, yet – not in a vertical position, anyhow. Just a little traumatized and likely bruised, but I better get Kevin to help me up. I wonder where he is. Surely he felt the house shake when I hit the floor!  I gave a shout to dear hubby who, as usual, was downstairs in his Man Cave watching football (something he loves more than life itself, but I knew that going in.) I’ll rest a minute and I’m sure he’ll be up at the end of the play. And as long as I’m down here, I can check around for that shaker top. Holy cow, the bottoms of the stove and fridge really need scrubbing!

Not seeing the shaker top and getting tired of staring at the red dots of some sort of food that somehow ended up on the ceiling, I gave another shout for help. Maybe he’s napping. Well, I can’t lay here all day. I propped myself up on one elbow and reached up to the counter, dragging the wounded leg – smiling, teeth clenched, eyes shut. I managed to get up on my right knee when the pain produced a loud, angry, guttural scream, followed by, “Where are you, you son of a … no … now, don’t get angry Bonnie, this is your own fault, so chill.”

As I returned to the floor I opened my eyes to look at what was making my hand stick to the side of the counter. Chocolate milk. HA! And he said he cleaned that mess up.

I decided to make my way to a kitchen chair, crawling like GI Jane, dragging one leg, grunting with each “step” forward. (What is it about grunts that just seem to help?) By the time I got there I realized I couldn’t get myself up on the chair alone.  What to do?   If I headed for the living room couch, I’d never get up again and I had work to do, so I figured if I’m going to get on any chair, it best have wheels on it.  I slithered on down to my office at the end of the hall, looked inside and realized no way was it possible to get one of those chairs out through the narrow paths between desks without lifting them.   This sucks.   And good grief! Look at those dusty cobwebs between the two desks where all the peripheral cables are tucked!    Hey, there’s that pen I was looking for!

I crawled back down the hall to the sewing room where two other mobile chairs resided and opened the door to see the big box of Christmas ornaments I’d brought upstairs earlier. I also noticed the sun streaking in right down upon six cones of thread that I was using on my last project and had neglected to put back on the shelf. Oh my, that’s not good, but I can’t do anything about it now. I can’t get past this blasted box!   I started to cry.  And then, because I’ve never been a whiner, another loud scream of total frustration.  Wait!  I saw the floor vent at the end of the hall.  I crawled nearer to the vent, yelling for Kevin as loud as I could – and whispered a few expletives.

by Digital Giggle – EmbroideryDesigns.com

Through the cross-hatched metal I could see him in front of his computer, playing Texas Hold ‘Em and I could clearly hear the football game on TV. Intensely staring at the monitor, he began to smile and his right fist came up with a shout, “Royal Flush!” His head jerked up to view the TV and his left fist came up, and with both fists pumping he shouted “YEAH!! Touchdown!!”

Oh lordy. I’m about to really crap on his day.

I sat up and leaned against the wall. Check: I can sit, no problem.  But I refuse to sit in this hallway till the end of his games!    Look at that track of dust that the vaccuum misses along the floor boards!    Suddenly I pondered the cost of contracting a “help-I-can’t-get-up service” but quickly banished the idea. I don’t need that yet –do I? Well, I can’t afford it anyhow.  I took off my right shoe and started banging on the floor vent. Kevin turned down the TV volume and finally heard my plea, rushing to my rescue with a worried expression. Oh, he does care. Now, don’t get snarky, at least not till you’ve got your butt in that chair.

He brought the chair out to the hallway, and then asked if I broke anything while lifting me with his hands placed under my arms. The seat of that chair was so very close, when he suggested, “See if you can put any weight on it.” So, I did. And when the pain shot from toes to nose, my knee buckled and I screamed.  He backed away.  I dropped to the floor.  I looked up at him with that expression of what the hell is wrong with you?  He shrugged apologetically, saying, “I thought I hurt you.”

Go figure … must be the crashing rush from winning games to a sadness when realizing I wouldn’t be making cookies. “Just hold the chair still, no matter how loud I scream,” I demanded, making a painful climb into the chair.

He then insisted on X-rays, which I put off until the next evening after finding that even with the help of the R.I.C.E. treatment I couldn’t ignore the pain while trying to work. Our little journey to the clinic could take another blog post to write, so I’ll brief it up to no fractures, perfect blood pressure and no sign of arthritis in the knee – a plus report for the money. But, unfortunately, I indeed bruised and ripped something and wouldn’t be walking for awhile.

Thanksgiving dinner in my house, of course, was cancelled, but thanks-giving was not. By Thursday, I had become so very grateful for so many things – a verdict of no broken bones and no need to miss work, a couch that I could comfortably sleep on next to my laptop and a cordless phone, a bathroom so small that I can use the vanity counter and the towel rack to hop to the important place, a dust pan and brush set and a Swiffer brush in every room, chairs on wheels, an excuse to not do heavy housework, a mother-in-law who’s kind enough to send me delicious food including cookies made during their family tradition, a husband who has made sure my office coffee pot is ready to go before he leaves for work, a porcelain Christmas tree light of my grandmother’s (another Ebay find) to light my way in the dark, while offering a little cheer, and (perhaps from the help of Vicodin) many things to smile about. I even found that little silver shaker top (again) in one corner when sweeping up the kitty nibbles.

Yep, as I sat there on the office chair, eating my Thanksgiving meal with my fur family, laughing about my stupid move of not thinking before stepping, I acknowledged things could have been much worse. I concluded that life is perhaps a bit dusty, but very, very good, for which I am very, very thankful. 🙂

Inspiration in the Woods

© 2012 B. Landsberger“Look deep, deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything.” – Albert Einstein

During sunny seasons I want to lay in a patch of violets and clover, look up through the trees at the blue sky and watch puffy, white clouds float by. But I know better. My allergy problems are so unpredictable during the warmest seasons and I’ve had to accept that “smelling the roses” is not always the wisest activity for me. I allow myself to get caught up in the daily indoor grind, while stifling the feeling of being cheated out of outdoor pleasures. It’s not until the temps drop to the 60s and leaves © 2012 B. Landsbergermorph from the deepest greens to earth tones of orangey-reddish-browns that I’m pulled outside uncontrollably with the hope to find something remaining of Summer’s splendor.

Last week my big break finally arrived and I dashed out for a © 2012 B. Landsbergerwalk in the woods, camera in hand, hoping to capture the sustaining summery stuff. And indeed I found a few flowers, bees and a bunny or two that scattered faster than I could point and shoot. Startled by my rare presence in their domain, they sprang from under fallen branches and dove into the surrounding brush or below another pile of fallen branches. © 2012 B. Landsberger

© 2012 B. LandsbergerThe storms and flash floods in recent months have certainly made their mark. Splintered branches are dangling overhead, tethered by spiraling grape vines as thick as the branches they entwine. 

Many of the stately trunks bare scars that © 2012 B. Landsbergercause the mind’s eye to see faces with expressions frozen in time, revealing the pain endured when their branches were ripped away.  Their scars display the © 2012 B. Landsbergerstruggles that they had no other choice than to push through, and push they always do. I imagine it’s one reason they can survive for hundreds of years.

Some “tree expressions” take on a more extra terrestrial appearance after woodpeckers have their way, digging for bugs and creating coves perfect for winter nests – one of many ways Nature takes care of herself.

© 2012 B. Landsberger

Nothing goes to waste in Nature. That which falls to the forest floor is always put to good use as shelter for a variety of critters or it serves another purpose, as the fallen leaves that blanket the wild grasses, insuring the forest floor will return in Spring.

And there’s just something special © 2012 B. Landsbergerabout dead wood. Not one piece looks like the other; each with its own unique details of © 2012 B. Landsbergerlines and dots in a swirling grain of marbling tones.  I could meditate, ogling these images for hours, studying the shapes and flows of colors as the inspiration is absorbed.  It takes me on a non-drug induced, artistic high, reduces my stress factor, while at the same time, ideas are born … peaceful, yet motivating. And of course, I even ponder how these wonders might be digitized for embroidery or how to describe them in words. I find each piece of dead wood unique with a “story” that is incredibly fascinating.

So too is the bark of a living tree that continues to stretch and crack, evolving into vignettes of merging images only the mind’s eye can see.

© 2012 B. LandsbergerToo often I overlook the most brilliant beauty around me, believing if I don’t see what I yearn to see, then the beauty must not exist. But when I recognize the beauty that does exist – when I really look – it’s amazing!

“Look deep, deep deep into nature.”  What do you see?

[I see many things in the bark of this tree — turtles, faces, snakes, butterflies, Leprechauns, Angels, Jesus and more.]

all images © 2012 B.Landsberger ARR

Tree Buds, Dust Bunnies & Finding the Right Stitch

It’s been awhile since my last post, so allow me to back up a couple of weeks to the first official day of Spring, something that happened quite early here in the Midwest this year. Business had been unusually busy, and it was interfering with my seasonal habit of venturing out to the garden when the time was right. It was obvious the calendar and Nature had decided that the time was right and I was not yet ready. It set me in somewhat of a panic.  I’d had all orders but one caught up and had run into a brick wall, turning creativity into a ragged discombobulated mess. So, I ventured into the kitchen to take a break from the puzzle by finding something domestic to strike off the To-Do list.

While gazing out of my kitchen window, trying to distract myself from the tub of dirty dishes my hands were trying to make disappear, I thought of how dismal the bare tree branches seemed against Winter’s left-overs of a drab, dry, greenish-golden background. There hadn’t been enough snow all season to appropriately blanket and compliment a leafless tree. Everything looked dead. Oddly depressing, to say the least.

To lift my spirits I set imagination in motion, while picturing the lush beauty of the apple tree filled with delicate, white blossoms. It won’t be long, I consoled myself, but first there must be leaves, and for that we need buds. Little specks of green suddenly poked out from the grey tips as if dancing to the musical notes of a song, many popping up in close unison to greet the sun. I blinked with the assumption that my imagination had gone into overdrive. It was a good call, considering the green of the specks were about the same tone of green that dominated the design I’d been digitizing. But then the little specks turned into larger dots, and eventually, I realized I’d just witnessed my apple tree budding – something one can go a life time without seeing unless it’s in a video. Cool!

It brought to mind motivational speaker, Dr. Wayne Dyer’s thought provoking statement, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Well, perhaps this particular situation was simply nature being nature, but it was cool – and a darn good way to bring attention to Dr. Dyer’s most recent work, Wishes Fulfilled. Earlier, I had seen a few minutes of his public television presentation and heard him say another statement I’d been chanting while tackling the design, “If you want to accomplish something, you have to expect it from yourself.”

Well said, Dr. Dyer!  Perhaps that’s why I have dust bunnies in the corners of the steps that lead to the Man Cave. I expect the clean-up to get done by nagging at my hubby. (Yeah, like that has ever really worked in the history of man and wife.) He doesn’t notice so he obviously doesn’t expect it of himself and I certainly don’t expect it of myself, though occasionally he will claim the little bunnies are made up of thread scraps, putting the fuzzball in my court. I think not, dear sir! So there remains the little clumps of cobwebs and dust, knitted together with cat hairs – little furry critters that nag at me, and then I nag at hubby, and so goes the circle.    But, I digress.

At first examination of the artwork of the design I was working on, it hadn’t hit me as something too exciting, but it appeared quite elementary – a few common elements against a background of a faint gradient blend and colors in close tones ranging from yellow to green. Piece of cake, I thought with a slightly smug confidence. After all I’d digitized this type of logo more times than I could recall. And after 26 years of punching, I expected it of myself.

But what I had originally, so quickly assumed to be an easy job, soon became apparent that the artwork needed something to make it pop. Without it, the design in thread would sit like a flat, drab, boring patch of the same tone that would swallow the inside elements, even if nicely stitched. The embroiderer shared that thought, suggesting a pattern fill background to help separate it from the inside elements. The finished design would be sewn on sturdy fabric, but the size was fairly large, so I wanted to keep the stitch count down. And there began the quandary that led to days of test-sewing different pattern fills till I found one that would please my eye – a wavy pattern that seemed appropriate for the elements set at a long stitch length.

The embroiderer was pleased.   I was not.  There remained something uncomfortable to my eye. I had become so distracted by trying to improve the appearance of the background that I’d failed to foresee how the inside elements had became over-shadowed by the pattern. Changing it to a flat fill background with a shorter stitch length would bring out the inside elements, but it could add a ton of additional stitches, along with the fact it presented the possibility of buckling.  As well, I personally thought it just wouldn’t look so hot. What to do? And then, I literally awoke one night with the idea that a see-through crosshatch pattern seemed perfect for the situation. A light density of stitching offers color and detail, but even though it’s attractive, it doesn’t overpower the inside elements. All it requires is being sewn on a fabric color that works with the colors of the design – perhaps an applique to offer color without becoming the immediate focus, and plus, it’s achieved at a low stitch count.    I thought it was perfect.    The embroiderer thought not.     … sigh

I returned to using the pattern fill and stayed in tune with the wishes of the embroiderer, whom I believe has a better artistic judgement when dealing with thread. Embroiderers have more hands on experience with thread color, whereas, digitizers spend more hours gazing at monitor colors – it’s just the way it is. Put that together with the fact that this particular embroiderer has produced some pretty nice work, and her judgement was not in my mind to question.  But I couldn’t shake the feeling there had to be more. So while discussing the possibilities with her I studied the image of her sewn sample and noted that I really liked the fabric she’d chosen to test the design on – it really was a shame to cover it up. And then it was as if the light bulb went on in both our heads at the same time as our vision of the finished design came together, by heading in an entirely different direction. We simply needed to eliminate the majority of the background stitches all together and let the fabric work for the design.

Sometimes – perhaps, most times – as the good doctor suggests, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Happy Spring!

Tenacious Eagle Awesome

Some days I just don’t wanna write. And if the mood isn’t there, it isn’t there. I do have a post started, and it might only take a few hours to complete, but it ain’t gonna happen tonight.  I won’t leave you with nothing, though, and offer the following tid-bit. As well, the half-written intended post should be up early in the next couple weeks. For now, excuse me while I kick back, so to allow the words a little nap and my eyes a little bird-watching.

The tid-bit:

For all of you fellow nature/wildlife lovers, the 2012 family of the Dacorah Eagles are currently beginning a new family!  The first egg was laid February 17th. If you haven’t experienced watching the nesting, mating, egg laying, hatching, growing, parenting and all else that brings their offspring to the point of leaving the nest, as well as offering tracking information of where they travel when they do fly from home with photos and videos, now is a good time to begin peeking in.

Take a few moments to watch the video of the second egg being laid. Second egg arrived at 9:06 PM CST Monday, Feb 20th!

The observance of these marvelous, spiritual, nothing-less-than awesome creatures can offer so much to increase one’s own inspiration and insight, as well as bring to light that perhaps life really isn’t so bad, even if it seems so.

Personally, it brings me peace … except when they have to battle the weather. That is truly depressing.Check out the Raptor Resource Project blog by Amy Ries that explains things like why it’s okay for the egg to be alone awhile and how the eagle is able to survive through nature’s wrath: RRP Blog.  Each day brings a new change and a new struggle. Today the snow of last eve was replaced by cold high winds.

I just have to say, what an inspiring example of hope, strength and beauty!  Oh, to have the patience, tenacity and endurance of the eagle!

February Moonlight & a Month to Observe

Snow MoonThe full moon this week has brightened the night sky as if to proclaim the glory of February!  Seems appropriate considering all the events and celebrations – a list too long for this post – but allow me to touch on a few …

The rising moon caused a lot of ooo’s and ahh’s in Washington D.C. as it ascended above the capital; a photographer’s dream shot, as seen at “Daily Eye Wonder”. The Full Snow Moon is so named by Native American tribes because it’s a time when the heaviest snowfall is expected, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2012.

© Copyright by Concord Collections - EmbrideryDesigns.com

This winter there hasn’t been much snow landing in my Midwest backyard and no heavy storm is predicted (yet). Nevertheless, Groundhog Phil in PA saw his shadow on February 2, indicating there would be six more weeks of winter. Well, considering that in Southeastern MN, we woke up to thick fog that morning, I’m putting my money on Unadilla Bill in NE, a stuffed groundhog residing at Unadilla’s local pub of the same name, who has decided it’s time for Spring.

Floral Heart Applique by Adorable Ideas - EmbroideryDesigns.com

Floral Heart Applique - © Copyright by Adorable Ideas

Ironically, February “observances” are packed into the shortest month of the year, but 2012 is a Leap Year, so at least we’ll have an extra day for celebrations and create smiles for those born on February 29th. (Happy Birthday x 4!Leap Day is said to be a popular time for women to propose marriage, which I suspect might be a Sadie Hawkins moment for the impatient who didn’t get a ring on February 14th. And then those lucky ladies whose proposals are accepted, can plan a romantic wedding for the next Valentine’s Day, a somewhat popular date for getting hitched. The Dade City courthouse in Pasco County, FL even offers a mass wedding to avoid possible overflow.

There’s a slew of other things to observe this month – both respectable and bizarre – from Florida strawberries to spunky old ladies, according to a list at BrownieLocks.com.  Some of the national observances – both logical and odd – include:

Couch Flamingo by EMbroidery Patterns - EmbrideryDesigns.com

Couch Flamingo © Copyright by Embroidery Patterns

And here’s one that I need: National Time Management Month. To help folks manage precious time in both business and personal life, eResources has a few quick tips.

Let’s not omit global observances like International Friendship Month. I’ll mention Erich Campbellthe obvious – Facebook. I still have not yet updated to the new profile. Normally, I dive in and get the inevitable changes out of the way, but life has caused social networking housekeeping to fall to the rears. I suppose I should tidy up soon or it will likely be done for me. I’ve been hesitating wanting to find that one cool pic I can use for the header like some of the pretty darn good ones I’ve seen out there amongst my friends.  My current favorite is that of FB friend Eric Campbell, which displays a portion of his work that adorned last month’s cover of Stitches Magazine. Yeah, that’s pretty nice.

That brings to mind that February is also National Embroidery Month. Celebrated internationally up till this year, folks in all countries love embroidery. Like music and other arts, embroidery is an internationally understood language, whether or not it’s being observed in lands across the ponds. It’s one of the first skills achieved by humans, and an embroidery needle has been declared one of the earliest artifacts found in the line of tools. Embroidery has been used as a method of keeping records and defining honorary titles, as well as making a statement via art and decoration. The first hand embroidery machine, according to Wikipedia’s article “St. Gallen Embroidery” was invented by Franz Mange in 1828. It made gradual advancements up to the 1980s when Melco introduced the first computerized embroidery machine and Wilcom created the software to go with it.  The rest, as they say, is my history as well as other “old dogs” in the industry (and there isn’t a day that goes by we don’t learn a new trick.)

And so, it seems appropriate to decorate this post with designs by different digitizers, many who offer their designs via EmbroideryDesigns.com where I work a few hours each day as one of their customer service reps. It’s a part-time position, but I don’t really consider it a “job” – more of an educational pleasure as I exchange knowledge with countless embroiderers, chatting about the new machines on the market or thread breaks and such, when I’m not rescuing an occasional lost password or suggesting the right stabilizer or design for their project.

Butterfly by Moonlight Design - February Masterpiece Embroidery

It’s somewhat of a fun break in my day from operating Moonlight Design Embroidery Digitizing or working on stock designs as a participating designer at Masterpiece Embroidery, or writing “Punching Sense“, my column in Stitches Magazine, as well as various other duties like creating and updating tutorials for I-Cliqq Software (FYI to users: a new tutorial is penciled in for the near-future so to catch up with recent awesome updates.)

Yes, I have to admit I have a sometimes chaotic, but fulfilling, career that often swallows my time. On the other hand, it also offers me something many folks continue to search for – making a living at what I love to do. After all, if I wasn’t making money at it, I know I’d still be spending time at it anyhow.

Brillian Rose Hearts by Sweet Heirloom - EmbroideryDesigns.com

Brilliant Rose Hearts - © Copyright by Sweet Heirloom

And “doing what I love” brings to mind a video that seems appropriate to mention by movie director Tom Shadyac that I saw on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday last week called, “I Am I could write an entire blog post about my opinion on this thought-provoking and inspirational documentary, but I’ll let you make up your own mind if you catch the chance, and for now I’ll just close with my brief two stitches: worth watching! 

Happy February! 🙂