13 December 2018

Light the World


I've been a #LightTheWorld participant for three years now. The initiative, started by my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is designed to spread the same light Jesus Christ spread during His ministry, one day at a time, every single day throughout the month of December.

To Light the World, we should try to do at least one kind thing for someone each day of the month. I try to do that every day all year long, but it's really fun during December because the kindness we show to strangers has a greater chance of being not only acknowledged, but possibly passed on in some way, too.

When you make eye contact with a stranger who might be lonely, sad or suffering in some way and smile, often the smile is returned, and the seed planted in the heart of the stranger just might grow and spread. Tiny things really do make a difference in the world.

One work day early in the month, I had to run a personal errand during my (unfashionably late) lunch hour. It was bitter cold, high of 23 degrees that day, so I was rushing, and honestly, kind of off in my own little world, not really paying attention to anything around me.

Until, that is, I noticed the young couple walking, holding hands, in front of me, suddenly drop hands. The young man ran to the heavy door of a bank, where a frail elderly woman was about to give the door a huge tug. He opened the door for her, she looked at him in very pleasant surprise, they exchanged friendly greetings, and he returned to his sweetheart and grabbed her hand. She was beaming. I think she knows she caught a wonderful man!

That tender act lightened my mood, which wasn't too awful in the first place, just rushed. I was still smiling about it as I stood in line for my errand.

The woman who waited on me a few minutes later commented how the Christmas spirit had firmly gripped me, and she wished me a wonderful rest of the day.

I was smiling as I walked back to my office, so happy I'd timed my break the way I did so I could witness that precious act of kindness. I came to a traffic light, where another woman was standing, waiting to cross. We smiled at each other, and then the light turned, and both of us began walking into the intersection.

Suddenly, behind me, someone began yelling horrible, awful things, and it didn't take longer than a few seconds to realize the woman in the crosswalk with me was the target of the belligerent behavior. She turned and looked back, and the obnoxious pedestrian screamed at her more angrily, as if that was even possible.

"Why are you staring at me?!?" the person yelled with such rage, it scared even me. "There's nothing wrong with me! You're the one with a problem! Turn around and face me, you..." There were many other words laced into the rant I don't care to repeat.

I did not turn and look back. But I did look directly at the woman in the crosswalk, who seemed to be nervous and whose paced had picked up slightly.

The yelling continued, with complaints about multiple hardships the speaker had endured and how no one had the right to judge. I turned to the woman again and softly said, "Everyone has a hard time at one time or another. It's not reserved for just one person."

The woman smiled at me and softly explained, as we quickened our pace again, that she didn't know what she had done, but this person had been following her and swearing at her for more than three blocks. I told her I would walk with her until she was safe. I saw a tear form in her eye, and we walked together, not saying a word as the screaming and insults continued.

I passed my stop but didn't change direction. I kept walking with the woman, and finally, we crossed a busy street right as the light changed, and the person who was about half a block behind us could not get closer. Thank heavens, literally, for heavy traffic!!!

We walked to the next bus stop, where the woman thanked me, then boarded the bus. I smiled again and told her to stay safe.

"You, too, and merry Christmas," she said as she disappeared onto the bus. I kept walking forward and circled around the long way to get back to my building without any other disturbances.

Inside my building, I pushed the elevator button to return to my desk and felt so joyous inside. Even though I couldn't fix whatever was wrong with the angry person, I'd witnessed a magnificent display of kindness, and then I'd had a chance to pass it on just a bit later. Who knows how far that random act of kindness has spread since the young man dropped his girlfriend's hand to run to the aid of a total stranger?

I'm reminded of the chorus to a favorite song from my younger days... "Circle of Love" from Saturday's Warrior.

"The circle of our love... it goes forever."

The love we show for another is like an electrical current, and it just keeps traveling, as long as we keep loving and giving.

11 December 2018

Standing for Everything


I've been using a standing desk at work since my bike wreck back in 2012. I created a makeshift platform of unopened reams of paper back then. I didn't find out until about three months after my wreck that I broke more than my right wrist. I'd crushed a disk in my back, too, but it took the pain of Ride the Rockies for me to realize I needed another set of x-rays.

By 2013, my bosses recognized that I was much more comfortable and productive when standing, compared to sitting, and bought me a first-rate standing desk for Christmas.

I've spent about half of my work hours since that time standing and the other half sitting. In a typical day, I will sit for about an hour, then stand for about an hour. Sometimes I can stand longer, and sometimes I can sit longer. It's been much better than sitting all day.

I think my standing desk also enabled me to get stronger on my bike because my back isn't nearly as bad as it was in 2012 or for the three years after emergency back surgery in 2004, which kick-started my back discomfort.

Last year, my world changed again when elbow pain was diagnosed as collapsed neck disks. Now, not only sitting, but mousing was excruciating!!!

More desk adjustments came. I got a padded mouse pad and an ergonomic mouse for both home and work. I had to draw upon neck traction for months.

Things are much better now, but computer mousing for extended projects still is a literal pain in the neck. And elbow...

After two sets of family portraits this fall and a renewed bout of sciatic pain, I decided I needed a standing desk at home. When I ordered the desk on Amazon, the typical "you might be interested in this, too" suggestive sell ploy revealed a series of standing desk foot pads. I have never tried one of those, so I read reviews and checked around with co-workers who have converted to standing desks after my success. I went ahead and ordered an uneven gel standing pad designed to enable longer periods of standing.

Two days later, my standing desk was on my porch waiting for me when I got off work. I had imagined setting it up on my old sewing machine desk (because I've been sewing on the dining room table for two or three years now). I did not think to measure the desk, which I've had since I was about 16 years old. It is about four inches too narrow for the standing desk. So I used the cardboard box the standing desk came in to prop up the standing desk on my old sewing desk. I couldn't put a lot of weight on my laptop without crushing the box, and it wasn't the most steady foundation I've ever used, but it would work until I could figure out something else.

The next day, my standing pad was on my porch waiting for me when I got off work. I didn't have to adjust anything to begin using it. After just one night of typing in my journal with the new (wobbly) standing desk and the new standing pad, I was hooked, and I immediately ordered another identical standing pad for work.

I asked Lizard if he could cut me a piece of plywood to serve as the standing desk base on top of my sewing desk, and he took care of that the following weekend.

I can stand for hours while working on my laptop now! Between the solid foundation, the comfortable computer position and the awesome standing pad, I no longer have to sit to type at home. I LOVE IT!!!

I told Lizard I might have to get another full-size standing desk for my sewing machine now. Plus the standing pad...

I know, the last thing on earth anyone wants to do is have a reason to spend even more time on a computer, but Photoshopping is once again a joy for me, and I hope to show some beautiful proof soon!

10 December 2018

Snowflake Monday


Patty and Jo each get their choice of gift certificates to Amazon, Etsy, Handy Hands or Fire Mountain Beads! Thank you for participating in my Polar Snowflake challenge!

Patty made a gorgeous flake with iridescent blue beads…


… and Jo made a lovely food-coloring dyed version with heart picots!

View this post on Instagram

#PolarSnowflake2018 by Jo

A post shared by Snowcatcher (@thesnowcatcher) on


The pattern for the Polar Snowflake is available only in this year's pdf snowflake booklet benefitting The Michael J. Fox Foundation and The Davis Phinney Foundation. Read more about it here.

Today's pattern is one of the variations for the Snowbound Snowflake, which kicked off the snowflake decorating contest Patty and Jo just won. I imagine the pastel rainbow version I worked up two weeks ago would work up into a snuggly throw if worked in yarn, or perhaps even several strands of yarn.


The texture stitch in today's pattern is the front post treble crochet (fptr), front post double treble crochet (fpdtr) or triple treble crochet (fptrtr). Here's a double crochet tutorial if you've never worked with this fun and decorative stitch.


You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!


Finished Size: 6 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Snuggle Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 4 dc in ring, remove hook from loop and insert in 2nd ch of starting ch 2, insert hook back through loop of 4th dc and pull through ch loop (starting popcorn stitch made), * ch 3, 5 dc in ring, pull hook out of loop (dropped loop) and insert in top loop of 1st dc of this 5/dc group, insert in dropped loop, pull dropped loop through top loop of 1st dc (popcorn stitch made); repeat from * around 4 times; ch 1, 1 dc in starting popcorn to form 6th ch 3 sp of Round. Pull magic circle tight.

Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 2 dc over post of dc directly below, [in next ch 3 sp work 3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc] 5 times; 3 dc in next ch 3 sp, 1 hdc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form 6th ch 1 tip of Round.

NOTE: From here on, this pattern may seem complicated. As long as your snowflake lies flat, don't stress about stitch count. I made counting mistakes on almost every Round of every snowflake I made testing the pattern, and the snowflakes look fine after pinning.

Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), sk next ch 2 that counts as dc and dc, fptr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of same ch as hdc, skipped dc and same dc as fptr, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, fptr back in dc next to previous fptr, 1 dc in next ch 1 tip, ch 1, 1 dc in same tip (V-st made), [sk next 3 dc, fptr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of last 2 skipped dc and in dc with fptr, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, 1 fptr back in dc next to previous fptr, V-st in next ch 1 tip] 5 times, omitting last dc and ch 1 of final repeat; 1 hdc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), sk next 3 st, fptr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of skipped 2 st and same dc with fptr, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc, fptr back in dc next to previous fptr, V-st in next ch 1 tip, [sk next 4 st, fptr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of last 3 skipped st, 1 dc in each of next 3 st, 1 fptr back in dc next to previous fptr, V-st in next ch 1 tip] 5 times, omitting last dc and ch 1 of final repeat; hdc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 5 for White Snuggle Snowflake Shown Above: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), sk next 3 st, fpdtr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of previous skipped 3 st and dc with fptr, 1 dc in each of next 4 st, fptr back in dc next to previous fptr, 1 dc in next ch 1 tip, ch 20, 1 sc in 20th ch from hook, 1 dc in same sp, [sk next 5 st, fptr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of last 4 skipped dc, 1 dc in each of next 4 dc, 1 fptr back in dc next to previous fptr, 1 dc in next ch 1 tip, ch 20, 1 sc in 20th ch from hook, 1 dc in same sp] 5 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.

Round 5 for Rainbow Snuggle Snowflake Shown Below: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), sk next 3 st, fpdtr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of previous skipped 3 st and dc with fpdtr, 1 dc in each of next 4 st, fpdtr back in dc next to previous fpdtr, V-st in next ch 1 tip, [sk next 4 st, fpdtr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of last 3 skipped st and dc with fpdtr, 1 dc in each of next 4 st, 1 fpdtr back in dc next to previous fpdtr, V-st in next ch 1 tip] 5 times, omitting last dc and last ch of final repeat; 1 hdc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.

Round 6: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), sk next 4 st, fpdtr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of previous skipped 4 st and dc with fpdtr, 1 dc in each of next 5 st, fpdtr back in dc next to previous fpdtr, V-st in next ch 1 tip, [sk next 5 st, fpdtr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of last 4 skipped st and in dc with fpdtr, 1 dc in each of next 5 st, 1 fpdtr back in dc next to previous fpdtr, V-st in next ch 1 tip] 5 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; 1 hdc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 7: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc) 4 dc over post of hdc directly below, remove hook from loop and insert in 2nd ch of starting ch 2, insert hook back through loop of 4th dc and pull through ch loop (starting popcorn stitch made), sk next 5 st, fptrtr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of previous skipped 5 dc and dc with fptrtr, 1 dc in each of next 6 st, fptrtr back in dc next to previous fptrtr, popcorn st in next ch 1 tip, ch 3, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook (picot made), popcorn st in same ch 1 tip, [sk next 6 st, fptrtr in bottom of next dc, 1 dc back in each of last 5 skipped st and dc with fptrtr, 1 dc in each of next 6 st, 1 fptrtr back in dc next to previous fptrtr, popcorn st in next ch 1 tip, ch 3, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook, popcorn st in same tip] 5 times, omitting last popcorn st of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting popcorn; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

06 December 2018

Plan B


The plan was to crank out the midnight oil last night and work up this week's alternative Moda Blockhead quilt square, no matter how late I had to stay up, because I love the block so much! Can't you just see this square in snowflake blues?!?

Sadly, I guess I'm still shooting for the world record longest time not touching my sewing machine. I got off work too late to sew. I got off too late to download the day's shots along the greenway. I got off too late to enjoy dinner with Lizard.

So I guess you'll just have to settle for more summer memories I hadn't had a chance to share yet.

During one of my early morning bicycle commutes, I was surprised to see a blue heron up much higher than I'd ever seen one in the metro area.




I felt as if this year was the year of the snowy white egret for me. I saw so many more than usual!






It was a good year for black-crowned night heron sightings, too. I don't get to see them very often.










A few times, I even got closer to raptors than I expected, being on a bicycle...






There were plenty of other surprises, too!









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