Thursday, January 29, 2015

If I May...Looking Back

Sometimes it's fun to look back on years gone by and I did just that today.  Thought I'd share a few photos from years ago and do my best to remember what you're looking at. :)

This is Multnomah Falls.  It's located about thirty miles east of Portland, Oregon, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.  The upper tier of this magnificent waterfall is in the background in this photo and much higher up, but I wanted to get the footbridge along with the lower tier, too.  Standing on that bridge, you can feel the power of the water hitting bottom of the drop and it's quite noisy, too.  It's one of the scariest places you can go on purpose.

A Chinese artisan doing one of the two plaques which still welcome visitors to our home...wherever that may be.  At the time of this photo, Portland, Oregon, had just become home and the year was 2003.  We found this gentleman while wandering through Portland's Saturday Market.  The plaques say, "Welcome to our home" and "We wish you long life".  For those of you who wonder if they really say, "Hi, I'm Stupid", or "Eat At Joe's"...we once had a pizza delivery man, who just happened to be Chinese, read them to us.  We never expected them to be a cruel joke, but it was nice to confirm they said what we ordered. :)

Michele proudly displays her fresh-from-the-oven, homemade biscotti.  "Biscotti" means "twice cooked" (or baked, in this case).  This was taken in Madisonville, Tennessee, in 1997, not long after we returned from Italy.  They were delicious!

A view of Mount Hood from Trillium Lake.  By the size of the ducklings, this photo was taken in early or mid-summer.  If any of you landscape painters wish to use this--go for it!

Famiglia.  From the left:  Claudia, Anna, Mrs. Silvana Gianelli, Doctor Giannelli, Tarziello Niccolai, his wife, Wanda and their daughter, Francesca.  Out of this shot, were Emanuela, Ferdinando, Mario, Michele and me.  It was a typical Sunday "lunch" in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Giannelli, in Castell'Azzara.  The spectacularly delicious meal was followed by clean-up, then the kids disappeared while the adults tended to fall asleep wherever they were sitting.  After those very necessary naps, everyone rallied for a passeggiata at about four PM.  The main street was so crowded, it seemed like the whole town was outside to walk-off the substantial meal with this very traditional stroll.  Everyone was dressed in their Sunday finery and enjoyed greeting each other.  A stop at the doctor's favorite bar for an espresso signaled the end of our walk.  Within an hour or so of returning home, it was time to re-set the table for cena (dinner).  By the time we headed down the mountain for our home in Cerreto, Sorano, we were still completely stuffed, and more than ready for a great night's sleep!

Somewhere, on a mission over the Christmas holidays in 1993.  This was the last airplane I flew in my navy career.  It's a Gulfstream III, or C-20 to the navy.  The crew consisted of two pilots, a crew chief and flight attendant.  I'm the fat old man on the far right.  Our passenger was the outgoing Chief of Naval Operations.  He wanted to visit his sailors spread across the globe, away from their families on the holidays, too.  Some of the more interesting stops on the trip included, Mogadishu, Nairobi, Diego Garcia, Bahrain and Crete.  On Christmas day, in Bahrain, we decided to enjoy a pizza for our holiday dinner.  I called "Pizza Hut" (they're everywhere!) and ordered a large pizza with green peppers and sausage.  Immediately, the voice on the other end told me, "No sausage"!  Oops!  I'd forgotten about where we were and the fact that pork isn't on any menu--including Pizza Hut!

That's it for this trip down memory lane.  Have a great day everybody!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

SP At 65, Whales, A Giant Aircraft, A Sunset And More Giant Surf

Whew!  Sounds like a long post, so saddle-up and enjoy the ride. :)

A beautiful photo by local professional photographer, Dean Nagano.  No doubt where I got it.

Another image taken from the ten o'clock news showing the surf conditions for the next day.  That's our favorite weather forecaster, Mr. Guy Hagi.  You can see even the south shore was expecting some decent surf. 

Our current view of the sunset--at least for awhile.  A condo tower near the waterfront is blocking our view of the sunset, but only for a few more days.  I thought even this photo on the "edge" was rather nice.

A navy ship on maneuvers just off the coast.  Could the captain have stopped to enjoy the sunset?

This giant aircraft could easily be mistaken for one of our Air Force C-5 Galaxys, but it's really an
Antonov 124-100-Ruslan.  This is the first time we've seen a Russian aircraft in Honolulu.  Could it belong to one of the Russian "Oligarchs" escaping from the troubled economy, coming here to request "political asylum", and bringing a few tons of rubles to purchase his own slice of the American dream?

Here's a better shot of the plane, taken from the Antonov website.

This unassuming photo is the result of a Humpback whale breaching today.  It was amazing!  The whales were everywhere--the most we've seen in one day--and very active.  We saw several breaches and of course, the huge water/mist plumes when they breathe.  This individual was quite a way out, but I got very lucky--and the zoom lens didn't hurt either. :)

Another breach, taken at the same time.  It's quite a thrill to see the huge beasts perform their acrobatics.

The whale watching vessels were all out there today, too, along with this person enjoying a bird's eye view of the action from the parasail rig.  The ship is the Navitek, one we enjoyed once during a vacation here.  Still haven't tried parasailing.

And finally...the sp at 65--a work-in-progress, but really close to being called "finished"!  You can click on any of the images for a closer view.

Have a good week everyone!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Monster Surf, A Crescent Moon And Hawaii 5-0

Never a dull moment here.  The last few days brought a huge ocean swell to north and west facing beaches of the islands, we were treated to another Hawaii 5-0 taping and a tiny crescent moon with Venus along side to put an accent on sunset.  C'mon along for a look:

Can you imagine riding this wave?!!  The full-face wave heights were up to 40-feet high!  Several popular beaches were closed for obvious safety concerns, but there were still many opportunities for the professional-level surfers to go for it.  The surf photos are courtesy of local photographers.  We did not venture north ourselves.

Again, this seems impossible.

It's a bit difficult to see the surfer in the curl, but he's there.

View of the extremely powerful lights used to illuminate this"Hawaii 5-0" taping on Nu'uanu Avenue.
It's always fun to watch the action from our lanai, no matter how blinding the lights can be.

A zoomed close-up of what Michele thought was a fake foreground for the actors in the car.  Hard to know exactly what was going on here.

An inter-island turboprop after taking off beneath Venus (the evening star) and a crescent-shaped new moon.

A long shot of the sky just after sunset.

A maximum zoom of the new moon.  What a show Nature put on for us that evening! :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Fresh Start: The Next Self-Portrait At 65.

About a week ago, fellow blogger, Randall David Tipton, wrote a nice email after seeing a recent post on the state of my self-portrait at 65.  In it, he related his struggles with letting go of a painting which simply wasn't working.  At that time, I had no ideas of abandoning it, but his letter did get me thinking.

It wasn't long...maybe a week, when it became clear the painting needed to go away.  I painted over that canvas and decided to begin again, with a new pose and fresh canvas.  After taking a bunch of new reference photos to explore different poses and lighting, I asked Michele to choose her favorite.  She chose one in which the look was not so intense, somber or even mean or angry. :)

This effort is on a canvas measuring 20 x 16 inches (50.8 x 40.64 centimeters) and includes a full torso and arms!  Had to get away from the "big face" and little else.  So, I sketched the composition with a charcoal pencil and the next day, began putting in the darks.  At this point, I'm really pleased with the new look and hope I can finally complete this one.

Here it is the morning of January 22nd. 

The reference photo.  This was taken at night.  So much for bright sunlight!  Oh, well.

The charcoal pencil sketch.  Michele commented on my "Popeye" arms.  That drawing error has since been mostly corrected.

Here, raw umber has been applied thinly and wiped-out for lighter areas.

Here it is on 21 January.  Still need to trim the arms a bit, as well as, put back the glasses I'm holding in my right hand.  They're probably not all that important, but I think they add a little interest to that shadowed lower right portion of the canvas.

Detail, 21 January.  Lots to do, but as usual, optimism is the key word.

Hope each of you have a good day and a nice weekend.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunny, With A Chance Of Whales...And A Sad Day In Hawaii's History.

The past couple of days, Kona (south) winds brought vog (volcanic smog) to O'ahu, but Saturday the weather returned to normal.  And normal around here this time of year is sunny with a high probability of seeing Humpback whales.  About noon, I noticed the Star of Honolulu at sea on a whale watching cruise.  The ship wasn't moving and had a distinct port list, both of which mean they've spotted whales.  For the landlubbers out there, I'll explain:  Humpback whales are an endangered species which means there are strict rules about keeping your distance from them.  Vessels and people are required by law, to remain a minimum of one hundred yards away.  They are not allowed to approach or pursue, or in any other way harass them.  So, whenever we see a whale watching ship at idle, it usually means they have spotted one and cannot approach.  The list is caused by nearly every passenger on the vessel lining up on whatever side is best to view the creature(s).  I grabbed our binoculars to see if I could spot it, or them.  Whales Ho!  What a joy watching what appeared to be two or three of the gentle giants, at least one being a baby, for about ten minutes.  Newborn whales can only hold their breath for three-to-five minutes according to whale specialists, and the group I was watching kept coming up for air even sooner than expected.  What fun!

I was up early this morning for no particular reason--a little before sunup, actually--so I snapped some photos to show you how we see the sunrise--indirectly, but quite nice, just the same.  Take a look:

The apartment building across the street is one of the first things the sun illuminates and though this doesn't do it justice, it's very bright and attention getting.  You may have noticed we're lacking a tomato plant this year.  We simply got lazy after the first two.

A tug starts the day backing this Matson container ship to its berth.

A heavily-laden barge and some buildings on Sand Island catch the morning sun.

Looking west, most of Sand Island and the reef runway are illuminated.

This photo shows a group of people we thought were marching in a protest.  Instead, we learned it was much more than that.  They were commemorating a very sad day in Hawaii's history.  Saturday was the 122nd-anniversary of the overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii by the United States.  Following a ceremony at Saint Andrews Cathedral, they carried the message to the street.  It was all peaceful, but they made sure we heard them.  Their ultimate goal is total restoration of the kingdom and its sovereignty.  It's an on-going issue for native Hawaiians, but the chances of this happening seem remote.  Philosophically and morally, I agree with their goal.  It's only fair.

Have a nice Sunday. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Nippon Maru, Flowers And A Sunset.

Last Sunday, January 11th, I decided to alter my run just a bit to have a look at the tall ship, Nippon Maru.  This magnificent four-masted barque is a Japanese training vessel making a port call in Honolulu until today.  From previous posts, you probably know how much I love tall ships and cannot resist getting as close as possible.

She was moved to another berth early Sunday morning--too early for my taste--so I missed that show, but she was now positioned in a spot where I could, at least, get some photos.  With only a minor deviation from my normal route, I was soon harborside, near the Gordon Biersch Brewpub with a good view of the ship.  Photos taken, it was back to the jog.

As I was running in the warm sunshine, it seemed time to snap a few images of the flowers in bloom.  A major portion of the mainland was recently hit with extremely cold weather and I thought some colorful flowers might ease the pain.  Finally, we were treated to another great sunset.  Have a look:

The Nippon Maru, is a four-masted barque used for training Japanese sailors.  The interesting building on the left is one of two highrise condo towers called, One Waterfront Towers.  Click on the photos for a close-up.

A closer view of the front portion of the ship.  When the ship comes here, security seems to be a big concern, so I've never been able to get aboard or even very close. :((

The stern half.

The towering masts are so impressive.  Someday, I hope to see her under full sail.

I zoomed-in to get this shot from behind that fence and a masonry wall.

This different view of the harbor is from a small park at the harbor edge.  Normally, you see these loading/unloading mobile cranes from the photos taken on our lanai, usually of the airport.  This image gives a greater appreciation for their massive size.

A view of downtown Honolulu from this harborside parking lot.  Nice day!

Time for the promised color.  This is a Bougainvillea hedge in full-bloom.

More winter beauty.

Hawaii's State Flower, the yellow hibiscus.

How 'bout this red hibiscus!  Warms me up just looking at it. :)))

Beginning of the sunset show.

Getting there.

I realize how much this looks like I got lucky and captured the Green Flash, but I think it's just a quirk of the camera software.  Having seen the Green Flash once, we know what it's supposed to look like.  This sunset lacked that all-important and required actual flash.  It did appear greenish to both of us, but without the flash, it just wasn't the real thing. :(

Finished!  And so is this post.  Hope you all have a great week at your easel or other creative pursuit.