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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HOLIDAY 2018 GIFT GUIDE

Spicy? Sparkly? Plucky? Looking for something for the uke disciple, a gift-to-self,or  a show of affection or appreciation?I believe in gifting life skills, not landfill, sharing experiences over swapping expendable. If you are counting your blessings and scheming about giving, I have a few gift ideas for you. From FREE to fantasy, here are some priceless gifts you can give,and five of them are absolutely free!

GIVE AN EXPERIENCE Go to the source: take trip to Hawaii. Immerse yourself in old-style Hawaiian music and culture on the quiet island of Molokai. Daniel and I are thrilled to be sharing Uke Ohana at this intimate retreat at the Pu’u O Hoku Ranch and Halawa Valley, April 5-9. Every level, from beginner to advanced will share in the magic of the Island and the beauty of Aloha. This would be an extraordinary gift to share with a beloved, adult family members or to give as a gift to yourself.

GIVE A SONG Work up a tune, just one. Doesn’t have to be perfect or fancy.  Maybe make a card, letting them know the song is their gift. And sing it to them, in person, on Skype, over the phone: to a group- maybe your whole family! Sing it with them. Print out copies, share it with the world.  Free!  Priceless, really. (Mom, are you reading this? Now you know what I want!) A GIFT TO YOU from Daniel– a great song to learn and share! FREE! The first study in his Arpeggio Meditations book is available online with a tutorial from Ukulele Magazine!

GIVE AN INSTRUMENT Beginner? Child? You can’t go wrong with an Ohana SK-10. Solid durable, great intonation, a real instrument at a starter price. These are the instruments I requisition for schools and library programs. They come in some delightful colors, too. (with bag, strap, button and tuner,$79 at Mim’s)

Intermediate, or adult beginner? I love Ohana’s CK 50 WG.  I play mine almost every day.  Big bright voice, classy rope binding, highly figured wood, geared pegs. Get a cute tweedy case to go with it and it’s an instant classic.  String with either hi or low G, concert size is versatile and not too big. ($239 at Mim’s)

Missing your bass strings? KoAloha has a tenor sized 6 string guitalele.  It’s like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret (tuned ADGCEA). If you have guitar a repertoire hiding in your past, this instrument gives you an opportunity to share with ukulele players. Great intonation, portable and sounds great. Daniel is digging his!( $748 at Mim’s )

GIVE BEAUTY AND UTILITY Beautiful sparkly UKULELE STRAPS.  Liz Olney is busy at her workbench making these beautiful straps. Lined with lambskin, studded with Swarovski crystals they are all the jewelry you will ever need to wear. Daniel and I have one for each of our “on stage” instruments. Liz just finished this lovely custom strap to go with this GORGEOUS Michael DaSilva ukulele. (Michael builds dreams. I don’t know a player who doesn’t lust for one of his instruments) Breath taking.  If bling is not your thing, she also makes them plain or with studs.($80-$150+shipping, custom straps may be more)

GIVE BOOKS and LESSONS

Arpeggio Meditations Book for all levels ($20) Video tutorials for Arpeggio Meditations($6.99) This has become a favorite for students of all levels.  The first piece is easy for beginners,Classes and groups LOVE playing this together! Later studies are challenging for advanced players. They are beautiful to listen to– especially when Daniel plays them! The Arpeggio Meditations Companion Mp3s are great background soundtrack to relax you in your day, and a good gift idea… FREE!

Color-Along Ukulele for children and adult beginners– be sure to download the FREE soundtrack!($15) They will make you laugh, contain tons of additional verses, will teach you the songs by ear, and are useful in a classroom. There is a section in the back of the book of tips for how to integrate the lessons into a kids class or club setting.

Ukulele Magazine subscription Lessons, articles, festival listings… A great way to be part of the ukulele community.  We love getting our copy in the mail, learning about other artists and innovations. Daniel and I are regular contributors, check out his lessons with videos that he creates for them! (On sale now! $20 for 1 year/4 issues)

Death By G-String by C.C. Harrison – murder mystery set in a ukulele club! Great fun read! Available in most bookstores or at Amazon

Sign someone up for a LIBRARY CARD. Many libraries now have ukulele to lend! Plus learning materials and fantastic events. I will be teaching ukulele at several libraries this spring- and it’s always FREE!

GIVE EL SABOR! Ok, mom, I lied. This is what I really want: CHENCHO’S CHIMAYO CHILE! The best red chile in New Mexico comes from the village of Chimayo, and as far as we know, the best chile in Chimayo comes from Crescencio Ochoa’s mule-plowed farm. Call him or text him at (505) 573-9801. He will grind your order the day he sends it priority mail and include an invoice written on a scrap of paper, you mail him back a check. Old school, pure (red) gold. ($30. a pound)

GIVE NOURISHMENT This year, our gift to you is Daniel’s Holiday Bean Recipe.  You might need to order some of Chencho’s red chile to make it authentic, but if that is not in range, look for powdered New Mexico Chile Molido in the grocery store where the Latin foods are sold. These are delicious any time of year, straight out of the pot, but if you want the best low-brow feast on earth, consider serving them as the chili in Frito Pie, as we did in Santa Fe at the Culinary Uke Fiesta this November.  That is, put some Fritos in your bowl, cover with a dipper of the beans, then top with your favorite condiments, including: shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, finely diced onions and shredded cheddar cheese. Now THAT’S a Holiday dinner!

DANIEL’S HOLIDAY BEANS

1 ½ Cup Dried Pinto beans

2-3 wedges Ibarra brand Chocolate (if unavailable, another Mexican Chocolate or  2 oz darkest chocolate)

1 Bay leaf

½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1 Tablespoon crushed Oregano

½ teaspoon Ground Cumin

1/4 Cup Chencho’s Chimayo Red Chile powder (or more according to taste)

3-4 turns of a pepper mill

2 whole cloves

heaping ½ teaspoon salt

5 Cups Water (or more)

1 Whole Orange (unpeeled)

Splash Olive Oil

Cook:

Approximately  5-6 hrs in a crock pot, on on stove, or 1 hour in an Instant Pot. open kettle and reduce liquid till saucy, or if dry, add liquid.

Squeeze juice out of orange and discard rind before serving