Clematis, Apricots and Plums

Q. My wife planted a nameless Clematis last summer. It did really well going along a south facing fence but we don’t know what to do with it now. It’s a mass of brown leaves and tangled up tendrils. Should we cut it down really short and try to remove as many of those crunchy leaves and hope for the best next spring?

A. Clematis is pruned in March so right now I’d wait and do nothing. Clematis is pruned based on its blooming habit. There are varieties or types that bloom on the new growth, the old growth and some on both. So, being a nameless variety is a problem. I’m going to assume it was in bloom when you planted it. Summer flowering varieties bloom on the new growth in the spring. This group is the easiest to prune. I’d just cut the vegetation down to the ground and let the new growth generate from the base of the plant. With the spring blooming varieties they’re pruned after the flowers are spent because they’re blooming on last year’s old wood. The spent flowers are removed and you trim the growth back to twenty four inches. The balance of the growing season is spent generating new growth that will bloom the following year. If you prune too early, you effectively remove the flowering buds and have no flowers. Those varieties that bloom on both the new and old wood should be given a moderate trimming or shaping, so you don’t lose any promising buds for the summer flowering season. All dead wood should be removed regardless of variety and an annual feeding with a balanced fertilizer is recommended to encouraged the new growth. Once the rainy season has concluded you need to shade the roots from the hot afternoon sun by mulching. A three inch layer of organic matter will help retain moisture and insulate the roots. There is another issue that you need to keep in mind when pruning. A community fence is a poor structure for growing vines as it’s impossible to keep the vegetation confined to your side. So the annual pruning is a safe guard method of keeping the plant under control and avoiding a neighbor dispute.

Q. My Apricot and Plum trees suddenly stopped producing. The trees have been quite productive; however, they were a big disappointment last year. How do I correct things this year?

Apricot branch on a light backgroundA. Apricots and Plums produce fruit on the second year wood. If the trees are pruned too severely, the fruiting spurs are removed. This probably is the number one reason why deciduous fruit trees fail to set fruit. There are other reasons but they really don’t apply to your trees. Generally, you should remove fifteen to twenty-five percent of the growth each year. The fruiting spurs are easy to detect. Those branches with buds clustered in a grouping of three or more are the fruiting buds. These stems are a darker color than the one-year old growth, that is a much lighter color and has a single bud. The good news is the trees productivity will return once the pruning technique changes.

Q. I have fifteen roses in raised containers that have sunk nearly a foot, so I need to add more soil. My thoughts are to prune the roses and then extract them from the boxes. I’m planning on keeping the bushes in water while adding fresh soil to the planters and then replanting them. Is this going to work?

A. This is a very workable solution. With fifteen roses to prune, move and then replant, you can take your time and spread it out over several weekends instead of completing it in one. It is not necessary to keep the roses in water for days on end. You could remove the bushes from the planters with soil on their roots or bare root them. The roses with a root ball intact can be grouped together, moistened and then loosely covered with a tarp, protected from the afternoon sun. The plants can even be stacked on top of one another. This would also work with another ornamental plants in containers. Another option is to bare root these plants by washing the soil off the roots. They are then laid vertically on a flat surface, which could be on dirt or even concrete. Next cover the roots with moistened potting soil and a tarp. Again they can be stacked in a pile. If the bushes are under an overhang, the tarp isn’t necessary. A second option would be to group the bare root roses into several empty containers and temporarily fill them with soil. Roses can be transplanted anytime though February. Also, It’s not necessary to replenish every bit of soil. Roses can be stored in this fashion for four to six weeks. These options give you the flexibility to proceed at a leisurely pace and deal with any weather delays.

Super Bowl 50

In 1988, the day before Super Bowl XXII would toss its determining coin and grant the opening kickoff at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego—the NFL’s home of the San Diego Chargers—a tradition was born. It was spawned in faith, propped up by the hope of something better, and girded dutifully in unconditional love, set within the prescriptions of Christian belief. It was built as a means to recognize athletes of the National Football League who served as compassionate, giving, role models.

Athletes in Action that began its outreach of committed Christian faith in 1966, successfully launched its first annual Super Bowl Breakfast event that year, which has been held every year since then at the host city for the NFL’s annual Super Bowl championship extravaganza. In 1989, following its inaugural launch the year before, the Bart Starr Award began its tradition of honoring a current NFL player for demonstrating outstanding character, integrity and leadership in the home, on the field, and in their community.View More:

This year’s Super Bowl 50 breakfast takes place in the host city of San Francisco, at the elegantly adorned Hilton San Francisco Union Square. The emcee for this year’s edition is Brent Jones, the former NFL 11-year veteran, three-time Super Bowl champion tight end and a 2013 (BASHOF) Bay Area Sports Hall Of Fame inductee, plucked enthusiastically from San Francisco 49ers.

Joining Brent are fellow NFL stars and coaches including Super Bowl Champion coach/player, NY Times bestselling author and NFL analyst, Tony Dungy; legendary NFL Hall of Fame, “knuckles in the turf,” guard from the Green Bay Packers, Jerry Kramer, and Hall of Fame inductees Roger Staubach and “Iron Mike” Ditka.JERRY KRAMER - FRANKLINNOW.COM PHOTO

With them will be newly-minted NFL Hall of Fame inductee from the Oakland Raiders, “Mr. Raider” Tim Brown; current New Orleans Saints and earlier Super Bowl Champion XXXIX tight end, Benjamin Watson, and the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, Clark Hunt.

More football luminaries, yet to be announced at the time of this writing, will come from the ranks of other NFL teams, athletes, and coaches, supporting the AIA’s 2016 Super Bowl 50 Breakfast this year.

Last year’s recipient of the Bart Starr Award was the newly crowned, NFL’s all-time leading passer, multiple All-Pro Super Bowl XLI Champion and current quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning. The honor roll of past recipients is star-studded, with its “Who’s Who” list of NFL greats. Included is Seattle Seahawks receiver Steve Largent, the initial Bart Starr Award recipient; NFL Hall of Fame offensive tackle Anthony Munoz; the Green Bay Packers revered “Minister of Defense,” the late Reggie White, as well as quarterbacks Kurt Warner, Trent Dilfer, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Warren Moon.PEYTON MANNING - BRONCOS PASSING PIC

When the Athletes in Action roundtable leadership made its decision to create an award to honor a current NFL player who best exemplified their representative Christian faith-filled qualities of committed beliefs that forged its organization’s foundation, they felt there was but one man whose name should grace their prestigious honoring award–Bart Starr. AIA approached the former Super Bowl Champion and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, and quite humbly, Bart agreed to lend his name to the award. The fit, with its catch-phrase cliché, was indeed, “a match made in heaven.”

Starr’s legacy of accomplishment, along with his off the field servant’s heart, exemplifies the standard for the AIA’s Bart Starr Award.

Bart Starr was elected into the NFL and Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1977, following his brilliantly forged 16-year career as the Packers quarterback. Four years later, in 1981, he would be enshrined in the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. During his tenure as the Packer’s signal caller, he played in six pro bowls and led his team to five world championships; was honored as the Most Valuable Player in Super Bowls’ I and II; tabbed as the NFL’s MVP in 1966 and selected as the NFL Man of the Year in 1969. He is one of six players from the Green Bay Packers to have his number—15—retired.MIKE DITKA CHICAGO BEARS - BIGREADFURY.COM PHOTO

Starr has the highest playoff passer rating of any quarterback in NFL history–104.8–and a playoff record of 9–1. In 1967, Bart became the inaugural recipient of the Byron “Whizzer” White Award that is given annually by the National Football League Players Association for work in the community, and for being the player who best displays the qualities of a true professional athlete.

On October 17, 1970, at a testimonial reception honoring Bart Starr held at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay, Wisconsin — the following was conveyed in a speech by then President Richard Nixon:

“We honor him as a very great practitioner of his profession, the proud profession of professional football… And as we honor him for that, we honor him not only for his technical skill but, as I’ve indicated, also for something that is just as important: his leadership qualities, his character, his moral fiber… But I think the best way that I can present Bart Starr to his friends is to say very simply that the sixties will be described as the decade in which football became the number one sport in America, in which the Packers were the number one team, and Bart Starr was proudly the number one Packer.”View More:

Two years later, Bart Starr would retire from his prolific signal calling duties, hang up his well worn black leather cleats once and for all, and depart his beloved Green Bay Packers — that is, as an honored and revered player on the field; for the following two years, he would serve as a game analyst for CBS-TV.

Sitting in the booth pushed him to step back onto the hallowed turf endowed by his mentor and coach, Vince Lombardi, to walk the home team’s sideline at Lambeau Field again as the coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1975 through 1983.

In 1965, the year before AIA would strike its founding charter, Bart Starr with his wife Cherry would begin a spiritual sojourn of servitude by co-founding a faith-based, non-profit community outreach program for at-risk teens–Rawhide Boys Ranch in New London, Wisconsin–along with their friends, John and Jan Gillespie.

Heading south from New London, where the scenic Wolf River cuts through the 500-acre ranch facility, the Rawhide Boys Ranch provides a safe haven of enabling support for juvenile court-referred boys ranging from ages eight to seventeen. Their dedicated mission statement reads:

Being dependent on God, we inspire and equip at-risk youth and families to lead healthy and responsible lives through family-centered care, treatment, and education.

Academic, as well as vocational classes align the student curriculum at the Starr Academy. Rawhide Boys Ranch programs, include intensive residential care for troubled young men. For those of you curious about the work that began among four faith-filled friends over fifty years ago, you can take a little stroll of its grounds, by visiting their website at:

“This guy is the most decorated, as far as championships go quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. But the first thing you hear about Bart when you talk about him, is not the incredible talent and ability that he has, but the kind of person that he is.”
Aaron Rodgers ~ 2014 Bart Starr Award recipient

Bart Starr is a man of admitted and committed Christian faith, who dutifully aligns his life, both on and off the field, with a spiritual playbook — The Bible. He is an individual of impeccable character, and an honorable man who has served his family and community faithfully throughout the years. He is a giver, and an exemplary role model for athletes, business owners and their support staff alike, so it’s no small wonder that the leadership of Athletes in Action unanimously chose Bart Starr as the person to name their award after.

This year’s Super Bowl 50 breakfast honoree waits in the wings. Who will it be? Which NFL role model to follow in the legendary footsteps of Bart Starr will find his name inscribed at the bottom of the AIA Bart Starr Award?

And let us not lose heart in doing good; for in due time, we shall reap; if we do not grow weary ~ Galatians 6:9

To learn more about attending, and being a part of this year’s gala Super Bowl 50 Breakfast, please visit the website:

To view the promotional video filmed at the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX Breakfast, go to this YouTube presentation:

And to learn about Athletes in Action and its worldwide outreach within the realm of athletics, you can find them here:


My Star Wars New Year

January 1st is like a big giant Do-Over for every one of us. No matter how rosy or crappy the previous year was, New Year’s Day is our chance to spring out of bed and do it all over again—365 days of infinite possibilities. Granted our days aren’t all going to be filled with rainbows and unicorns, but hopefully we’ll have more good ones than bad. I have decided that my philosophy for the New Year will be heavily influenced by the release of the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. Hopefully it will awaken a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year for yours truly.

The seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise or first release of the third trilogy opened on December 18th, 2015. Take this Wookie’s word for it, The Force Awakens will set every box office revenue record ever recorded in this world or one in a galaxy far far away. Even though we’ve never met, George Lucas and J.J. Abrams are kind of like my spiritual mentors in this journey so the first thing on my “to do” list is to see the movie.

Lego Star Wars Anakin's Jedi Interceptor MinifiguresJanuary – Since there’s no way any normal person (a non Star Wars geek) is going to be able to get a ticket to the movie in December 2015, the month of January 2016 will be devoted to viewing what promises to be a cinematic masterpiece. Watching this mega block buster should provide me with some clarity and direction for the coming year. Once I see the film six or seven…teen times, the rest of the year will be on Millennium Falcon cruise control.

February – On February 7th, the Super Bowl will be played at Levy’s Stadium in Santa Clara, but unless the Jedi Knights play the Galactic Empire, the game could easily be forgotten. Rumor has it that for Valentine’s Day, Cupid plans to wear an Imperial Strom Trooper costume this year and instead of a bow and arrow, expect him to be wielding a light saber. Love is in the “outer space” air.

March–I totally plan on channeling my inner Yoda and trusting “the force” to guide my NCAA basketball picks this year. Last year, I was mathematically out of contention after the first day. Sadly, I was all-in with the Cal State Northridge Matadors, but that was because I didn’t have Yoda weighing in on my picks. Since monitoring my March Madness bracket is pretty much an all-consuming endeavor lasting the entire month, I hope my job doesn’t expect a lot out of me.

April–Last year’s Star Wars Celebration 2015took place at the Anaheim Convention Center and I missed it while touring college campuses with our oldest daughter over Spring Break. So, this year’s annual Spring Break travel adventure is to attend this year’s convention via a family road trip. Once there, I plan to network with my fellow Star Wars brothers and sisters in a supportive and embracing social environment. The wife and kids can go to Disneyland.

May–The start of Baseball season might be the only thing that could shake me from my “All things Star Wars” monthly agenda.

June–The start of summer and a good time to get cracking on my summer reading list. There are about a million Star Wars books available to read. Just the Jedi Apprentice series alone has 20 volumes. The Rising Force,The Dark Rival,The Hidden Past,The Mark of the Crown, The Defenders of the Dead, The Uncertain Path, The Captive Temple, The Day of Reckoning, The Fight for Truth, The Shattered Peace, The Deadly Hunter, The Evil Experiment, The Dangerous Rescue, The Ties That Bind, The Death of Hope, The Call to Vengeance, The Only Witness, The Threat Within, Special Edition #1: Deceptions, and Special Edition #2: The Followers. Once I’m done with this series, I plan to start in on The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

July– Like every soon-to-be 54 year old, I plan to have a Star Wars themed birthday party with all my friends where we’ll all dress up like their favorite SW character. I of course will be Hans Solo. I may even invite my arch nemesis and least favorite co-worker to the party just to play the role of the evil Kylo Ren. I have seven months to teach my dog to walk on his hind legs in hopes of playing Chewbacca.

August – Summer vacation is just about over. No more star gazing at outdoor sleep outs. No more lightsaber battles with flash lights crammed inside an empty holiday wrapping paper role. No more spending days watching Star Wars marathons in a blacked down play room imagining we’re battling Darth Vader for space supremacy. I didn’t mean me doing this type of stuff. Why would you think it’s me? It’s just an example of what some kids might be doing before school starts up again.

September—Back to school. Even young Jedi Knights had to go to Rebel Alliance school before they could unleash the Rebel Fleet (kind of like their football team) on the Dark Side at the second Death Star stadium. I just hope that the current line-up of Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron can ball like the old guys. Don’t be so quick to rush to judgement. You don’t know me!

October –Halloween, hello? You get three guesses what I’ll be dressed up as and C-3PO would be wrong. If anyone guessed Jabba the Hutt you just hurt my feelings. I actually lost three pounds in 2015. I’m already building my BB-8 robot friend to accompany me to all the cool parties we’ll be invited to this year.

November – Our wedding anniversary. Refer to birthday party ideas in July.

December– Santa Skywalker and Princess Leah Claus will be spreading Christmas cheer throughout the universe during the month and that’s the approach I’ll take. My mission will be to share holiday greetings and Ewok cheer throughout the universe or at least the Tri Valley.

Damn, It’s a Scam

Certainly there is nothing funny about telephone scams which pry untold amounts of money away from honest, unsuspecting people, quite often senior citizens. When one has just sent $2,147 to bail out a grandson in prison in Finland and the grandson drops by to visit two hours later, most of us would probably be too embarrassed to even talk about the loss. If we do talk about it, the money and perpetrators will have disappeared into a labyrinth of anonymous electronic caves.

Phone scamNewspapers, magazines, and lecturers warn us about a variety of scams, but when our emotions get involved, we tend to blot out the intellectual parts of our personalities. The usual advice tells us not to answer the phone if we do not know who the caller is. If we do answer and it is a stranger, we are instructed to hang up. The majority of us, however, have been brought up to understand that it is impolite to hang up unless the person threatens or is impolite to us. With email curiosity also comes into play: “Why is John Doe writing to me?”

Several years ago I received a call from New York asking for money for a religious organization. I, politely, informed the person that I do not accept telephone solicitations and that his choice of religions was definitely not mine. He then said that he hoped I would get on airplane to New York, the plane would crash, and I would be killed. I called the telephone company and the police, both of whom informed me that unless the person actually threatened me, there was nothing they could do. The moral to the story: if you listen and get angry at the caller, you can call names, but DO NOT THREATEN, much as you would like to.

At times I decide to have some fun with those who think they have the right to invade my home and privacy so they can make a buck. I do not advise this action for those who are shy about speaking or do not have the background to pull off a deception. In other words, “do not try this at home.”

I have an excellent background in theater and as an actor. I have studied and practiced improvisation for countless hours. Not improv for entertainment, but improv to understand better a character and improv for the inevitable moments in live theater when something goes wrong. Occasionally an actor will have an incident in which he/she unconsciously breaks away from the script and may jump ahead, or behind, two or three pages of dialogue–often the part containing the focus of the rest of the play. Improv teaches, or attempts to teach, an instantaneous way of seeing a variety of paths to get back on track with the audience being unaware of the change.

Also, I am, or was, fairly competent with a variety of non-American accents and the ability to speak gibberish and nonsense for short periods of time. For example: We recently had a rash of calls from a contractor, whose name appeared on “Caller ID,” almost every day and sometimes more than once a day.

After the first experience, we usually just let the phone ring, but this time I was just sitting around, so I answered it speaking total nonsense. When he asked if anyone spoke English, I replied with some sort of accent, “No Anglish.” He then asked about Spanish to which I replied, “Kazakhstan.” I then said without accent, “Actually, I speak fairly good English but you call here everyday and I thought you might get the idea that we are tired of it.” He did not hear most of the end because he had hung up, but I felt better. He has not called back.

A heating and air conditioning contractor called and I let him make his pitch about cleaning ducts, etc. I then asked, “Do they come in dozens?” He then repeated his pitch, so I diverted to, “Can they be gift wrapped?” No return calls.

Another called from some sort of business service. I let him speak, then with my finest Irish tenor and accent began singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” A man with an almost unfathomable Indian accent called identifying himself with a totally Anglo name like John or Fred. He continued saying, “I understand you take medicines including Cialis.” I interrupted to inform him that I was ninety-three years old (exaggerating by nine years), I took absolutely no medicines, and that I had sex three times everyday. He hung up somewhere in the middle of my last sentence, but my wife in the other room called out, “With whom?”

My last part in professional, non-educational, theater was that of a Soviet spy who escaped from a mental institution in England. It gave me a chance to hone my Russian accent which I have found to be the most confusing to unwanted calls. It beats English, German, or French, and my Spanish sounds too much like “Frito-Bandito.” I make them keep repeating themselves while I challenge “angrily” with totally unrelated arguments until they hang up.

If the IRS, PG&E, or some other reputable (?) organization calls and demands money to be sent to some exotic address, hang up and hide under the bed. People, it’s a scam! From personal experience I can assure you that the IRS will let you know by mail when they want your money.

I have not yet gotten the “grandson in trouble and needs money somewhere on the other side of the world” phone call. I am, however, prepared. I plan to ask, “Johnny, are you in trouble again?” Whether the answer is yes or no, I will reply, “That’s strange. I have no grandson called Johnny.” At that point I plan to state that the caller is a rotten liar and insinuate that his mother has four legs, a tail, and is quite hairy. (Obviously if you have a grandson named Johnny, you will need to pick another name.) I enjoy bantering and making these intruders feel foolish.

Again, however, for the person with no theatrical or improvisational background here are three rules for annoying phone call:

1) If you have caller ID and you do not know the person, DO NOT

2) If you do answer and strangers want money or to come to your
home, HANG UP IMMEDIATELY. If it is legitimate, they will get
back to you.

In conclusion, if you have even a partial solution for the flood of mail requests from organizations, legitimate or not so legit, please let all of us in on the secret. We and 78 jillion trees will appreciate your suggestions.

Hawaii Calls

The music of Hawaii is unique in many ways and has evolved through the centuries. The customs, culture and music of the Polynesian Islands and other foreign lands, all contributed to what we now know as Hawaiian music today.

Hula girl

Before the Europeans arrived in the islands, the Polynesians basically had only chants and dances, rather than the melodies and rhythms heard in more modern times. Much of the early ancient music was religious in nature. These ancient Hawaiian rituals were a means of preserving history, honoring deities and organizing genealogies. Chants were often accompanied by an Ipu (a gourd drum) or a Pahu, (a sharkskin drum). Later, many musical influences came from America and Europe.

The most influential group of people were the missionaries who came to the islands in the 18th Century from New England. They brought with them the music and instruments they played in their homeland.

These influences changed much of Hawaiian music from then until the present. Many Hawaiian songs have hymn-like melodies stemming from the early songs taught by the missionaries.

The music of Tahiti and Samoa also had a great influence on Hawaiian music. Both the Tahitian and Samoan styles of music use faster and more complicated rhythms.

The early 20th Century saw the emergence of “Hapa Haole” music (part Hawaiian, part white). These songs generally used the English language for the text and in 1906, the first recordings were made. By 1912, Hawaiian music became very popular on the mainland.

The years 1930 to 1960 were known as the Golden Age of Hawaiian Music. It wasn’t long before Hawaiian music eclipsed pineapples as a major export of the Hawaiian Islands. The music of the islands enjoyed phenomenal momentum on the mainland. Music and other Hawaiiana became a national rage. New York’s Tin Pan Alley produced music based on Hawaiian themes and sheet music sold by the thousands. Around the turn of the century, famed band leader and composer, Albert “Sonny” Cunha, a Hawaiian and Yale alumnus, adopted Moanalua Hula into Yale’s school song, Boola, Boola. Cunha hired Johnny Noble in his orchestra and Noble introduced a new jazz style to Hawaiian music. Hence, modern Hawaiian music came of age.

Other modern influences came from gospel, ragtime, pop, rock, soul, hop-hop and even reggae. These popular styles brought subtle nuances to the traditional island music.

If you visited Hawaii in the past you may remember the fabulous Kodak Hula Show. It began in 1937 and ran for quite a few decades. A great tourist attraction, it was a group of local musicians, singers and hula dancers who performed on Waikiki beach.

Hawaii Calls
One of the most remarkable and influential events that brought fame and depicted the romance of the islands, was the radio broadcast “Hawaii Calls.” Millions of listeners across the United States (including me) tuned in every Saturday night.

As a young boy I listened to Hawaii Calls and dreamed about the wonderful and enchanting land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. (Little did I know that many years later I would visit the islands and meet my “Dream Girl,” Jan, who later became my wife.)

Jerry Byrd, the legendary steel guitarist, said, “Hawaii Calls did more for Hawaiian music than anything ever could.” This program became the longest continuing radio program in America, reaching over 600 stations until it ended in the early 1970s. The band leader was Harry Owens, who was known as “Mr. Hawaii.” For over 30 years his band was known for its unique sound. It produced a sweetness of melody, new appealing rhythm and an enchanting, soft charm. One of the most famous pieces Owens wrote was Sweet Lailani, composed for his daughter, Leilani, right after she was born in 1934. It became his theme song and was an enormous hit, not only in Hawaii, but on the mainland as well.

Hawaiian Instruments
The Ukulele is, without a doubt, the instrument most identified with Hawaii. Ukulele, in Hawaiian roughly translates as “Jumping Flea,” perhaps because of the players fast moving fingers. The ukulele, a small four-string instrument that is strummed and plucked, appeared in the islands in the 1870s. It became a national fad and sold by the millions across the nation. The instrument has origins in Portugal and was introduced to the islands by Portuguese sailors.

The Hawaiian Steel Guitar was invented in Hawaii by Joseph Kekuku around 1889.
It is an instrument with metal strings and has a very distinctive sound that has a wavering or glissando effect. It is played using a steel bar held in the player’s hand and slid along the strings. The instrument is laid across the performers knees while playing.

‘Ohe Hano Ihu is the traditional Hawaiian nose flute that is made from bamboo. It is played by expelling air from the nose into the flute and has one to four fingering holes. In early times men used it as a courting instrument to romance a woman. It is often used to accompany chants, songs and hula dances.

Other popular Hawaiian instruments previously mentioned, are the Ipu or gourd drum and the Pahu ( Pa’u) or shark skin drum, made of breadfruit tree wood or from the wood of a hollowed-out coconut palm tree.

Another Hawaiian instrument is the Uli Uli, a feather gourd rattle used in pairs while dancing hula.The Pu’ili, bamboo sticks, are percussion instruments used to enhance the rhythm of the Hula performance.

Hawaiian Musicians
Liliuokalani, 1838-1917, the last reigning queen of Hawaii, was a noted musician and composer of Hawaiian music. She published many songs but Aloha Oe’ was her most famous. Henry Berger, 1844-1929, was a Prussian band leader who came to Hawaii and brought his native German music that had a great influence on local island music. He established the “King’s Own Band” that later became “The Royal Hawaiian Band” at the turn of the century. Berger wrote and arranged many songs that became popular in the islands and are still played today by the band.

Don Ho, 1930-2007, was a very popular entertainer of locals and tourists. His songs were basically from traditional music but with a modern style and form. He used the “easy listening” format and became an international aficionado of the music and culture of Hawaii.

The Brothers Cazimero, Robert and Roland, are accomplished, talented musicians on acoustic guitar, string bass and piano. They sing and perform chants, early and modern Hawaiian songs. They entertain the audience with Hawaiian history and many humorous stories.

In the 1970’s, Hawaiian music began its revival after it had declined for many years. The Cazimeros have contributed enormously to the perpetuation of traditional island music. They created their own sound, mixing the old with the new. Hawaiian music would not be the same without their influence.

Music in Hawaii is an essential part of island living. The Hawaiian people, from young to old, are very talented and very musically inclined. Hawaii, indeed, is an enchanting place. To walk the beaches of Waikiki at night with the lights dancing on the waters, the gentle trade winds blowing the wonderful scents of the Plumeria and other tropical flowers, you’ll know this is Paradise. The beautiful music of the islands will stay with you as you return home. If you have been there, even for a short visit, you will undoubtedly be humming the lovely tunes you’ve heard and remember these pleasant memories for the rest of your life.
Aloha Oe’

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Visit our website at for up-to-date information about the Danville Community Band.

Moving Forward

We did it. We made it through December. And none the worse for wear, I might add. Well, unless you count those extra pounds that seem to settle around one’s mid-section. Ahem.

January is the month when so many of us resolve to rid ourselves of that excess weight and improve our eating habits. After the over-indulgences of December, I find it remarkable that I easily survive most days without dipping into something rich and cheesy, sipping something alcoholic, or adding a snow-storm of powdered sugar to some already-sweet concoction. Candy canes are history, and I’m ready to roll.

The solution is easy—we all know it already—but it need not be an unpleasant journey. By nature I’m not a cottage cheese kinda gal, and rarely find it satisfying. Especially now, when cold days cry for comfort food.

Shopping at the farmers’ market is the easiest way to stay on course. Prepared foods there are few and far between, and fresh, locally-grown produce provides the only temptation. The fact of the matter is that real food tastes good.

This month, look for farm-fresh leafy greens for the best salads ever; all manner of winter squash and root vegetables; and uber-healthy, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. And to satisfy your sweet tooth, there is still a wide variety of citrus fruits, crunchy apples, and Asian pears available.With this sort of lineup, it’s hard not to eat healthy. And—dare I say?—you may even enjoy yourself.

Regardless of the question, soup is usually the right answer. It perfumes the house, warms the kitchen, fills the tummy, and soothes the soul. And the best news is that it doesn’t need to be laden with fat, carbs, or calories in order to be delicious. Soup recipes are very forgiving, and can be easily tweaked to fit your personal dietary preferences.

Soup in hand iconThe one below relies on the convenience of canned beans, though you can certainly substitute your own home-cooked beans. It is high in fiber, low in fat, packed with flavor, and yields a nice large batch. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for several days, or the soup can be frozen for longer storage. This is the sort of “fast food” we need to embrace in 2016.

Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Cumin

2 tablespoons California olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, purchased or homemade
4 (15- to 16-ounce) or 2 (29-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves, cut into thin strips or chopped
Fine sea salt
1/2 cup low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
3 limes, cut into wedges

1. In a soup pot or 6-quart-or-largerheavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery, and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and chili powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer.

2. Stir in the broth, beans, sweet potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

3. Using a slotted spoon, remove about 3 cups of the bean and potato mixture from the pot and set aside. Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the remaining soup.(Alternatively, let soup cool for 5-10 minutes. Working in batches, puree in a blender. Return the puree to the pot.) Stir in thereserved solids and the spinach and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until the spinach is bright green and the soup is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Taste, adding more salt or other seasonings as needed.

4. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle cilantro over the top of each serving, if desired. At the table, pass lime wedges for each person to squeeze into their soup. Makes about 14 cups, to serve 8.

The Danville Certified Farmers’ Market, located at Railroad and Prospect, is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For specific crop information call the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at s1-800-949-FARM, or visit their web site at This market is made possible through the generous support of the Town of Danville. Please show your appreciation by patronizing the many fine shops and restaurants located in downtown Danville. Buy fresh. Buy local. Live well!


I try my best to stay up on the latest medical advancements. One of the newsletters that I used to subscribe to is the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. In the last issue was a special report entitled, “Arthritis: Reducing pain, overcoming obstacles and leading an active life.” Not only was I appalled by no mention of the incredible, ground breaking, research in Germany and Amsterdam, but also by no mention of the effects of diet on arthritis. Dr. Colon Dong discovered this relationship between diet and arthritis over fifty years ago.

Many years ago I suffered from osteoarthritis myself and underwent standard western medicine treatment of drugs and surgery. A therapist that worked for me suffered rheumatoid arthritis and was being treated with diet only by Dr. Dong. On his diet she went from severe pain to being a ski instructor. This led me further into alternative medicine and now I am completely free of all arthritis.

What annoys me is how so many doctors are so committed to the pharmaceutical industry that they refuse to study anything alternative. Included in the Mayo article was a little box on the side putting down alternative medicine. A full page was devoted to the many drugs they use.

One of the researchers in the ground breaking work I mentioned is Dr. Paul-Peter Tak. Dr. Tak is a professor of rheumatology at the University of Amsterdam. While working with suppression of the immune system for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, it was discovered that stimulating the vagus nerve stopped the production of TNF, a.k.a. tumor necrosis factor, a very poisonous product of the innate immune system. By implanting a pacemaker in the chest with wires to the neck where the vagus nerve descends from the brain, the patients could regulate the variability of this nerve. Patients with rheumatoid that was so severe they were bedridden, were back to normal activities.

Two psychologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kok, were studying vagus nerve variability and were able to link it to attitude. A group of 70 volunteers were tested, of which 35 were taught meditation technique to promote feelings of goodwill toward themselves and others. Those who meditated showed significant rise in vagal tone. These results have the potential to make very significant changes in medicine.

According to Dr. Paul-Peter Tak, “It is becoming increasingly clear that we can’t see organ systems in isolation like we did in the past…it’s very clear that the human is one entity: mind and body are one. It sounds logical, but it’s not how we looked at it before. Now we have new data and new insights.”

In my TMJ practice, for years I have been treating the causes and the patient, not just the symptoms. It takes more of my time to approach TMD treatment this way. It requires more listening to the patient, with extensive Q & A; more study in other fields; as well as more patient cooperation, but the results are so much more rewarding.

Start 2016 Free From Neck Pain

If you are suffering with neck pain from a pinched nerve or herniated disc, you know how debilitating it is and how the pain slowly leaks the vitality from your life. At Align Healing Center we specialize in treating pain naturally. It is our mission to help relieve pain without the use of drugs, invasive procedures and without inducing more pain! If you or someone you care about suffers from pinched nerves or disc related pain, it is worthwhile to explore the natural therapies that are available today.

What is cervical disc herniation?
The bones (vertebrae) that form the spine in your back are cushioned by round, flat discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. If they become damaged, they may bulge abnormally or break open (rupture), in what is called a herniated or slipped disc. Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine, but they are most common in the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) spine.

A herniated disc usually is caused by wear and tear of the disc. As we age, our discs lose some of the fluid that helps them maintain flexibility. A herniated disc also may result from injuries to the spine, which may cause tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer of the disc. The jellylike material (nucleus) inside the disc may be forced out through the tears or cracks in the capsule, which causes the disc to bulge, break open (rupture), or break into fragments.

What are the symptoms of a herniated disc in the neck?
Herniated discs in the neck (cervical spine) can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the neck, shoulders, chest, arms, and hands. In some cases a very large herniated disc in the neck may cause weakness or unusual tingling affecting other parts of the body, including the legs.

Arm pain from a cervical herniated disc is one of the more common cervical spine conditions. The arm pain from a cervical herniated disc results because the herniated disc material “pinches” or presses on a nerve in the neck, causing pain to radiate along the nerve pathway down the arm. Along with the arm pain, numbness and tingling can be present down the arm and into the fingertips. Muscle weakness may also be present due to a cervical herniated disc.

How can I heal my pain without drugs or surgery?

1. Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy
Non-surgical spinal decompression is a state of the art treatment that has been helping thousands of patients with chronic neck or low back pain, sciatica, and herniated, bulging or degenerated discs. This is an entirely different treatment from traditional chiropractic adjustments. Many of the patients who are candidates for this procedure have already tried chiropractic, physical therapy, injections, and/or were told they would need surgery.

This breakthrough treatment works by gently separating the vertebra which decompresses the disc, thus causing the bulging material to be drawn back into the disc. Non-surgical spinal decompression is very effective, has a high success rate, and can be utilized for both cervical and lumbar disc injuries.

2. Class IV Laser Therapy
Laser treatments at Align Healing Center are done with the K-laser Cube Class IV Laser. Class IV Laser therapy gets to the root of the injury and treats it at the cellular level, providing energy to the cells so they can heal.This laser does not cut or burn but is gently absorbed by the tissue. During each painless treatment,laser energy increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, function is restored and pain is relieved.

There is hope!
We have found that a combination of Class IV laser therapy and spinal decompression offers outstanding results in healing stubborn neck pain due to a pinched nerve, bulging discs or spinal degeneration.
This unique combination of non-invasive therapy offers a chance for realizing a permanent cure for neck or back pain. This eliminates the long-term care commitment forced upon patients by other symptomatic low-back pain treatments, such as drugs, injections or surgery. With proper care and rehabilitation of your spine you can be back to your healthy self quickly!

For more information about Dr. Niele Maimone, DC or to set up a complimentary consult call 925.362.8283 or visit

2016 New Year: New Skin!

With the New Year comes new technologies and with new and with them you can reduce aging even further. Aging is optional with new in-home systems that provide immediate, long-term skin rejuvenating results. These clinically tested and dermatologist recommended anti-aging tools, can be used on crow’s feet, under eyes, cheeks, around mouth and virtually any other problem area. They improve the skin’s texture, diminish the appearance of wrinkles, brighten skin color, and reduce pore size. In as little as five minutes a day you can repair damaged skin, brown spots, large pores and reduce fine lines. Use with Ongrien’s Ultimate Cellular Repair Serum with Neuro-Peptides for optimum results.

Hair Removal Device
Now you can enjoy professional quality hair removal results right in your own home. The new hair removal devices use advanced light pulse technology to remove hair permanently. Gentle light energy penetrates the skin and disables hair growth at the root, for results you can see within a handful of treatments.

With one of these devices, you can save hundreds of dollars compared to other hair removal products and treatments. Imagine never having to buy another razor refill or have another painful laser treatment. With this new technology you can remove unwanted hair on your body and face with results that will last a lifetime. It’s easy and painless.

Hair Removal Cream
Ongrien Technologies also provides a non-invasive Hair Growth Inhibitor Cream to put on unwanted hair. It is a lightweight cream with special hair growth inhibitors to slow the growth of unwanted hair on chin, sides of face, and above upper lip. Over time hairs will become smaller and finer until there is no more hair. Use it twice a day for best results.

Acne Blue Light Technology
The Blue Light Technology is a revolutionary new way to treat acne. Using clinically tested and dermatologist recommended dual energy technology, Bleu Light destroys acne-causing bacteria while simultaneously dehydrating oil-producing glands. It prevents future breakouts, starts neutralizing bacteria immediately with no harsh chemicals. The technology is completely non-invasive and gentle. By simply applying the device to problem areas for three to four minutes each night, the blue light penetrates deeply within the skin, destroying acne-causing bacteria. With the help of Ongrien’s Acne Clear Skin Treatments you will see remarkable results within 30 days.

All of these new home devices and technologies are at The Rouge Cosmetics. Please call the skin professionals at The Rouge Cosmetics for an in-home skin care device consultation. Ask for a consultation in Anti-Aging, Hair Removal or Acne.

Three Tips for a Healthier New Year

As a child, the New Year was a time of excitement, anticipation and adventure. I eagerly awaited what would “happen.” As an adult, the New Year is a time of renewal and promise of improvement. As opposed to waiting for something to happen, each year I try to have a goal to MAKE something happen. The good thing is that we really do have more control over our lives and our futures than we give ourselves credit for.

Our lives may not look exactly like the way we pictured they’d be when we were children, BUT we have time and opportunity to shape it into something more compatible with our dreams. Usually the only obstacle is fear of failure or ridicule, or of not being like everyone else. Fear is a truly poor excuse for not having a better, happier and more satisfying life.

I like the Mark Twain quote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Whether you DO or DON’T DO something, there is still a decision involved to DO one or the other. I believe that all of us know what the right thing is—what we ought to do for ourselves. Confusion can occur when we second guess ourselves or place more value on another person’s decision or opinion.

There are many reasons for why some people develop chronic pain and others don’t. More studies are documenting the non-physiologic contributors such as depression and anxiety disorders as well as well known and documented causes such as obesity and smoking. Currently, addiction and overdose-related deaths are at epidemic levels related to the treatment of chronic pain with opioids and benzodiazepines.

As a result, pain physicians and patients are searching for alternative ways to achieve pain control. The most successful strategies to treat chronic pain are the ones you can do on your own.

1. Stop Smoking: There is a positive correlation between tobacco use and low back pain. This includes cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes. Nicotine slows down blood flow and oxygen delivery to all of the organs, muscles, nerves and bones. This increases the risk of injury, delays healing and perpetuates the inflammatory cycle; all of which cause chronic pain.

2. Lose Weight: Obesity (BMI>30) and Overweight (BMI>25) increase the risk of osteoarthritis and joint pain by up to 5X. The force on your knees when you walk is 1.5X your body weight and if you walk up stairs, the force is two to three times. If you bend over to pick something up or tie your shoes, the force is 4-5X your body weight. Every pound of weight loss results in 4 pounds of reduction in knee joint pressure. Eleven pounds of weight loss reduces the risk of osteoarthritis by 50%. These numbers may be extrapolated to show the effect of obesity on any weight bearing joint of the body including the spine and hips and ankles. Most of us need help developing a plan to lose weight. The best solution I’ve seen is LeanMD. It was developed by physicians and helps you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight with a program that can fit your lifestyle.

3. Socialize: Being around friends and loved ones increases your sense of well being and the release of oxytocin and endorphins. These are our natural “pain killers.” Unfortunately, people in pain tend to isolate themselves because they don’t want to be “a bother” to others. Invite your friends and family who may be suffering from chronic pain to engage in activities that they can such as playing cards and games, listening to music, or having a lively conversation over coffee.

This year, make the decision to be proactive when it comes to your health. Look forward to making progress in a positive direction—and if pain is an obstacle for you, please feel free to contact me so that I can help you move forward toward your goal in the New Year.