Poetry: finding your happy place…now with ukulele!

Kailua Beach, Oahu, HI. “I hear it in the deep heart’s core”

William Butler Yeats’ third quatrain of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (see below) talks about going to a happy place which exists in the “deep heart’s core”. His Innisfree, an uninhabited island filled with happy childhood memories is my Kailua beach. The iornwood burrs and the half-flowers of naupaka, the view of Popoi’a (Flat Island), a cup of black Lion Coffee from the Kalapawai Market at sunrise, the curve of the shore and the color of the water comes back with all the smells and sounds in need to take me far away from the maddening crowd. It’s the place I go in my mind when I when I need to find peace. I pick up my ukulele for that same reason; the practice of music is a place where “peace comes dropping slow “.

This spring, Daniel and I will visit the island of Molokai for the first time. I will be teaching a songwriting class at the Uke Ohana Molokai Retreat, April 5-9. Besides basic u’kulele techniques and song form, we will talk poetry: Ancient Hawaiian, contemporary, classical. Not every song has words, but poetry influences all songs, for poetry is the distillation of thought as music is the essence of feeling. It can be as naughty as a limerick, as simple as a haiku, or epic as the Aeneid.

Please join us as we immerse into Hawaiian culture and the beauty of the land. Breathing deep the warm, moist air filled with green and blue, letting softness and color return to the pavement grey of the city bleached mind. Finding a new happy place to arise and go to.

Molokai. Arise and go now.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

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The Matriarchy of Sauces

If hollandaise is the mother sauce of French cuisine, red chili sauce must be the madre of New Mexican food.  When Old World meets New World magic happens- breakfast fit for El Rey! (recipe follows)

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

I am looking forward to the cooking element of our Santa Fe adventure as much as the music!  First thing we will cook will be both red and green chili sauces.  And I’ll be putting recipes and songs and photos together into a book.  I hope you will reserve a seat at the table!

Even if you are not staying with us at the Inn, you can join in- there is a walk-in  option on the registration form, and soon we will open individual workshops to registration. (if you want to be first in line for the open registration I suggest you subscribe to the Ukulele Adventures blog post.)

And everyone is welcome at the public events, including a full-on Flamenco show at El Meson on Wednesday November 4th, and the Smoking Jackets Giant Show at Tiny’s on Friday November 6th.  Or come enjoy hearing the participants play at the Farmer’s market on Saturday morning or at La Choza Saturday night!

Full disclosure- the title of this post is the chapter heading from The Making Of A Cook by Madeleine Kamman.  That’s the book which made me a cook. Everything I know about eggs, cakes and sauces comes from the 1971 edition of this book.  I give it as a high school graduation present to every kid I know, as I think learning to cook a good omlette can save your life.  My copy is held together by tape, nostalgia and love, and I still consult it every time I make crepes.

These two pages can save your life!

The secret to life, the universe and everything

My hollandaise recipe has become somewhat free-form, but you can accomplish something like the sauce shown in the photo above if you try this:

Wisk 3 egg yolks into a cup of cold, good NM red chili sauce, add a little lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Over a medium flame wisk constantly.  Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of COLD butter.  The butter will melt as the chili and eggs come to temperature and you will have a no-fuss emulsified sauce. Pour over poached eggs nestled onto an english muffin or polenta or spinach…to make a NM Benedict.  Or serve with fish or asparagus.

Just be sure to make enough for me, because once I hear you are making it I may show up on your doorstep- Or- join us in Santa Fe and I’ll make it for you!

Reasons to take up SMOKING

Reason #1: Wardrobe.  You get a swell looking jacket and cravat, plus a jaunty hat!

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THE SMOKING JACKETS are (from left) Daniel Ward, Heidi Swedberg, Craig McClelland and John Bartlit. Craig is gigging in WI this summer, and will join us in November

The Smoking Jackets are hitting the road in trio formation- John Bartlit, Daniel Ward and I will presenting the first Rocky Mountain Ukulele Festival in Durango, Colorado.  We have a great day of workshops planned, starting Friday July 10th with our “song of the year”, Silly Love Songs.  The next day will be filled with classes: 3 sessions of 3 classes, offering a beginning, intermediate and advanced class each session. (I wish I could take John’s ukulele percussion class!)

Reason #2: Smoking is good for you.  When you are doing it on an instrument, that is.

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At the end of summer John will be coming out our way and we three will head up to the Wine Country Ukulele Festival together for four days of ukulele fun, September 10-13. We will be teaching, performing and doing all things ukulele, including a public show at Velo Vino on Sunday afternoon, September 13. The festival in Wine Country is everyone’s favorite because, well…wine.  Ukulele.  ‘Nuff said!

We are working out details for a show or two in Los Angeles before John flies back to New Mexico, and will update the schedule with that soon.

Reason #3: It makes you seem sophisticated.  That’s our motto- “Sophisticated, Educated, Medicated”.

All the beautiful photos in this post are by Allison Shallert, Allisonphoto.com

All the beautiful photos in this post are by Allison Shallert, Allisonphoto.com

In November all four of us will come together in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico for the New Uke-Culinary Fiesta. Highlights of this event include two public shows, one for the Smoking Jackets and a full-on flamenco show.  There will be great workshops in a beautiful setting, plus we will be teaching cooking classes focusing on combining New Mexican and classic European dishes.  Old world meets new- or as we like to call it, Nuevo Mundo.  And there will be big-time BBQ- our other favorite way to SMOKE!

(For the record, none of us are smokers, nor do we endorse the use of tobacco.  We’re just in it for the costumes.)

Loading the Mag

Way back in the day- wearing the tape roll belt in Thailand

Way back in the day- 1990? wearing the tape roll belt in Thailand

When I was a second-camera assistant I occasionally loaded mags- that is put the film in to the mickey mouse ears.  Ironically, film no longer exists on most film sets. Co-incidentally, neither do I. It is debatable if movies are the better for the shift from film, but as to my own personal happiness, I can tell you I am the better for shifting away from it.

But I have not left the magazine behind entirely- I now find myself loading up its uke homonym: Ukulele Magazine. Last year I was surprised to see my mug on the front cover, and this issue lands me in the contents again.  I really like how the magazine has grown, getting better with each issue- more pictures, sophisticated writing, clean editing and great lessons.  Just in time for the growing community it serves.

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I enjoyed a long conversation with writer and musician October Crifasi about kids and ukes, and lots of our chat is in her article, as well as a bunch of photos from a workshop I taught in Phoenix a few years back. The attendees were the beautiful people from Global Family Philanthropy, the folks Daniel and I went to Haiti with. Photogenic Junau who is from Haiti and now studying in the US takes up some prime real estate!

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Last week a crew from Ukulele Magazine came up to the West Coast Ukulele Retreat, one of the most fun and picturesque of uke events. Shutters were clicking and they even videotaped our dining hall flash mob.  Looking forward to seeing what lands in the next issue!

Shenanagans at West Coast Uke- we really need to loosen up!

Shenanagans at West Coast Uke- we really need to loosen up!

ukehead

El Kabonged!

This weekend I am heading east for Ashokan Ukulele Festival.  Join us if you can!  There are still spaces in the workshops, or you can attend just the concert Saturday night, with performances by all the instructors, including Paul Hemmings, Gerald Ross and Joel Ekhaus, Marcy Marxer… playing with the big kids! Click here for discounted advance tickets.

Looking further ahead on the schedule there are family classes scheduled in June at U-Space, free shows at libraries and parks in Los Angeles and the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Festival in July.

And a recording session for the coloring book and another new project in the works!  No rest for the wicked!

This Is Not A Test (Kitchen)

Preparing to teach a cooking class  at the end of January at the La Semana de Uke retreat on the shores of lake Chapala  in Jalisco, Mexico means testing out some recipe ideas at home.

There are still a few spaces available to join us on this adventure which includes hiking, photography, cooking and music.  Those of you locked in a cold wintery area: I especially recommend you consider packing a small bag and jumping on the first Aeromexico flight you can book.

Here is an enticing food-a-logue to get you thinking about it.

Last week Daniel wanted to work on a flautas/taquito idea.  Poor me,  I had to suffer the consequences.

Looks tasty already!

Looks tasty already!

While gigging in Baltimore(of all places), Daniel had eaten some really tasty appetizers in a fancy Mexican joint.  Flautas con pollo were on his mind: crunchy “Mexican egg rolls”, spiced with chili, oregano, zest and juice of orange, lime and lemon… mmmm.

First, a chicken was spatchcocked and roasted,  (OK, I just love to say “spatchcocked”.  But admit it- don’t you?) shredded and mixed with the citrus, plus onion, garlic, herbs, chillies and other seasonings.

There are always some secrets kept, even in the most intimate of relationships.  Even between blogger and reader.  It is what keeps our relationship fresh.  So, yes- there may have been salt and pepper added.  Perhaps even olive oil.  But I’ll never tell.

The tiny test kitchen gets a workout!

The tiny test kitchen gets a workout!

Flour tortillas were filled and rolled with the heavenly stuffing, but instead of frying…IMG_7415he baked them in the oven.  Red Chili from Chimayo, New Mexico makes the sauce… and it is never a party without a little guacamole!

 

he baked them in the oven.  Red Chili from Chimayo, New Mexico makes the sauce… and it is never a party without a little guacamole!

Daniel gets serious about plating

Daniel gets serious about plating and garnish

and….

Mmmmmm...   Nuf said.

Mmmmmm… Nuf said.

The next day he made the same thing,  but with corn tortillas, taquito style.  Even better.  Kid tested, kid approved!

However,  I think he needs to work on this idea some more, don’t you?   My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  If you can’t stop by for dinner this week you should definitely check your schedule for the last week of January…   Learn more about joining us at http://ukuleleadventures.com/

com com com nom nom nom.

 

 

 

Meet McClelland!

If you have read every blog post I have ever written you might recognize Craig McClelland as part of the Sukey Jump Band, Vespus and Skumbaag, however I am excited to introduce him in a new light- as a uke teacher and member of the Smoking Jackets.  Craig is, you see, a man of many talents!

Craig has got both ends covered....

Craig has got both ends covered….

We are getting the jackets tailored for some shows at the beginning of November, and Craig will be flying out from his beautiful home in Sturgeon Bay, WI for music making and teaching in California.

First stop- McCabes Weekend Ukulele Warriors, November 1st, noon.

The next day we will be joined by John Bartlit, the forth (and yet unphotographed member) of the Smoking Jackets.  We have two shows on Sunday- the first is and 11 am Sukey Jump show at McCabes, the second is the 3 pm benefit at the Coffee Gallery in Altadena.

He's the good looking one in the fez

He’s the good looking one in the fez

Here is a little about Craig and what he will be teaching at McCabes:

Those Problem Chords – D Major and E Major (and more).

As a beginning ukulele player you find yourself facing many challenges. You find yourself asking how do I tune my uke, do I really look good in a bowtie, and just how do I pronounce ukulele anyway. Playing chords is just another of these challenges and just as you are getting a pretty good handle on how to play such common chords as G Major, C Major, F Major and A Major and are getting pretty good at switching between them, along come two chords that strike fear in the heart of every beginning ukester– D Major and of course, the dreaded E Major. In this workshop Craig McClelland will help you find ways to approach these most feared of chords – fingering variations, different voicings, and even out and out “cheats” that you can use at your next uke jam until you do master the preferred voicings – all while learning a couple of easy songs and having a fun time. If all goes well, we may even examine a few more common problem chords (although the decision to wear a bowtie is left completely to you).

Craig McClelland is a professional musician (bass, guitar, ukulele, and tuba) and instructor with over 30 years’ experience, presently working with the American Folklore Theatre and the Peninsula Players Theatre in Door County, Wisconsin. Craig has taught music publicly and privately over the last 20 years after having studied bass at Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, as well as earning a BA in Music at University of New Mexico and an MA in Humanities from California State University – Dominguez Hills. He has been pleased to share his music with students of all levels, having taught in elementary schools, universities and all levels in between.

In addition to his teaching and theatre work, Craig can be seen around the country in such diverse ensembles as the Vespus Marimba Band, the Sukey Jump Band, Crossing 32nd Street, the Links Ensemble, The Gazebo Guys, and America’s only heavy-metal vaudeville troupe, Skumbaag. In 2012, Craig was honored when Skumbaag was chosen as Ensemble in Residence for the University of New Mexico International Composers Symposium, featuring a wide range of his music, including selections from his original musical, The Lubbock Lights.

When not performing, Craig likes to be with his family in Door County and uses the time for songwriting, playwriting as well as substitute teaching band, choir, and theatre in the public schools. He can frequently be found doing workshops such as this one.

Craig would also like to thank the fine folks at McCabe’s for this opportunity to share his love of ukulele with your community.

just don't bring up the bananna

just don’t bring up the bananna suit

Both of the fine photos of Craig were taken in PHX by James Barnett  WeTakeNicePictures.com

This last lousy one was taken by me

A working lunch at our PHX regional office.

A working lunch at our PHX regional office.

A Treat

I do love to cook.  And bake.  And travel .  And make music….

And now that I have been granted my dream job combining my three favorite things- travel, cooking and music I have become a food pornographer.  Every time I cook (which is about 3 times a day) the phone camera comes out.  There have been a stream of shameless posts on the facebook page for the retreat in Mexico coming up in January.

This morning was the first day of school for some in my house.  Occasion enough-  Let’s bake!

Do you know the muffin, man?

Do you know the muffin, man?

I must be honest- I lost my taste for sweet things long ago:  I am nonplussed by pies,  I scoff at scones, cake and candy leaves me cold.  But these blueberry muffins are different.  Although the recipe card modestly bears another woman’s name, these are My Mother’s Muffins and these are my madelines.  When the smell wafts into my memory I am filled with a sense of well being.  All is right with the world.  They were made when we had sleepover guests, or church functions, or on special mornings.  There were never any leftovers.  The tops, sugar crusted and golden brown were glorious.  The bottoms of each muffin would be examined thru their festive paper cups to determine which had the most blueberries.  Steaming hot halves were smeared with margarine from the little yellow tub.  Greedy stacks of empty muffin papers grew along side our breakfast plates, three or four pastel circles high, stained with fragrant crumbs and purple juice, attested to the muffin’s  irresistible powers.

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There was a time when I would substitute whole grain flower for the white stuff and reduce the sugar.  Meh.  These days I go all the way.  This morning I was out of oil and used softened butter instead,  (Margarine never made the journey from my mother’s pantry to mine) and I think that change may be a keeper.

Try these for a brunch or a gift if you are looking to increase your popularity.  They are simple, fast and easy.  You may have to double- or triple – the recipe.

1/3 cup oil (or softened butter)

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup blueberries

Beat oil, milk, egg, vanilla and sugar together.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, then stir into egg mixture.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Line cupcake tins with papers or grease tins.  Fill each with 1/4 cup batter.  Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sugar over each muffin.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until golden topped.  Serve warm or cold, with or without butter.  Makes 10-12 muffins.