Category Archives: Articles

Limericks for St. Patrick’s Day

Limericks for St. Patrick’s Day

My response to the Poets on the Page poetry prompt: Blessings, Curses, or Limericks?

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I stepped away from my usual free verse and tried my hand at some limericks. Named for a city in Ireland, this form has a particular rhythm and rhyme sequence that I find very challenging. I tried to incorporate something Irish in each rhyme:


A leprechaun ninety years old
Thought his nephew exceedingly bold.
He hitchhiked to Wicklow
And slid down a rainbow
And found there a great pot o’ gold.

A lawyer defending in style
A spy who had stolen a file
Asked the judge for recess
For his client to dress,
But he fled to the Emerald Isle.

A happy man started to prance
While his friends looked at him all askance.338px-Leprechaun_ill_artlibre_jnl
He said, “Do what you feel.
Me, I’m stepping a reel.”
And he calmly continued to dance.

A sharpshooter packing a pistol
Walked into a tavern in Bristol.
He said, “What’ve ye got
That won’t cost me a shot?”
And they poured him some Waterford crystal.


Getting back to St. Patrick, he was not, as you might think, born in Ireland, but in Britain. When he was sixteen years old, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland to be sold as a slave.

For six years Patrick worked for his master, and while he worked he contemplated his life so far. Ashamed of his sins, he prayed and meditated, asking God’s forgiveness. One day he received a vision that his time enslaved in Ireland was over and his ship had come in. He escaped from his master and walked 200 miles to a port (some say it was Wicklow) where he gained voyage back to England.

Years later, he returned to Ireland, where he introduced Christianity.

Legend has it that Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. But the Irish climate is not conducive to the reptiles. More likely, he subdued the Serpent (Satan).

Stained glass window depicting St. Patrick was photographed by Nheybob.



Creative Juice #85

Creative Juice #85

Inspiration for creative folks:


Guest Post: 6 Ways to Increase Your Productivity as a Writer Without Burning Out by Jennifer Louden


Thank you to Writers in the Storm and to Jennifer Louden for these tips on avoiding writer burn out.

lamca-kubrick-typewriter-jack-dull-boy-shiningJust about every day I read an article about a writer who’s written 988 books in the last three months under seventeen pen names while maintaining an active presence on every social media platform.

It’s enough to send me to bed with Netflix and a whole lot of dark chocolate.

But after a good binge, you and I still have to face the fact: it’s a crazy world we authors inhabit. And staying sane and productive without burning out is a skill we must cultivate, right up there with establishing a compelling voice and a thriving platform.


Jennifer Louden, from her website

I’ve spent a big part of my career studying how writers can work with more ease and consistency, mostly because writing has always been a struggle for me (8 books with a million copies in print aren’t proof writing is easy for me, only that I’m stubborn). I hope the following suggestions for sane productivity will help you like they have me and the writers I coach.

Read the rest of the article here.

Writing Personal Experience


Writing and coffee

Don’t you just love to lose yourself in a true story, whether it features romance, mystery, or humor?

People like to read about three kinds of personal experiences:

  • those that are universal,greta-punch-62508
  • those that awaken nostalgia, and
  • those that are unique.

If you are reading this article, you undoubtedly have had experiences you want to share. How do you write them so they resonate with your readers?

It all starts with a story.

The anecdote you want to share has a beginning, a middle, and an end; one or more characters; a particular setting; a theme; perhaps some action that resulted in a change; possibly some dialogue. You will need to develop all of these as you would in a novel, though economically if you’re writing a short piece. And, your story must have a point.

To have a point, the story must do at least one of these three things:

  • present a solution to a problem,


    Image by torgakhopper on flickr.

  • make the reader laugh, and/or
  • remind the reader of what we once took for granted but have lost.

In order to be effective, the personal narrative must be well-crafted.

Observe the conventions of good spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Use precise words that are descriptive, active, and visceral. Engage the senses and the emotions. Vary sentence structure. Reflect on how your experience impacted you. What did you learn from it? What takeaway can you offer?

Most of my own personal experience pieces have been published on my critique group’s website, Doing Life Together. Here are some of my favorites:

Have you written personal experience pieces? Feel free to share a link in the comments below.

10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web

10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web

If you’re a follower of ARHtistic License, you know that Zentangle is my favorite visual art activity. The repetitive patterns with their simple complexity captivate me.

I get my Zentangle inspiration from the many Zentangle websites and blogs on the web. Here are my favorites (therefore, the best):

  • is the official site of Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, who initiated Zentangle. Read their story.
  • The Creator’s Leaf is the blog of CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher) Alice Hendon. Alice also moderates the Zentangle All Around group on Facebook, of which I am a member. I love her work.
  • is the blog of CZT Linda Farmer. It is a catalog of patterns and step-outs (directions).
  • I Am the Diva is the blog of CZT Laura Harms. Every week she runs the Diva Challenge.
  • Life Imitates Doodles isn’t limited to Zentangle, but it is an excellent tangling resource. On Mondays and Saturdays, the author lists challenges, tutorials, and giveaways. Other days she posts her artwork or reviews art supplies.
  • Enthusiastic Artist is the blog of CZT Margaret Bremmer. Her beautiful designs are inspiring.
  • Beez in the Belfry is the blog of CZT Sandy Steen Bartholomew. I love her work. I have one of her books, Totally Tangled.
  • Lily’s Tangles contains the beautifully detailed work of artist Lily M.
  • YouTube is a source for thousands of Zentangle tutorials.
  • Pinterest is also a great source of patterns. May I suggest three of my own boards: Zentangle, Zentangle Christmas, and Zentangle Valentines.IMG_0278

Have I left out any of your favorite Zentangle sites? Please share in the comments below.

Creative Juice #84

Creative Juice #84

A dozen articles to amaze and inspire you.

30 Photography Prompts


When I go out with my camera, I’m usually either focused on an event or a location. Sometimes I’m out to capture random objects; other times I’m hoping to collect images for a series. Here are some ideas for your next photo outings. (By the way: when I write “shoot,” I mean with your camera.)

  1. Doors. Are you aware of Norm 2.0’s Thursday doors challenge?
  2. Flowers. Cee Neuner has a Flower of the Day challenge. 

  3. Shoot from a different perspective. Lie on your belly. Stand on a ladder. In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp allows her little daughter to use her camera. She’s surprised how different familiar items look when photographed from a small child’s height.
  4. Animals. Go to the zoo or to the dog park. Go to a pond and take pictures of ducks, fish, or turtles. 

  5. Street photography. Go downtown. If your town is anything like mine, you’ll see all kinds of people: formally dressed, extensively tattooed and pierced, wearing costumes, using unusual transportation, faces registering complex emotions. Just don’t be obnoxious or intrusive.
  6. Architecture. My town’s City Hall is an inverted pyramid. Nearby Phoenix still has a lot of art deco buildings, but they’re disappearing fast. Record the iconic, the historic, the innovative, the typical, the abandoned.
  7. Focus on a color. Sometimes while going through my images, I will sort them by color, and use them for a color story. A yellow grouping might include a pickup truck, a fire hydrant, and a lemon tree. 

  8. Musical instruments. Visit a community orchestra rehearsal or a street festival and photograph the musicians. Shoot a window display at a music store.
  9. Shoes. The ones in your closet. Or as you’re out and about, focus on people’s feet.
  10. Trees. In your neighborhood. At an arboretum. On vacation.
  11. Symbols of the season. Easter eggs. Christmas decorations. Trees displaying fall foliage. A public swimming pool. Whatever’s current.
  12. Food. Whatever you’re eating. Or go to the farmer’s market. Or create a still life at home.
  13. Churches.
  14. Bridges.
  15. Sports. Go to a spring training game. Go to the beach and shoot the surfers. Go to a skate park. Go to a golf tournament.
  16. Dancers. Go to student recitals and cultural festivals. If you’re in the Phoenix area, attend the Phoenix International Folk Dancers festival on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, 1500 W Maryland Avenue, from noon to 4:30. ($10 donation.) 

  17. Classic (or not-so-classic) cars. A vintage car club in my area meets at a local coffee shop on certain Saturdays. The parking lot is full of gorgeous old cars and owners willing to talk about them and pose with them. I’ll bet you can find a car club meeting in your neighborhood.
  18. The night sky. You’ll have to get out of the city. Some towns have light pollution ordinances; you might be able to get good pictures there. If not, head out to the wilderness, or to a state or national park.
  19. Tombstones and mausoleums. Visit an old church cemetery, or a pet cemetery.
  20. Mountains. And mountaintop views of the surrounding area.
  21. The weather. Rain. Clouds. Tornados. Snow. Sunlight.
  22. Trains. Go to a train station or hang out at a railroad crossing. When my daughter played softball, a freight train routinely passed the park during her practices.
  23. Waterfalls. This may involve travel, but there’s probably one in your state.
  24. Babies. Don’t do this unless you have the parents’ permission. Or just shoot your own.
  25. Public art. Street art. Murals. Sculptures. Grafitti. Yarn bombing. 

  26. Fabrics. Throws. Shawls. Sheets. Tablecloths. Beach towels. Anything you can artfully drape. Drapes.
  27. Kids in Halloween costumes. Actors in play costumes. Dancers in costume.
  28. People in uniforms. Military. School. Sports.
  29. Street signs. Traffic signs. Warning signs. 

  30. Boats. Go to a local body of water.

Were these ideas helpful to you? Then please click the “Like” button, and share on all your social media.

Do you have a favorite subject to photograph? Share in the comments below.

I’d Rather Be Dancing: Israeli Dances


I am still laid up with hip issues, so I can’t folk dance. Sigh. I especially miss Israeli dances. Please watch with me while I vicariously enjoy:

  • The basic hora (circle dance). The simplest of the Israeli dances, often done to Hava Nagila. You might dance this at a wedding. You can have a conversation with your neighbor while doing this.Traveling clockwise (to your left), the sequence is: side, behind, step, kick, step, kick, repeat ad infinitum.
  • Jedid Nefesh. I don’t think my dance group does this one. I came across it on YouTube, and it’s lovely.
  • Ma Navu.
  • Hora Medura.
  • Mayim.
  • Erev Shel Shoshanim. There is more than one choreography for this dance; this one is my favorite.
  • Tzadik Katamar. See the palm trees swaying in the wind?
  • Sonata. Several of us in the Phoenix International Folk Dancers are obsessed with this dance. Watch the man in the center with the blue t-shirt–he choreographed this.
  • Salamati. This is one of the most complicated and athletic of the Israeli dances that we do. (Well, that my group does. I’m still learning it.)
  • Tzena, Tzena, and Hava Nagila with a more elaborate choreography.

I hope you enjoyed our little trip around the world to see Israeli dances. Personally, I’m ready to watch these videos all over again.


Creative Juice #83

Creative Juice #83

For your idea-sparking pleasure:

Guest Post: Piecing Tips I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago by Superior Threads

Guest Post: Piecing Tips I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago by Superior Threads

A great big ARHtistic License thank you to Superior Threads for these quiltmaking tips.

I’ve been piecing quilts for over twenty years. Recently, my granddaughter wanted to help me with a quilt and asked that I teach her what I knew about sewing. That’s a pretty tall task, teaching someone what I’ve learned about sewing and quilting over the course of two decades. I realized that this was a fantastic opportunity for me to reflect on what I wish I would have known as a beginning quiltmaker. I hope you enjoy reading some of the tips that I believe will help beginners become more skilled and make better quilts than I did.


It’s important to use an accurate 1/4” seam! A difference of 1/8th of a seam allowance adds up quickly as you try to put blocks together. A little too-big of a seam can result in your quilt being 3” smaller than it’s supposed to be. The solution is simple; use a 1/4” foot. Next, practice until you feel confident that you can use the foot to keep a straight, even seam


Once you sew a seam, iron it in the direction the pattern calls for. Press as you go. It’s worth the effort because the fabric fits better and you’re left with a completely flat quilt top. Using a smooth thread like MasterPiece will help keep your seams flat.

Piecing a quilt with MasterPiece thread
Piecing a quilt block together
quarter inch seams
No bulk at the seams with MasterPiece


I used to get so frustrated and upset when I realized that I had sewn something wrong or made a mistake (anyone not have their points matching when completing a block understands) that required the stitches to be unpicked. I use to think of it as such a loss. Unpicking is not a loss, it’s a gain. It’s the chance to do it better. Understandably, there is a balance as to when you should spend time unpicking your stitches and being OK with imperfect stitches. There is no need to unpick everything. I think we tend to be our own worst critic and guaranteed, unless you are piecing a show quilt, you are the only one that will notice that the corners are a millimeter off.

Thread Choice

I wish MasterPiece was around when I was learning how to make quilts, or even when I just started sewing. Why? Because the time required to clean your machine is time consuming! You have to stop working on your project, arrange your blocks and tidy up your sewing station so nothing falls out of order, find your brushes, open the case of your machine and that’s only the prep work required to start cleaning. MasterPiece is a 50 wt./3-ply low lint Egyptian-grown extra-long staple cotton thread. It’s strong, smooth, creates lasting stitches. Using threads with low lint has made my life much easier and my sewing experiences more enjoyable. Not only am I able to clean my machine less often, my seams lay totally flat.