Pure Imagination,#1256



Every once in a blue moon, you encounter a soul so purely creative and innovative that just being in their very presence is inspiring.  I don’t just mean the kind of inspiring that gets your thoughts spinning and taps into your imagination.  Instead, this sort of once-in-a-lifetime earth shattering force gets your creative juices flowing and doesn’t stop there.  They inspire action.  They inspire the fire that lights your pants and gets you up and going.  They inspire you to share your efforts and to stand up and be noticed.

That was the kind of person my Uncle Irving was.  His creativity was absolutely limitless, and watching him work was mind boggling.

One time I ran into him at the local library with a stack of books in his hands as he was leaving and walking to his car.  His short explanation to me as we crossed paths was “I couldn’t figure out how to do something.”  What a statement!  Uncle Irving simply was not the type of person to give up and under no circumstances would accept defeat.

There are so many funny stories I could share about my uncle, but when I really think about writing this blog, it’s not the stories that I really want to pass along.  I know that my family and friends will read this, and I think what I most want them to take away when they remember Irving Olson is this:

Absolutely anything that you dream of achieving is possible.  Go give it your all and don’t let anybody tell you how to do it.  It’s your dream, and you are its inventor.

He never said those words to me, but just being in his presence made me believe them.  He didn’t have to say those words to me, because Irving Olson led by example.

The last time I used the song “Pure Imagination” for a blog post, it was a blog about Steve Jobs.  Yes, my Uncle Irving was an elite innovator of the highest ranks.. He was Steve Jobs creative, and so…it is time to use this song again.  I’ll give it a bit of a different twist though.  Maroon 5 did a cover of “Pure Imagination” when Gene Wilder passed away a few weeks ago.  It’s a well done cover, and AdamaLevine’s voice is perfect for it.  So, here it is a new spin on a classic…enjoy!


End Note:

I wonder if I’ll ever use “Pure Imagination” again.  Perhaps not, because this type of innovation only comes around once in blue moon.  Uncle Irving passed away just shy of his 103rd birthday.  I hope in the next century, we’ll encounter this rare breed again.  One can only hope.


Fox Eyes, Whale Heart, #1255



It always gives me great pleasure to update my blog readers on the progress of one of my Songstress Spotlight artists.  In 2013, I introduced my Tucson Songstress readers to Bobby Jo Valentine, a singer songwriter out of the San Francisco area who was highly touted in 2011 as “Songwriter of the Year” by the West Coast Songwriters Association.  (CLICK HERE to read my 2013 interview with Bobby Jo.)

It is easy to understand why the West Coast Songwriters Association would give the folk/pop artist such a distinction, as his music clearly appeals to the highest level musician, and his open and honest lyrics fills a listener with hope.  His soulful voice finds its way into your heart, and simply, Bobby Jo Valentine’s music is as his name suggests – a greeting of love and kindness that gives “Be Mine” an interesting edge with all the sugar you’d expect.


“Fox Eyes, Whale Heart” is Valentine’s latest collection, which took him 2 years to complete with producer Scott Michelson.  The compilation leads you in with the upbeat “Carry Me Away,” and immediately, the listener assumes that they are on a love-bound journey with starry eyes and a full heart.  When the lilting strings of song #2 “Bones” starts playing, however, with a very different sound from “Carry Me Away,” the reality of a true relationship sets in.  We realize that this love is much more complex with the lyric “I’m breaking more than just my bones.”  Song after song leads you through the roller coaster of relationships, and by the time you get to the last track, “Something You Happen To,” there is a maturity to the love with the lyric “Life isn’t just what happens.  It’s something you have to do.”

Bobby Jo Valentine’s “Fox Eyes, Whale Heart” is a gorgeous collection and one that’s worth listening to in great detail.  The album is now available for pre-order on iTunes (and includes 4 free songs!!!) with an expected release date of March 27, 2016.  You can also listen to one of the new songs, “Bones,”  off of the new album by CLICKING HERE.  Or, go check out Bobby Jo live when he tours to your city.  CLICK HERE for upcoming concert details and make sure to like his Facebook page for all of his latest news.

In the meantime, here’s a beautiful track from Bobby Jo Valentine’s previous album.  The song is called “Fly,” and it clearly paints the picture of why Bobby Jo is music to take note of.  Enjoy!

The Luckiest, #1254


My daughter is the most special little girl.  She is beautiful inside and out.  I have known this from the moment I laid eyes on her, but every once in while there will be a key moment that makes me understand this on a deeper level.  Yesterday, her beauty was at its most radiant, and I am beyond proud.

For two years, my daughter has been growing out her hair.  Her long hair was gorgeous – thick and wavy.  She had always talked about donating her hair when she eventually would cut it, but I was beginning to wonder if it was ever really going to happen.

Yesterday, as we were headed to the hair dresser, she suddenly had the desire for this beauty salon visit to be THE day.  And so….here it is in pictures, blog readers.  The end of my daughter’s hair journey, and the moment when kindness became a selfless act.

My daughter and I have a wonderful hair dresser.  Courtney Cimino owns her own boutique salon called Bold Boutique.  It is in a Sola Salon complex, and it is a tiny little haven to go to when you need hair perfection.  When we announced to her that we needed to cut 8 inches off, she was excited and happy to do the job.

Here is the before picture.  So long hair!


The snip…


Ponytail gone!


Admiring the new look…


Thank you Courtney!  You’re an awesome hairdresser, and we are so glad that we got to share this moment with you.  You made it special, and my daughter looks even more gorgeous than she already was.


The 8 inch ponytail is being sent off to Pantene Beautiful Lengths where they, in turn, will turn it into a wig for a cancer patient.  It takes 8 ponytails to make one wig, and Pantene has donated 42,000 wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig bank to date.  Many organizations that take hair donations require a 10-12 inch ponytail, but Pantene accepts 8 inch ponytails which makes it a little easier to donate.  (CLICK HERE to read their hair donation requirements.)

I couldn’t be more proud that my 11-year-old daughter decided on her own that she wanted to do this extreme act of kindness.  It came from her heart and required commitment and bravery.  She is amazing, and I am one lucky Mama.

That is why my song of the day is “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds Five, because lucky doesn’t even begin to describe the pride I have for her.  She is a blessing in every kind of way.

I’ll Stand By You, #1253



My cat died last night, and it was really quite devastating.  She was old – just about 16-years-old to be exact, and she lived with us for 15 years.  We have been feeling that this day was hidden somewhere in the shadows just waiting to sneak up us, but never did I think that the end would happen so suddenly with no warning.  One minute she was eating her breakfast with vigor and the next she was fighting for breath.  I suppose we’ll never really know what happened, but truthfully, what does it matter anyway?  We’re not getting her back, and we can all find comfort in knowing that she spent her last moments feeling the love pouring out of us.

I haven’t felt inspired to write lately, and even though I am extraordinary busy with work and school, writing during my free moments just hasn’t felt natural.  I hadn’t planned on writing about our cat dying either even though I have paid tribute to each of our pets as they crossed over the Rainbow Bridge over the years.

So what changed my mind you might all be wondering?  Simple.  It was the power of kindness.

When Nutmeg died last night, I posted a picture of her on Facebook and sent a RIP message out to the world.  I am absolutely moved and kind of dumbfounded, too, by the result.  Friends from all parts of my life left their beautiful remarks, but what really amazed me was the amount of strangers that wrote to me, too.  One woman emoted, “I don’t even know you and I’m crying. I dread this day. Condolences.”

She summed up the sentiment.  Our pets touch us in ways that people just can’t.  They speak to our gentlest sides and somehow know what we are feeling and offer comfort in their loving gaze.  Their stare speaks volumes – perhaps a deeper language than even the spoken word.

So with all that kindness comes inspiration.  I feel so connected to my fellow pet lovers, because they get it, and that is a beautiful thing.

My song of the day is by the Pretenders.  “I’ll Stand By You” is the ultimate show of support, and I am feeling it all around.  Thank you friends. xo

Rebel Rebel, #1252



I was not ready for this horrible news I woke up to today.  David Bowie dead?  The tears are streaming down my face.  I know I didn’t really know him, but I feel like I lost personal friend.  I have been so intimate with his music for so many years, and it has always been a constant that when I blare Bowie music through my speakers, I’m happy.

He was just so original and never conformed to just one style.  He was rock n’ roll, punk, pop, flamboyant, real, fashionable….everything I love in music all rolled into one.  I miss those qualities in today’s music….there’s rarely anyone who just sounds fresh, and just last week, there was even more music released by David Bowie to the world.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but I didn’t care.  A new album held the possibility of a tour.  David Bowie was my dream concert….the one that I never got to but always hoped and prayed would eventually happen.  I had my eye on his website for years…just yearning for the day I’d see him live.

I’m heartbroken today.  We didn’t just lose a legend – we lost an innovative soul, and oh – how the loss of him stings.

My song of the day is Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel.”  It was hard to pick the perfect song for this moment.  There are so many to choose from.  I think though that David Bowie’s appeal is in his rebellious nature, and I just want to send this message to the universe for him….”Hot tramp, I love you so.”

I Will Survive, #1251



I love having an orange tree, and especially I love having the orange tree that we have.  It’s been through hard times, but somehow it survived.

When we first moved into our house, we were having some construction done, and the workers poured cement on it’s base.  It all but died, but somehow green leaves poked through the next year, and each year after, it got a little healthier.

It wasn’t until last year, 10 years after the cement incident that it began to produce some fruit.  It wasn’t a large crop, but there were some oranges nonetheless.

And now this…bright beautiful orange fists of triumph towering high into the sky impossible to reach.  Their color against the blue sky are bright spots of cheery promise that there will be even a better crop of oranges next year.

FullSizeRender-6I’ve been a nonexistent blogger lately.  At first it all started because I was overwhelmed with final projects from my school alongside my children’s final semester work and not to mention Hanukkah which kept me busy both professionally and personally.  And then…..unimaginable tragedy.  One that is not for blogging at this time but has occupied all my thoughts.  A tragedy that crippled my writing, because what could I possibly say to make it better?

Today, however, I pulled some of those oranges off of my beloved orange tree.  They are ready for eating – the fruits of the labor ripe with life.  They are such a representation of optimism that suddenly I was compelled to sit down with my old trusty friend and type some thoughts down for the first time in a long time.

The moral of the story is….if your are ever cemented into place, that cement will eventually be able to crumble and something new and good will be the result.  Thank you little orange tree.  I love you.  Thank you for reminding me we all can survive.

So Long Target Hanukkah Aisle, #1250


When I lived in Los Angeles, Hanukkah greeted you everywhere that you went – in the drugs stores, the department stores, in the grocery stores.  With the second largest Jewish population in the country, it is no wonder that there was a consumer market for Hanukkah.

After a decade of living in a large city, however, my husband and I decided to live a simpler life in Arizona.  Suddenly, I really felt how much of a minority it was to be Jewish, and Hanukkah time really delivered that blow.  I remember going from store to store searching out Hanukkah wrapping paper in my procrastination night-before-Hanukkah frenzy.  The synagogue gift shops were closed. Bed Bath and Beyond (the one store with a tiny Hanukkah display) had run out of all the Hanukkah wrapping paper.  I was stuck with ordinary plain Jane blue paper.  Sorry kids.  Oh well, at least they were young, and it probably didn’t really matter to them.

It mattered to me though!  I wanted Hanukkah to feel festive.  Finally, a couple of years ago, something magical happened.  I walked into Target, and I saw this…


Wow!  An entire aisle devoted to Hanukkah!  In Tucson, AZ!  I was in 7th heaven.  I ran into the Rabbi’s wife in that aisle stocking up, and we giggled like kids in a candy store.  What a joy it was so have such a selection.

So, yesterday….again procrastinating (Hanukkah starts tomorrow), I went back to my trustworthy Target, and began to search for my beloved Hanukkah aisle.  Where was it?  Rows and rows of Christmas, and absolutely nothing in the friendly blue, white and silver.

And then, just as I was heading up to the cashier, I saw it….the Hanukkah display.  My heart dropped into my stomach a bit.  This is what Hanukkah had become at Target in 2015….


A lousy end cap.  That’s what we were reduced to.  I get it….we’re the minority, and perhaps there just weren’t enough people buying Hanukkah items to warrant a whole aisle.  After losing the awesome Kosher section at our local Safeway grocery store this year, however, and now this….I’m truly sad.  I’m feeling overlooked, and it is really disappointing.

I’ve got my candles.  I’ve got my wrapping paper.  I’ve got my gelt.  I am ready to go with Hanukkah, but the Target end cap made me really sad.  I don’t just want to have a dreidel….I want to choose from a selection of them.  I want a variety of choices to decorate with, and I want to feel festive at this time of the year and add to a whole world of holiday joy.  And….I want to do it by outwardly celebrating MY holiday.

So, my song of the day is Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song.  He’s created some updated versions of this song, but I’m going back to the original.  What I love about his Hanukkah song is that he brought Hanukkah to the mainstream and reminded us that there are Jews all around us who celebrate the holiday season the Hanukkah way.  So, Happy Hanukkah everyone.  I hope you find it to be festive!

Rock & Roll High School,#1249



I’ve been kind lackluster about blog writing lately.  I am such a busy person, and if there is no topic that jumps out for me, I’ve been finding it daunting to write.

This morning, however, a childhood friend posted some photos of construction being done on a building and referred to it as our former high school.  What was this modern looking place that was expected to open in Fall 2016?  It was not the modest little building that makes me think of my home town as so wholesome and quaint.  It breaks my heart a little that what was is now being pushed away for something shinier and new.  Here’s an animated look of the new entrance.

To add salt to the wound just a bit, they’re building this amazing new theatre, too, and there’s even a performing arts school attached to it.  Performing arts school???  Are you kidding me?  I ended up leaving that high school and going away to boarding school so I could go to performing arts school.  I can’t even imagine how different my life would be today if that had existed when I was growing up there.

I guess I should be happy for all the future students who will be blessed with these incredible new digs, but I must admit that I’m a bit sad over the whole thing.  My home town should always stay the same.  All the same stores should be there when I come home for a visit, and everything should remain in the same spot just as it was so I can find it again.

I am very good about accepting change…just not with my home town though.  No more changes, please!  I want you stay just as I remember.

My song of the day is from the Ramones.  Their Rock and Roll High School describes this new foreign place.  It is sure to be rockin’, but I just wish it it was as corny as ever.

Gratitude, #1248



I love Thanksgiving!  It’s the one day of the year that people open up with their feelings and acknowledge their appreciation for one another.  So here I am, too.  I’m joining the band wagon and letting you all know how grateful I am for my friends, family and Tucson Songstress fans.  Music people are the best, and anyone who follows my blog falls into that category.  In my opinion, music brings people together, and I am entirely blessed that it has connected me with you!

My Thanksgiving song of the day is from Earth, Wind and Fire.  Their “Gratitude” brings a funky edge and spirit to this day, so enjoy and count your blessings that we have each other.  I sure do. xo

I Want To Be The Girl With the Most Cake, #1247


Yesterday was my son’s 9th birthday party, and I couldn’t help but think and realize that since I’ve been a mother beginning in 2004, I have hosted 18 birthday parties between my two kids.

Oh gosh…planning a kid’s birthday party takes a lot of effort and care, but nothing is more important to a child than the cake.  The cake determines the theme of the party, and that is the end all/ be all important matter of the year to children.

So, I took a look back at all the past cakes.  So many themes, so much yumminess, so much happiness all from this one important detail.  I couldn’t find photos of all the cakes, but here are 15 of them.

My daughter’s 2nd birthday:  Elmo


My son’s 1st birthday:  All Star


Daughter’s 3rd Birthday:  Winnie the Pooh


Daughter’s 4th Birthday:  Hello Kitty


Son’s 3rd Birthday:  Thomas the Train


Daughter’s 6th Birthday:  Little Mermaid


Daughter’s 6th Birthday:  The Fashion Party


Son’s 5th Birthday:  Kung Fu Panda


Son’s 6th Birthday:  Pirate Party


Daughter’s 8th Birthday:  Smurfs!


Son’s 7th Birthday:  Legos


Daughter’s 9th Birthday:  Pretty Cake1375204_10202384271195285_1050363055_n

Son’s 8th Birthday:  Minecraft


Daughter’s 10th Birthday:  Frozen


Son’s 9th Birthday:  Jurassic World


Daughter’s 11th:  Music and Karaoke Cake


My kids’ birthdays are 6 weeks apart, and with the end of my son’s party yesterday, it means we have a whole year to plan for next year.  I can only imagine what they will drum up.  Until then, as Courtney Love sang in the 90’s, “I want to be the girl with the most cake!”  That’s why Doll Parts is  my song of the day.  Enjoy!

Note:  I am having a tough time today embedding the video (?????) – will try from another computer later.  Until then, CLICK HERE, to be directed to watch Hole perform “Doll Parts.”