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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

 The meaning of life is to see.
[Hui Neng]

New Willowgreen Web site

 

Ten years ago, I designed and produced a Web site for one of my clients, Jim Miller at Willowgreen, Inc.; a publishing company that produces “meaningful resources for hope, healing and inspiration.” Since then, I have not only maintained his site, but I have also designed and produced print and electronic media for his company.

Having Jim as a client has been a graphic designer’s dream. He is a writer and an excellent photographer. His portfolio of breathtaking photographs assures me that I can hardly produce an ugly design. Also, I have been able to contribute hand-rendered illustrations to some of his publications, and spread my wings into electronic publishing.

Last spring, we embarked upon a complete redesign of the Willowgreen Web site. I produced a site plan and visual design which we turned over to a programming team who setup the store in Shopify. The redesigned site was recently launched.

What do I like best about the new site? In addition to Jim’s photography and insightful writing, I like that there is a balance between the commercial aspects (selling products in the new store) and free offerings. The homepage alone with its inspiring slide show and video is a place to go just to meditate. There are free eCards, inspiring blogs, and helpful writings for caregivers and those who are grieving.

One of the many things that I am thankful for this holiday is that I have had the honor of serving the kind and gentle folks at Willowgreen.

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There is no quality in this world that is not
what it is merely by contrast.
Nothing exists in itself.
[Herman Melville]

Peony

Four posts down from this one is a photo of my Saturn Sky sitting between two five-foot snow banks. There was a peony bush sleeping under the nearest snow bank. It not only survived sub-zero temperatures and deep snow, it also survived being trampled.

The winter temperatures and snow weight demolished my garage. While it was being rebuilt, the peony tried to sprout though the thawing soil but was repeatedly stepped on. I finally put a little fence around the damaged shoots and they were able to grow into a lovely bush. It finally bloomed two weeks later than usual, and its sweet scent filled my sun room.

The contrast between what I considered a dreadful winter and welcome summer is brought home to me in this delicate bloom. I’m glad peonies are the Indiana state flower.

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The story of women’s struggle for equality
belongs to no single feminist
nor to any one organization
but to the collective efforts of
all who care about human rights

[Gloria Steinem]

Shepherd's Moon

This Saturday is International Women’s Day. The photo is Ellen Robert’s display piece at the International Women’s Art Exhibition in the UPMarket Galleries (The Provision Market, Newport, Gwent) in Wales. Ellen spins, dyes, weaves and knits fiber, and she designed this lace poncho. The logo is her business identity, Shepherd’s Moon. The loom was built by her grandfather and used for many years by her grandmother—Ellen uses it now. The spinning is lace weight yarn the thickness of an eye lash. I am in awe of Ellen’s talent and skill. I have to add that she is also my oldest daughter.

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I put my heart and my soul into my work,
and have lost my mind in the process.
[Vincent Van Gogh]

site map

Over fifteen years ago, a client handed me a book (Teach Yourself HTML in 24 Hours) and said, “I would like for you to build a website for my business.”

I was only vaguely aware of what a website was, and had never seen the internet. I bought a piece of software called BB Edit, studied the book from cover to cover testing my code in Netscape (I wasn’t connected to the internet), and developed a detailed organizational chart for my client’s site. He approved the chart and gave me sketches of his vision for the look and feel of the site. As I set to work, I had no clue about how other sites looked. The one I developed was very visual since I am a graphic designer instead of a technically oriented person. We put the finished site files on floppy disks and hand carried them to our web-server provider. He showed the site to me on his computer—my first glimpse of the internet. I was so excited that I was jumping up and down inside.

Since then, I’ve ridden the roller coaster of web development through all of its iterations. After publishing a number of client websites, I still use principles I learned on that first site:

  • Plan, plan, plan—work out the details and gather the resources before assembling the first page.
  • Keep the perception of the site guest in the forefront. Make it “user-friendly.”
  • Keep it simple and compatible with older browsers.
  • Document the site structure for future maintenance and expansion.
  • Test each phase during the process so, at the end, everything works and nothing needs to be retrofitted.

I am in the process of redesigning my original site. I usually start with a detailed site map (organizational chart) that I draw in Adobe Illustrator, but this time I am assembling it in Microsoft Excel (shown in the image above). This is proving to be so much quicker and easier. It allows me to focus on content instead of construction. I’m looking forward to this project. Meanwhile, I’m studying another refresher course on Lynda.com.

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One must be an inventor to read well.
There is then creative reading
as well as creative writing.
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]

iPad-apps

Since I live in relative solitude, my blog gives me a place to share things that one would normally share with a person in the same room. This is a, “You’ve just gotta see this…” post. The thought has crossed my mind that I’m likely the last to learn all of this, but I’ll share it anyhow. I’ll make bullet points of my disjointed thoughts.

  • The image is a screen shot of one of my iPad folders.
    • I’ve never seen non-Apple devices, but am confident that they have reasonable counterparts to this.
    • It is worth the effort to learn how to organize apps in folders so you can find your stuff easily on one screen.
    • The desktop image is either (a) my backyard or (b) a tourist stop near Cardiff, Wales (UK). HINT: I have no backyard.
  • About the first row of apps in the image—these are primarily text readers. iBooks reads books from the Apple store, Nook reads Barnes & Noble books, and Kindle reads Amazon books. The apps are free and many books can be obtained without cost as well. There are also sale priced books available from such sources as BookBub.
  • The second row of apps in the image—these are specialized readers. Audible (an Amazon company) is an audio book reader and not only reads books from Audible.com, but also reads non-Amazon books from iTunes. Overdrive accesses the local public library. Using my library card, I check out both text and audio books using Overdrive. GoodReader could also be called Knitter’sHelper. I use this for my PDF knitting patterns because it allows me to easily mark my place and make notes.
  • The third row shows apps from Blackstone. These audio books are well produced and are now available with a built-in player as apps—one book per app. I bought these in the App Store for reasonable prices. There are many choices. One of my favorite mystery writers is Louise Penny. Her books, set in Quebec, present characters in such depth and with such sensitivity, that they make me want to jump into my little roadster and drive to Canada in search of imaginary friends.

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Christmas & Mothers

But Mary kept all these things,
and pondered them in her heart.
[Luke 2:19]

Christmas 2013

At Christmas time, my thoughts always turn to Mary. My first child was born close to Christmas and, while we were stalled at a rail crossing on the way to the hospital, I thought of Mary. I was so thankful I wasn’t riding a donkey. While I was admitted to the hospital, I thought of Mary being cold and hungry with no place to rest in comfort. I cringed at the thought of going through labor and delivery in the conditions described in the Bible. Mary was made of sterner stuff than I am. Ever since then, motherhood and Christmas have been inextricably linked in my mind.

Speaking of mothers, the rocker in the photo was my mother’s. I bought it for her as a Christmas gift with my first Navy paycheck 50 years ago. Sitting in Mama’s chair is Maisey, my grandmother’s doll. Grandma got her for Christmas 130 years ago (here’s a link to that story). As I decorated the tree last weekend (and shoveled snow), I thought of Mary and Mama and Grandma.

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It’s the great mystery of human life that
old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.
[Fyodor Dostoyevsky]

Grief Helps blogIt has been my good fortune that I have been able to spend my working life doing what I enjoy. My career has not only been fun, but it has also been enlightening, enriching and rewarding. Most of that is due to my clients. As an independent designer, every project I finish puts me out of a job. Fortunately, projects have materialized in adequate supply for the past twenty-eight years. This post is about one of my favorites.

I’ve produced print publications, electronic publications, and web-site work for Willowgreen, Inc., a publishing company, for over a decade. This company specializes in inspirational materials to help with illness, caregiving, transitions, and grief. Two of the greatest assets with Willowgreen offerings are Jim Miller’s writing skill and his magnificent photography. Recently, his publications have focused on helping folks who are experiencing grief.

Today, Jim will release a new blog called Grief Helps. It is designed especially for grieving individuals and families. It is simple to navigate, easy to read, and beautiful to view. Jim writes:

Grief Helps includes only fresh resources that are found nowhere else. Only Willowgreen’s own resources—not a copy of anyone else’s work. And the new blog provides an unusually wide variety of resources, unlike what you’ll find on any other blog: lovely mini-videos, bright mini-books, and meaningful PhotoThoughts, all absolutely free. In addition there are the more customary posts you’ve come to expect on blogs everywhere. A section also is provided for individuals to share with others their own “grief helps”—acts or practices or approaches that have assisted them personally on their journey through loss.

Working on Grief Helps has been such a healing experience for me that I wanted to share it with you.

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