Meet Juno, my #FreelancersFriend

Juno, my #FreelancersFriend

Juno, my #FreelancersFriend

I’ve been a member of Freelancers Union for about a year. They’re asking freelancers who have pets to post photos on social media with “a caption that tells everyone how your pet helps your freelance business.”

Well, I’ll post my photos with a caption about my #FreelancersFriend. But there’s so much more to say about Juno, the 7-year-old beagle I adopted June 14 from the Nebraska Humane Society.


Jenna, my fur grandbaby

Ever since my son left for college in 2013, I’d been thinking about getting a dog. I started watching the Humane Society website and other sites at the end of 2016. My search accelerated when my son and his girlfriend adopted their dog, Jenna, in March. I fell in love with her right away.

So I stepped up my search, checking websites every single night. And the night I saw Juno, I knew I had to be first in line the next day to adopt her. Four months later, I’m so glad I brought this little girl home. I don’t know how I lived without her.

When I adopted Juno, she was about 5-6 pounds overweight. I’ve been watching her diet and walking her almost every night. Along the way, I’ve gotten to meet many of the neighbors and their children. Juno loves kids, and they love her, too.

Juno with the neighborhood kids

Juno with the neighborhood kids

Juno is an excellent watch dog. A few weeks after I brought her home, I noticed that she was sleeping in some strange places: in front of a chair by the front door, a corner of the rug. So I searched online for answers. I learned that beagles are watch dogs, and they will sleep in places where they can watch the most doors/hallways. So those sleeping places weren’t so strange after all.

Juno doesn’t bark much, except to alert me when she hears a car door outside. Most of the time it’s no big deal – a neighbor has just come home, or the cable guy has arrived to do a repair. But there have been a few times when I’ve been glad to know about a strange car on the street.

She is very protective of me and the people she loves — my son and his girlfriend, and my neighbor. Juno does not like going to the basement; she just watches for me at the top of the steps. But one day, my son came over to pick up some things he’d been storing in my garage. After loading up his car, he stepped inside from the garage, and we were talking at the foot of the basement steps. All of a sudden, I heard ba-dum WOOSH! Juno heard my son’s voice and swooped down the stairs to greet him!

Juno with my laptop

Competing for lap space

Juno is a wonderful companion. Over time, she has started snuggling next to me on the couch, then laying in my lap for a nap. A few mornings, she’s tried to push my laptop and table out of the way so she can occupy the space she thinks is rightfully hers.

She loves to ride in the car, and goes crazy when we get to Petco. She also likes going to the bank with me, especially when they send a treat for her back through the drive-through window. But she always has to “bury” her treat under the towel on her car seat before she can eat it when she gets home.

So how does all of this help me with my business as a freelancer?

I definitely feel safer at home with such an excellent watch dog. I know Juno will alert me to something unusual outside, and she’ll go after anyone who goes after me.

The nightly walks have given me a great opportunity to meet my neighbors. Now we know each other better and are watching out for each other. This also makes me feel safer.

I find great joy in taking care of this little critter. From getting her up in the morning to tucking her in at night, I enjoy feeding her and letting her out and watching her nap and hearing her snore and “woof” in her sleep. When I talk to her, she tilts her head to the side and wiggles her ears back and forth. (She doesn’t like it, though, when I yell at my computers to get them to work correctly.)

Juno, my sous chef

My sous chef waiting to assist me

When I go into the kitchen, my “sous chef” soon follows. She wiggles her way in between me and the kitchen cupboards so she can catch any stray food that may fall.

Juno also reminds me that I’m doing something right. I don’t know why she was put up for adoption — that information was not included on the form. However, from the way she reacts when I get out a broom or mop, and other signs I’ve seen, I’m guessing she was mistreated.

It’s taken some time to earn Juno’s trust. I’ve gone from having to take her outside and stay with her the whole time, to letting her out and watching her play and explore by herself. I love it when she lays down in my lap and falls asleep, or she prances by the place on the counter where treats are stored to persuade me that she needs one of those tidbits. Earning her trust and building this relationship keeps me going when clients are being difficult, and human relationships aren’t going so well.

Having Juno also keeps me learning and exploring as I need to find out more about the best way to take care of her. I’ve looked up what you can and can’t feed dogs, how to stop them from itching, why they sleep where they do, why they snore, and so many other things that have educated and sometimes amazed me.

Juno hid her bone behind the dresser

Juno hid her bone behind the dresser

One of the best things I’ve learned along the way is that beagles love to hide things. I’ll never forget the first time I gave Juno a rawhide bone. At first she “hid” it in her crate. But when I let her out, she had to find another hiding place.

She carried the bone out to the dining room and put it under the curtains. After stepping back to take a look, she decided that the bone wasn’t hidden well enough. So she took it back to her room. She pushed it behind a dresser, then stacked my shoes in front of it to hide the bone! When I came in and took photos, she finally took the bone out to the living room to chew and enjoy it.

For my business, I’ll call her my CCO — Chief Canine Officer. Outside of work, she’s my friend, my little love, my joy and my delight. I call her “Sweeheart” as much as I use her name.

My thanks to the Nebraska Humane Society for giving me the opportunity to adopt Juno. She is a great addition to my family and my staff.



Noting 9 years of Catena Creations, 20 years of web design

Today, on Aug. 21, 2017, I’m watching the eclipse. I’m also celebrating the ninth anniversary of starting Catena Creations. Here’s how I got started. My thanks and appreciation to everyone to has supported me and my business during the past nine years.

At the end of June 2017, I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my decision to add website design to my portfolio of skills. This life-changing decision had made such a huge impact on my career and my creativity.

First website I managed: TransEquity, Inc.

First website I managed: TransEquity, Inc.

In 1997, I was working at Pacesetter Corporation. My former boss at TransEquity, Inc. was trying to get me to return to the company. She offered a number of incentives, and added an intriguing plea: Come back and finish our website. They’d been working on it for nearly a year, but it still wasn’t complete.

I didn’t know much about the web back then. We were one of the few families who had a great computer and an Internet connection because it was required for my then-husband’s work. So I started doing my research.

Brian Rockey, now Director of the Nebraska Lottery, convinced me to make the switch. I ran into him at a political event in May 1997. We had worked together when we were both public information officers for the state of Nebraska: me for the Nebraska Arts Council, him for Gov. Ben Nelson. He had just started his job as the marketing director for the Nebraska Lottery. When I told him about the offer, he said, “Take it. You’ll love doing this!”

That friendly advice has led to 20 years of changes and challenges with creativity, technology and commerce. I’ll never regret those challenges.

When I returned to TransEquity to manage their website, I asked for three things: 1) the best Internet connection available at that time; 2) a new computer that would handle the technical workload; and 3) the ability to take classes to learn this new skill. They agreed.

Of course, in 1997, the best Internet connection available was a dial-up connection. My top-notch computer had 32 megabytes (not gigabytes) of RAM and Word Perfect 4.2. I took four HTML classes and a web graphics class through the Nebraska Business Development Center – the only classes available then – and I was set.

At that time, everything was coded by hand. There weren’t any pre-programmed website builders like WordPress or DreamWeaver or even FrontPage (don’t remind me). The TransEquity website was coded and designed by Hirsch Design. Their staff also taught me how to update and manage it.

So very much has been invented since then, and I have learned so many new things. Here are the developments that I think have been the most helpful and influential.

1) Development of coding. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) allowed us to control design through code rather than graphics. It and the creation of PhP also led to the development of Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress. Now, instead of making changes on every page, we can make them in one place and update an entire website.

2) Visual enhancements. I remember being soooooo excited when Flash came out. We could have photos shows, and animate things! I taught myself Flash at home on weekends, and watched a lot of Pac 10 football on Saturday nights while trying to learn this new program. Eventually, it led to some pretty cool websites as well. And who could forget all those splash openings?

Being able to easily add video also added new dimensions to web design. When my ex got the computer that I first used to access the Internet in 1997, it had a video clip of Tommy Fraser scoring a touchdown in Nebraska’s 1995 national championship game. That was SO COOL because very few people had video on their computers. Now we have YouTube and Vimeo and. . . . .

3) Mobile phones with cameras. The mobile phone made it possible for people to take photos and shoot video anywhere. You didn’t need a special camera with expensive editing software anymore. In 2009, I received a $5,000 grant from the National Association for the Self-Employed. I used part of that money to buy a video camera because phones couldn’t shoot video yet.

And when Apple introduced the iPhone, it also introduced a new need: mobile websites. At first, we had to program separate sites for mobile and desktop. Responsive design allows us to build both at the same time.

4) Social media. Now that you could take pictures and shoot video with your phones, Facebook, Twitter and a slew of social media sites made it possible to share them quickly with friends and family. Updates from these sites are now used as news sources for quotes in breaking stories.

5) Technology enhancements. Broadband cable connections made it possible for designers to add graphics, photos, videos and audio because users had to wait only seconds, rather than minutes or hours, to download and view them. Wifi and cellular connections let everyone carry the web with them and access it almost anywhere. Clunky desktops turned into slimmed-down laptops which morphed into portable tablets and phones that let us touch screens to give commands.

And, for better or worse, search engines have helped us find more data that libraries can hold. Who knew that when Google came on the scene and shut out Alta Vista that it would have such an influence?

A blog post I saw at the beginning of 2017 lamented that web design has become boring and predictable. In some ways, I agree. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is that web design has become so focused on making sure everything is optimized for search engines that a lot of creativity is lost. Graphics MUST be rendered with code, not images. Text MUST have the right keywords. Headline sizes MUST decrease as you go down the page. And on and on.

Sometimes I miss the early days when the only limitation you faced was the size of the graphic that would fit on a screen.

As I look ahead, I see so many possibilities for my clients. Because the web has become so diversified, it’s easier to reach your target audience and focus your message. The challenge is to figure out the best and most economical way to do that. Catena Creations is up to the challenge.






Stitching together photos for a logo

MH Hooking logo by Catena CreationsI had the pleasure this summer of creating a logo for MH Hooking, a crocheting business started by Melissa Heiser of Bellevue.

During our meeting to discuss ideas and budget, I showed her a graphic I’d made for another client, Tonkadale Greenhoused, to celebrate their Edibles Expo this year, and a similar one created for their Pollinator Day. She loved the idea.

Melissa sent me many high-quality photos of her beautiful crochet work. The difficult part was deciding which items to feature, and what order to put them in. I ended up making a separate graphic for each letter so I could position each photo in the size and place I wanted it without having to worry about overlapping. I then put all of the letters together in a final graphic.

Melissa is using her logo on her Etsy shop for MH Hooking, and plans to print business cards in the near future.

Please stop by Melissa’s shop and take a look at her high-quality work!