The Journey is the Reward!

Instead of anticipating the goal, learn to enjoy the Journey for this is where we spend 99.9% of our time.

Didgeridoo Demo…

Posted by Ivan Olarte on September 19, 2015

This is a short demo of a PVC (not fiberglass as I mentioned in the video) Didgeridoo from the Didgeridoo store. Also of a Didge stand I put together from an old onstage mic and guitar stands.

To give you and idea of how it should really sound like when played well. I have included on the title screens a snippet of “frenzy” by David Hudson from an excellent cd “Rainbow Serpent”.

Also, sorry about the poor sound quality, I guess the wind does it’s thing too…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Guadalupe Custom Ukulele Baritone GCEA Strings Review!

Posted by Ivan Olarte on June 28, 2015

Some great stuff to share with you all today… if you are  into Ukuleles and want to try something new and cool on your  baritone.

Like Many Ukulele enthusiasts I have a baritone Ukulele in my instrument collection and like many, I rarely use it because I have to learn or switch the name of the chords that I play due to the difference in tuning. That is other ukuleles are usually tuned to GCEA, and Baritones are usually tuned to DGBE like he first 4 strings of a standard guitar.

Well I had heard about baritone strings that come in GCEA tuning so  little research yielded Aquila 23U strings.. I ordered a set, expecting nice rich bass baritone sound with the normal tuning. well, it turns out that it was GCEA but it was at the same Timbre or Pitch as a regular Ukulele string… I guess it sounded deeper, but not lower in pitch.

After doing a bit more research I found an old thread at Ukulele Underground where they mentioned a small family run company in California that makes all types of custom strings for stringed instruments including an (Octave lower) set of Baritone Ukulele strings.

Guadalupe Custom Strings Factory Storefront

Guadalupe Custom Strings Factory Storefront

Well after some searching because unfortunately the name of their site is a bit too abbreviated I found their site at  Yes its dot.CO not COM…   and specifically their ukulele strings page is at

Guadalupe Custom Strings Websites

Guadalupe Custom Strings Websites

I ended up ordering a set of LOW GCEA strings including an extra high g to try both tunings. Well in less than two weeks I received a flat envelop from California, with a low set of CGEA Baritone Ukulele strings and an extra high g string to try out.

Guadalupe Baritone GCEA Strings

Guadalupe Baritone GCEA Strings

The 1st string A is a bit unusual, it’s a wound string but instead of steel or silver winding, it’s wound in very thin nylon.. i’ve never seen such a string in my many years with classical guitar and ukuleles… the other 3 strings look like typical silver wound classical guitar strings…

From what I understand this is a family business and all strings are custom made in their factory. They make all types of strings but as you know I was focused in this special set that nobody else seems to make.

I quickly put them on my Lanikai inexpensive baritone Uke.. I tuned them, and like typical classical guitar strings I knew it would take a few days to settle in.

I tried the high g string first knowing  that I would most likely not keep it on.. yes it sounded good but somehow the reentrant sound typical to a ukulele did not translate well to the low (one octave lower than a standard Uke). I changed to a low G and yes!!!

Having studied classical guitar for 8 years, I immediately loved and recognized the similarity to the deep rich sound of a classical guitar… yet it still had the personality and most importantly\practical the GCEA tuning that I’m so used to.
Not only do these strings give you the familiar GCEA tuning but they go 4 tones lower (G) than the standard DGBE baritone sound!!!

It’s now been a week, and after responding to a couple of threads about it over at the Ukulele Underground Forums and after emailing The Guadalupe to let them know how pleased I am, I have been enjoying the baritone like I never did before.

I went through a lot of my repertoire and realized that this will be a great complement to future recordings… simply playing the chords of any song along with a regular ukulele and other instruments will add a deep and full bass line  that is not a BASS, but rather like the sounds of a beautiful classical guitar.. while the standard ukulele provides the treble line with the standard higher Timbre\Pitch.

Well I’m pleased that as I had said I would both at UU and in my Email to “Guadalupe”, being a rainy day today, I decided to do a video review in one take and share the beautiful set of strings that are just perfect for any Ukulele player that wants the Bari sound with the same sets of chords and fingerings.

My next step for me personally is to check out their site, and perhaps try some other sets of Ukulele strings as they have sets available for all standard sizes, Tenor, Concert and Soprano.

The strings can be bought from Mainland Ukuleles or directly from Guadalupe Custom Strings I chose to purchase directly from Guadalupe simply because it’s a family business and I want to support them as much as possible. Also because I wanted to order the extra high g to try out both tunings.

As they say, a picture\video is worth a thousand words, so Below is a the one take video review that I put together earlier today. Please be aware that I am not affiliated with Guadalupe Custom Strings, in any way. I’m just very pleased with this unique product and as always want to share my positive experiences and findings with the Ukulele community in the spirit of Aloha. It’s my way of paying it forward for all the help and support that fellow Ukulele players show for one another around the world.

Peace, Love and Ukulele.

Ivan Olarte

Sunday, 6/28/2015

Disclaimer: Please excuse the many mistakes in my playing today… since this is not a “performance” I wanted to do a real quick, on the spur video review so I just played stuff off the top of my head and so I stumbled around both in my talking and playing.. this was a one take review..  wanted to share these wonderful strings with you despite my poor playing. ;-)

Guadalupe Custom Strings, Muchisimas gracias amigos. Estas cuerdas para baritone son fabulosas!!!!

Video Review:

Posted in Music, Ukulele | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

MyCaseBuilder Ukulele Custom Case Review

Posted by Ivan Olarte on May 3, 2015

Well as you may know, often when I find an artist, or a product that is quite unique  I like to pay it forward by doing an informal review, and spreading the word so that others can benefit like I do.

With this in mind I have prepared a written and video review both of which you can check out below.


This is the case (no pun intended) with . MyCaseBuilder is a unique company that will make custom cases for just about anything that you may have that needs protection for storage or travel.

As it happens I’m a musician and have a nice collection of Ukuleles. Most of them are standard sizes and I have plenty of cases for them. However, recently I was fortunate to have a custom made non-standard small ukulele called a Nano Ukulele by Andy Miles in the UK. Well this little ukulele is a wonderful work of art and craftsmanship, but alas, it came with no case.

Well I thought of this company which I had read about and seen samples of some interesting cases. Up to now I did not have a need for their services but now it seemed like something worth looking into. I quickly realized that yes they made interesting cases, but for all practical reasons, it was not worth for me to spend an additional $50 to have a small foam padded case for this tiny 11″ ukulele.

However in browsing their website, I quickly came up with a much more practical idea. Aside from requiring protection, another issue when traveling is having separate cases for more than one ukulele.

I decided that it might be more practical and economical if I made a bigger case that could hold a couple of odd sized ukulele as well as a standard soprano size.

My Gear, My Design, My Case...

My Gear, My Design, My Case…

As it turns out makes the creative process of coming up with an infinite number of designs quite easy. Within 5-10 minutes of login I figured out how the process works.

Note: You need to login from a PC or MAC as the application to design your own case online requires Flashplayer.

Anyway, within 15-20 minutes I had followed their easy instructions online. I took a photo of  3 ukuleles that I thought would be the perfect candidates for this project.  I followed the online prompts and uploaded the photos. Based on the dimensions of an initial layout I had in mind as I arranged the 3 ukuleles on the bed, I chose a particular PVC Case 25″ by 17″ by 8″. Once the case size was determined, the online system guided me through tracing each of the ukuleles and arranging them on a diagram which represented how they would be cut and placed within the case.

Keep in mind the recommendation to add finger notches for each piece. I can now see how they are needed easily secure, place and remove the ukuleles in their respective cutouts.

After the system  prompted me for some basic measurements of the ukuleles (items) being stored, I was able to arrange all the pieces and the system validated that they were not too close to the edges etc.

Online Foam Cutout Design

Online Foam Cutout Design

Well the order was placed, and I followed up with a call where I spoke to Hani Sandler and we verified the order, dimensions etc. She also offered that Eric a co-worker at the company, being a musician himself, would check my layout to insure it would have the proper curves etc.

We also discussed a Fail Safe $8.00 insurance for which MyCaseBuilder will re-cut and replace the foam should the cutout not be as expected due to any miscalculations on my part. I decided that it was worth it as it also covered the shipping of any replacement foam etc.

As it turned out the Case which can hold a Standard Sized Soprano as well as standard sized Piccolo\Pocket, and the quite unique custom made Nano Ukuele. Seeing as how there was some spare room I also added a couple of oval cutouts to hold things like a Tuner, extra strings, a harmonica etc.

I received the case within a week, and it was even better than  I had expected. The cutouts were perfectly sized, and the foam very form yet flexible enough for the ukuleles to “fit like a glove”. The Piccolo sized cutout was a bit too deep but I realized I had sent them the wrong measurement. After speaking with Hani Sandler about my overall satisfaction she suggested that they could just sent a “plug” of that particular cutout to make it a bit shallower. Well that is where the Fail Safe insurance came in. Thanks to that Not only did  I receive the “plug” without additional cost, but it was shipped via Fedex and I had it within 48 hours.

Since then I have been very pleased with this case and excited to share this excellent service with the Ukulele Community as I know there are many enthusiasts that have often desired a custom case for non-standard sized Ukes.

Finished Case Alien Uke Front

Finished Case Alien Uke Front

Finished Case Alien Uke Back

Finished Case Alien Uke Back

There are two minor concerns that came to mind…

The particular case that I purchased did not have D Rings for a shoulder strap. I don’t remember seeing any cases with D Rings during the design process. Well I realized that since they are made out of light but durable PVC, I could easily attach a couple of D Rings. I got a couple from Home Depot and was able to make this enhancement within 10 minutes. This is something I hope MyCaseBuilder adds to their services\options as I find the need for a Shoulder strap an absolute requirement.

D Rings Added for strap...

D Rings Added for strap…

The other concern was raised be fellow Ukers from the forums at Ukulele Underground. Some were concerned that the finish could get affected by the composition of the Foam used, over long term storage.

Well in my particular case, I hang most of my ukes and use these cases only for transport. However I found that it was easy enough to simply put an appropriate sized piece of fabric under each Ukulele and then it can be wrapped snugly and still fit into the custom cutouts without any issues.

Ukes wrapped in fabric...

Ukes wrapped in fabric…

Well that’s about it. MyCaseBuilder offers a unique and reasonably priced service. In my case it allows  me to transport and protect a standard Soprano as well as two additional Non-standard Ukuleles. Others have expressed interest in building cases for the odd shaped but prized Koaloha Sceptre or Pineapple Sunday Ukuleles.

Stickers in place, ready for travel....

Stickers in place, ready for travel….

If you are interested in the possibilities and have a few minutes to spare, I invite you to visit and play with the online design system… you will find that it’s not only fun to try out but easy…

Their Service is all about my needs...

Their Service is all about my needs…


Ivan M. Olarte

Posted in Music, Ukulele | 1 Comment »

The magic of Physical Therapy and how it helped me…

Posted by Ivan Olarte on April 30, 2015

Cinco De Mayo!!! Woohoo! Here is a wonderful Update regarding my original story below:



It’s been 9 months and 2 weeks since I had a prostatectomy to treat my cancer.  And ONE week ago yesterday I concluded my Physical Rehabilitation program At the Miriam Hospital Men’s Health Center with Elisa Virgilio, DPT as my PT –

Well Cinco the Mayo will be a date to remember. Since I wrote the original essay below, I have made incredible progress and as of the today the following milestones have occurred:

– I’m now 100% continent in all situations including daily life, night time, and vigorous activities.

– I’m down to using only one pair of under wear and a very thin shield per day,  as I’m still getting used to feeling 100% normal

– Phantom sensations of the pelvic\urinary regions that have gone away

– Constant awareness of my pelvic region have also gone away and I now feel completely like the way I did pre-surgery.

– I’m now waking up to go to the bathroom or throughout the day less often than I did even before surgery.

– Today I went for a brisk 7 mile walk with our  3 dogs, and had no issues at all.

– Any incontinence related emotional stress and physical discomfort is also gone.

Me and our Pack on a 7 mile walk

Me and our Pack on a 7 mile walk

So the cancer is gone – Strike 1

Incontinence has been conquered – Strike 2

ED… well it’s the next and last strike in order for me to Win this battle and return to a complete and normal life…

So today, being Cinco De Mayo, as a final test, I think it’s only proper to celebrate with a few Margaritas and a couple of Cervezas tonight!



Feliz cinco de Mayo

Feliz cinco de Mayo

And best of all our first grandson Max Reed Olarte born 2 weeks ago will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo with us today… in fact he’s got his first gig tonight playing maracas… just kidding ;-)

Ready for my first gig, Can't help but laugh, I look as handsome as my Abuelito...

Ready for my first gig, Can’t help but laugh, I look as handsome as my Abuelito…

Life is looking great these days, It feels good to be back to an almost normal life!

With Peace, Love & Ukulele

Ivan M. Olarte



Orinal Essay as posted on Tuesday May 28, 2015:

Please get checked for early signs of Prostate Cancer, I may save your life!

Please get checked for early signs of Prostate Cancer, I may save your life!

Pssst... great story for you.

Pssst… great story for you.

Wow do I have a story for you.

I am a young 53 male, yet feeling much older and broken these days… copying with Diabetes type II, joint and back pains, and most of all with the recovery of a radical Prostatectomy to combat prostate cancer almost a year ago.

I had DaVinci robotic surgery in July 20, 2014. I recovered ok, the cancer has been eradicated, but have had both incontinence and ED since then which are common side effects of this surgery.

My PSA is 0.01 so far after two consecutive tests. so at least the cancer has been eradicated.

Erectile dysfunction is still very much a way of life, with injections working only about 25% and as of right now sex is non-existent. However as some of you may know you can still reach a climax, even without an erection so I suppose that’s a side bonus of this whole thing. And in due time, it is expected that the nerve that was spared will “wake up” and normal sexual function will resume. This can take from one to two years after surgery.

Having ED is at least manageable, but finding yourself not able to control your bladder, and never knowing when you are going to literally wet your pants even with depends like pads on… well that is a very frustrating and downright depressing way to live…

In January of 2015, to treat the ongoing incontinence, I started treatment with a wonderful Physical Therapist Elisa Virgilio DPT,  at the Men’s Health Center at Miriam Hospital, in Providence, Rhode Island.  Ms. Virgilio holds  Doctorate in Physical Therapy and specializes in Men and Women’s urinary issues related to Cancer treatment etc. You can see Ms. Virgilio’s profile at

I Quickly made progress, and was seeing Ms. Virgilio about every one to two weeks. She had a LOT of information on basic Kegel, advanced Kegel and other exercises and would discuss everything at length, and check to make sure I was doing them ok. The treatment started with a thorough explanation of the urinary system, and what\how particular muscles work to control continence etc.

We worked together for the last 4 months and I did daily exercises as prescribed in 30-45 min sessions. (the toilet early in the AM seems to be the best place to really relax and do the exercises very meticulously).

I made progress to about 75% but would still manage to wet my pants past the Depends pads on a long drive or at least once a day.

Well last Monday I went in to see my Ms. Virgilio, and although I knew we were coming close to stopping routine visits, after a long conversation she reviewed my progress to date, we went over everything very thoroughly, and decided that this was it. I was graduating from the program and would need to work on my own from then on.

Well we agreed, but I went home depressed as I felt scared that I was still nowhere near to leading a normal life. Also those one on one  sessions were so candid, motivating and honest, that talking to Ms. Virgilio had become the highlight of my week.  Never mind that even though I felt like a broken old man at 53,  I found Ms. Virgilio very intelligent, outgoing, funny and attractive woman, and excellent listener, and always providing feedback with a smile and a positive attitude. I left every session feeling motivated and ready to go to the next level in my recovery…  So in my heart of hearts I went home depressed.

The next day I woke up depressed like a teenager who had just had his heart broken. Still something in me, the motivation and respect for this woman, made me start right away on my own. We had decided to start using no pads or a very thin pad and see how that went. Well I grabbed the thinnest of pads that morning which I hated because they were useless before.

I continued to with my daily work, but still depressed and sorry for myself. As the workday went by I started to notice that the think little pad was staying dry… Little by little my mood changed from depression to downright surprise and  gratitude for Ms. Virgilio. For you see not only did she know how to treat, motivate and coach me, she also knew when it was time to kick me out and make my fly on my own.

NOW 3 days later I’m still going 98% dry. I have used One pair of underwear a day, one thin pad for the whole day and one regular pad at night.

I am waking up only once to go to the bathroom, and the pad has been dry every morning, and stayed that way throughout the day! 3 days and counting…

I have no idea what happened, if it’s a coincidence, a Miracle, Karma, or simply the Excellent skills of this wonderful health care professional at Miriam Hospital’s Men’s Health Center.

All I know is that this through her great work, Ms. Virgilio gave me the skills and motivation to regain a part of my life that I never thought I would get back.

But the magic for me in all this, is how once I took off from the “nest” I have been flying high and dry ever since.

The fact that it happened this way, the day after our last session, makes this a very memorable, positive and beautiful experience. needless to say I have been smiling all week long, and have written to Ms. Virgilio,  letting her know of this incredible outcome.

So whatever you do in your own struggles, do not give up, find the right resources and do the work that you must. Hold your head up high and you too can soar on your own once again!.

Celebrating feeling normal again!

Celebrating feeling normal again!

Ivan Olarte

Posted in Cancer, Personal | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

I’m in love with a Redhead – Review of Gary Gill #21 Pear Shape Tenor Ukulel

Posted by Ivan Olarte on February 20, 2015

Yes that’s correct, I’m in love with a red head!

I first saw a picture  of Gary Gill’s Pear Shaped Tenor Ukulele #21 back in November on FB. It was with #20 and #22… as soon as I saw “her” I fell in love with the sheer beauty of the woods, colors, shape etc.  At the time I though well there it goes a real beauty, someone lucky guy or gal will be very happy out there.

First look...

First look…

I have too many ukuleles, I had no plans of adding yet another ukulele… Or so I thought…

Flash forward to early January, licking my wounds from 2014, mourning the loss of my dear sister in law Lori to cancer on 1/7/2015, dealing with my own battle with cancer, surgery, ongoing recovery and physical therapy, and canceling my trip to the Reno Uke fest due to $$, time and my health… dealing with one of the worst winters that I can recall etc…  I was following Mim’s adventures at NAMM, and somehow I came across #21 again.

I messaged MiM, and as always she replied promptly, yes #21 was still available, we talked numbers, an optional MiSi Pickup, and no case… Bam! I pulled the trigger and she put it on hold.

Now MiM is known for great sales, great setup and getting a hot little Ukulele in you hands before you get a chance to get more than one night’s sleep. But alas, she had to order the MiSi… no worries, I could wait a bit longer… Good thing as the MiSi pickup arrived, she also got a few Fusion Premium Tenor cases that are imported from the UK.

Well here it is 2/20/2015 – it’s 6 degrees out and over 3 feet of snow packed in the front yard and up the streets. But my Redhead arrived, and I’m in love. It is right up there next to my beloved Mya-Moe Ukulele.

I took the day off to pick it up at the post office so it would not sit in the truck all day.

I came home and POW!!! I had not seen any reviews but heard a LOT of talk about every one that owns one being very very happy with the Gary Gill Ukuleles.. Well it’s true. She plays as good as she looks and THAT says a lot. This Ukulele is made of Solid Douglas Fir top/ Mahogany back and sides, with Maple/Redheart Rosette and headstock.

For more information about these and other Ukuleles or the Fusion cases, please contact MiM, at: or via phone at  (540) 505 5444

So here are a couple of pics of what I received today, and a link to a video review I made earlier today.

Video review and first impression…

Note: for some strange reason the first minute of the review is low in volume, it was fine on my iPhone, have no idea what youtube did to it ;-) 

In the wild...

In the wild…

Beautiful Headstock!

Beautiful Headstock!

Fusion Premium Tenor Case...

Fusion Premium Tenor Case…

Swag from my friend MiM!

Swag from my friend MiM!

She arrives...

She arrives…

She's home... but what to name her? Gigi, Juno, Red, Lucy? uhm...

She’s home… but what to name her? Gigi, Juno, Red, Lucy? uhm…

Of course she needs the perfect strap to wear. Kokopellis ;-)

Of course she needs the perfect strap to wear. Kokopellis ;-)

Posted in Music, Ukulele | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Upside Down Rice Bowl Surprise!

Posted by Ivan Olarte on February 3, 2015

I admire all the amazing rice and dish presentations on FB. So wanted to try my own.

An upside down rice bowl that contains the main dish inside like a surprise. In this case it’s beef with mushrooms and onions. It could be chili or some other goodie.

These pictures show the sequence how to make it using jasmine rice which has a nice consistency.

You basically make a bowl with rice inside a soup bowl use a wooden spoon to pack the rice into a nice bowl with the desired thickness etc then use a serving plate put it on top and use both hands to flip it. Use a knife to lift up the bowl off the plate and voila

Call it an upside down rice bowl surpise an rice igloo etc.



Plate with Minions

Plate with Minions

Plate without minions

Plate without minions


Making the Rice Bowl

Making the Rice Bowl


Putting the main dish inside.

Putting the main dish inside.


Putting Serving plate and Flipping

Putting Serving plate and Flipping




Lifting the bowl off the plate

Lifting the bowl off the plate


The finished product with no garnish

The finished product with no garnish


The Surprise Inside!

The Surprise Inside!

Posted in Healthy Living, Personal | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

So sad to say goodbye, to my dear sister Lori O’Brien-Foeri.

Posted by Ivan Olarte on January 12, 2015

Today our family will be seeing and visiting Lori’s body for the last time, and tomorrow we say goodbye as we go through the ritual of her funeral.

A sad loss to us all, to our family and to our community. She achieved more in her short lifetime than most of us ever will. She was an advocate for the elderly. Lori was a dreamer, a believer of rainbows, but even more importantly she was a Doer! Lori was  strong and defiant to her very last breath. Thanks to her strength and energy, I had no reservations in heading into my own battle with cancer earlier this year. She was a source of inspiration and strength to me during my own surgery and recovery.

I’m so proud that she was in my life as a sister and friend for the last 26 years, since I met my wife Raye. Over two decades I remember Sunday dinners at my in-laws and just like Cheer’s “Hi Norm”, I always looked forward to Lori walking through the door with the beautiful radiant smile and positive energy. My Sunday was not complete until she walked through the door. And the few times she was not able to come, the house was a bit less bright that day.

Lori always had time for everyone, on so many occasions I saw her be the one to get on the floor and play with the children, our niece Elizabeth, or any of the boys as they grew into young adults.

As she worked at the Rehoboth Post Office, Lori first got her bachelor’s degree then went on to get her law degree, pass the BAR exam and open her own successful law firm  specializing as an advocate for the elderly.

Lori had the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen on anyone, it came straight from her heart. I miss dearly… My heart feels broken today and for a long time to come. She was even sworn in to the bar of the United States Supreme Court in 2010 so she could advocate for the elderly all the way to the supreme court. You can read her full bio here:

She kept on full steam ahead as she battled inflammatory breast cancer for the last few years. She was relentless in her zest for life, and never lost that beautiful smile even during the worst of times.

Lori will continue to be with us in her inspiration for life and for helping others, and through the memories and positive that she had on all of us. She made me smile, she made me believe in rainbows…

In loving memory of my dear sister Lori O’Brien Foeri (1962-2015).

Lori's smile always lit up her face...

Lori’s smile always lit up her face, and everyone else around her…


Lori, always silly and ready to laugh

Lori, always silly and ready to laugh

A successful law practice as an advocate for the elderly...

Lori Established a successful law practice as an advocate for the elderly…


Our last family get together...


Rainbow Connection was Lori's favorite song... She was a dreamer and a Do-er!

Rainbow Connection was Lori’s favorite song… She was a dreamer and a Do-er!


A beautiful memory of Lori with her daughter Amanda and sisters Kim and Raye.

A beautiful memory of Lori with her daughter Amanda and sisters Kim and Raye.


Memories of Lori. A life well lived but cut too short...

Memories of Lori. A life well lived but cut too short…


Memories of Lori. A life well lived but cut too short...

Memories of Lori. A life well lived but cut too short…

Memories of Lori. A life well lived but cut too short...

Memories of Lori. A life well lived but cut too short…


Memories of Lori. A life well lived but cut too short...

Memories of Lori. A life well lived but cut too short…


She's with the Angels now...

She’s with the Angels now…

Loved ones that live on in my heart...

Lori is with the loved ones that live on in my heart… she is at peace.

Posted in Cancer, Personal, Spiritual Path | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

In memory of my dear sister in law Lori – Rainbow Connection…

Posted by Ivan Olarte on January 8, 2015

I’m reposting this video in loving memory of my dear sister in law Lori O’brien Foeri, who lost her long battle with @#!@# Cancer last night January 7, 2015

This was her favorite tune, and I recorded this a few years ago when she was first diagnosed with cancer. At least her suffering has finally ended

I also want to share with you Lori’s biography. I knew her for 26 years, and I have nothing but great memories of her for her heart was open to all, and she always had a smile on her face and time for everyone. A beautiful life cut short by Cancer.

Because of her strength in her fight with Cancer, I had no reservations about going through my own surgery to battle prostrate cancer. Her strength to the end was inspiring to all of us. It was way too early for her to be gone, she was younger than myself, yet did so much more with her life helping those around her…

I HATE !@#!@#!@ CANCER!

Please take a moment to read her bio, I think you will see what a loss to our community and to our family, she will be.


Lori O’brien-Foeri – 1962-2015

As both an attorney and a social worker, Lori offers a unique combination of legal expertise; advocacy; and compassion to her clients.  As a sole practitioner, her practice concentrates on providing legal services for life’s many changes that often require the practice of law.

  In 2010 Lori traveled to Washington, DC and was sworn into the bar of the United States Supreme Court. She can now represent her clients all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary to vehemently advocate for elders and those with special needs. 

   In May 2009, Lori was accredited by the Department of Veteran Affairs to participate in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for veteran’s benefits.  

  As a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, she works on the Public Policy Committee assisting to write proposed legislation that will help enhance the lives of elders, people with special needs and their families. 

  Lori is a member of the Bristol County Estate Planning Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, and a member of the Committee for Public Council Services litigation unit, whereby she provides legal services to people who are indigent.

  In her hometown of Rehoboth, MA, Lori was the founder and president of the Anawan Friendship Association helping to create a non-profit elderly housing corporation as a means to offer housing options for people aged 65 and older. 

After graduating from high school, Lori worked in for the U.S. Postal Service in her hometown of Rehoboth, Massachusetts. She worked there while attending Rhode Island College, studying for her degree in social work with a concentration on gerontology and human services.  

As part of her social service work, Lori began volunteering as a victim’s advocate at the Garrahy Judicial Complex in Providence helping people navigate through the legal system.  She found herself always seeking attorneys who could help her clients.  That’s when Lori realized that she could best advocate for her clients as an attorney.  “That’s when I decided to go to law school.”  So while working, volunteering, and being the mother of two, she earned her Juris Doctorate from the Southern New England School of Law, now the University of Massachusetts School of Law.

Lori has also volunteered at Sojourner House in Providence working within the Elder Abuse Support and Empowerment (EASE) program, and at the Elmwood Community Center in Providence working with elderly survivors of domestic violence.

The social worker in Lori comes out when she says, “I love to sit down with families at their kitchen table.  We talk about their situation and how I can help.” 

Lori makes it easier for her clients to understand complex legal situations, not only taking the time to give full explanations in plain language but often using memorable visual props.  Don’t be surprised when she sets a brightly painted little house on her desk, a red box, or a small orange bucket. 



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New Year Love Song, by Lesley Fowkes

Posted by Ivan Olarte on January 3, 2015

Fellow Ukulele enthusiast Lesley Fowkes, wrote this beautiful song on December 29th.

She was also kind enough to share it with me. So I spent New Years day learning it and recording my rendition of this beautiful composition.

A very nice way to start the new year!

Hope you like it.

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Getting through, With a Little Help From My Friends…

Posted by Ivan Olarte on December 23, 2014

So 2014 has been a tough year for me, and I can’t wait until it’s over.

Although the holidays have always been nice for me regardless of the ups and downs of life, this year I must say that I feel distanced from the whole holiday thing.

Mind you I’m not depressed, but I am a bit sad. I feel like I’ve lost the last of the innocence about about the holidays, and about life itself, that I had since my childhood.

Having gone through a Radical Prostatectomy on July 23rd, to try to get rid  of my cancer before it spreads, and knowing that I have at least a year before I conquer the side effects of incontinence and ED, I’ve had to focus on myself, question my life as it was and as it should be after this ordeal. Cancer has a way of slapping you right in the face and waking you right up…

But the main reason why the holidays have lost that shine for me this year, is not what I went through, It is about seeing friends and family that are suffering like me or worse. And knowing there are countless others going through the same thing.

A close friend at work lost her son suddenly (still in his 30’s) right before the last new year’s. And just an hour ago I came back from visiting a dear relative who just got admitted to a hospice in Cape Cod as she approaches the end of her journey. And yes she is battling that dammed disease Cancer.

Cancer took my Dad, It tried to take me but I battled it head on and dodged it this time, it is taking a dear relative who is far to young and too accomplished to be taken so soon…

Boy I hate that !@#@# word Cancer!

Just this week as I watched the TV series Crash I found out that Dennis Hopper died from undiagnosed Prostate Cancer back in 2010. By the time they found it, it had done it’s evil deed and spread throughout his body.

And just yesterday Joe Cocker, someone who sang from the heart, who’s raw energy and honesty transformed others’ songs and moved me deeply as I grew up listening to him from time to time during sad and lonely times…

So instead of a Christmas Carol, I wanted to wish all those out there going through tough personal times a bit of rest, a bit of peace, and the shoulder of a friend to rest on as you struggle through the journey we call life.

As you may know, I firmly believe in the power of healing through music, so, I wanted to share 4 short videos that dear  friends of mine made for me or posted on youtube, as I went through and recovered from prostate surgery back in July 23rd, 2014.

You see it was friends from the Ukulele community that helped me through my ordeal. They kept my spirits up throughout.  When I humbly asked that they pickup their Ukuleles and sing a song as they thought of those that they know that have had to struggle with Cancer I got many responses, and several even made the videos shown below  or picked very special songs just for me. I felt special, I felt loved and most of all I did not feel alone during this very scary time.

And so in honor of all those struggling with Cancer and other forms of suffering I want to share these videos and my prayers to you and to your loved ones. May the holidays bring you Comfort and Peace.

There were many responses and postings of videos, but these 3 ladies and one gentleman, made these on the fly as I went through and woke up from surgery. And boy did I feel special!

These videos touched me deeply and I hope they also bring some warmth to your heart and a smile to your face.

From Mim of Mim’s Ukes, the perfect song to celebrate peace and friendship, “With a little help from my friends”


From Lesley Fowkes, who sang one of my favorite songs that the late Bill Tapia used to sing. “I want to write myself a letter”

Kim McLaws had recorded this a short time earlier, but the way she sang “Smile” with such melancholy and sincerity touched me deeply and yes it made me smile in spite of the pain and discomfort of going through surgery.

And lastly, one of my favorites pieces that I learned on classical guitar and here interpreted with great musicality and sensitivity by Stephen Petegral on Ukulele, Bach’s prelude for Cello.


Posted in Cancer, Music, Personal, Ukulele | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »


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