Sunday, November 18, 2018

Ruby Dog ... My Angel Dog ...

My apologies for coming out of my writing lapse with a post that is a sad one.

Ruby, my beautiful, smart, loving angel dog, passed into spirit on Friday, November 16 after the rather sudden onset of paralysis with its accompanying desperation, and with a shutdown of her complete digestive tract. A week before this, she had intermittently worn a facial expression of "I need your attention" and I'd check and see if she needed anything. Then she had a brief playful streak and tossed around her tennis balls that had been ignored for months. In retrospect it seems to me that it was the rally that often happens with animals and with people who are on the verge of a serious happening. Well, when it was clear to me that we were in a scary zone, I called a mobile vet and made an appointment for the next day. The vet was very knowledgeable, thorough, gentle, and kind and was recommended to me by my own vet.  

Ruby ... at about six weeks away from her 11th birthday ... was suffering and her face wore a worried, pleading expression. The vet and I helped her to lie down and the sedative helped her to relax ... and the pained look left her face. I sang to her all the while ... the song "Ruby ... you're like a dream..." from the movie Ruby Gentry ... and I petted her. I'm going to back-pedal slightly here to tell you that Ruby has always loved to hear music and my singing ... and would appear from wherever else she'd been in the house and lie down in front of my amplifier or the stereo. So on Thursday night I played a blues CD that a Knoxville harmonica player had given me a few years back ... it has several old blues tunes done by great blues players and singers; Ruby actually was smiling, as I played the whole album twice in a row.  

So on Friday afternoon, my beautiful angel dog, who had earned her service vest and, who had, previous  to when I met her at the shelter, won her battle with heartworm, and then gotten adopted at age 8, will ceremoniously be gone.

I think of her as a hero, as well as the most loving, intelligent, sweet dog I've ever known. I keep thinking I still see her, still hear her walking down the hall. Tomorrow, in keeping with my beliefs on waiting until the third day before doing cremation, her spirit should be flying free and, in truth, be with me in so many ways. This Thanksgiving I will feel thanks for the almost three years I was privileged to be mom to this awesome dog. And so, through my tears, I'll close with these words for her.

"God bless you, Ruby, Ruby Dog, Rubinski. Mommy  loves you and misses you; misses your beautiful face, expressive eyes and pointed ears, your long luxurious tail, your very silky cuddly self, the way you love to shake hands ... and your interesting baritone/basso bark and occasional growl. Watch for me ... and when I come we'll be together again." 


Friday, August 31, 2018

Happy Birthday To Me a.k.a. cloaks and drama

I didn't plan to post anything about it, but then this playfully disastrous part of my personality started knocking at my mind's door. At first it did a gentle tap-tapping and within minutes it was almost like the pounding noise of a fist against a locked door!  

Yes, in less than an hour and a half, I will cross the finish line of a significant birthday milestone :) It's scary stuff, folks :)

But I've noticed that in the weeks leading up to tomorrow and soon-to-be midnight, I've kind of stoked myself with a few things I hope to accomplish in the coming months. I want to visit wolves.  As everyone who knows me knows, I love these majestic and vilified beautiful animals. If I could, I'd travel to Minnesota where I'd have the best chance to see and hear them. And the mentioning of that state gives me a great opportunity to tell you there is a wonderful, hard-working organization there called "Howling For Wolves" (please look up their address and website on my animal ministry blog  at 

I'd also like to make one more trek to the beach and take in the energy and power of the ocean ... I prefer lovely Folly Beach and its wonderful beachfront hotel, where I visited a few years ago with my best friend with whom I hope to have more adventures and special memories. Also, I want to get a band jam together soon and enjoy the camaraderie that a group of musicians has when playing together.  We are needing a drummer; a small kit should be fine!

In other realms, I will continue to admire Willow, my beautiful tree and her little offspring and my indoor rubber tree, Rub-A-Dub. Ruby, my dog who happily responds when I call her "Ruby", "Ruby Dog", and "Rubinski" will soon be eleven years old and is so smart she can even tell what I'm saying when I spell words backward ... she is a joy and leaps with excitement when I say the letters R - A - C, as she loves to ride.

This post may, on the surface, sound a little silly, but it is merely wearing a cloak of silly disguise; remove the cloak and you'll see a woman of renewed spirit and dedication to what she deems important, needed, wanted. Yes, you'll also see a woman whose cloak has dropped to the floor, leaving her quite ... well ... visible :)

It's 11:11, an auspicious number, and I want to post this before the calendar changes to September 1, so I'd better do that now :)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Aretha Franklin ...

Here is my favorite quote by this great lady:

"Soul is something creative, something active.  Soul is honesty.  I sing to people about what matters.  I sing to people who accept it like it is.  There are tears when it's sad and smiles when it's happy.  It seems simple to me, but to some, feelings take courage". 


Monday, July 9, 2018

Precious and Profound --

The beautiful poem/quote below resonates perfectly with my own thoughts, stirrings, wonder, and sense of true communion. As you read it, take in the words and the picture it paints; be moved by it and feel the connection between self and the profundity and majesty of our fellow creatures.
... Clara

The Summer Day ...

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

  ~ Mary Oliver ~

Monday, June 18, 2018

"Only You" Song and Video

Dear Readers,
Here is the link to my rendition of "Only You". It's a joyful work of audio and video; I hope you enjoy it.   

A writing by Pema Chodron

This profound writing by Pema Chodron, a wonderful and wise Buddhist nun and teacher. 

What Is Freedom --
But it's not impermanence per se, or even knowing we're going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it's our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it's called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that's called enlightenment, or awakening, to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for this is freedom -- freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human.
         ~Pema Chödrön  

Thank you, Ike, for sending me this post.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sizzling Summer Update ...

Here is a quote by Charlie Musselwhite, the fabulous blues harmonica player who is sometimes referred to as "Memphis Charlie" and who has a fascinating bio. The quote speaks of the blues genre and says exactly what is true and it was offered by Dan Forte, ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award winner for excellence in music journalism.  It says: "The blues is your buddy in good times and your comforter in bad times. It empowers you to keep going. It is secular spiritual music, the gospel blues. It's music from the heart instead of the head." To which I say "Amen".

I write, sing, and play other genres of music -- each for its own reason and purpose ... love songs to tell my secrets, jazz as a mental work-out, latinesque for its excitement ... but blues is exactly what Charlie says it is and that's why I love it.  

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Ruby Speaks ...

Rrf!  Hello Folks ... Ruby here!
Thank you for waiting so patiently for me to speak. Now that I have your attention, I hardly know where to begin :)  Look at my close-up picture for a few moments and you may think you see my lips moving :)

Yes, I have my service vest, after having visited doctors' offices and businesses around town for a while, I took the plunge and am service dog for Clara in a supportive way ... and also, in a general sense, for Gerald, who for some time now has not been able to walk more than a few steps even with his walker, but cannot use a wheelchair because it would be difficult to get someone to transfer him in and out of the chair due to his weight (a hefty medical person needs to bring a chair out to the car each time). So we have a car now in addition to Clara's truck. The car was originally bought to be a Rubymobile because it's hard for me to climb up and safely get down the step of the truck. But the Rubymobile also transports Gerald whenever he has an appointment. He requires considerable help in getting in and out of the car. Once at the appointment, he needs additional help and that's majorly where I come in. Everyone oohs and aahs and sort of reverently moves out of the way of our entourage as Clara, doctors, aides, and I help him to his destination.

Stepping back in time a few months, I was blessed at the Blessing Of The Animals service at Westside UU Church during October. It was a lovely service and Rev. Carol obviously enjoyed planning and conducting it.  

I'm now ten years old (January 1st) with a sketchy background and I look like the jet black German Shepherd that I am with some wolfy possibilities and colorations between my toes. I understand many words even when they are spelled (even spelled backwards) and when I growl it is the most fearsome, gutteral, baritone lyrical semi-howl sound. I only growl when I hear other dogs barking or yapping.

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Rev. Jenny at Borderland Tees in south Knoxville. Folks, if your organization wants awesome tee shirts at great prices, Borderland is the place to go. Rev. Jenny is a community pastor; she and her partner Bob have employed and assisted, with ongoing success, members of society who are on the fringes (borders) of society. I had a great time there being welcomed and petted :)

Now, I've held back this post until I could tell you something definite about Clara's new music video.  I love music and will stop whatever I'm doing, even if I'm napping, to come into Clara's music studio and sit right next to the amplifier.  She recently recorded two songs at Songwriters Recording Studio in Knoxville, with multi-talented William (Sandy) Garrett at the helm. One of the songs is a re-make of her original "Conversation". The other is an amazing, spellbinding (see I told you I know a lot of words) arrangement of the song from the '50s, "Only You"; it is featured on the video. There are special reasons that Clara chose to do this song and I am inwardly smiling as I think of what a beautiful, romantic song it is. HP Video of Knoxville is preparing the video and the YouTube link will be posted on this blog soon!

I am so enjoying this opportunity to write this guest post here and would like to remind everybody to please adopt a shelter animal. I was a shelter animal and so lucky that Clara walked in and saw me (I was depressed and wouldn't even look at her that day). She took a leap of faith and filled out the papers ... and here we are, the perfect match of human and canine :)    

Thank you for reading my guest post.
Ruby Dog


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day 2018 and an Update...

I haven't posted here for a while, partly due to a couple of medical issues -- and they work as a team :) Also, time seems to be flying by. But there is a good reason, too:  I've been working on two songs to record later this week. One is the '50s hit cover song "Only You"; the other is a re-make (and re-structured version) of one of my originals, "Conversation". Vastly different from each other in genre and mood, they do go well together in expressing the singularity and attributes of the emotion that goes with my desire to sing and play them. 

My dog, Ruby, is wonderful ... she is a darling, affectionate, and super intelligent being and is now also a service dog.

Today is Earth Day and my thoughts and feelings about it are hopeful, painful, fearful, and apologetic to our Earth Mother. Of course, humans are what have brought conditions to a woeful level for our planet, ourselves, and the myriad of non-human inhabitants. We've seen the widely circulated picture of polar bears in the ocean looking for ice floes that are no longer there. We've read about the plight of bumble and honey bees. There are so many other examples of animal suffering and exploitation, environmental destruction, and threats to our own existence, brought about by ignorance and apathy ... and corporate and political greed. Even so, I can make myself say "Happy Earth Day" because I know that there are a great many of us who care about our planet and fellow beings. Let's make our voices be heard in whatever ways we can!  And let's vote for our environment. Earth is our home, we need to protect it.

Please send comments to the blog rather than my email address so that others can see what you say. It's easy ... just click on "anonymous". I always like to hear from you.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Yearnings ...

Deeply touching Nature,
The call of the wolves resonating with me.
Music for spirit, drums pulsing rhythm,
My body's earthy yet celestial response.

Flowers grace the bank of the brook,
Butterflies of every color
Swirl and dance in delight,
Around my face.

And love for my soul, oh yes!
Magical kisses on my lips, arms around me,
Like gentle rain on a Spring day.
What a marvelous dream it is.

And needed -- a little more time,
A little more time, please ...
For all of this to manifest.
How wondrous, How very wondrous it will be!

                    ...  Clara the Lady Wolf

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Here is the link to my music video "Fantastik Five-Clara the Lady Wolf"

Clara's Eleven Imperatives ... aka Commandments, Requests

There are eleven instead of ten because  1) I want to avoid any hint of religiosity and 2) I like the number 11; I think it is auspicious. So here, in random order, are my Eleven Imperatives:

  1.    Show gratitude and give thanks to the Great Source of All/God/the Great Spirit/the Great Energy for life and all that is good.

  2.    Be compassionate and kind to all living beings.

  3.    Thank a tree (for oxygen, shade, beauty). Save a tree. Hug a tree if you’d like to. Trees like hugs and they are good listeners if you need someone to talk to.

  4.    Be loyal and kind to that special human with whom you are in love.

  5.    Become an environmental activist—Save honeybees, bumblebees, crickets, praying mantises, stink bugs (friendly), cicadas (friendly and attractive), beneficial lady bugs, and necessary earth worms (after a heavy rain, I often rescue those who get stranded on pavement and put them back in the grass). Do not let insecticide companies spray your yard with poison. Pick up and properly dispose of litter.

  6.    Become a humane activist—Save domestic animals (dogs, cats, horses) in our country where they are often neglected and intentionally hurt and in other parts of the world where they are raised in brutal circumstances to be eaten or otherwise exploited by humans. Appreciate and re-establish predator animals such as the majestic wolf to restore what humans have destroyed in Nature’s balance. Leave wild animals such as bears, horses, deer undisturbed in their natural habitat and do not harm or mistreat them. Help legislate for cows, pigs, sheep, chickens who are victims of a brutal industry and are not protected from cruelty by any laws. Consider switching to a diet that is largely plant-based.
  7.    Send vibes of civility out into the world. Love is the only way to conquer hate. Love is the ONLY antidote for hate.

  8.    Celebrate music, the true universal language. Even the planets sing as they spin and rotate in the heavens. Join in and play a musical instrument. Drum on a hand drum. Sing and give it your best effort. Tap your foot.  

  9.    Speak out for peace for our planet. Peace instead of war should be the motto.   

 10.   Do aerobic dancing every day. Dance, dance, dance! 

 11.   Meditate. Breathe deeply … inhale, exhale.  Do it unhurriedly.  Meditation can involve spoken prayer, silence, surrender to the will of the Universe, gratitude.

Monday, January 8, 2018

January 8th … My Mother’s Birthday

January 8th … My Mother’s Birthday! Her birthday is always two weeks to the day after Christmas Day and one week to the day after New Year’s Day. It’s a special day to me, as my mother was an extraordinary person and she was a loving mom.  Her “momness”  didn’t take the form of hugs and kisses. Rather it was a blend of her willingness to defend me against the bullies when I was a young child, her support of my academic activities and special projects (she would sit and physically help me to paste segments of my little elementary school booklets that I would prepare and turn in for extra credits), and perhaps most notable of all, she promoted me and my musical abilities unceasingly and enthusiastically; she believed in me.There could never be a cheerleader more devoted, consistent, and sacrificing as my mother!

Today I’m thinking of her birth in1913, into a large and poor family; both her parents were immigrants. She came into this world a helpless, innocent infant and it seems odd for me to try and picture her that way. 

Her life was made very difficult by my only sibling for whom she made egregious, tremendous personal sacrifices … and she suffered prolonged periods of painful heartache over him. As the Universe is always aware, and often providing solutions and outcomes, a young man who was considered a “transient” came to my sibling’s California apartment a few months before his 41st birthday and murdered him on New Year’s Eve. My mother mourned his violent death, though her life gradually became her own again and I felt greatly relieved for her sake. 

She was a very friendly and generous person and a strong, resourceful woman whom I will always admire. She would be 105 years old today.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MA!