Monthly Archives: November 2017

Guest Post: Taking the Show on the Road by Melanie J. McNeil

Guest Post: Taking the Show on the Road by Melanie J. McNeil

Thank you to Melanie J. McNeil for this awesome guest post. For more quilting inspiration, check out her blog, Catbird Quilt Studio.

Catbird Quilt Studio

Today I’m off to present to a guild. I love preparing for these meetings! Each time is a treat: the audience and space is new to me, the way I think about my quilts evolves, and I get to pet my quilts as I choose which ones to bring.

One of the things I enjoy about choosing my quilts is seeing how much they have changed over time. The differences might not be apparent to other people, but I can tell. In late 2012, a mere five years ago, I made the first quilt I think of as from my “medallion period.” (If Picasso can have a “blue period,” surely I can have a medallion period!) It was for my dear Jim, made at the end of a year that was hard for both of us. I always include this quilt in my trunk shows, for sentimental reasons…

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Oh, Oh, Oh!


The prompt for this week’s challenge is Letter O–needs to have letter O anywhere in the word.






ErOsiOnFun Foto

Snippet: The God of Paradox


Tonight I’m taking one of my projects to the next level. I’m field-testing a Bible study guide I’ve been working on for the last two years, The God of Paradox: Relying on God Even When He Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations. When I saw today’s Daily Post prompt, I knew it was a divine nudge to share from this message. Here is an excerpt from the first lesson, which I’ll be sharing with my Bible study group tonight. It’s entitled Paradox I: Why Does Our Holy God Allow Evil to Exist?God

  • Read Genesis 1:26 through 3:24.

That God permits wickedness is the singular issue that caused me to walk away from God in my early teens. Maybe you struggle with it, too. After all, if God is righteous and all-powerful, with unlimited options, how can He not eliminate evil as soon as it emerges?

When God created the first humans, He told them, “‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’” (Genesis 1:28). With those words, He put them in charge of creation. He gave them a beautiful paradise full of nutritious plants (Genesis 1:29-30).

But He set one limit—not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve could trust that God knew what was best for them, or they could rebel against restriction and find out what the alternative to best is.

Satan, the serpent, tempted the humans with the lure of the power of secret knowledge.   “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). To our naïve first parents, that sounded beneficial, and they ate.

God could have blocked that first intrusion of evil. He did not. When He gave humans dominion over the earth, He also gave them free will. They had the power to ponder, to consider, to discern, and to decide. Would they utilize their free will to obey the God Who had provided them with everything they could ever want?

I wish God had created us with an intellect that propelled us into doing only good things that would glorify Him and bless our fellow human beings. But He didn’t. He wanted us to know Him and to learn to trust Him. He wanted us to obey Him joyfully, because we want to, not because we couldn’t do otherwise. Free will is a good gift of a loving God, Who provides us the opportunity (and the responsibility) of shaping our own characters. His gift of free will allows us to decide whether to serve Him and become the people He created us to be, or go our own way and serve ourselves.

Now, this is just a snippet. There’s more to this lesson: more text, more passages from Scripture, questions to ponder (such as, “Are people born good, evil, or a blank slate?”), personal application, and prayer.

With the insight I get from working through this manuscript with my Bible study group, I hope to fine-tune it and submit it for publication in 2018.


Wordless Wednesday: My Neighbor’s Pomegranates



To see what Dave’s pomegranates looked like last spring, click here.


Review of Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Review of Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

In New Jersey among people of my generation, Bruce Springsteen is sort of a patron saint. I grew up in Rumson, where Bruce bought a house after he achieved rock star status (although our family lived in a modest home, not one of the mansions in Springsteen’s neighborhood; Bruce recently sold the house). The cover of Born to Run makes me homesick.

His description of his activities on the afternoon of September 11, 2001 (after watching the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on television), resonates with familiarity for me.

In the late afternoon, I drove to the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge. There, usually, on a clear day the Twin Towers struck two tiny vertical lines on the horizon at the bridge’s apex.  Today, torrents of smoke lifted from the end of Manhattan Island, a mere fifteen miles away by boat. I stopped in at my local beach and walked to the water’s edge, looking north; a thin gray line of smoke, dust and ash spread out due east over the water line. It appeared like the smudged edge of a hard blue sheet folding and resting upon the autumn Atlantic.

I sat for a while, alone, the September beach empty beneath the eerie quiet of silent skies. We live along a very busy air corridor. Planes are constantly flying just off the Eastern Seaboard on their way to Kennedy and Newark airports, and the low buzz of airplane engine is as much a part of the sound tapestry at the Shore as are the gently crashing waves. Not today. All air traffic grounded (pp. 439-440).

My brother, Bill, still lives in the house we grew up in, and from time to time sees Bruce in places like Jack’s Music Shoppe in Red Bank. Bill has a wonderful story about a very nice thing Bruce did for a friend of his—but it’s not my story to tell.

I’ve actually never seen Bruce perform in person. When I was in high school, my then-boyfriend promised to take me to see him at the Inkwell, but never delivered. (Needless to say, he’s not the one I married.)

Bill Ebbesen 399px-Bruce_Springsteen_-_Roskilde_Festival_2012

Photo by Bill Ebbesen

Springsteen’s autobiography tops 500 pages, and it took seven years, off and on, to write. I wouldn’t call it a literary masterpiece, but he’s a songwriter, not a professional author. Other than Chapter 7, “The Big Bang (Have You Heard the News…)”, about the impact that seeing Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show had on him, which has way too many CAPITAL LETTERS and exclamation points!!, the book was engaging enough that when I sat down intending to read for 30 minutes, an hour passed before I looked up.

I folded over quite a few page corners as I read, so rather than tell you the story of Springsteen’s life, I’ll share some excerpts that especially touched me.

I had the opportunity to sing “The Times They Are A-Changin’” for Bob [Dylan] when he received the Kennedy Center Honors. We were alone together for a brief moment walking down a back stairwell when he thanked me for being there and said, “If there’s anything I can ever do for you…” I thought, “Are you kidding me?” and answered, “It’s already been done.” As a young musician, that’s where I wanted to go. I wanted to be a voice that reflected experience and the world I lived in (p. 167).

On this night, my problem is that during a performance I am in and out of myself for a while in a most unpleasant way. Inside, multiple personalities are fighting to take turns at the microphone while I’m struggling to reach the “f*ck it” point, that wonderful and necessary place where you set fire to your insecurities, put your head down and just go. Right now, I can feel myself caring too much, thinking too much about…what I’m thinking about. My good friend Peter Wolf, the great front man from the J. Geils Band, once said, “The strangest thing you can do onstage is think about what you’re doing.” He was right, and I’m doing the strangest thing you can do onstage RIGHT NOW! It’s like one moment, your life feels threatened: your little house of cards, the performance “self” you’ve built so carefully, so meticulously, your mask, your costume, your disguise, your dream self, is in danger of coming apart, of tumbling down. The next, you’re towering, soaring, deeply immersed in your “true” self, riding the music your band is making high above the assembled. These two selves are often only a hair’s width apart. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s why people pay the money and that’s why they call it LIVE (pp.228-229).

luiginter 640px-Bruce_Springsteen_Milan_2006_05_12

Photo by luiginter.

I wanted the singular creative and decision-making power of a solo artist but I also wanted the live, rambunctious gang feeling only a real rock ‘n’ roll band can deliver. I felt there was no reason you couldn’t have the best of both worlds, so I signed as a solo artist and hired my longtime neighborhood running pack as my band. Not my backing band, not a band, my band (p. 235).

…that’s how I used my music and my talents from the very beginning. As a salve, a balm, a tool to tease out the clues to the unknowable in my life. It was the fundamental why and wherefore of my picking of the guitar. Yes, the girls. Yes, the success. But answers, or rather those clues, that’s what kept waking me in the middle of the night to roll over and disappear into the sound hole of my six-string cipher (kept at the foot of my bed) while the rest of the world slept (p. 281).

Born to RunIn the book, Springsteen also tells about battling depression, confesses bad behavior, and expresses his love for his wife, Patti.

Before I read this book, I only owned three Springsteen CDs. While reading about what was going through his mind and heart while he wrote his songs, I felt compelled to buy four more. Do singer autobiographies sell CDs? In my experience, yes.

As a fan, I enjoyed Born to Run, as I am sure other fans of Springsteen also will. But if I didn’t know who he was, or if I didn’t have the New Jersey connection, I don’t think I would have made it past the first chapter, just due to the epic scale of the book.


Monday Morning Wisdom #130

Monday Morning Wisdom #130

Found on Twitter.mandela


Another LitBee Variation


I tangled a “holly” variation of this design on Friday; this one suggests snowflakes to me, if you can overlook that they have four points instead of six. For my Christmas series.


From the Creator’s Heart #126

From the Creator’s Heart #126

True wisdom and power are God’s. He alone knows what we should do; he understands (Job 12:13 TLB).

Three-Dimensional Alphabet

Three-Dimensional Alphabet

Months ago I found this video on Pinterest and saved it, because I love hand-lettering and wanted to try this 3-D technique. I love calligraphy, but I find it difficult. This looks much easier:

Unfortunately, it’s harder than I thought.

I confess I drew the letters in pencil first, and inked over them. Then I erased my stray marks (though I left my guidelines).


The hardest part was determining where the shadows should fall. The surfaces kept turning themselves inside out like an M.C. Escher drawing. And even though I purposely used my gray-tone sketchbook so I could highlight with a white gel pen, I just didn’t feel up to the challenge.

I know that I can improve my skill with practice, but I might just go back to practicing my calligraphy instead. Sigh.

What do you think—would you like to try these 3-D letters? If you do, post a photo of your results on your blog or Instagram page, and then paste a link in the comments below. I’d love to see your alphabet.

Friday Tangles: LitBee Variation


I participated in the Friday Tangles challenge on Zentangle All Around, and came up with a variation of LitBee. See my holly? I’ve got Christmas on the brain.