Sampson napping on his favorite rug

Sampson napping on  his favorite rug
happy, happy, happy

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 http://www.greatergood.com.  The other organizations I've just mentioned are at http://www.therainforestsite.com/click and http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/click. 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 http://www.howlingforwolves.org, 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.         


Friday, November 15, 2013

Back In Blogland :) Clara's Autumnal Post --

My last post mentioned my previous absence and here I am again after another bunch of months away from my blog.  Apologies to readers and to my blog, itself.  The myriad of reasons I didn't post in such a long time includes the fact that I was doing a lot of introspection that was better left publicly unsaid.  On the heels of that came sweeping changes in my personal life, including a residential move.  Since February I've been preparing the house I now live in and going through separation anxiety with my former residence.  I'm a very sentimental person and that sentiment runs deep.  The new abode is much, much larger than the old one.   And it even has modern electrical outlets !  It's very nice :)

A persistent stream of family crises involving relatives hit the scene, too. For the most part those matters are still manifesting -- are unresolved, except in my mind -- where I've turned the corner and am good with that wonderful axiom "It is what it is"  :)  Tra la!  And I'm blessed to have the very most wonderful of friends with whom I can share life's ups and downs.

Here's some happy news I can give my readers who followed my posts about my dog's (past) serious medical problem:  She is in great shape now and, in August, celebrated her 11th birthday!  Dixie Lee is showing signs of age, but still scouts the yard tracking the scents of rabbits and squirrels; and she can break into an easy gallop in a split second when she wants to.
    
A couple of months ago I recorded two songs at Songwriters' Studio; they are my original "A New Face On The Blues" and my arrangement of cover "Blue Moon".  I need to put them up on my Reverbnation page. They turned out really well :)

I  now have three pianos (plus my Yamaha keyboard).  They are Buddy, Bunkie, and Bonnie.  Bunkie was in residence here when I moved in.  He's a great piano, though way different in style and character than Buddy the baby grand.  And Bonnie came to me via a neighbor on  my former street, who didn't want her anymore.  

Please do check out my website at http://www.claralandau.com -- which I updated yesterday -- new pictures, text edits, and some new stuff! 

Yes, I'm as upset as everyone about current and recent politics ... NSA spying , the Obamacare tax mandate, and an article I read a few days ago that reports on government vehicles and weapons being turned over to local police departments to use on Main Street, USA.  This points to the prediction I made months ago (when I hoped to be wrong) about local police departments being sort of "deputized" by the feds in order to prevent any perceived overt action of citizens against government policies.  

I'm ready to start jamming again, so I'd love to be in touch with musicians who are like-minded. I've got the space here now to jam; I also would love to find or form a hand-drum circle.  

We're heading into the "holiday season" ... hard to believe; it seems like yesterday was mid-summer.   Thanksgiving is, in my opinion, the most worthy of all holidays!  I know we should be thankful every day and I am, but I think that designating and celebrating a day in the spirit of thankfulness is a really good thing!   I wish a gracious and joyful Thanksgiving to each and all. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Full Moon Of May's Dwindling Days ...

 ... is in the astrological sign of Sagittarius (the moon is always full in the opposite sign of where the Sun is ... hence Sagittarius the 9th sign/Gemini the 3rd sign, with the moon in a fire sign and the sun in an air sign.   

I have put my newest song “Vanishing Freedom” up on my Reverbnation page at http://www.reverbnation.com/clarasolobluesjazzandexoticmixes.  Different in character and genre than my usual stuff, it provides me with an opportunity to vent some of my thoughts and feelings about what the government has done and continues to do with our lives, the earth, logic, and ethics. I think it’s worth a listen and hope you’ll tune in :)

Over the past weeks and months I’ve been putting a lot of time and work into a different kind of project that I’m really looking forward to unveiling via this blog, when its time is right. Yes, I’m excited about it and will post about it as soon as I can. My above comments about the astrological signs bring to mind the concept of “cusps”.   My project is on the cusp of becoming news!

Drum circle, anyone? I’m eager to find or form a recreational and/or shamanic drum circle so my wonderful djembe Ruby and loyal hand-drum Gabriel can meet and enjoy the camaraderie of other drums :) The two circles I used to attend are no longer meeting.  I drum almost every day as part of my meditation. The drumming puts and keeps me in the moment and is very soothing in a quietly exciting way.  Playing piano or keyboard and singing also provides me with a blissed-out though different kind of feeling; the hand-drum is especially centering.  If you're in the Knoxville area and are interested, please let me know.

I found a wonderful organization that is working to save U.S. wolves from annihilation. Howling For The Wolves has a marvelous website at http://www.howlingforwolves.org/  To help rescue and protect U.S. horses from slaughter and inhumane transport, please check out all-volunteer Southern Winds Equine Rescue at http://www.southernwindsequinerescue.org/ .

Peace, love, light, and blessings!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sugar, Spice And A Toss Of The Dice!

Welcome back, dear readers!  If you had deserted my blog I wouldn't have blamed you.  I haven't posted to this, my original blog, in a year or so.  I'll try and make my posts stimulating and I'd like to strike some balance between serious and inane :)

420 --

Yes, April 20th is the long-established day that honors the amazing, yet vilified Cannabis plant, which was re-named marijuana many years ago by our government in the effort to misrepresent it and make it sound foreign and scary.  My comments about it here aren't from the perspective of a user, but rather, from the standpoint of an herbal and wildflower enthusiast who thinks that God knew what He/She was doing when He/She created the Earth and populated it with plants and animals.  The Cannabis plant is among the most versatile, useful, and beneficial in this world.  Fortunately (although 75 years late) its prohibition, persecution, and blatantly untrue bad press are showing signs of ceasing, with two progressive states declaring it a legal plant and many other states coming forth with various decriminalization measures.  You can follow this progress by going to the website of NORML at http://norml.org/.  Anyone who wants to know the truth about what happened 75 years ago -- and how and why the government escalated its persecution and imprisonment of cannabis users -- to include seizing their homes and cars -- can refer to the History Channel's documentary and several other historical publications.  It's obvious that the federal government  had deemed itself wiser and mightier than the earth's Creator and that it was accountable to no one.

New Song --

I've written another new song (not sure where my music reporting left off in my earlier blogging).  This song is not in my usual blues, jazz, ballad, spiritual, light classic genres; it is a protest song.  Instead of being played on guitar like most protest songs of the past that I've heard, it is done on the piano.  For recording purposes, I'll play it on my split keyboard so I can use the bass feature, too.  The name of the song is Vanishing Freedom.  The song's content covers some challenging territory and, yet, remains lyrical.  When I get it done, I'll put it up on my website and on Reverbnation.

Reverbnation --

Some months ago I joined Reverbnation and have some songs up there on my page.  The title of my account there is "Clara (Solo) Blues, jazz, and Exotic Mixes".  I hope you'll visit.
http://www.reverbnation.com/clarasolobluesjazzandexoticmixes   

Facebook Artist Page --

When I joined Reverbnation, I found that my days as a FB hold-out (I didn't want to join) were over because Reverbnation considers a subscriber having a FB page as a given.  So I created, with the help of a dear friend, an "artist" FB page.  The artist pages are somewhat different from the regular FB accounts.  I'm still learning the drill as far as how to navigate the page and how to post to other people's regular FB pages.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/claras-music/378791192206945

Two New CDs --

During the past year, I did two new music CDs.  They are both for sale on  my new and improved website at www.claralandau.com.   The first, "Clara (solo) The Journey and The Gem" has some truly mesmerizing songs ... some originals and some awesome covers.  The second, "Songs for Spirit" is a collection of original spiritual (not religious) songs ... and one of the songs is by my friend, Sandy Garrett.  His song is absolutely beautiful and I dare say that mine are nice too :)  You can hear some of my stuff on my website's Song Page link, but you will need to get the CDs to hear some of the most delectable renderings.

New U.S. Secretary Of The Interior --

The appointment of new U.S. secretary of the interior Sally Jewell took place last week.  She replaces Ken Salazar.  This change in leadership governing our public lands and environment has been needed ever since  Salazar took hold of the reins; the role he chose to play was disastrous for the environment and endangered species.  I am especially hopeful that Secretary Jewell will return protection to U.S. wolves (who were removed from the Endangered List during the final moments of W's presidency and are currently being pursued and killed).  Also I'm hoping that Secretary Jewell will put a stop to the horrendous helicopter wild horse round-ups that lead many terrified adult horses and new foals to their deaths ... and that she will protect U.S. horses from being barbarically slaughtered in the U.S. or across the borders in Canada and Mexico.

Our Fellow-Beings the Non-Human Animals --

A recent mailing from ASPCA about the rise in animal cruelty, including instances of cruelty involving many species of animals -- seems to echo the violence being perpetrated on humans by other humans.  Also, I've got a mailing from WSPA that speaks of the routine very inhumane treatment of animals who are considered "food" and food-producing units.  It doesn't need to be this way. Why are so many members of our species so hell-bent on cruelty?  Where is the compassion?

My Magazine Article --

About six months ago, I finally wrote my article that chronicles my other-dimensional experiences ... events that were uplifting, amazing and, in several instances, saved my life.  I don't know what publication to submit it to.  It's entitled "An Angel At My Shoulder", though it's about many circumstances and spiritual beings.  But I feel the title is appropriate and the term "angel" fits well my benefactor and guardian (several years ago I wrote a song by the same title).  The article is, at once, shamanic and mystical and enthralling.  Perhaps I'll publish it on my blog.  Please let me know if you have an ideal publication in mind that might be suitable for it.

Update On Dixie Lee --

My beautiful dog is doing fine following the very difficult year she/we had with her fistula situation.  She miraculously recovered during summer of 2012 and has been well ever since -- all traces of the condition are gone!  She is looking forward to her 11th birthday this August.  For those of you who are interested in the science of numbers, 11 is a mystical number and one with which I'm very familiar in the best sense of the word : )

Blog Post Reprint --

This would be a good time for me to reprint my long-ago published post that lends some levity (and truth) to our current national and world conditions.  Here it is (reprinted from an earlier post that appeared in my now-deleted "Classic Clara" blog).



A Novel Thought And Suggestion on Peace & Good Will --

(The following post is re-printed here from my Classic Clara Blog; dated August 20, 2010).

A (seemingly) comedic, yet profound thought regarding the attainability of world peace recently occurred to me.  It would involve the combination of a worldwide, simultaneous internet and television airing (with loud speakers in every public location) of a dance video such as the one done a year or so ago at the Liverpool station, London ... see/hear/enjoy it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM ... coupled with a blanketing, global aerial spraying of a concentrated essence of cannabis, dropping and shooting down from thousands of planes onto warring people.  Just picture it!  All at once, the music and sweet smell would take over and carnage would grind to a halt!  Everybody would enjoy and benefit from the uniting energy of music and dance and mellowing out in a friendly manner.  Soldiers would lay down their artillery and begin dancing together ... or just sit under a tree (or half-destroyed building) and smile sweetly.  Military people, civilian people, crooks, police, robbers, scammers, presidents, dictators, misers, terrorists, politicians, overly competitive sports rivals, tabloid publishers, lawyers, abusers, pimps, warmongers, and people who cannot act in a civil manner ... all would, at least temporarily, feel too good to fight.  Animals would come out of hiding and new vegetation would begin to sprout, as the animal and plant life that takes such an undeserved beating during our stupid human wars and "no tree left standing" (indeed nothing vertical left standing) campaigns could, at last, have a respite.  Of course, this peaceful "cure" would need to be re-applied, as needed.

Well, it's been said that we can't bomb the world to peace even if we bomb the world to pieces (and that is true), but, aside from medical supplies and food, no one has tried bombing with something that has the intrinsic value of promoting peace for its very own sake.  Yes, yes ... it's a radical idea :)  Actually, isn't peace itself a radical idea in this world?  But I'm ever hopeful :)


Friday, April 19, 2013

Lady Wolf's Notes Returning!

Here we are in April of 2013 and I haven't written to this blog in months.  I've got many updates to post and will be putting them all together and posting them within the next few days.  Meanwhile, if I still have faithful readers, I thank you.  Please stay tuned...
Thanks,
Clara