The last blog I wrote was about Will Smith taking a swing at Chris Rock at the Academy Awards. What year was that? Feels like ancient history, considering all that is happening in the world. In our heads. And hearts.

Well I’ve missed writing and connecting with you. The “music thing” has kind of taken over my life and this worker-bee loves to work.

I still do one gig a week, teaching beginning ukulele at a local retirement community. Our enthusiastic little band of strummers scat on Route 66 and go all country with Jambalaya. This is my Friday reminder, up close and personal, how music heals us. One strum at a time. Here and then gone.

The CC Strummers are busy and growing. It’s thrilling that our players, both local and totally not local, are forming their own groups, performing and teaching the stuff we learn in our Zoom classes. A few of them tell me they hear “my voice” in their head. Quick, call a shrink! But I hear the voices of my teachers too. Long gone, they are. Flawed, wonderful human beings who changed my life and didn’t always give me the best advice.

What a kaleidoscope of contradictions, this teaching business. I make mistakes. We all do. I don’t always get it right the first time. Do you? I change my mind and frequently ask “what do YOU think?” because I trust that we draw inspiration from the same well. We may scoop with different buckets and what happens next? Who knows… But aren’t we all students? And teachers? Elders? Elders-to-be?

Our windy rendition of “Sweet Caroline” at The WLA Farmers’ Market will blow you away.

The CC Strummers had an eventful November…The weather is supposed to be “breezy” but halfway through our last show of the year at The WLA Farmers’ Market, the wind suddenly whips up and sends various objects flying through the air including our song sheets, music stands, chairs, hats. But we soldier on and laugh through it. Maybe if this wind storm had been a tornado I would have yelled “RUN!” But shows can be about the ways we endure, too. It feels like we’re the band on the Titanic. We know how this is going to end, but we keep playing anyway. Because that’s what musicians do. Click here to watch.

I’m playing along with the bass and drum tracks to my song “Pony Ride” with Loki, the puppy-muse close by. Everyone should have a therapy dog on duty when they are recording!

And would you believe I’m recording again?

Over the years I’ve written several instrumentals on the ukulele with pretty melodies you can actually hum. But I’ve also had to “practice, practice, practice” as if I REALLY AM going to play at Carnegie Hall. Well MY Carnegie Hall is the spare room at my producer’s house. Together we’ve been working on my album, Looking Glass, for months. Soon my graphic artist will assemble the “gift wrapping” and while that’s happening, I’m preparing easier arrangements and video tutorials so YOU can learn to play these songs too. I’ll keep you in the loop as things progress. Please Click Here to watch.

Friday evening is date night with my sweet husband. There are meet-and-greets with friends, trips to Trader Joe’s because, when it comes to meal preparation, I need all the help I can get.

I am calling this “Ukulele Joy Around the World” and it was painted by one of our CC Strummers, Eve Myles.

Don’t laugh but this schedule is my idea of “cutting back” after I had a heart attack in the middle of the pandemic. Life is messy and complicated. When there is so much suffering and s-c-a-r-y in the world, it can be a slippery slope into the land of despair, but I’m so grateful that WE, you and me, are still here.

I send weekly newsy emails with class materials specifically to The CC Strummers. But when I send a blog, it goes to everyone on my master list…which means a lot of you haven’t heard from me for quite a while and may have thought I ran off to join the circus…

Please know I’ve missed this connection and hearing from you. I’ve missed the “ahh” feeling I get being part of our shared online ohana.

But if you would like to join The CC Strummers’ elist and receive my weekly missives (or unsubscribe), please email me. Our Zoom classes are on holiday break and will resume the second week in January, 2024.


“After all that we’ve been through in the world, I feel like we all want a place to be safe and connected to other human beings. Everyone has a thirst for community.” Beyonce.
From “Beyonce. Amen” by Michael Eric Dyson from The New York Times, December 3, 2023.


So here we are, on the cusp of the unknown…also called THE NEW YEAR! I’m girding myself for a BUMPY ride in 2024 and leaning into our community, and leaning into music, to uplift, reassure, embrace us in the fullness of this moment. May we flourish. May we endure. And may we strum happy…

“This will be our reply to violence:
To make music more intensely, 
more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” Leonard Bernstein


One year ago, Friday, March 12, 2021, I had big plans for the day — two Zoom gigs and a Covid surge take-out dinner with my sweetie, wrapped and ready to go from our favorite Mexican Restaurant, Paco’s Taco’s.


“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” wrote John Lennon. Instead of enchiladas, I stared down a baby bowl of tepid vegetable soup that a guy from dietary delivered to my hospital room.

Many of you know that my husband drove me to the emergency room at U.C.L.A. early that morning because, well, something didn’t feel right. I was experiencing strange heartburn in my throat, tightness in my neck and jaw, mild pain that radiated down both arms, a little pushy-pushy in my chest. No drama, no clutching. But all this stuff happened like an arpeggio in music, one note after another until the whole dissonant chord was ringing. When I circled the living room trying to walk it off, I felt sick to my stomach and was breathing hard. “It’s a panic attack,” I told myself, rather unconvincingly, because I don’t get panic attacks.

Like many people, “denial” is my first strategy of defense. It’s a freaking miracle that denial gave way, quickly, to begrudging acceptance. I swallowed an aspirin and got to the hospital where I tried to play down the whole thing as the emergency room nurse greeted me at the door and asked what’s going on. “Oh I feel like an idiot being here, but…”

In minutes the nurses and ER doc were huddled around my EKG. X-Rays were ordered, an ultrasound of my heart. They started an IV immediately and brought on the blood thinners and God knows what else. The cardiologist arrived and did his twenty questions thing. It would take hours before a diagnosis was made because, for one thing, I was NOT “presenting” as someone in acute cardiac distress.

Well guess what…

I was having a heart attack, right there in the emergency room and if I hadn’t gotten help in time, there is a chance I would not have survived. The big firehose of a coronary artery, the LAD (Lateral Anterior Descending), also known as “The Widow Maker,” keeps a big hunk of the heart watered and fed. If it goes, so do you. Mine was 80% blocked with sticky goo.

The doc in the cardiac heart catheterization lab gave me a full report after the procedure and didn’t mince words. I have to take pills to lower my cholesterol (forever) AND blood thinners for one year otherwise my brand new stent may fail and I can kiss my ass goodbye.

So March 12th is not only the anniversary of my heart attack, but it’s the day I can THROW AWAY the Plavix. Bring on the trumpets!

For the past year, a dinky paper cut would bleed until cows fly. Mysterious bruises — colorful splotches of black, blue, purple, red — appeared on my body, out of nowhere. Did I bump myself? Walk into a wall? Take up wrestling? Maybe…maybe…nooooo. My hemoglobin is still in the dumper. I know this is a nothingburger price to pay for being alive. I also know that too many women (and men) do not survive their first heart attack. I wrote several blogs about what happened and lots of people shared their own stories with me. Sometimes things ended well and sometimes they didn’t.

News Flash: According to the American Heart Association, heart disease kills one woman every 80 seconds in the United States. And half of all women who experience a heart attack have no warning signs and only subtle symptoms. “Unfortunately, this has led to worse outcomes in women with heart disease compared to men.”  Cardiologist Marcella Calfon Press, MD, PhD, co-director of UCLA Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center

Still sitting down on the job

I thought I’d bounce back quickly and resume my way-too-busy schedule. Like NOW. But even while I was building my stamina in Cardiac Rehab, I had to take naps to make it through the day. As a performer and teacher I’m used to standing up in front of an audience and bopping around. But it took nine months before I could jettison the chair and bop once more. Then there’s the “head space” thing. Stuff I thought I had worked through years ago — family traumas — came roaring back and almost knocked me out of orbit.

When something like a heart attack (or fill-in-the-blank) happens, it’s like a body blow that throws you off balance or flat on the floor or over the edge. I remember laying on that hard gurney under the flying angiogram machine as they inserted a stent into my heart and thinking, uh-oh…this could be it.

The curtains parted a little and I got a real good look at the BIG PICTURE. That I am a renter here and the lease will end. That everyone I love will leave, some way or another. Every thing I cherish has a short shelf-life, even when I measure it in spins around the sun. Every tasty bite of guacamole…chew, swallow, gone. Disappearing into the wild, whirling cauldron of life. 24/7 alchemy, it is.

I don’t need to look any farther than our beloved ukulele to feel the kiss of impermanence. We strum four strings, a chord, make a beautiful sound and it ripples in our bones. But almost immediately it changes or melts into the next strum or just fades away. Back to silence.

The best I can do is embrace this moment — this pixilated, messy, terrifying, dazzling moment. The best I can do is trust that somehow, somewhere woven deep into the tapestry of life, everything is okay. Even when it’s not.

“How wonderful to be who I am, made out of earth and water, my own thoughts, my own fingerprints—all that glorious, temporary stuff.” Mary Oliver

Thanks to Stuart and Doug for inviting me to be the guest on their recent Ooktown Podcast. I share a few laughs, some stories, songs and sing my one hit, “It’s A PMS Kind of Day.” You can click here to watch the video version or click here to listen to the Podcast (Ep.105: The PMS Song) on iTunes. Enjoy the whimsy!!!

Click this picture to watch The CC Strummers play “We’ll Meet Again” at our last Jackson’s Cafe Jam.

The CC Strummers are going strong, with four live jams a month and two Zoom classes every week (Monday and Thursdays). New players in SoCal are joining us in person and others from around the world are logging onto Zoom. This is definitely one of those silver lining things that happened because the pandemic happened. I am grateful beyond words for our community of players. We are helping each other bear the heaviness in the world. And feel the joy.  Speaking of joy… Click here to watch us play and sing my own song Brand New Day at our most recent jam.


Big fun happenings are happening in my world and I want to keep YOU in the loop!


This Thursday, September 16, 2021, from 5:00 to 6:00pm (PST), I am the guest teacher at The Ukulele Kids Club Academy. It’s FREE and online! So all you have to do is sit your butt down and play along. I remember the first class I taught with the UKC Academy because so many of you showed up and it just felt like home.

Over the years, the CC Strummers have donated $9000 to The UKC, which delivers ukuleles to pediatric hospitals near and far. Our designated hospital is UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. We keep them stocked with ukes and are looking forward to doing rounds with the music therapist again, playing for the kids and giving ukuleles away.

As a musician who has made a living working as a solo performer, it’s been quite a journey learning how to create ensemble arrangements that are accessible, challenging and surprising. At the same time.

Thursday we are going to take this “arranging” trip together and learn how to make a song your own.

CLICK HERE to register for the class and receive the Zoom link. I’m looking forward to seeing you!

Like many of you, I am stepping gingerly back into the world, along with many of the other players in The CC Strummers. We are more comfortable meeting and singing outside and have landed at a location that is ready-made for a Kanikapila–music, community and FOOD.

Jackson’s Cafe is located in a business park and on Sunday it is the only business open so we have their big umbrella-decorated patio and sprawling parking lot to ourselves.

Our twice-a-month gatherings are growing and turning into this “feel good thing” that so many of us are craving in this upside-down world.

So I shared The CC Strummers’ story with a local television station in Los Angeles, Spectrum News. Kristopher Gee, one of the on-air journalists, emailed back saying his producers are excited and can he attend one of the jams?

Well let me tell you, Kristopher stayed for two hours. He interviewed just about anyone who was willing to talk on camera and took a truckload of videos.

Then he culled the whole thing down to three minutes.  That’s three minutes that will make you smile! I think our ninety-one year old Lillian gets the Oscar for her ad lib about running off with a drunken sailor during the pandemic. And then there’s my oratory about snot…

CLICK HERE to watch the video on Kristopher’s FB Page. Enjoy!
And a great big _thank you_ to Kristopher and Spectrum News!

The CC Strummers continue to meet twice a week online for our Monday Beginners Ukulele Class and our Thursday Intermediate/Beginners Ukulele Class. Players join us from around the world. This has certainly been the silverlining of this pandemic for me. The boundaries of distance and time are increasingly irrelevant. Our classes are a refuge, a safe space, where we leave our differences behind and make music together.

CLICK HERE to learn more about these Zoom Classes.

The next online session of my intermediate level OnGoing Ukulele Workshop & Jambegins Saturday, September 25, 2021 from 10:30am to noon (PST). We take songs and fancy them up, with chords, strums, embellishments. We learn how to improvise a solo and create a chord melody. We are swimming in the deeper waters of music . Confident beginners and intermediate players are invited to take the deep dive with us. CLICK HERE for more information.

On a personal note, I finally finished Cardiac Rehab and am still alive. That blog is coming soon!

Thanks for being here… Take care of your precious selves and make some music!


“Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.” Emily Kimbrough, author and broadcaster (1899-1989)

I am not familiar with Emily nor her work, but I sure like this quote and maybe you noticed she lived a really long life. Heads up to my introvert, extrovert and whatever-vert friends.  Even during these “don’t touch me, don’t breathe on me” times, our pals, our friends, our tribes, the online faces in little Zoom boxes, we are throwing lifelines to each other.

We are “walking each other home.” (Ram Dass)

I’m one lucky lady because I am living the creative life. Got the music thing happening and like my daddy, I love to write. It’s a party in my brain when the two go matchy-matchy.

Three years ago, I was working with a couple ukulele students on gospel tunes. I love songs with thumping rhythm that rolls in my belly.  But I’m not a “religious” person so for my daily dose of inspiration, I look to you, the beloved community*. Numberless hands and hearts, known and unknown, help me through each day, like invisible rings of warm.

And it hit me. Why don’t I try to write one of those rollicking hand-clapping songs but what will I talk about? Well of course, the beloved community. Just like that, the melody and words poured out. This rarely happens in my songwriting life, where the creative process is more like pro-wrestling than “a spell.” But with Brand New Day, the beloved community waved its magic wand.

I started playing the song at my gigs. Folks clapped and sang along on the easy-peasy chorus: “Oh hallelujah! Oh hallelujah! Oh hallelujah! It’s a brand new day.”

Then I did a ukulele arrangement for The CC Strummers. They loved it too and we performed the song at Fiesta La Ballona, which is Culver City’s equivalent to a county fair. Some people in the audience gave us a standing ovation and yelled “more…more…more.” As a songwriter, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Flash forward to here and now.

“May you live in interesting times.” Apparently this is an English expression that is based on an old Chinese curse. We are painfully aware of all the awful that is happening in the world.  How easy it is to miss the little flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk.  Or through a seemingly impenetrable wall that separates us?

A friend once told me that life is a mystery to be lived, not solved. So I look to the beloved community to sustain me. We are going through this together, like sentries, quietly and not-so-quietly, witnessing our shared humanity.  The joys, the sorrows.  The whole mess of it.

My ukulele group, The CC Strummers, has morphed into a global ohana online. I am gobsmacked and filled with gratitude that we have the technology to support this kind of work and that we have each other. This is where I have landed—at the intersection of music, technology and all that “it takes a village” stuff.

The CC Strummers’ tech master, Michael Kohan, has taken on this project—to turn Brand New Day into a marvelous Zoom mosaic. A musical partnership. Several of our players made their own videos and sing along on that catchy chorus. I hope you will sing along too. Watch the bouncing ball!

CLICK HERE to watch Brand New Day!

Thank you Michael for your extraordinary work! And thank you to our ohana who appear and sing on this video: Ellen B, Carole E, Lyn G, Nancy H, Bobbie H, Marilyn H, Lorri K, Sherry K, Michael K (editor and bass), Ethan K, Tom K, Donna N, Joyce P, Nomi R, Robert R, Bob S, Bonnie S, Lin Van G and Mollie W.

If this song is new to you and you’d like to learn it and/or share it with your peeps, Brand New Day is available as sheet music.

I’m going to sound like one of those late night infomercials… “For $5, yes only $5, the sheet music is yours AND there’s more! I will throw in the ukulele arrangement too. Whoo-Hoo!” If you are interested please CLICK HERE for more information.

Thank you for showing up, for yourself and others. Thank you for fighting the good fight, whatever that is, and for helping to make this brand new day a place we all want to share.


If you would like to Zoom with The CC Strummers on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings please CLICK HERE to check out my Zoom classes. Thank you!

*The Beloved Community is a term that was first coined in the early 20th Century by the philosopher Josiah Royce and later popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

CLICK HERE to watch The CC Strummers perform Brand New Day at Fiesta La Ballona.


All the “kids” in my ukulele group, The CC Strummers, are living courageous and Technicolor lives, whether they (or we) know it. The truth is I could write a blog about every one of them. I could write a blog about YOU and I bet I’d be plenty inspired.

Well let me introduce you to Miss Isabelle.

She walks into our ukulele class and brings a swath of sunshine with her. This woman. Like two allowance-challenged teenagers, she and I commiserate about the latest colorful frock we snagged at The Goodwill. Just about everything she wears looks good on her.

Including her latest medal…

Isabelle ran in the L.A. Marathon this month. And Isabelle FINISHED the L.A. Marathon. Did I mention it was a thousand degrees that day. Okay I am exaggerating. It was in the 90’s. NOT marathon weather. People were falling over or at least stopping and staying “stopped.” Men and women who are much younger than Isabelle gave in and gave up.

Happy 80th Birthday Isabelle!

She was determined to finish the race. All 26.2 miles! It took her almost 9 hours. Yes she stopped and rested a few minutes here and there… After mile 17 she decided to walk instead of trot. She took her time and enjoyed the scenery.

Did I tell you that she has completed lots of marathons and has the hardware and ribbons to show for it? The class gave her a big round of applause.

I walk my “marathon” three times a week. That would be a mile and half or 25 minutes (whatever comes first) around my neighborhood. Then I sprint up four flights of stairs to our condo. I’m winded and pooped. A jock I am not. Never have been. And then I think of beautiful Isabelle and…I go back to sleep.

It’s treacherous waters, comparing ourselves with others, so I give myself a metaphorical pat on the back for just doing what I do. “Consistency” is good enough in my air space.

But Isabelle does more than run… She flies. She goes to places that I happily visit on the National Geographic Channel but know I will never see in person. Last year she and her tennis shoes explored Machu Picchu in Peru. A couple years back she made it to the base camp of Mt. Everest. 17,000 feet UP.

“Where do you go to the bathroom”? I ask her. Because I always ask that question. Because if I go anywhere, I need a bathroom that is fully furnished, functional and private with a toilet that flushes. End of story. Isabelle tells me she squats over a hole in the ground. She describes the scene with such equanimity that joy washes over her face.

I tried squatting over my toilet once, just for fun. Just to see if I could do it. I sure “felt it” in my thigh and calf muscles. And other places. “Wow, this is good exercise,” I groaned to myself, just before giving up.

Ah, exercise….

Which brings us back to running our own marathon–saying “yes” to a body that keeps us moving along the asphalt highways of our life. Thank you Isabelle for loving the scenery and for showing us what is possible. At any age!