New Tara Linda t-shirt~ La Calavera

New Tara Linda t-shirts with a fun, skeleton girl playing accordion dancing across the desert.

I’m getting ready to hit the road for a month for my Southwest “Thank you Americana Radio” tour of shows and radio spots across AZ, NM, Colorado, and I’m excited to have NEW t-shirts designed by John Tinger!  Eeeeee- How cool are these!!!

I like how I could just tell him what I was envisioning, (a calaveras cowgirl, dancing across the desert, playing and singing without a care).  JT listened patiently, and with only a small bit of resistance (“La Calavera?! Why do you want that!?” -LOL!), he came up with *exactly* what I wanted. 😉

Thank you JT ~ (check out his batiks), his usual expertise, but he also painted my first album’s cover of a mermaid playing accordion on the rocks, and he’s just an around sweet cool artist!

So, on the road, we will have t-shirts in 2 colors, girls & guys, dark grey and plum. American Apparel.   This is the early design.  The final ones have a very cool Hohner Accordions Corona crown insignia on the girl’s accordion. 😉

Mandala Lights~ The Jade Buddha

Mandala Orbs around the Jade Buddha in Sacramento in October, rare and beautiful.

I recently saw something cool and unusual.  Called different names by different people: Mandala lights, Flowers From Heaven, Mandala Orbs, Tigle~ white spheres of diffuse light that suddenly filled the night sky.

I came to Sacramento to be with my best bud who was having major surgery the next day.  The night before, she told me about a special exhibit in town that I should try to catch before I left, called the “The Jade Buddha”.  Said to be traveling the world as a symbol of universal peace “for everyone, irrespective of religion, to take a moment to reflect upon peace; peace for the world; peace in their relationships; peace for their families and friends; peace at work; peace in their mind”, the giant jade Buddha is on a world tour of sorts.

We went to dinner late and on the way back, we actually passed the exhibit at a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple off Alta Arden.  From the road you could see the large green statue; well-lit, and bright green- it seemed to almost glow from the lights.  We stopped to check it out.  It was quite large- around 4 feet high, majestic and royal,  exquisite in detail with a gold-leafed face, and a large sheltering Bodhi leaf behind it.  Lots of flowers, and overflowing offering bowls filled the space around the alter- floor to statue.  The crowd of about 30 Vietnamese seemed excited about something.  I started taking pictures, close-ups of the Buddha and of the Temple.

A man started telling us about the “snow” that is seen sometimes around the statue; to take lots of pictures.  I did, maybe 20.  “Focus” he kept saying. Around this time a monk, who must have wondered why I was standing there listening, took my camera from me and began taking pictures with it 😉  I thought this was funny.  Everyone was just so excited. And then a Vietnamese nun came and showed me her pictures through her viewfinder.  In the sky around the statue, there were 2-4 irridescent spheres.  “Tigle!” I said.  She was excited by my reaction “you know!?  You must concentrate, and take pictures now.”

so I moved back from the people and the excitement.  Closed my eyes and thought of my friend, how she needed extra help tomorrow. “Please… help her through this…”  I thought.  “Make it easier for her, with less pain & quick healing.”  I started taking pictures.

And then I got these.













And the next moment, they were gone.

Another girl was there taking pics the same time as me, (although it seemed we all were); she too had similar pictures.  She said that the Vietnamese call them “Flowers from Heaven.”  I like how when you look at them, inside them, you can see concentric rainbows, shapes, and symbols.  In one, I see what looks like a photo of a child…

Some say the Mandala orbs are special because they  occur around holy sites, have a special meaning, and are rare.  People from all religions describe them as happening at holy places and special times; on Native Indian reservations, European Pagan lands, and circulating the monasteries of Tibet.Some say the Mandala Orbs are just dust.  Caught with a flash of light.  (You didn’t  see them with the naked eye).  All i know is that the people around us that night were especially sweet, humble, and kind.  My friend’s procedure went fine and she is healing, and for at least a week now, I’ve felt more buoyant and content than before.

Others have posted their pics here

Inspiring Fall Treasures- Andrew Thornton

My favorite blog now is “The writing and art of Andrew Thornton”- who as writer, jewelry designer, visual artist, and chef- is always flanked by at least two Muses!

The blog I enjoy most now is “The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton”; wonderful writer, jewelry designer extraordinaire, photographer, artist, chef…   He has a knack for making the mundane- etherial, and the scary- provocative.   Can’t decide which I like more; his nature walks (where he  photographs the most beautiful flowers & plants), his daily musings, or his cool 1-of-a-kind jewelry designs.  He is one of those artists who busts at the seams with endless talent and who seems constantly flanked by at least 2 Muses at any given moment.  One of the best writers/artists to blog the “inspiration is everywhere” phenomena on a daily basis.

I ordered a few treasures from his shop last month & had a blast opening the package!

He is sponsoring a Thursday Giveaway this week; ultra cool Hallow’s Eve inspired charms by Melissa J. Lee.  Check it out!!

October Celebrations

October is my favorite month; it’s my birthday month; it yields the most colorful change of seasons; it’s Halloween; it’s my purging time of year, and it’s the month I prepare my Dia de los Muertos alter.  To me, October is the most potent season of the year because it’s a time of renewal, which for me, makes it more of a New Year’s than any other month of the year.

Because I won’t be home much of Oct. or Nov with my performing schedule, I feel like I have to race to enjoy all of the things October represents; I started purging last month; I’m making more jewelry that feels like Fall, and Dia de los Muertos, and I’ll be setting up my alter earlier and enjoying it later ;).

Not only is Dia de los Muertos the traditional time of year to honor our ancestors (no matter our ancestry)- family and loved ones passed from this life- for me, it is also a time to celebrate everything we’ve gained and lost in the year.

I first started honoring the Days (Nov. 1 is a day for children, Nov. 2nd for adults) this way when I was in college in Austin.  A friend’s altar was her creative corner of the house with handmade offerings, bright traditional sugar skulls, calaveras figurines, pictures of relatives & friends who’d passed, and bouquets of marigolds.  But she also had lots of personal mementos from the year that marked anything she had lost, was grieving, or just trying to work out.  Big stuff and little stuff. She told me something that really stayed with me; during this time of year, in addition to the spirits that normally guide you through the year, you now have those whom you’ve known and loved from the past who are suddenly  close when the ‘veil between the worlds’ is extra thin.  This of course ties in Pagan beliefs of Halloween, and All Souls Day.  My friend said that because they will come close to give you guidance, counsel, and company-  you must generously prepare the treasured food and drink they love, and have pretty things for them to admire (like things you make).

Here are a couple of things I hope they will like. 😉  The hand painted ceramic pendant is from Gaea. I used pink opals and green howlite to bring out the pendant’s colors, a bronze charm from ashes to beauty and seed beads.  I’ll be posting more creations inspired by Gaea’s Day of the Dead collection very  soon.

And a very Fall cherry quartz necklace with copper.

Trading Muses~ Fighting the Funk w/ more Creativity

I’m trading the Musical Muses for the Poetry and Crafty Muses this month! Stay tuned for jewelry and other gems that will float by like the leaves!

I’m not sure how people do it- blogging from the road.  I’ve just kick started this blog, & haven’t done so well these past few months of getting to computers while traveling.  But I really want to get better at it- and I welcome advice from others!

Now that I’m home for awhile, it feels like I can counter this patch of blue burnout that’s been slowly brewing over the last few weeks.  Since releasing a new CD in May, and working hard to get the word out, traveling short tours (Texas, China, US- Northwest coast, Southwest,…), doing distribution & radio campaigns-  I need some creative down time.  I’m just happy to be able to do this from home for the next few weeks.

Funny, It’s not enough to write the music, record it, find great musicians to perform it.  Being “independent”- unsigned & with no record label support- musicians have to do everything themselves now;  record your own music, find distributors for it, book shows & tours yourself, do all your own promotion, find the funds, travel with little down time, run your own radio campaigns, constantly live on a shoestring, pay bills with crazy low shifting incomes (haah!), and of course wake up happy & energized to keep inspired day after day.  I’m really not complaining- I’m just amazed how much work it takes to try to be an independent, full-time musician.  You definitely have to have a thick skin, and like the journey more than anything else.

Ok so some Good news now!:  It’s not all for naught; I put my heart & soul into my latest CD (Tortilla Western Serenade ) culling what I think have been my best songs over the last coupla years, writing lots of new ones, working w/ cool musicians I never thought i’d meet much less work with.  I’m really excited about how it all came out- it is my opus so far. 😉   I named it Tortilla Western(spaghetti western meets Tex-Mex & rock), to fill a void, a confluence of influences I just didn’t hear & wanted more of.  The reviewers have been kind. Right now, over 50 US radio stations are playing  it (eeek!), its been 7 weeks in the top 25 roots rock/Americana charts; European stations are spinning it; old & new fans are listening & responding so sweetly (which inspires like nothing else!)

I make music not only to serve the hungry Muses that channel through me, but to hopefully put something into the world that is refreshing, unique, hopeful, uplifting, loving, inspiring, provocative, fun, & vivid. It really is an offering- from the Muses & me.  As reward, I just want to eek out a small, modest mode of survival. (ha!- but don’t all artists!!?)

So yes, suddenly I need a break.  I actually kinda shut down 2 weeks ago.  & last weekend (Labor Day) was my first such break of sorts; so I laid low, read Neil Gaiman, wrote a poem, listened to Peggy Lee, & started getting my jewelry space organized to start making things again.  I need this as therapy- am desperate for it~ Someplace to run into & not come out of until soothed.

So Musical Muses! Thank you for so much presence this past year; I treasure you…

But now, I need to nest up for Fall & make some new treasures.  I haven’t made anything in (omg… 2 years!?) But I’m thankful for friends who are asking about my next trunk show, or asking for pieces.  The challenge is on;  its Fall!  Between shows & travel, I’m getting busy 😉  yay!

Following the Muse~

The Muses come to my world when I’m making music, writing poetry, or making jewelry- and they always leave me wanting more. I want to hear how the muse travels through others’ creative worlds too.

So I wanted to start a Muse’s Blog to hear and tell of the Muse’s meanderings wherever s/he goes, and to follow them wherever they are.  The Muses come to my world when I’m making music, writing poetry, making jewelry…and they always leave me content and awestruck-   (“How did that just happen!!”)  Of course they don’t always stay close.   I want to hear/see how the Muse travels others’ creative worlds too.

Sometimes the Muses visiting me are taunting when they arrive (“you only call when you want something.  Good luck!!”).  Other times they are kind and endearing.  Either way, they always impel, or leave me with something to think about (even if only abuse ;).  Inspiration is everywhere, but I think the Muses show up when we are meant to find something particular and to actively search follow something through to the end.  The Muses prod us- sometimes to just breathe in what inspires- from a distance;  sometimes to lose ourselves completely in some sweet act of creativity.