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. 😉


Rain Poem

Standing in the street today
drinking you down
mouth open to the sky
to corral the tiniest of gifts,
each one tasting of
cold front
Ions abandoned mid-air
somewhere far
over a lightning sea
now falling on me
past parted lips,
into one celestial

All this after counting leaves
(only red) on the left side of
the street, near trees whose secret purple
berries lie dangerously ripe
against the gray sky, with all
the childhood that escaped once-
now spinning wildly inside- into an almost scream
running uphill, eyes closed
I meet the rain that has finally
come to bathe us

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.

More Treasures- Anne Choi Art Beads

Anne Choi’s fine silver art beads

Long an admirer of Anne Choi’s fine silver art beads, I finally just ordered some and WOW- are they gorgeous!   The urge to order now came both from seeing them in Andrew Thorton’s designs and past blogs, and a little something that’s been happening closer to home lately.

Red-tailed hawks started nesting last year in the small redwood groves near our house.  But lately, mysteriously, they are no longer around.  Coincidentally timed are the presence of large ravens in and around the same groves.  Hmmm… where did you come from?  Are you here to stay?  We’ve always had hawks, crows & such, but the ravens are nubbies to the hood.  Suddenly it seems time  to explore these amazing creatures and find something  ravenesque to start with.  (More on the Ravens soon).

So I was thrilled to find one very special raven artbead in Anne Choi’s inventory. On the sides it says “See, how the lilies flourish white and fair! See, how the ravens fed from heaven are!” by Thomas Dyches, 1800

As you see- Anne’s work is amazing;  gorgeously detailed and breathtaking in depth of design.  I was pleasantly surprised by the generous proportion of each bead- quite large as beads go; hefty in size but light in weight (they are hollow), each sterling silver piece is patinated and polished to accentuate the fine detail and shadow in the design.   I’m enjoying keeping them close; on display, or in my pocket- but close to soak up the sweet charge of each one!  On her website, Anne tells a bit about each- what inspired them, the image (elephant, raven, mandrake, butterfly,  lilly, crow-or a new creature morphed of two), and its symbolic meanings in different cultural contexts-all enriched with a personal tidbit of discovery, meaning, or irony.  Engraved on most of the beads is a sweet literary quote (Elliot, Shakespeare, Cummings, Swift…).  The quotes are written in gorgeous fonts- in either English, or Latin, or French, along one beadface.  Just exquisite.

My favorite bead & quote this week is the calaveras- a sugar skull in the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos tradition that says “It’s All Life Until Death”!  Miguel de Cervantes.  Tis the season, and I can’t wait to see Anne’s other designs.

You can read details and see pictures of Anne’s process here.

Inspiring Treasures

The Best Tibetan Beads at Pema Arts

Ok- I’m squirreling away for Fall.  I’ll start posting some of the things I’ve found this month to inspire new creations.  A friend asked me to make him a talisman, so I thought I’d start here with

Norbu at Pema Arts .  They have such an amazing collection of Tibetan beads- amber, turquoise, shell, resin, silver of varied types, dzi beads, and old necklaces made by the Himalayan tribes of Tibet, Nepal, & India.  You can feel so much history when you visit his site/booth.  He goes to all the bead shows- so keep your eye out for he/his family and their fine collection, new & old.