‘Uncategorized’ Category

  • 2016 -Meaning of Life…

    The opportunity a new year brings starts with reflection of what is, or has been, in order to gain perspective on which to build on.
    For me the meaning of life is:

    To Love
    To share
    To be loved and feel love
    To help
    To be helped
    To be mentored
    To mentor
    To learn
    To teach
    To know the difference between right and wrong
    To experience sorrow as well as joy
    To be able to make choices
    To use and experience joy and happiness with all our senses
    To live
    To develop our gifts
    To use our gifts to serve others
    To connect with others
    To create music , dance and sing
    To communicate
    To let go
    To forgive
    To develop & use our physical, mental, & spiritual  assets as spiritual beings
    To contribute
    To remember
    To forget
    To develop and create a sense of community
    To become an active member of one’s community
    To be inspired
    To inspire others
    To know
    To think
    To put into action Gods plan
    To know God
    To learn to follow, as well as lead
    To create stories
    To create a story of ones life
    To develop Culture and Art
    To be Culture and be art
    To learn
    To experience being a child, a parent, and a grandparent
    To heal
    To soar
    To fly
    To dream
    To find a partner in life and fulfill ones destiny here on this earth
    To create a home for shelter as well as a home for our spirits to dwell in
    To experience warm rain on my face and the promise of another day tomorrow
    To work
    To play
    To rest
    To plant
    To weed
    To Harvest
    To eat
    To experience sex
    To tire out our physical bodies
    To go beyond time and space
    To dream
    And to fulfill our dreams…

    -Uncle George


  • Leslie Granat–E Ola Makamaka! Long live our friends!

    December 29, 2015:  Got a call from Fred & Jane Litt last night notifying me that my great friend Leslie Granat passed away. Her burial was in Haiku this morning at 11 am. I’m deeply saddened by her passing but grateful and blessed to have known Leslie during my lifetime!  Here are a few of my thoughts about my dear friend Leslie.

    A few Thursdays back, Nancy and I went to Makena Beach & Golf Resort to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. We went to share a romantic dinner and hear the Kathy Collins Talk Story event, held around an open campfire at the old Imu Pit -Luau Grounds at the resort. (Kathy has been performing her Talk Story event at Makena for over 18 months.) During one of Kathy’s story, she spoke of ʻOlelo Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian language) and how unlike it was from English. The action or verb always comes first. Well for me, Leslie Granat was like that. Her actions always came first! Here’s a partial list of her actions and why I loved her:

    Action #1: Patron of the Arts
    When I first started the University of Hawaii Maui College Institute of Hawaiian Music, it was Leslie who stepped forward, offered her home, and invited over 50 of her Wailea friends to a dinner event that raised over $75,000 in a single night. That money was doubled by Johnny Baldwin and his Foundation to $150,000!

    Action #2: She loved and supported life!
    She lived in a whimsical dream world building a tree house and lookout in her backyard at Maui Meadows! She followed and lived her dreams! She collected and supported all forms of art: visual paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics, and an eccentric collection of nik-naks and do dads. Her home was a tribute and feast for any artists’ senses, especially the eyes, ears and nose. She wore outrageous muumuus and hats and things protruding from her hair! She delighted in being festive and full of it! She was full of Aloha! She was the embodiment of Aloha in human form.

    Action #3: She lived life like there was no tomorrow.
    She was a mentor to me and gave me great advice about Kickstarter crowdfunding and other finances for my many projects including Andaz! She loved fellow artists Led Kaapana and Dennis Kamakahi and supported our Slack Key Guitar Masters show for over 12 years. She came all the way from Maui Meadows (Wailea) to Napili monthly, to support our Hawaiian culture and music. She even attended Keawalai Congregational Church Celebration Events in Makena where I played music over the last 20 years

    Action#4: She shared
    Her home, her smile, her laughter, her love for the Arts with anyone she came across. Even though she was originally from the East Coast, she was a Kama’aina in heart and action; participating as a child of this land in Hawaii, on Maui!

    Action #5: She was a reincarnated, sophisticated, no nonsense Tutu
    …who loved her yapping dogs! She is a friend for life! Even in her busy schedule, she always found time to sit down, relax, talk story and become a fabric of our community. She was “fo real!”

    A final thought. In my younger days, for over a year, I was blessed to watch a flock of nene geese fly overhead. Leslie was like this flock of nene geese each individual taking different roles throughout their lifetime. Like the nene geese, she was sometimes a leader, and other times a follower. But mostly she was a supporter of many like me in our Maui Community! She was one of a kind woman. I believe that when she was born, God broke the mold and threw it away. She was one-of-a-kind and she will surely be missed. Leslie still lives through her actions and our memories.

    E Ola Makamaka! Long live our friends!

    -Uncle George


  • Twas the Blog before Christmas (2015)…

    Facing my Fears
    This past Sat, Dec 5-2015

    This Saturday, Peter Hanohano led a group of us through an exercise called Strategic Silence. It was a strategy taught by Nana Veary in her book “Change We Must- My Spiritual Journey,” where in silence you are made whole again. Her message was that instead of talking to God in prayer, we listen to him in Silence. “The purpose is to free one’s self of all anger, guilt, resentment, discouragement, disappointment, worry, all the negative patterns buried in the sub conscious mind.” She says, “…in Silent Retreats you clear your channels so life can be fulfilled. Silent retreats give you spiritual Dignity.”

    “Silence means no repetitions, no affirmations, no denials, only a conscious acknowledgment of God’s allness.”

    We read an excerpt and was given the assignment to go outdoors and experience Silence for 15 minutes. Easy enough, I thought, in Silence! Turns out I had to leave through the gates of my farm because all the weeds and plants kept begging for my attention saying me! me! Me! Me! So fled outside my driveway and property to seek Silence! As I’m walking out the Gates, I notice a huge branch of a neighboring Eucalyptus tree shadowing my friend, Karen Fischer‘s Honda SUV! It’s this same tree that has been disturbing me for two years now making me worry about it breaking off and ruining my stone wall with its huge branches! The same tree that I’ve written to my Homeowner Association about several times, and now it aroused my greatest fear as the wind started picking up and the branches started waving its huge limbs up and down and side to side high above of both my head and my friend’s vulnerable SUV!! I feared the tree’s imposing limb would break off and come crashing down on Karen’s car, even though it was parked all the way across the street. The children’s lullaby, came to mind: “…when the wind blows… when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,” and everything will be crushed, Karen’s SUV and all! Never the less, if the branch did break. It would be a direct hit from its huge 2-3 story branches weighing at least 4-5 tons!

    Then, there was a light “Uhi Wai” drizzle, the kind that Hawaiians receive when they are blessed, the kind of misting drizzle that almost always accompanies a wedding ceremony that I’m officiating!  In that moment, I get chicken skin and feel blessed and my mind finally quiets down in Silence!

    It instantly starts to turn from a light drizzle to a Gully Washer with the wind carrying the rains sideways! I end up seeking shelter out fo the rain under my greatest fear… that huge Eucalyptus tree! Then, in an instant there’s complete silence again with the cloud cover rolling in! I can barely see 5 feet in front of me! It’s foggy dark and quiet and I can feel and hear my own heart beating against my chest! For the first time, I quietly observe and see fellow shelter seekers: all these plant roots of a Christmas berry plant, ferns and bird nests all intertwined in the bark of that huge Eucalyptus tree that I’m afraid of. Ironically, I observe that it is sustaining other life forms. Finally, the silence is broken by the singing birds like its morning all over again and the fog and clouds lift revealing sunny skies over Paia and Haleakala in the distance! Then I become aware that Peter is beckoning me to come inside. My 15 minutes of silence is over!

    Inside, each of the five of us, including Flora Wong, describe our Spiritual Awakening to one another. I can relate most to the experience of my friend Wayne Wong about being silent: the difficulty silencing the “chatter” in one’s mind, my mind! Peter shared a past “silence” experience with a huge mother Koa tree and I tell about my experience with my fears of my tree! Karen nonchalantly says she’s not afraid, if the tree falls on her car, she’ll just get a new one!

    Looking back! I see that tree as a symbol of all all my fears based on “what ifs”, not true facts! Finally, when my mind quieted, I was able to feel and receive the blessings of Gods goodness which quieted my fear! Then I was drawn to the base of my fears by the gully washer and saw that this huge tree also provided shelter and sustenance for other trees, ferns and birds and even me from the rain. In my silence I was also able to experience a new day or gain a new perspective on my life by looking beyond my current situation into the distant future where there was light and clarity awaiting!

    So what’s my greatest fear? Losing my identity and forgetting who I am! How will I conquer it! In Silence! Thanks Nana Veary for sharing your wisdom and Mahalo Peter Hanohano, for sharing this Silent Strategy and showing us the way!

    Through this Holiday season, let’s Count our blessings, Let Go and let God, and God’s Will be done. Face our Fears, Step out of our comfort zone! With God’s will, anything is possible.


    -Uncle George


  • Wonderful 18th Annual Slack Key Workshop

    We want to thank all 62 participants, our 16 instructors, 14 volunteers, 4 scholarship students and all our friends for coming to our 18th Annual workshop!

    This year Napili Kai Beach Resort cooked most of the meals allowing our own kitchen crew to concentrate on “supplementing” and enhancing. For instance, breakfast additions included boiled eggs from Wende Stitt, our farm grown papaya supplemented by strawberries from Kula and an assortment of other fruits and veggies supplied by Local Harvest and Maui Gold Pineapple thanks to the generosity of John Trino from Haliimaile. We also started two gardens. One was right in Napili at Wainani Kealoha‘s place (our show hula dancer). Among the many hands helping was Damon Parillo– who was nominated for the Hoku Hanohano music awards with his album “Kulewa”, and help from Dave Barry – our videographer. We grew greens for salads, basil and kale and rainbow swiss chard, and made kim chee for our workshop.

    From our Kahakuloa farm, we supplemented our meals with Okinawan, Korean and New Zealand spinach, beans, fennel, dill, green onions and tomatoes for lomi salmon, taro (used both for Ai pa’a, table eating and making poi), sweet potato, ti and luau leaf and stems for making laulaus. We also made kalua pig from various parts of two 350 pound dressed pigs raised by Sam Hambek, my hanai nephew in Haiku!

    Besides food, I was able to swim at least 3 times a day! 6 am, after lunch and before dinner! I also got to teach our Taro song “Na Ono I Ka Aina” that Kalani Meinecke and I wrote for Aunty Edith Kanaka’ole, way back in 1978 . Wainani Kealoha choreographed the hula and we all performed it at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) on Sunday! I taught beginning, intermediate and chord modulation taro patch F slack key guitar, as well as chord modulations, Hawaiian songs and slack key ukulele! We got to cook 3 local style themed dinners featuring BBQ Night, Hawaiian Night and Filipino Night.

    Many thanks to Scott Hillman for setting up the schedule (and always outstanding photography), Nancy K for keeping us on task with some semblance of focus, and the staff of Napili Kai Beach Resort lead by Diane Farnsworth and general manager Greg Nelson all of whom provided such great service and worked so hard behind the scenes!  The Napili Kai Beach Resort also blessed us with the use of a 3-door, 50 cubic feet stainless steel refrigerator, so we didn’t have to buy so much ice and store perishable stuff in people rooms! We were also blessed this year at the workshop to have Helen Bigelow teaching lauhala, Wende Stitt teaching kapa-making, and we welcomed the return of Haley Sage Brozman! BrieAnne Prestwich taught voice lessons and Elliot was back up help. Besides teaching hula Wainani taught some lei making!

    Newcomers Stephen Inglis and Brother Noland added to our workshop Ohana and staff of teachers that included return instructors Kevin Brown, Led Kaapana, Jason Jerome, Sterling Seaton, Paul Togioka, Joel Katz on steel guitar and David Kamakahi teaching Ukulele. Brother Noland also taught the boys net throwing along with Peter DeAquino.

    We had two Institute of Hawaiian Music attendees from the University of Hawaii Maui College (UHMC): Glen Keliikoa and Meaghan Owens. We were able to award two scholarships, courtesy of Helen Bigelow, in honor of Ed Bigelow. The recipient students were: Olelo Hamakua Poepoe from Molokai and is attending the UHMC Upward Bound program and Shem Kahawaii, a recent Kekaulike High School graduate with plans of attending the Institute of Hawaiian Music at UHMC (that I helped start and directed in 2010).

    This year Nancy brought to my attention the importance of our morning gatherings that Bob Brozman instituted as music warm ups to start the day! I was able to also use our morning sessions to teach the history of our featured Taro song “Na Ono I Ka Aina”.

    We are grateful that Roz Trino again made our T-shirts, this time produced in Bakersfield, California and brought all the way to us in Napili.

    An interesting side note; in the 18 years of conducting our Napili workshop, this year’s organizing was a lot less stressful and more organized than any of the past years. Unfortunately, financially, we’ve broken even only once or twice and this year was no exception. We’re always sensitive to keeping the tuition affordable and for what we charged this year, the magic break-even attendance number was 65-75 participants and we fell short at 62. Some things never seem to change.

    “A week of workshop lessons, activities and food: negative net of several thousand dollars…   …playing music together with new and old friends and learning new skills: Priceless!”

    Thanks to all of you for participating, sharing and being a part of this year’s wonderful workshop. That’s my 2 cents.

    –Uncle George


  • Good Vibrations

    Mila Salvador wrote in recently. She’s a Lahainaluna High School graduate with Bachelor of Education and MBA degrees from the University of Hawaii –Manoa, is the current president of the Rotary Club of Lahaina and describes herself as a “student in the classroom of Life”:

    Aloha Uncle George,

    I wanted to say MAHALO once again for your generosity, with your time and aloha.

    I wanted to let you know that I work in Ka’anapali and live in Pai’a so I have a pretty long commute everyday, to myself. Hence, each morning and afternoon I have wonderful opportunities to feel and hear the “vibrations” of the earth with less distraction as you encouraged in your opening chant. On Thursday, the day you came to speak to our (Rotary) club, I drove home after a long day’s work and I was thinking about what you had said in your presentation to our club. I thought about you and the work that you are doing with your music, film, the youth, your farm, etc. It made me realize how lucky we are to have someone like you in our lives to inspire us. You are a profound role model whose actions show us what it means to live life with purpose and passion, and most importantly, always with aloha.

    With this realization, I became overwhelmed with emotion and started crying… At first, I wasn’t really sure why. I mean, I don’t really know you personally nor have I had the opportunity to spend much time with you. And in fact, your stories are new to me. Perhaps, it’s because when you shared your ha, I took it in and it stayed with me. I realize how fortunate we, as a community and people, are so blessed to have inspiring and genuinely good people like you still around to help teach us what is pono and aloha. And we can’t and shouldn’t take that for granted. I think it is so important to keep your spirit and passion alive through others who can perpetuate the same values and understanding well into the future and ensure it gets passed on through generations. Your approach to ensuring sustainability of the culture and values through education, music, and film is wonderful and necessary. Thank you for all of your dedication and efforts.

    During the 10-minute clip you showed of the “Seeds of Aloha”, one of the things that stood out to me were the little white butterflies in the background flying around while you spoke and throughout the scenes shot at the farm. Butterflies bring to mind the simple beauty in nature meant to be embraced. They are symbolic of the childlike freedom to explore and be free that lie within us. They are tiny, insignificant little creatures in the scheme of things, bringing perspective and reminding us that we too are a mere speck, dot, blip in a universe that is simple, yet complex and has sustained itself for thousands of years through sheer luck or magnificent design. Either way, it is miraculous. And we are all here to share and revel in that mystery which is a gift. Nature and its creatures can really teach us so much and that is the essence that was captured in the butterfly scenes.

    I wish you the very best of luck with the film series and all of your future endeavors. We will try to come out to the farm one day to feel and hear the vibrations from the earth and the flapping of butterfly wings.

    Please know that you have one more supporter in me.

    Mahalo & Aloha,


    George Replies: ——
    Yes, what you were feeling was the “Huna Noeau” the secret understanding and wisdom of the earth, known and unknown, unlocked from the depths within you and coming to the surface! I believe you experienced what we call “Lokahi” or total harmony with the natural vibrations of the earth and were in essence vibrating, hence crying in symphony and sympathy and symbiotically with that natural vibration that Buddah called Nirvana, Jesus called Blessings, and Hawaiians call Aloha or Alo– full of, Ha or breath or again vibration. When you feel overwhelmed like that, just bask in the light of that feeling so you will remember it and can conjure that feeling at will! It will guide you towards your ultimate purpose in life and bring you peace and happiness. You will be able to guide others towards that feeling through your leadership!

    I for one never took notice of the butterflies in the film. They are actually cabbage moths laying eggs and raising caterpillars to eat my cabbages, broccoli and other vegetables in my garden. Because I farm naturally, I don’t spray any chemicals and we welcome all the creatures of the earth, big and small so that they can leave their footprint no matter how small, and their voice to the symphony of vibrations occurring naturally on this earth and through out the cosmos all the time. We share in the abundance that’s around us. (Watering the plants washes off most of the eggs but a few make it.)

    Again, mahalo for your kind words and sharing your experiences.

    -Uncle George