Monday, May 11, 2015

Talking It Over ...

(I originally posted this in March of this year and then took it down after a few days, thinking that it was too self-revealing.  I kept the hard copy and decided I ought to re-post it, so here it is):

I'll share the following in the hopes that it might benefit a reader or two in the way it helps me. This is about feelings :)

When my feelings -- especially anxious feelings -- start grabbing a monopoly on my mindset and my thoughts, I like to get out of the house and on the road or to a park.  I also have a meditation room in my home that is very welcoming, where I like to spend some time each day.

While driving or at a relatively serene natural place (or even, at urgent times, in a shopping center parking lot), I make the effort to focus on the feeling that is bothering me and causing my discomfort.  As I write this, I recall that as a child, I was taught by example and by habit to repress my feelings. So in my past (when I was young), my strategy -- if it could be called that -- was to dodge, deny, or shift my feelings of discomfort so that they would seem to "go away". This resulted in what I remember as a never-ending drama that tended to put me in the role of emotional shape-shifter.  It really was an effort to modify or appease or justify or collude with whatever was causing the uncomfortable feeling.  And it caused me to suffer.

At some point in more recent times, it became clear to me, largely through the writings of my favorite author, Thich Nhat Hahn (to whom I was gently steered by my very close friend), that looking directly at a feeling is the best thing to do.  At first that seemed difficult and sometimes it still is. But, honestly, it is one of the best medicines I have found (the others being meditation, prayer, nature, and music).

When I chose the post title "Talking It Over", I meant talking it over with Self when each urgent or important feeling arises -- truly acknowledging the feeling.  As I need to actually hear my own voice speaking of my specific feelings, this conversation is best done aloud in a vehicle or within some other personal and private environment. Yes, I'm suggesting talking to oneself.  The conversation can go into detail or it can be simple like saying "This is a feeling of anxiety", "This is a feeling of fear", "This is a feeling of need", "This is a feeling of disappointment, "This is a feeling of resentment", "This is a feeling of anger" -- and that BIG one -- "This is a feeling of insecurity".  Once the statement is uttered, the feeling becomes easier to understand and handle.  It also, I believe, helps to bring angelic energy to my aid.

I try to remember to similarly also bring to the surface positive emotional feelings like "This is a feeling of wonder", "This is a feeling of joy", "This is a feeling of trust", "This is a feeling of achievement", "This is a feeling of love", "This is a feeling of peace", "This is a feeling of acceptance", "This is a feeling of comfort", "This is a feeling of gratitude".  The utterance of the words, I believe, reinforces angelic and positive energy.

Of course it's a very good thing to be able to be "talking it over" with a trusted friend or a professional listener.  Always, though, Self is there as a valued, accessible consultant.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dancing With Life (Clara's Update) --

Hello Dear Readers,

Apologies for my posting lapse.  Someone recently told me that "blogs are dead" and the only thing that people read now is Face Book.  I hope that isn't true.

Blogs, to me, are original by their very nature and, as I'm an innovative and mostly autonomous person -- I do like to set my own parameters.  Anyway, I was kind of set-back at having been told that what I'm doing is pass`e and disdained.

Often readers send me e-mail comments, which I enjoy and appreciate getting.  Sometimes I gently urge them to also send comments via Google's comment options (which include an anonymous feature), so that others can read them.

Always, your interest is appreciated.  If you're an animal lover, please check out the animal ministry blog at Also, I've updated my own website at  My song player is now on the home page and has twenty songs on it.  I LOVE my most recently recorded original song "Dance With Me".  It's of course what I sing to my lover, but it's also what I sing to Life itself.  Life is a dance, folks -- it really and truly is.  Do we hold this partner stiffly and fearfully in our grasp? Or do we nestle in close, embrace it passionately and surrender to it?   Do we look off to the side, or do we gaze into the eyes -- of Life?  

Please let me know if you'd like a copy of "Dance With Me".  E-mail me at; call me at (865) 659-5383.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Animal Ministry Blog ...

Recently, I put together a fairly comprehensive list of organizations that rescue, protect, rehabilitate, and otherwise do very good things on behalf of our friends, the animals.  It is called Animal Ministry and/or Clara's Animal Ministry Resource.

The list is in random order and the blog itself contains wonderful pictures of animals very worthy of a look, along with my captions :)  This is a serious list and the intent of the blog is to provide information resources to people who are or would like to become advocates for animals and our environment.  I put it in blog format for several reasons:  1) I don't need to pay for domain name and space, 2) I'm familiar with blog format and design so I didn't need to learn anything new, and 3) people can send comments, stories, quotes, etc.

I hope you will check it out.  The link is

Saturday, February 7, 2015

C'mon Spring !

Spring is on the way ... the daylight hours are getting longer :)  Trees are going through their annual state of confusion which they show by alternating the swelling of their buds with their holding-back syndrome.  Melodies float through my mind more copiously than in winter.  A huge flock of robins landed in my yard day before yesterday (I think they fled New England's recent weather) and they were visibly and audibly happy that there is no snow on the ground here in Knoxville!  My daffodils are up about three inches.  The sun is at that cusp-of-spring angle :)  The moon was beautifully full recently in Leo (it's always full in the sign directly across from where the sun is located ... and the sun has been in Aquarius).   

Life blossoms and renews in Spring and, perhaps on that note, I've created a blog entitled Clara's Animal Ministry Resource; it is at  Hope my readers will visit CAMR; it has nice animal pictures, some lovely profound quotes, and information about stellar animal advocacy people.

Happy Pre-Spring !


Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Very Great Lakes --

Lake = Water =  Emotion (this equation/definition offered by me from a combined mystical, shamanic, spiritual, and psychological perspective).  I woke up this morning thinking about the Great Lakes -- Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Erie, located along the border of the United States and Canada.  I hadn't thought much about them since I was in 4th or 5th grade geography class. But today I felt compelled to relearn about them and found, on a website by Live Science (, that they are the "largest body of fresh water on Earth" comprise (a tad more than) "1/5 of freshwater surface on the planet", contain "six quadrillion gallons of water" and cover "95,160 square miles".  Info in parentheses I added because the coverage is actually 21% according to Wikipedia (so the tad is a tiny tad).

A lake, then, would be the deepest end of the emotional pool.  I'm thinking that it would speak to several general and "great" categories (listed here in random order) in which we tend to store our strongest feelings, urges, memories, inclinations:  1) Profound Experiences, 2) Love and Caring, 3) Fields of Study and Knowledge,  4) The Life Cycle and Agelessness, 5) Wonderment.  I invite you to let me know of any other "lakes" that should be on this list.

My own most Profound Experiences include my prison concert which was a wonderful epiphany, the injury and trauma associated with the church shooting, the cell-by-cell ingress and walloping sensation of pure love, the amazing rescues of me by my guardian angel, my satisfying joy of saving lives of animals juxtaposed with the sorrow I carry for those I failed to help.  

The category of Love and Caring is in the deepest part of the lake and is perhaps at its very best when at unfathomable, immeasurable depths.

Regarding Fields of Study and Knowledge, my own pursuits and natural inclinations are
MUSIC -- the power of creating and expressing feelings via lyrics and intonations and rhythms (and so much more); the relationship between tones as they rub against each other, create effective spaces in-between, play games, harmonize, all those wonderful things; and the camaraderie when musicians play together.
SCIENCE -- How things work, Nature, the Cosmos, Health, Numbers, Intonations, Horticulture.
SPIRITUALITY -- Science and spirituality are totally compatible and cohesive.  Once we humans get past the confines of dogma and confining walls, we become receptors of peace, love, and blessings ... and then altruism "unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others" (merriam-webster) can naturally occur.  

The Life Cycle -- Personal evolution, not  just academically; also spiritually and altruistically. Acceptance of the Cycle as a continuing, interconnected process.  The line "We are all (all beings) in the same cosmic canoe" is part of my e-mail signature.

Wonderment  (awe, admiration, respect) -- Where would we be without the thrill of wonderment?  I find it when walking among energies of trees (anywhere), in the forest and mountains, along the shore as the ocean's waves roar in and ebb out, looking up at the night sky.

And so, Great Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Erie, thank you and I hope I haven't wandered too far from your majestic presence.  I don't know what made you cross the threshold into my waking mind this morning, but I'm glad you did :)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 ... A New Year!

Happy New Year dear readers!

I hope the world does good things with the new year it has been handed.  That goes for me, too --  I hope I do good things with it :)

I don't make new year's resolutions, never have, but I set goals sort of as I go along and I try to meet them.  Sometimes I succeed :)  For me, the goals I set for myself usually are in one of two general categories ... personal or altruistic.

All my best wishes for our individual and mutual efforts toward health, well-being, empathy, compassion, and joy of spirit!  

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Happy Howlidays" ! news flash ...

Dear Readers:

Celebrate with the Lady Wolf (yours truly) about this wonderful news from Howling For Wolves, the hard-working organization in Minnesota.  Below is the article they published in its entirety.
The news relates to the wolves being re-listed on the Endangered Species List with the status as threatened. This means the wolf "hunts" are officially stopped; wolves are saved from the many barbaric kinds of destruction that were being inflicted upon them. Here is Howling for Wolves' announcement and news release. For more information, please go to their website at; their mailing address is: Howling For Wolves, P.O. Box 4099, Hopkins, MN 55343.

"Happy Howlidays -- Rejoice! May your hearts be filled with peace this holiday season knowing that together we made a difference for the Minnesota wolf, and potentially generations of wolves to come. Have a joyful holiday season in the company of your pack, wherever they may be. Gratefully, Howling For Wolves

A Season to Celebrate --

All wolf hunting has been stopped indefinitely – and you helped make it happen.We’re thrilled to announce that Minnesota wolves (and the entire Great Lakes Wolf population) are re-listed on the Endangered Species List with the status as "threatened".

Thank you to our volunteers and supporters for their tireless efforts over the past years to protect Minnesota’s wolves from senseless killing.

Thank you to the Humane Society of the United States, who filed and won the federal lawsuit when many thought it impossible.

And, most importantly, thank you to Honorable Judge Howell, who truly heard our howls, honored our efforts and gave our wolves the shelter of the Endangered Species Act.

Keep Howling with #LiveAndLetHowl --

Our work is not yet done. We need to promote compassion for and spread understanding of these misunderstood and magnificent animals. We need to keep howling.

Wolves are an infinite source of inspiration and each of us has our own reason for celebrating them – in this spirit we are proud to launch our #LiveAndLetHowl campaign.

Share your wolf-inspired words and art with the world – it can be as simple as a short video of your best howl, or it can be a poem, a drawing, a song, or other creation. Learn about the campaign and submit your work here. And don’t forget to post it on your favorite social media site with the #LiveAndLetHowl tag.

Get inspired: See what people just like you have already submitted here."

Yay !!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

POW ! And make that a double.

My aging (who isn’t?) dog couldn’t get up off my bedroom floor at about 3 a.m. this morning. Her struggles and repeated thud noises woke me and I sprang out of bed to help her.  This has happened to her before and each time she gets understandably scared.  So do I.  She’s a big girl and I need to position myself just right over her and slide my arms under her pelvic area in order to raise her up and enable her rear section to regain control so she can stand and walk. We had accomplished this and I had crawled back between my satin sheets (the one luxury I give myself is satin).  I had just gotten myself cozy and then ...

POW!  There is more than one reason it is called a “Pow”er outage.  One terrific Pow explosion accompanying the huge brilliant orange visual lit up the fog and drizzle-filled sky at 3:14 a.m. in front of my house today.  It was the friendly transformer on the utility pole outside the front window of my bedroom.  It was too bleary and weary to be happening; yet, there it was, unspectacularly quiet now ... a deceased or deep coma transformer.  I dreaded the next part. I knew I had to call KUB’s emergency and outage phone line.  

Sure enough, the gregarious female robotic voice told me to punch in either my account # (all my paid utility bills are filed in the file cabinet and it is very, very dark to find them in my house at the moment) or the phone # associated with the account (OK, that is do-able so I did that).  She also mentioned that I could go online and view my options. !  Well, sure, I have no electricity so she thinks I should try to turn the computer on and access my Internet connection!   Finally, she gave me a phone option I can use if I have information that might help the repair crew.  So I punched in my phone number again so the repairman  could call me for this valuable information. The only hitch to that is that now my phone is showing it would like to be charged and I’m not sure he will be able to reach me if the phone doesn’t get plugged into some electricity to be charged soon.  When the repairman called, he listened to my description of the transformer’s demise and assured me he will send a crew out.  And he did ... I saw their truck slowly drive by and look up at the transformer and then drive away into the fog.  As the hours drifted by (the hours were drifting ... but I was feebly moving from the bed to the couch to the window, many times), and approached 7 a.m., I put together a plan: At 8 a.m. I would drive myself to my friend Dr. G’s office and ask him if he will let me charge my cell phone there, then I will carry my Tetley tea bag into a fast-food place and ask them to serve it to me in some nice hot water. Once I had that plan in my mind and set to work, I got dressed and walked toward the door.

Well, to my utter delight and relief, and with a sincerely spoken sentiment of gratitude to my Higher Power, I saw – coming down my little street -- a convoy of KUB vehicles.  First was the big POWerful looking one with a myriad of flashing orange lights and other stuff, then the one that has that lifting and contorting ladder that climbs way up, up, up!  The last vehicle was the "traffic control” truck that positions itself between the repair crews and cars that are passing by. Twice, during the repair scenario I walked out there to reassure myself that the crew was really there and to watch with fascination as a brave man went up in the bucket and was doing things to wet wires.  When he came down, another man told me the POWer should be back up in about ten minutes.  A while later, my appliances began their little noises to let me know they were beginning to feed on the electricity ... but all too quickly (maybe ten seconds) I heard another POW!  It was a transformer up the street on the other end of the utility line.  "Oh no!  I’m heading to Dr. G’s right now".

But ... on my way out the door (if this is a movie, add some symphonic music here), I saw the trucks returning to “my” transformer and so naturally I went out to see if mine was the offending one.  A couple of the crew members said that they are going over the work they did on the other end to see what they might have missed.  Sure enough, at around 8 a.m., I heard the welcomed beeps and hums of my heaters, furnace, internet modem, and all those awesome things we take for granted.  I felt ecstatic.  And dear Dr. G. didn’t need to charge my phone and I didn’t have to wave a tea bag at a fast-food place.  So ... it was time for me to eat, walk my dog, and slide back into my satin sheets ... and I did!

Accolades for the KUB crews!  While KUB needs to program its telephone robot with nicer procedural skills to help customers during outages, the wonderful, beautiful guys -- heroes who ride in with KUB's awesome repair vehicles -- cannot be praised enough.  These men even laugh and sing while they ride up into the air and re-wire (or whatever they were doing to) frazzled transformers.  More than that, they speak pleasantly with homeowners who, not at their best between 4 and 7 a.m., emerge from their front doors and meander across lawns in robes and floppy slippers to watch the repair – sort of  like cheerleaders who want their heroes to win the game with the clever and wily wires. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Worth The Wait ...

... for me, and I hope for my friends, fans, and all like-minded souls: my video entitled “Love vs Warzilla”.  I think it’s an important message.  We filmed this (it’s a speech that is scripted and delivered by me) back in August.  Then a number of circumstances stalled it.  But now it’s up and running!  In it you will learn how it got its name ... and other bold things are touched on, as well.  It feels like it's a brave video and it certainly gives a great deal of transparency to my feelings.  If you watch it, please view it all the way to the end to hear my song "I Love All The Voices".  Also on YouTube are music videos for two of my other songs ... “Dance with Me” (a “large” equally romantic and ethereal song that alludes to Life being the ultimate dance partner)  and “That’s The Way You Make Me Feel” (a sensuous song with techy facets).  All  video production was done by Dr. Donovan Stewart, who is an exceptionally fine chiropractor and luthier.  My songs, including the song at the end of the speech (I Love All The Voices) , were recorded and mastered at Songwriters Studio here in Knoxville with phenomenally talented William (Sandy) Garrett at the helm. 

The Love vs Warzilla speech and song I Love All The Voices links are and

The other songs are:
Dance With Me 
That's The Way You Make Me Feel


The Pause That Refreshes ...

We’re having a “leaf storm”; it’s raining down a steady downpour of leaves ... mostly maple. They are swirling and twirling and even floating sideways on their way to the already blanketed ground.  Last night I brought in the last of my flowering plants and salvaged the remaining roses from three of my rose bushes, in anticipation of the impending freeze.  Here in Tennessee, we’re getting a sizable taste of a Canadian “arctic blast”.  I have the first crowd of guests at my bird feeder.

Heading toward the Thanksgiving holiday, there is so much in the natural world to observe and take in, so much more than the mundane activities and plans for how we will “spend” the holiday.  And more to the point, Thanksgiving Day ought to be a day that lives up to its name, even amid the store displays that seek to propel us right past Thanksgiving as if it’s a mere doorway or turnstile to the glitzy season beyond.  

Folks, let’s slow down the momentum.  Today is a fine day for watching leaves dance to the ground, for some “me time” reading or going for a walk, for meditation that gathers thoughts and feelings from all parts of my being and centers and quiets them in such a liberating way, for writing a blog post, for making pancakes with maple syrup, for hugging and petting a dog or cat, for playing piano and lifting up the voice in song, for re-constituting self. How about you? I invite you to take a day for yourself, doing things that give you pause and gentle inspiration and gratitude and joy.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Two And A Half Days Of Bliss ...

Picture escaping land-locked Knoxville and spending time with the exhilarating, exciting, mesmerizing and revitalizing ocean ... then add to that scene your best friend who also is exhilarating, exciting, mesmerizing and revitalizing :)  I'm describing Folly Beach and my best friend, William (Sandy).  So that's why I'm using the word "bliss" in this post's title.  We had a memorable and wonderful time and I've put up several Folly pictures (please scroll all the way down).  

We are pictured at Loggerheads Beach Grill, a great place to dine, hear awesome music, and enjoy the comfortable and friendly (even dog-friendly) atmosphere.  

Ralph (Sandy named him) is a friendly fellow (or maybe even a lady bird), and a member of one of the local and as yet unidentified bird species there. Very vocal and friendly, these birds seemed somewhat like crows, ravens, and starlings, and yet a breed apart. 

The picture of the sunset shows, in the lower left-hand corner, a surfer who was there the entire day.

It was very hard to leave that wonderful place (the Tides Hotel is very accommodating, comfortable, and nice and all rooms are oceanfront). Sweet memories, very sweet memories.  


Couchie --

I have to include a few words about my new couch!  To start with, I love it.  I found it in the clearance section at Brown Squirrel.  It called out to me from its position toward the back of the area where it was surrounded by other chairs and sofas.  I don't know quite how to sing the praises of a couch, except to say it's welcoming, very welcoming :)  It's a great place to visit in-between the harshness of newscasts about politicians, IS, and ebola.  Let's think of pleasant things whenever we can.

Get A Very Nice CD -- Help A Great Charity!

My legacy CD "Lifescape -- Dreams, Innovation, Feelings" is now available! Proceeds from CD sales will be donated to Sweet Relief, the wonderful charity that helps aging and ailing musicians in need.  Along with the CD (which has seventeen songs) I will also provide a copy of my very newest song "Dance With Me", while supplies last.  DWM flew into my head sort of as a caboose to "Lifescape"; I love the song and I think you will too.  Please contact me at for ordering info and remittance address.  $12 cash, check, or paypal.  

Attitude Of Gratitude ...

One day a couple of weeks ago, I did something I hadn't done in quite a while (and something I ought to do much more often).  I went to my favorite park and walked and recited aloud the things for which I am thankful.  I spoke the thoughts as they occurred to me -- a walking meditation.  And as I walked and talked, my words were heard only by the elements, the Great Energy, and myself. This particular park is where I've often sought comfort; the trees are willing to absorb my sadness and my concerns and eager to help me celebrate my joys.

I write of this so that it might be helpful and beneficial to others -- maybe to you. Walking among the trees, audibly speaking or whispering thanks, is an empowering and liberating thing to do :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Amazing Birthday Ride !

A couple of weeks ago, I realized I wanted to do something BIG to celebrate my (then) upcoming birthday. Something different and exciting, but not dangerous.  Something friendly and kind but not common. I had seen the large bus that is parked in the Bearden section of Kingston  Pike in Knoxville (TN). And I had noticed that, after a while, a second bus had joined the first one.  Both of them are wildly and beautifully painted all over with colorful designs and phrases promoting love and peace.  So yes, this would be the perfect plan ... an exciting birthday treat without my needing to parachute out of an airplane :)  I made the call, reserved one of the buses, and Dixie Lee and I boarded the bus at 2:30 yesterday (September 1st) in front of our house. Dixie Lee, herself, had celebrated her own birthday recently ... her 12th, so she is an aging doggie but nonetheless took everything in stride and enjoyed the adventure.  

Our driver, whose name is Carlene, is a wonderful lady and a very skilled bus driver. As we drove around, I felt good as I realized I was sort of giving a gift to the community as well as myself.  People beeped their horns, waved their hands, and smiled ... as the Big Love Bus, with its complete set of sound effects and music, wove its way from one end of town to another. Something so cheerful was and is so majorly needed. We made a few scheduled stops, first going through a church parking lot where the few people still inside had been alerted that we'd be driving through (we sounded the sirens, bells, and whistles for their amusement); then we headed "north" and stopped in front of my best friend's house ... he came strolling across his lawn, camera in hand, and took some great pictures of the bus and one of me on the bus stairway. I asked Carlene to "play the animal sounds" and there was a chorus of moos, roars, and all sorts of animal noise, which was tolerated cheerfully by my friend and his neighbors  :)  We needed to be on our way to our next stop, the home of one of my stellar piano students.  On our approach, the bus zoomed past her house because we didn't see the house number in time, so we had to drive around and around to find a road that would loop back and that was wide enough to accommodate a turning bus. Finally we did get on the correct road again and, as we approached the house this time, Carlene said excitedly, "Oh, you're gonna love this ... it's so CUTE"! From her vantage point in the driver's seat, she could see the people in the yard and when we got there, my student and her boyfriend and their three dogs were in the yard, each wearing a little party hat. One of the dogs had her hat partially removed and was busily trying to eat it.  It was a fun stop for all of us.

How awesome to be a kid again for the hours we were on the Big Love Bus! The Bus has its own website and I think you can read its telephone number in one of the pictures I will post.  For those near Knoxville, I wholeheartedly recommend you check out the Big Love Bus :)    


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Love & the Earth Family --

Well, if there is anything that can upstage Fear and its consequences, it would be Love.  And I'd like to tell you about the program I've recently created to promote love ... the altruistic kind (although I'm a fan of the personal format too).  

Love & the Earth Family is a free program for organizations, clubs, and groups.  It's designed for adults, but I also have a version for kids.  The presentation promotes kindness, respect, outreach, and love ... for ourselves and all creatures, all beings. Included are the speaker (that would be me), print handouts, a beautiful film, and inspiring music.  I'll be offering this locally and regionally (Knoxville, TN area).  Why am I doing this?  I think my answer to that would be that I'm doing it out of a sense of personal gratitude.  For more info, please contact me at 


Primal Stuff ...

Two primal emotional forces --  love and fear -- are experienced in personal relationships, of course, but also on a grand scale in terms of national and international relations.  I spent some time this afternoon trying to understand how fear (certainly not love) could be an operative in the current abhorrent mass killings in Iraq.  Some of the internet comments following the news article cite age-old cultural and religious hatreds as the cause. While I know this is true, to me the causative vibe is that of a seething, virulent offshoot of fear, perhaps one that can pass from generation to generation.  It was terrible to see all those young unarmed men being marched to their deaths where they were shot repeatedly by hooded executioners -- who are probably also young men.

I'm thinking, too, of the situation in our own country involving Sgt. Bergdahl, the recently returned American POW. Whatever the circumstances of his capture turn out to be, the overwhelming majority of news item comments lost no time in hurling judgement, condemnation, and hatred on this young man and his family.  I believe that this is a wrong thing to be doing.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dreams, Innovations, Feelings ...

Recently, when thinking about music (well, that's nothing new!) I marveled at how some songs have the power to live, endure, inspire, and even blossom anew, long after their composers have left the earthly scene. Two of the songs I included on my legacy CD (which I'll be delighted to talk about in a moment) are old covers, written back in the 1930s and for which I got licenses to record.  I did change some of the lyrics -- not so much to make them contemporary, but so that they would more closely describe my own life happenings and experiences. And so, each of them lends itself well to me :) Those cover songs are Blue Moon by Rodgers & Hart and It Had To Be You by Jones & Kahn; I truly had an enjoyable time creating my arrangements of these evergreens. The other songs on the CD are among the very best of my originals. There are seventeen tracks in all.  

"Lifescape ... Dreams, Innovations, Feelings" is the CD title ... and the solo artist (vocals & keyboard recorded in real time) is yours truly, Clara ... the Lady Wolf.  Choosing songs to include was fun, though presented a few challenges because there are many more good ones than what could fit on a CD.  So I like each chosen song for the special feelings I have attached to it. Moods run the gamut (passion, pain, love, hope, and humor) and genres are blues, jazz, ballads, latinesque, and a couple that I would classify as inspirational. The project was expertly handled from inception to completion -- recording, mastering, art work and graphics design, and packaging -- by Songwriters Recording Studio in Knoxville, with creative, musical, technical genius William (Sandy) Garrett at the helm. I'm delighted with the CD  :)

As I said at the beginning of this post, some songs have the ability to seemingly live forever ... and that's a really good thing. I hope that many years from now, people will be listening, humming, singing, whistling, smiling, weeping, working, dancing, romancing, even exercising ... to my music! Of course, there's no need to wait -- now could be an excellent time.   :)

For more info, contact me via Comments or send an e-mail to 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring! Spring! Spring ...

... is in the air, and on the ground, and in the trees and birds and animals ... and people!  The daffodils are up.  All of Nature is awakening.  Since this winter had many times of brutal cold and wintry weather, some evergreen shrubs are busy now refurbishing and replacing leaves that were damaged by deep frosts. They seem to be taking it in stride.  The harsh winter makes the arrival of this spring even sweeter than usual :)

Today the clocks did indeed "spring forward"!  It's amazing how the growing daylight hours energize us and make everything more do-able :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Red Rose For Me ...

Today was a strange, surreal day of introspection, coming to self-terms, and finding comfort ... on a very deep and profound level.  
I, a teacher (music, holistic, and humane education), realize that life places me in a position to always be teaching, even when doing so is the farthest thing from my mind.  Maybe we all are teachers; certainly we all are students ... of Life.  

This morning I went to the chiropractic clinic that has taken on the task of mending my body’s neurological system and some of its joints.  I expected there would be more people than usual at the clinic due to the media clamor about the imminent, colossal snow storm.  Yes, there were throngs of people ... adults and some little children too.  The place, usually serene with inspiring music playing, was full of human voices.  I knew I had to make the best of the situation and I took my place in the long line.  After a while, I really looked at some of the individuals.  I noticed that some of them were looking too.  I was overtaken by a feeling of community with these people ... all of whom were unknown to me.  Each one is there to be comforted, to find a few minutes of peace, to feel hope .  I realized that each one there has his or her own situation and health concern.  I was seeing through eyes that realized we are all creatures hoping for pain relief, a friendly word, and freedom from the grip of illness. 

There was a woman there with three little girls.  The children were very talkative and, surprisingly, not irritating as young kids can be in confined, crowded situations.  One of the children kept pointing at items people had or wore and would exclaim “phone”, “hat”, and then as she looked at my hands, “nail paint”.  As the line moved along, the lady with the girls moved too and they were one space behind me.  So when my table became available, they were next. I heard the mom say “Go to that one (table), next to the Girl”.  The Girl?  Yes, that’s what she called me.  I lifted my head up and said to her “I need to thank you for calling me a ‘girl’ at my age of ...”. She smiled and said “well, she is at a stage where she identifies everybody as a boy or girl"; the child spoke up and said “And I like her nice ponytail”.  

I’m relating all of this to, somehow, create a backdrop for some health info I received yesterday that relates to the ways cumulative heavy-duty stress can find ways to manifest into illnesses that have names -- names that can shake up the status quo, can re-shuffle the deck, can validate those Google searches for symptoms.   When I took the test and was alerted about the probability of diabetes, I thought about  the humor, profundity, implications, irony, beauty of life ... all these things and more.  As I left the chiropractic clinic today, I told the pleasant, helpful woman at the front desk what I had learned yesterday and she said “would it be OK if I say a prayer for your well-being”?  I nodded my assent and she clasped my hands in hers and said aloud a brief, sincere petition on my behalf.  How nice that was. 

I will continue my life-style of exercise and veggie-ism and meditation.  And I will do something more ... I will remember to love myself as a spiritual being.  I bought myself a beautiful Valentine that has a red rose on its cover and a loving message inside. 

Addendum:  6/15/14

I had learned that a high glucose reading could be related to other factors, as the first test was done during the very initial phase of what turned out to be a heavy asthma bout ... so the reading number, itself, was not definitive. More recently I was re-tested and am now on a diabetes med.  I have renewed respect for some advice given to me a couple of years ago by a wise person who said "cherish each day". Amen.  Yes, an attitude of gratitude!  

(Don't) Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow --

During my years as a child musical performer living in New England, one of the songs chosen for me to sing, in season, was Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.  The first two blocks of lyrics are “Oh, the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful, So since we’ve no place to go, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.  It doesn’t show signs of stopping, So I brought some corn for popping, The lights are turned way down low, So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow".  Then the words go on to be smoochie.  

Well, and this is quite believable in the Northeast, every time I sang that song on stage or radio, it would snow almost immediately.  Really.  So I got to really dislike the song and so did some other  people :)  Now, here in the South, when we have a snow event, that song stands on the side-lines of my memory and I envision it with its thumbs in its ears and its other fingers wiggling in mockery as it says in sing-song manner,  “nanni-nanni-foo-foo”; that’s the kid-style taunt that was in style back in the day.

I once wrote a brilliant blog post about snowflakes.  It was quite lyrical.  The gist of it was that there are two kinds of snowflakes: the big, friendly flakes that float down from the sky and gently land on your nose, forehead, and arms. They seem to be saying a smiling “hello”.  Often they are sent so that an oncoming snow event will appear to be benign (sort of like the harmless scout ants that are sent into a kitchen to precede a mass invasion by the entire voracious ant colony).  Anyway, the big friendly snowflakes are very pretty.  But then there are the little nippers – the small, fierce flakes that are driven from the sky en masse ... they sting and ping when they hit your face.  The little nippers mean business and they devote themselves to clogging driveways and roads and making five-foot snow drifts in some places.  

This is the South and Spring is supposed to be just around the corner ... I hope it is :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Music & Meaning ... New Recordings!

Following several weeks of practice and lots of edits on arrangements, I recorded four songs last evening at Songwriters Recording Studio.  Each of the songs is way, way different from the others ... in genre, character, mood.  So I had a good amount of angst about how well I'd be able to get them done.  They turned out nicely and credit for much of that success goes to William (Sandy) Garrett, Songwriters' talented, helpful, patient, gracious man at the helm.

The first two songs are new originals:  "Reverie On Wings" (genre unknown to me at this time so someone tell me, please) and "I Can't Stop The Pain" (eight-bar blues).  Then there is a re-make of "That's The Way You Make Me Feel" (twelve-bar blues original that now has a quirky, fun new intro) and "It Had To Be You" (beloved old cover ballad).   

Musical creation shapes my life and gives it expression, gives it voice -- indeed, it makes my life much easier to live.    I'm very thankful !  

Whether The Weather ...

When I lived in New England, I thought of the month of April as the portal to Spring; often April was moody and deliberately disappointed me ... and would bring a huge snow storm during the month's first week. When I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in October of 1986, I didn't know what to expect from Winter (I am using upper case here for seasonal names because the seasons' dramatic, mischievous, and sometimes devious qualities resemble personalities). That December, Knoxville had balmy temperatures and frequent warm rains.  Wonderful, I thought ... this beats those horrible Connecticut weather conditions.  Then, in April, a huge and week-long snow and ice storm paralyzed the area.  All the colorful tulips and daffodils stood frozen, encased in ice for days and then turned to mush when the freeze finally yielded to more moderate temperatures.   There went, for me, any semblance of predictability for southern weather.  

Recently we have had weeks of very low temperatures, with a couple of incidences of thawing days for good measure. Today I look out the windows and see a snowy landscape with more snow still coming down. The birds jockey for position on my bird feeder which is stocked with seeds and suet. I gathered myself away from the window when my favorite cardinal repeatedly was bullied off the feeder by a much larger bird whom I think is a starling.  "There is plenty for all" I keep saying aloud to myself; it doesn't matter ... they are just being birds.  

Speaking of birds, the day before yesterday (one of the aforementioned thawing days), a huge flock of robins was in my yard and treetops ... and the birds were on the ground searching the grasses for insects.  I think they were robins who migrated back here too soon.  Or maybe they were northern robins who got a late start on coming south.  Anyway, I thought of them today and wondered how they are faring in this intense wintry weather. Remember that old ironic expression "This is for the birds"?   One bird flew into my garage today during the moment or two I had the door opened.  He flew around in a couple of circles and then went back outside.   

Day before yesterday, my herb seed catalog arrived in the mail ... from Horizon Herbs (a wonderful company). The months, the seasons, even the years, are like revolving doors ... with each revolution bringing some newness into the mix.  Years ago I was taught that this newness that is introduced in each cyclic recapitulation is called "epi-genesis".   One more month of winter, folks.  Here in the south, my southern portal to Spring is late February and the advent of March.  So help is on the way and before we know it, it will be time to break out those breezy, happy warm weather clothes.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

The REAL Down And Dirty Blues !

This morning I spent a couple of hours at the dealership with my truck. When I arrived in the customers' waiting lounge, I grabbed a chair in one of the "business" cubicles, as far away as possible from the mindless clamor of the television set.  Within moments I was writing a new post for my blog.

Everyone knows I love Blues music.  I love it because it is pure, heartfelt, goes right to the core of the issue, puts it out there where the light of day can get at it ... and makes me feel good, or at least, better.

There exists a different kind of "blues" though ... and I speak now of clinical depression.  That's the real down and dirty kind of blues.  Rough to go through, it tends to revisit when it wants to. When it lifts, though, the feeling is wonderful, bright, and peaceful. 

An artist needs contact with the extremes of both joy and sadness; that is where creativity is born -- at that intersection, that juncture.    

I've got four songs preparing for recording.  Two of them (originals) came out of my most recent bout with depression.  The first one, "Reverie On Wings" (alternate title "Let's Do It'), is a rhythmic and eclectic offering about escape and freedom -- or what I should call "flying the coop".  It is about trying to handle perceived confinement in an upbeat way that cuts through fog, clutter, and density.  The second one came while I sipped my orange juice during the morning hours on December 31st, when the depression episode was fully engaged and very heavy.  The song is eight-bar blues and it lyrically talks about pain -- the nature of it, the spirit of it, and the depths of it, and so the song is named "I Can't Stop The Pain".  At first, I set it up in a minor chord format, but it was too "laden", dark, so I changed it so it presents in C major, though with some minor chord passages.  The third song is an ancient cover that I've always liked and could relate to in an abstract way.   "It Had To Be You" is timely now in a more literal way and it feels good to do it.  And fourthly, my 12-bar "That's The Way You Make Me Feel" blues original is ready to be re-recorded -- this time with a more robust character, more initiative!

While deeply honoring the work and talents of all the early blues musicians and those current artists whose efforts have nurtured and maintained the genre, I'm an innovative soul ... and so I take liberties and add my own musical touch :)

And so this morning produced for me the writing of this post, a pleasant visit with my co-visitors at the dealership, and my happily-repaired truck !  And, amazingly, the outdoor temperature had soared to 40+ degrees :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Memories Of Santa ...

Christmastime, for me, brings many memories of  childhood Christmases.   It was celebrated in our  home in a cultural, rather than religious way, although I was always asked by neighborhood churches to play piano at their holiday programs.  At our house -- full of hustle and bustle -- there were family members from both my parents' families, who would come by to visit and bring me gifts.  My mother, always the gracious hostess, would manage to serve a bountiful dinner to any and all who showed up.  I remember my great-aunts; they were ladies on my father's side who were elegantly dressed and coiffed; they almost always brought me coloring books.  My great uncles were scarcer and, when they were in attendance, were on the quiet side. My "regular" aunts and uncles, though, were quite lively and interesting ... they were from my mother's side. One such uncle, I clearly recall, was the bad boy of the family and brought with him an air of scary excitement when he appeared at the door.  Sometimes I would hide when he visited.  

As I grew up and into my teens, my own friends and their families became most of my Christmas and holidays weren't celebrated much anymore in my own home, due to family problems.  Later, I was married and holidays revolved around children.  So the essence of my own, personal Christmastime nostalgia centers on the magical years during which I was from about age seven through nine.  And the "event" that stands out in my memory and makes me smile was brought about by my father.

Daddy, though very personable and well-liked, was not a warm and fuzzy person; my relationship with him was one I'd describe as an aloof friendship; he would occasionally buy me a treat or spend a few minutes talking with me.  So I was greatly surprised and touched by the playfulness of his Christmas spirit, which appeared two Christmases in a row back then.  

Lying in my bed on Christmas Eve, I wanted to believe Santa Claus was coming, even though the logistics didn't make sense to me.  My mother would tell me to go to bed because she thought she had heard Santa's bells and she didn't want him to skip our house.  I would lie there with my own version of sugar plums dancing in my head :)  And this I was doing.  I had heard my parents' voices talking in muted tones in the kitchen.  All at once, I heard the sound of bells jingling outside.  They sounded very clear and sharp in the cold New England night air, especially as there was snow on the ground.  I listened --  the bells paused -- and then began jingling again, this time under my window and then moving toward our backyard.  How exciting! Could it be Santa?  But I resisted the urge to sit up in my bed, let alone look out the window.  I didn't want to break the spell!  I realized in those moments, that my serious, aloof father was playing Santa because his own inner child wanted to bring me Christmas delight :)  I was thrilled and so happy.  He repeated the performance the following year, running (my father was athletic) across our land jingling the bells  :)         

Now, many years later, the family scene has completely changed, and with it Christmas.   Now it's mostly a quiet time.  My dog, in her twelfth year, prances in her red sweater.  I dress Fiona, my ficus tree, in colored lights. We play some holiday music.  I make a quiche that has become traditional for me over the last 20 or more years.  I enjoy exchanging holiday greetings with friends and strangers.  But in the distant past lies that spark ... my memories of Santa, that warms the magic of Christmas Eve for me.    

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yips And Howls ...

... well, I AM the Lady Wolf, so yips and howls prevail sometimes :)

First The Yips --  I'm getting ready to record two new songs.  Song inspirations, whether originals or covers, almost always come to me in twos and usually are very contrasting from each other in terms of mood, tempo, concept, genre.  I'll be practicing my arrangements of them again tonight before bedtime as that familiar excitement mounts!   

A Yip That Is A Tip -- Today I found a wonderful place to shop for Christmas items and gifts and trees.  It is the KARM (Knox Area Rescue Ministries) Christmas Store on Downtown West in west Knoxville.  The array of items is wonderful and so much fun to explore.  Perhaps best of all, the proceeds go toward the meals that KARM provides for the homeless and hungry here in Knoxville.  If you want a great holiday tree or gift or novelty item at an unbelievably low price, you will love the KARM Christmas Store.  Also, it is spacious and not crowded.  

Holiday Spirit --  We're about to enter the official week before Christmas. This year I've been so involved in my residential move -- getting this place ready  (lots of repairs and updates were needed) and closing and saying goodbye to my former residence (my favorite charming window where I liked to sit, my shrubs and trees that could not be moved, the Loft where I wrote many a spirited blog post) -- that I didn't know if I'd have any holiday spark. But I do ... and am pleased about that.  Gearing myself up for it.  I plan to make my traditional holiday quiche and some other goodies.  

Greater Good -- This organization's website is another awesome place to shop, especially if you like to shop on the Internet. Gifts of every kind are offered by groups served under the umbrella of The Greater Good, such as the Rainforest site, the Animal Rescue site, and others. I ordered and promptly received a wonderful bracelet for myself that is engraved with the words "Bless This Woman".  This classy bracelet helps me remember that I'm a woman even when I'm hoisting heavy boxes and moving furniture.  I like being a woman; in fact, sometimes I love it :) So I wear my bracelet proudly!  Their website is at  The other organizations I've just mentioned are at and Visiting these sites daily and clicking on their buttons saves acreage in the rainforest and provides food for shelter animals, respectively.

And Now, A Howl Of Sadness -- The Federal government has voted to permanently remove all gray wolves from protection, meaning these beautiful animals are now being murdered by the hundreds, by all kinds of unsavory methods.  This is our government bowing to the special interest groups -- namely, people who like to shoot at live targets and cattle ranchers who have an unrelenting hatred for all wolves (cattle ranchers have always had the legal right to shoot any wolf who was thought to pose a danger to cattle).  Wolves have just found their way back from the brink of extinction and now are being destroyed again.  As of last evening, the Feds were collecting public comments regarding also removing the red wolf from protection.  I sent in my comment, which boiled down to "For God's sake, don't kill the wolves!"  Actually I said more than that, but I did include that phrase.  Please, if you care about the wild, intelligent, mystical, beautiful wolf, check out the website of the hard-working group, Howling For Wolves at, located in Minnesota.

The Night Sky --  It has been so beautiful this week, especially with yesterday's full moon and nearby Jupiter, whose moons can be seen swirling around the planet, even with my little binoculars!

Wishing To All The Very Best --  For this holiday season and the new year.  Let's sing, dance, have joy, meditate, mindfully help those less fortunate -- and pray for peace, compassion, and good will.