Monkey-Mind Stress & A No-Monkey Business

fuscia1Hey there! It’s been quite a long while since I’ve had the pleasure of posting anything worth a smile. Not that I’ve been unhappy, but wow, what a year of crazy bumps from one direction to the next with a jungle of surprises around every corner!  I’ll spare you the details and just say that the cup of life had been running over. Much like the fuchsia that hangs in my kitchen, with dripping blossoms that too soon fall to the floor and wait for me to sweep up – so pretty, yet I rebel, “how much is enough “pretty”?

So, I’ve been working on resolving a bad case of “monkey-mind“.  Too much on the brain makes one insane.  I don’t know if that’s a cliche’, but it should be. Sometimes the wheel begins to spin a little too fast in my world, and even though there’s nothing to really complain about, being overwhelmed – good or bad – can be stressful. So, I’ve returned to a daily 20 minutes of yoga and meditation.  I think it’s working. Look! I’m blogging. 🙂

In my last post, I was still recuperating with a broken leg. I’m thankful it all healed well, but by the time I was able to put my leg to use, the city began construction, replacing sewer lines in my neighborhood, and hope was lost for even a brief jaunt to the grocery store in daylight. Fortunately, I work from a home office, so getting to work wasn’t the issue, but getting the work done to the tune of jack hammers, chain saws and heavy equipment was more distracting than trying to relax in a tree full of chattering monkeys. No way could I comfortably write a friendly blog post without relating a few unkind words about my sudden unfortunate situation. It was the summer of hell, to say the least.

roadAs seen in these images, each morning (left) the machines rolled in and dug out the street so the work could continue, and then each evening (right) they’d fill it in again. The non-stop thunderous rumbles, beeps and bangs, while the house vibrated with every bucket drop and roller tamper, drove my patience to the brink. I dashed around the house anchoring every piece of porcelain in its place with poster putty, trying to stay calm, even as I heard bathroom tiles fall into the tub and storm windows fly out of the frames. I endured the misery, hanging on to hope that the noisy chaos would put an end to the mopleakage of mucky water I’d been mopping up in the basement every Spring – then the noise and confinement would be well worth it.  Indeed, this Spring’s thaw brought not a drop rolling down the brick foundation! I did a happy dance with the dry mop and sang a heartfelt “halleluiah!”

During the winter months, I had become overly occupied by a slew of little obligations, as well as new writing responsibilities. Most of my work day is now spent at EmbroideryDesigns.com where I’m happy to be a part of a great support team.  The daily exchange of information with both industry folks and hobbyists never fails to solve puzzles and teach me something new. It then becomes fodder for articles at EmbroideryDesigns.com’s Learning Center.  And the projects I create and post about on my work blog, Stitch and Craft are also an enjoyable task, causing the hours to pass much too quickly.

So, you see, I have been writing, but I’ve missed blogging in my “break room” where I can toss my personal two stitches into the world. Writing keeps my stress factor down – almost as well as lavender, yoga and meditation.  So does food.  Well, the right foods anyhow, and in small frequent meals. Unfortunately, during the past year’s distractions, I ignored the rules I’m to live by. I stuffed myself with momentary good-feeling morsels and neglected the necessities that set my digestive system off on an uncontrollable tangent.

Yeah, that’s what happens in the golden years – your body starts making demands and takes control of that “I’ll-eat-whatever-I-please-and-to-hell-with-nutrition” attitude. On the bright side, I no longer stress over dieting, because if I stick to the health rules, I’m not pillsallowed to count calories or skip meals. Now it’s all a matter of counting vitamins, minerals and glasses of water while timing small numerous portions by the hour. I’ve always known the science to healthy eating, but I must give it keen attention in my old-er age, because if I choose to ignore it, there are physical repercussions. So, I do the list of “14 Foods That Fight Inflammation”  and when I fall short, I reach for the appropriate bottle kept handy on my desk – a display that often provokes the question, “Got pills?”  But snarkiness aside, I’d have to eat twice as much food to get what I get in a few pills everyday, and considering I’m not on the skinny side, it’s a good thing.

Farming Scene by Concord Collections – EmbroideryDesigns.com

I also have been busy this last year, reducing one of the biggest stress inducers I’ve ever experienced – business. First, to clarify any misunderstanding caused by previous statements made here and on other social media, I did not retire from work or stop digitizing, but I did retire my custom digitizing services. I’ve found that “un-marketing” is a feat to be extremely difficult after an online presence of over two decades. Okay, so I have only been one tiny pea in the embroidery pea field, but as the only pea in my pod, I’ve been one helluva busy pea.

No matter how small the business, and no matter how many newfangled things they come up with to help operate one, I’ve come to this conclusion: running a business totally solo without delegating anything is certainly possible, but it’s borderline insane. During buzy-ness you have many responsibilities. During slow-downs, you have the same responsibilites, as well as those you didn’t get done during the buzy-ness. It’s tough to fit in personal time if you don’t choose to hire help. You at least need a monkey – you know, someone who will listen while you plan your week’s agenda or bring you a banana when you need one.

So, to aid in un-marketing, I’ve temporarily closed my web site while I review and revamp, and currently my business domain names are parked at my personal “name domain”.  I will continue to digitize the occasional stock design and deliver private orders while decisions are being made about a new site for Moonlight Design, but until then, in reference to my no-monkey business, I can only say, “to be continued”.

stitches-coverstoryQuoting industry veteran and master digitizer, Steve Freeman of Qdigitizing, who noted in “Back from the Brink”, June’s cover story, pg. 40, in Stitches Magazine, “Sometimes you have to recognize when enough is enough in order to reinvent yourself.”

I suppose that’s what has come about as I’ve tried to un-market, shrink back and just be.  I’m reinventing myself while being content that I remain a part of the embroidery industry.  I will also continue to pop in now and then at Stitches with a bit of “Punching Sense” or whatever else I can offer. Right now, I’m gearing up to participate again as a digitizing judge for this year’s competition and the excitement is building! Do not hesitate to participate in this one, kids – first price is a Melco single-head!

On a closing stitch, to those who are curious, I hope to not let another year go by without posting. I’ve come to the conclusion that venting my two stitches reduces stress – and I’m going with the assumption that working at stress reduction is a lot less chaotic than living with a monkey. Alas, God bless Jane Goodall.

monkey

Baby Chimp by Ace Points – EmbroideryDesigns.com

 

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

 

Falling Leaves, Writing Copy & an Apology to the Girl Scouts

My recent walk in the woods revealed the wonders of Nature’s seasonal preparations for Winter. Squirrels are darting from tree to tree, gathering nuts to bury in their earthen pantry and bunnies are tucking fresh sticks at the doors of their burrows. A few insects like bees can be seen buzzing about the last of the wildflowers, collecting the last drops of nectar, and flocks of geese are heard honking overhead as they make their way South. Critters are bustling, burying and battening down the borrows, signaling the change of season.

For me Autumn brings about the busiest time for custom digitizing orders, but business seems to take care of itself if I’ve kept up my routine duties. Things just come at me a little faster and I only need to keep appropriate control. It’s the personal responsibilities that I’m pressed to tend like domestic chores that never disappear, but could become frightening by Thanksgiving, should I let them lag.

The real priorities are seasonal like raking leaves before it snows – or before Girl Scouts leave nasty notes on the door.  Yes, I realize their little bulletin was meant to educate folks in regard to the phosphorus released from dead leaves sliding into the storm drains that in turn affects the wildlife environment.  Loving Nature as I do, I truly agree that efforts must be made.   BUT … I do think a little thought might have been given to the boldly printed question, “What’s the problem?”

I quickly scanned the bulletin that was illustrated with leaves, rake and leaf bag, contemplating its intention.  At first I was embarrassed as I looked up at the gold, pink and brown blanketing the yard.   Egad!   Hubby attempted the job last week, clearing the storm drains and rock beds with a leaf blower, but his bad head cold has delayed  progress.  Surrounded by trees, the job in our yard is never really done anyhow until the branches are bare or until it snows. My work hours only allow raking at midnight, which I’m sure the neighbors would not appreciate, so I planned this weekend to at least clear the entryways before I had to sweep up leaves from the kitchen floor.  Alas, the sky decided to cry and I refuse to dance with a rake in the cold rain!

Disappointed with the weather, I retreated inside, still miffed with the seemingly snide request to rake my leaves.  I was feeling a bit guilty.  My yard hasn’t seen much attention most of the summer, because I’ve had indoor responsibilities, like cleaning up the basement after the spring flooding. (There’s a mucky chore I wish on no one!)  But the Scouts had no idea who lives inside or what my story was.  What if I was an old lady?    Wait. I am.    Well, what if I were completely incapacitated?  How dare they make such a snarky accusation?!  At least in that moment, that’s the way I had read the question … what’s the problem, are you too lazy to rake?

Then I recalled the spirit of Scouts-gone-by.  What happened to the days when they offered to rake leaves to achieve a good Samaritan badge?  Heck, if they would have inquired, I would have paid them for the job!  I examined the bulletin a bit more closely to find an informative environmental message in faint tiny text that I actually didn’t oppose, but still, I was so put off I didn’t want to read the tiny print. “I’ll tell you what the problem is,” I snarled, tossing it into the paper recycling.  “It’s the people who leave pieces of paper to blow away and litter my yard!”  Then I surfed directly to the Girl Scout web site and left a hasty, nasty email about how appalled I was at their insinuating, rude bulletin.

This morning I stared out the window while stopping a sneeze with a tissue and realized I’d lost the battle of trying to not catch my husband’s cold.  He stood next to me, staring and sneezing as well, promising to finish the leaves tomorrow, while noting the bare trees in the front yard were now “done”.  I remarked that at least the part he cleaned up near the storm drain was okay yet, to which he replied, “I thought you did that. What I did last week filled right in by the next day.  Must have been one of our great neighbors.” (We do have wonderful neighbors!)

After a moment of ponder, I marched to the recycling bin and took another look at that bulletin.  It gave no indication that perhaps the Girl Scouts were out cleaning up leaves. It only gave a good reason to keep the leaves out of the storm drain, explaining what problem it caused, and on the back it gave directions on how to clean them up, where to dispose of them and a web site where it should be reported that the job had been done.

So, I returned to the Girl Scout’s web site and found yesterday’s announcement “Centennial Day of Service is today and thousands of Girl Scouts are out cleaning up organic matter to prevent phosphorous from polluting our lakes and streams” along with pictures of the hard-working crews whom I obviously missed seeing while occupied in my office.

Oh.

Due to personal circumstances, I had obviously misunderstood the tone of the question on the bulletin and reacted – over-reacted – defensively.  Marketers, take a lesson, choose your words carefully.  One must always consider every possible scenario when writing copy.  Just because a phrase is sure to grab attention, the way the words are received by particular folks in particular situations may not be what is intended.  And it must be acknowledged, not everyone can just surf to a web site to clarify information, and even so, some simply will not.

The reason the Girl Scouts have for passing along the message is undeniably good – to educate in ways to protect the environment, which indeed I support.  And I certainly do appreciate their commendable efforts, especially for lending a hand even in the cold rain.  My sincere thanks to the Girl Scouts who cleaned up a bit of my mess, and I humbly apologize for quick assumptions, and most especially for that nasty email.

Nevertheless, I really do think someone missed the mark on that bulletin … just my two stitches, along with a leaf or two zillion.

Available in the September 2012 collection at Masterpiece Embroidery

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

Annoying Technology & Click Ripples

The last time I posted anything other than photos was the end of May and now it’s July. What happened to June?! Well, it certainly was a month to write about – quite eventful for me.  But I have to tuck most of those events and photos away as fodder for a number of future posts. Too many stories and too little room to cover it all in one post.  Besides, I’ve always found moving forward a much better idea.

That’s what I told myself when I realized technology had me by the consumer butt once again. I must move forward with technology. I was digging through the refurbs looking for an inexpensive replacement for my personal laptop and couldn’t find what I wanted;  The laptop I have still works just fine, but it’s mostly dedicated for graphics/photo use now and things are getting a bit cramped for writing.  I was in search of one with a WinXP OS because it’s not complicated and I’m happy with it, but it appears that it has become the new dinosaur in the refurbished choices, with Vista not far behind.

I often buy refurbished/recertified computers because I’ve found that they usually last at least as long as the 3-year expectancy of a new one, as well as the current operating system. It really makes no sense to me to buy new, especially for personal use, when a new one isn’t going to last any longer. When electronics are refurbished, they have simply switched out the bad part(s) and then they are tested and re-certified, bringing them back up to the manufacturer’s standards of new. Sometimes (though rarely) there’s a little cosmetic damage – a scratch here or ding there on the external case – but that’s okay. It saves me the pain that occurs when I make the first scratch myself.

I didn’t want Windows 7 even though it is supposedly faster, because WinXP and Vista are more familiar to me, and I’ve never believed either to be slow when properly maintained (delete the cookies and unnecessary files, and scan for bugs routinely).  I have noticed that Windows 7 loads a little faster, but I never thought WinXP or Vista to be slow.  (Why do people need to move in lightning swift blinks, anyhow?!  A brain should pause now and then.)  But there are very few computers available with anything lower than Windows 7 pre-installed, now that Windows 8 has been on the scene awhile.  Windows 8 appears to have been created with a focus on accommodating touchscreens – something I doubt I’ll ever have a use for on anything larger than my Kindle Fire screen.  But the way technology moves, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll all be forced to use a touch screen eventually, with hand input peripherals antiquated. (Well maybe not.  Artists who are not fond of finger painting would rebel.)

I’ve had Windows 7 on one of my work computers for the last year and I’m just not fond of all the bells and whistles – a bunch of stuff to simply pretty up the view and frustrate the stitches out of me. When I decrease the size of a window and move it up close to the edge, I want it to stay small and out of the way – not blow up to cover the entire desktop. It might be a fast undo with a short slide of the stylus across the top bar, but it’s a stumble that drives me up the wall.  And when I pass the cursor over the top of a minimized window in the task bar, I don’t want to be startled by little windows popping up. Okay, I admit that one is a great feature at times when I need a lot of documents minimized, but that situation happens only for a brief time during my work day and usually never on my personal laptop.  …  So where, oh where, is the option to switch to Classic Windows?  Or is there one?

Well, there’s not much I can do about technology advancement – some is great, some is bad – but the continual change is annoying.  Right after I’ve learned something well enough, they just switch things up again. So, after searching through the refurbs at Tiger Direct, I gave into buying an HP with a Windows 7 OS for $299 (priced new at about $500). At least the price didn’t hurt, considering it included a 2.3 GHz Pentium processor, 320GB hard drive and 3 GB DDR3. It even has a web cam – though I’d only use it for Skype and only to call my son. (I do not want to spend an hour with hair and make up to call clients and I do not want to scare people.)

As well, it has a 64 bit processor. Now, I’ve been looking at that phrase “64 bit” for some time considering what that exactly meant for me. I know the advantages: increased memory support, enhanced security features and increased program performance (albeit only for those programs written for 64 bit). I’d never wanted a 64 bit, because it meant much of the old software I use couldn’t be installed without a lot of tweaking with new drivers and/or other adjustments as noted at Microsoft support:

What to consider when you install a 64-bit version of Windows Vista

64-bit device drivers may not be available for one or more devices in the computer.

Device drivers must be digitally signed.

32-bit device drivers are not supported.

32-bit programs may not be fully compatible with a 64-bit operating system.

It may be difficult to locate programs that are written specifically for a 64-bit operating system.

Not all hardware devices may be compatible with a 64-bit version of Windows Vista.”

But I decided that I shouldn’t find too many conflicts, because I won’t be installing anything except what I need for writing – Firefox for surfing, Thunderbird for email, both free from Mozilla, and the free download of Apache Open Office software. (No offense Microsoft, but I do not like you or your price.)

Now, if I could just disable the “pen feedback” to stop the “ripple effect” every time the stylus hits the Wacom Bamboo pad, I’d be ecstatic. Each click causes tiny little ripples that look like rain drops hitting the water surface – very annoying. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened on computers I have my design systems on.  (Thought of horror: digitizing between the ripples.)  I don’t like using a touch pad and I find using a mouse is like holding a potato, so after I had discovered the comfortable freedom when using a stylus for my digitizing, I installed a Wacom pad on every computer I use for any length of time during my day.  (And bye-bye carpal tunnel syndrome!)

In recent years, when click ripples first appeared on the screen of one of my PCs with Vista and then on another with Windows 7, I found a way to disable the pen feedback. I even blogged about how I fixed it, but the same directions I used then now disable the Wacom pad (something is different or else I’m missing something).  I’ve tried all the forum tips found online, but they appear to be outdated and those that are current are unanswered complaints, such as mine. I’ve heard it’s not a Wacom issue, but a conflict with the pad caused by Windows touch screen features, and at this point I’m not sure whose side of the fence the responsibility lies. (If you have the answer, please comment. The ripples are driving me mad!)

I’m wondering if an easy solution to this aggravating ripple feature (that no one seems to like) has been included in Windows 8. Perhaps, I need to consider taking advantage of the $14 upgrade I was offered from Windows to buyers of a computer with Windows 7 pre-installed. (I’d include the link, but apparently it’s only available currently via my purchase.) The offer is good thru January 31, 2013 so there’s plenty of time yet to find peace with Windows 7. Then again, it might be a good idea to keep moving forward – if I can keep frustration at bay.

For now, I think I’ll just send my complaints to My Granny Geek and then go find a happy place – somewhere very far away from dripping ripples.

Take a break – feel the ahhhhs …

I have so many things I’d love to blog about, and unfortunately, at the moment life is getting in the way of writing. But I won’t leave you with nothing. While watching a slide show of photos captured on a nature walk a couple weeks ago I decided, perhaps, it would be a good time to share a few in the “break room”.   … Enjoy

The purple phlox and yellow wildflowers are in full bloom, carpeting the woods in every spot where the rays of sun reach through the trees.Butterflies fluttered and danced from one blossom to the next in the warm sun …Viceroy butterfly

Black Swallowtail butterfly

Nessus Sphinx or Hummingbird Moth

When I first saw this moth (above and below center-left) I assumed it was a baby hummingbird until I saw no beak and it had antennae.  About half the size of a hummingbird, it jets and halts between each blossom and drinks while arching its back and pushing its tail forward.

A beaver has been busy doing what beavers do …

And other critters have been busy …

A pair of Mallords enjoying the peace of a gentle flowing river …

Taking a break to stretch and preen …

And then it’s back to busy …

Oh, to be a duck …

Till next time, many smiles! 🙂

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!