Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Sunday To Remember.

Indeed!  For most of my adult life, I've bad-mouthed marathon running.  And, being true to my belief, I've never even considered entering one...That is, until last Thursday.

That morning, I began seriously considering the possibility of entering the 42nd running of the Honolulu Marathon.  Would I stand even a prayer of completing the 26.2-mile, (42.195-kilometer) course without any training?   Would knees, leg muscles, feet, or other body parts be injured attempting such a drastic increase over my normal jogging routine?  Do I really need to prove anything?  Have I gone completely insane?

By that afternoon, I told Michele I was committed.  The marathon organizers made it WAY too easy, allowing late registration until the Saturday afternoon prior to the race.  Another very attractive feature of this event is there is no maximum time on the course.  Finally, as one about to reach the ripe old age of 65, opportunities to participate in such demanding physical trials are dwindling.  This "perfect storm" of reasons, along with the weather, provided more-than-sufficient motivation.  So, on Friday, I jogged to the Honolulu Convention Center and signed-up for the race!

My runner's "bib" told me I was entrant number 26,380.  Marathon organizers said they were expecting upwards of thirty-thousand entrants!  Saturday, I did nothing physical, instead, resting for Sunday.  I scoured the Internet for information for first time marathon runners and that was one of the recommendations.  Unfortunately, most of the advice dealt with how to properly train for an event--an impossibility at this point.   

The marathon begins at 5 AM, so I went to bed early in a futile attempt to be well-rested when the alarm rang at 3:30 AM.  Despite the no time limit and low expectations, it was still impossible to relax and get the needed sleep.  I was up long before the alarm was to sound, making sure everything was in order for the day to come.

Due to street closures for the race, Michele was only able to get me a little over a mile from the starting point.  I jogged the distance in the early morning darkness, which proved to be the perfect warm-up.  The crowd of runners packed together on Ala Moana Boulevard was amazing to see and be part of.  The national anthem and Hawaiian state song were played and a Hawaiian blessing was spoken.  Soon after the starting gun sounded, fireworks sent us off on our Sunday to remember.  C'mon along!

When I took this photo at 7:07 AM, we'd all been running for just over two-hours.  The weather was dark and rainy, both of which contributed to reduced fatigue, no sunburn and no hydration problems.  At times, when my feet and legs were feeling pretty bad, to see thousands of runners stretched far into the distance was rather depressing.

Distance signs, in both miles and kilometers, were posted at various points along the route.  I remember how seeing this one made me feel that I would be able to complete the race.  Since I had nothing to prove time-wise, I stopped at times to take photos.  Several of these signs had elapsed time displayed.  At the halfway point, I was almost feeling smug about my time.  Such feelings would vanish as the distance increased along with the pain.

The course wound through some very nice neighborhoods, including this home with a pair of lions to scare salesmen away, but welcome Santa Claus! :))

These are sponges, offered to runners to wipe their faces.  The rain made them mostly unnecessary, though many runners took them anyway.  Water and Gatorade stations were plentiful, as you can see from all the discarded paper cups.

This poor attempt at a selfie at the 20-mile sign was another joyous moment for me today.

Along the back side of Diamond Head, a few miles from the finish, drummers from the Taiko Center of the Pacific entertained us.  Other groups and some folks with portable music systems were strategically-stationed along the route.  Lots of other people lined the route to cheer-on their friends and family members in the race.

Looking down from the back of Diamond Head, I stopped for a quick shot of this beautiful scene.

Only two-tenths of a mile to go!!!!!  I was walking at this point, and had been for a few miles.  I was saving my last bit of energy to run across the finish line.  As you might expect, I looked more like I had terminal arthritis and my "run" was little more than a glorified walk.

Yes, you're reading that time correctly, but I still had a few yards to travel.  I was the 16,981st person across the finish line and the exact time was 7-hours, 13-minutes and 37-seconds.  If you're wondering how my time could be less than what you see, allow me to explain:  The time shown above the finish line is the elapsed time since the start of the race.  The clock didn't start for me until I crossed the start line sensor which "reads" a chip in each runner's bib.  Since I crossed the start line exactly 9-seconds after the start, my actual time was 7-hr, 13-min., 37-secs.  Ain't technology grand!  Translated into the time of day, it was just past noon when my ordeal was complete. :)) 

Back home with my Finisher's Medal.  I really hoped we'd each be crowned with a laurel wreath. :)  Michele, amazing as it may seem, found me among the thousands of runners and others and led me to the car--very slowly.  They had bagels, bananas and malasadas for runners to enjoy after the race and I thoroughly enjoyed the re-fueling.  I'm doing my best in this photo, to disguise the pain.  Click on any of the photos for a closer look.

A closer look at the medal each finisher receives.  I plan on being cremated wearing this!

It was quite an experience, but once is enough!  As I type this, most of the soreness and pain has subsided, but I wonder if I'll be able to get out of bed tomorrow.  I've already asked Michele to have me committed if I mention doing this again next year. :)

Hope you had a great day!

Friday, December 12, 2014

And So It Goes...

The title reminds me of a Billy Joel song...Anyway, here's the painting as of Friday, 12 December.

Still need to refine some colors and values and redo the shirt and those pesky wrinkles created by the raised eyebrow.  The neck needs work, too.  It always amazes me how four rather unremarkable paints can be used to create such a rainbow of colors.  I'm pleased with the sunburn, tan, freckles, blotches and what not on my well-weathered face.  The effect was easy to achieve, contrary to what I expected.  I simply dabbed a variety of colors and values about, then used my little finger to push them around.  The blue eyes are simply ivory black and titanium white.  How can this be?  Magic?  Click on the image to enlarge.

Changing the subject...Michele spotted our first whale on Wednesday morning and what a sight it was.  The critter must have been in a good mood, because it did a couple of fin slaps and one spectacular breach.  Maybe it was just expressing the joy of being in Hawaiian waters again.  We saw more whales on Thursday and Friday morning, too.  Perhaps the waters off Maui are getting crowded and recent arrivals are visiting other islands.  Whatever the reason, we feel incredibly lucky to be able to see these truly fascinating creatures while having breakfast.

As they say in Hawaiian...Mele Kalikimaka everyone!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Today

Worked on the latest self-portrait all day, then had a nice late afternoon run, half the time looking at a beautiful rainbow.  Hope you had a good day, too. :))

A long way to go, but it's coming along nicely and who can complain about that!  After the initial session, I switched to the Zorn palette and I'm much happier with the colors.  Of course, that doesn't mean there won't be many more adjustments!  

Monday, December 8, 2014

On The Easel.

I may have admitted to painting over the self-portrait at 64.  It wasn't working and I'm so tired of painting like a robot, using measuring devices and math instead of hand and eye, that it had to go.

Currently on the easel, however, is a new self-portrait.  I'm very pleased to tell you that this one is being done the old-fashioned way.  It will no doubt have many more imperfections than my "measure and math" works and that's okay.  More than okay, it's wonderful!  The pose is based on that used for a self-portrait I painted at age 55.  In that painting, I did my best to mimic Rembrandt, using heavy, very warm darks to accent the face.  The Maestro used to refer to Rembrandt's darks as  "brown gravy". :) 

Flash forward to today.  This painting will be much higher key and and have much less hair!  Time has taken something of a toll, most notably in an increased amount of forehead.  On the plus side, I weigh a fair amount less, so what I now lack in hirsute adornment is more than made up for by a thinner face.  That, and of course, looking not old, but "distinguished".  At least, in my humble opinion.:))

Here's a howgoesit:

Today, 12:14 PM.  It's on a 20 x 16-inch (50.8 x 40.64-cm) canvas.  Those are paintings hanging in the studio, so I thought I'd use them for the darks instead of simulating a very dark room with a single light source on me, ala Rembrandt.  I'm doing my best to work on it for awhile, then stop and let it dry overnight.  I hope I can have this one completed by the end of my soon-to-begin 65th-year on the planet.  My track record isn't too great when working under any kind of deadline.

Also today, taken an hour earlier than the shot above.

The beginning, December 7th, 2014.


The pose.

Ten years ago, this was the pose used for my first serious attempt at a self-portrait.  Hey!  My goatee isn't as gray, either!  How did I ever get so old?!

"Self-Portrait At 55", 2004, oil on canvas, 24 x 20-inches, (60.9 x 50.8 cm).  Definitely heavy and "serious".  This belongs to our dear friend in Portland, Oregon, Pat Demartini.

Hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season this year!

The Holidays In Hawaii.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Honolulu, mainly due to the 30th-annual City Lights Christmas Parade Saturday night.  Thousands of people, including EVERY child on O'ahu, lined King Street and surrounded Honolulu Hale (City Hall) to watch the lighting of the giant Christmas tree and enjoy the many marching bands, floats and a variety of city vehicles decked out in holiday fare and colored lights.

The night was perfectly comfortable and clear and could not have been better for the event.  After, we walked to a favorite Chinese restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful dinner.  I'll apologize in advance for the poor quality of the photos, but you know how challenging taking pictures at night can be.  Also this Sunday, Hawaii, as well as, the rest of our nation, honored the survivors, as well as, those killed in the Pearl Harbor attack seventy-three years ago today.  A parade was held in Waikiki to commemorate the event, as well as, ceremonies on Ford Island and the Arizona Memorial.

The Honolulu Christmas Tree.  The lights change color every few seconds, too.  We were standing across King Street to view the lighting.

A dusk view of Honolulu City Hall with huge figures of Santa and Mrs. Claus and the tree.  The palms add a nice touch, don't you think! :)

Another shot of the tree as the lights changed color.

Traditional fire dancers in early Hawaiian dress thrilled the parade viewers--especially the children.

Looking toward the harbor on Bishop Street, downtown, the tall palm trees are adorned with Christmas lights.

Sunset, December 2nd.

Sunset, December 5th. 

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Inauguration Day, December 1st, 2014.

Hawaii elected a new governor last month and today was Governor-elect David Ige's inauguration ceremony.  Though we've lived in many states, we've never attended a single inauguration event until today.  Living just a short walk from the state capitol, combined with a civilized start time of 11:15 AM, it was an opportunity too great to miss.  Join us for the ceremony:

Looking up from the capitol rotunda floor, the blue skies promised it would be a great day in Paradise.

From an earlier post, this shows the floor of the rotunda on a normal day.  Today, however, this area was covered with 2,000-chairs, two bands, a choir, color guard, Ceremonial Royal Guard and lots of TV cameras and technicians.  Outside, several cannon were assembled to provide a nineteen-cannon salute to the new governor.

See what I mean?  This TV camera was like a GoPro on steroids. :)

Showtime!  That's the state seal behind the podium, and assembled on the stage are the governor-elect, his wife, the Lieutenant Governor-elect, his wife and children, the Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court, a reverend, sign language provider and master of ceremonies.

This is Ms Raiatea Helm.  Not only did she sing the National Anthem, she also entertained us when the program was ahead of schedule.  Her unscripted performance of three additional Hawaiian songs, self-accompanied with her own ukulele, finished with just enough time to have the new governor take the oath precisely at twelve o'clock noon.  She's the consummate professional and has a truly beautiful voice.  That's Lieutenant Governor-elect, Shan Tsutsui seated behind her.

Governor-elect, David Ige, taking the oath of office.  That's his wife, now First Lady, Dawn Amano-Ige holding the Bible.  He is Hawaii's eighth governor and the second of Japanese ancestry.  His father served in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , made-up of Japanese-American citizens.  It is the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history.

This is our re-elected Lieutenant Governor, Shan Tsutsui taking the oath of office for his second term.  His wife, Lyndelle Lee, observes.

The Governor's mansion, Washington Place, was open to visitors following the inauguration ceremony, so we decided to have a look.  It's located across the street from the capitol building.

The first thing which caught my eye was the use of giant clam shells to disperse water run-off from the downspouts.  Clever!

Queen Lili'uokalani used to live here long before it became the Governor's Mansion, and played this piano.  All the rich history of this place can be found by clicking on the link above.  The two kahili standing in the corners are royal standards made of feathers.

A partial view of the dining room, featuring a portrait of Queen Lili'uokalani.

The state tableware.  Click on the photos for a closer view.

That's a docent on the left.  The house was full of visitors and knowledgeable docents today.

A very talented pianist entertained visitors today on another grand piano.  The mansion was decorated for the Christmas season with at least two beautifully decorated Christmas trees in this expansive room.

Michele enjoys hibiscus tea and tiny Christmas cookies provided for guests today.

A shot of the capitol building from the mansion grounds.

Just down Beretania Street from the Governor's Mansion is Saint Andrew's Cathedral, an Episcopal Church.  As you can read on the plaque, it's a very historic structure.  We've walked by many times, but today was our first look inside.

A view of the front from Beretania Street.  On the left and right of the fountain are olive trees.

 A better view of the architectural features.

A look inside.

The hand-blown stained glass windows.

Okay, history tour complete.  You may now return to whatever you were doing.  It was a no-kidding historic day for us.  Our first inauguration ceremony, our first visit inside the Governor's mansion and our first look inside Saint Andrew's Cathedral.  We were home by about two PM and didn't need a car or bus.  Perhaps best of all...I wasn't struck by a lightning bolt upon entering the church! :)))))  I hope you all made your own history today.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Not A Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.

Far from it!  We joined a couple from our building, Tessie and Greg, for a Thanksgiving dinner about as far as one can get from traditional.  C'mon along for a look...

If you watch too much TV--especially Food Network programs--you'll surely recognize this name.  For those of you with lives, it's the famous Japanese"Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto and this is the logo of his restaurant at the Modern Hotel in Waikiki.

Here he is, in his Waikiki restaurant.  And no, he wasn't there on Thanksgiving.  Darn!

We were seated beneath this peaked tent/canopy toward the far corner, upper center of this photo.  It was a beautiful evening and we were seated just as the sun was about to slip beneath the waves. 

This is how it looked after sunset.  The canopy seen in the previous photograph must have replaced the umbrellas here.  This beautifully designed and elegant space was relaxed, comfortable, calming and best of all...unpretentious. 

 Say Aloha to Tessie.  She's thrilled to be living in Hawaii.  That's the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor behind her.

Another big Aloha to Tessie's husband, Greg.  We met in the fitness center where he passed along some wonderful tips to improve my weight routine.  Now, I've got to teach him to surf! :)

Michele, busy snapping photos of her first dish. 

I stand corrected.  She was taking a photo of this saki flight.  The generous pours of three saki varieties and a fourth of plum wine, ensured I'd be driving home! 

Tessie and Greg shared this amazing array of sashimi, sea urchin and salmon roe and soft shell crab  roll for their main course. 

This is the Iron Chef's take on gyoza.  It was Michele's first dish.

My starter was called "live octopus carpaccio".  Our waiter, Ryan, told us it just referred to the fact that they used to beat the freshly-caught octopus tentacles on a hard surface to tenderize them.  So, nothing on the plate was moving...that is, unless you count my less-than-skilled attempts to pick up pieces of this very tender treat with chopsticks. :)

Another appetizer for our friends...Morimoto sashimi.  Each of these squares consisted of five layers, each, a different fish.  Those three vessels contain sauces they could drip or drizzle on the fish.  The green ball is real wasabi and I have no idea what the red one is.

This sashimi salad was my next choice.  The romaine lettuce was lightly dressed with Morimoto's Caesar dressing.  The quail egg was a nice touch.  I believe the old saying that we eat first with our eyes!


King crab was next up for Michele.  It was already shelled which she loved as it no-doubt saved on the dry cleaning bill.  Those are french fries behind.  Michele shared the fries and they were great.

Another selection of Tessie's, this is yellowtail pastrami.  She said the only thing in common with pastrami was the spices flavoring the tuna and that was NOT a criticism.

Greg and Tessi also enjoyed a dozen oysters, which came all the way from Washington state.

A very special item on the menu was the best grade of bluefin tuna.  Called otoro in Japanese, it has the highest fat content.  This photo shows the distinctive pink color associated with otoro.  I also ordered another exceptional grade, called chutoro.  It ranks just below otoro.  I forgot to get a shot of the slightly darker chutoro, as tasting it took priority.  Both grades were superb.

After all those bits and pieces of fantastic creations, it was time to get serious.  I'm sort of disappointed I wandered off the fabulous fish selections, but not too sorry.  This main course was called, "Duck, Duck, Duck".  Seared duck breast, duck confit egg rolls and duck meatball soup!  Each was as tasty as it looks in this photo. 

Michele REALLY left the ocean behind.  My duck at least swam once-in-a-while (maybe).  She chose an Australian waygu fillet and I'm pretty sure the closest it came to the ocean was the flight getting here.

Michele's dessert:  A chocolate peanut bombe--milk chocolate cremeux, peanut dragee and salted peanut ice cream.  Maybe you will be able to figure out what some of these French words mean, but according to Michele, they tasted great. :)

My apologies, once again, for gluttony trumping photography.  The white thing at the right is marshmallow dusted in cocoa powder, the ice cream was chocolate, the green stuff is mint ice cream.  the other dark things were dark chocolate.  At this point, it really didn't matter.  It was wonderful.

Tofu cheesecake was Greg's dessert choice.  I'm sure it was as healthy as it looks...m-m-m.  Tessie had a chef's selection of ice creams, but I don't have a photo.  

So, our Thanksgiving was anything but traditional this year.  It was one of those times we all decided to splurge.  For you non-English speakers, "splurge" means, "To spend money extravagantly".  We did that. 

It was worth every penny, too.  We were there for nearly three hours and never felt any pressure whatsoever to vacate the table.  In fact, the pace of the dinner reminded us of some wonderful meals in Italy, where they don't make the items until you've made your selection.  Seafood isn't necessarily filling, so that, and the relaxed pace found us heading home comfortably full.

Without doubt, we all have much to be thankful for.

Hope those of you who celebrate this holiday had a wonderful day.  For those of you who don't...give it a try!