Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Great Day!

A great day, indeed!  Today, Portland finally hit the 60-degree mark and it seemed like the entire city was outside in celebration--including me.  Today was the first day this year I could wear shorts and a short-sleeve shirt on what turned into a rather long jog.
My normal run was extended because the cherry trees along the Japanese Memorial were nearly in full bloom.  The extra run took me to the studio to get my camera, then back to the memorial to take some photos.  While there, I also found a saying carved into one of the boulder-size pieces of granite, particularly significant in light of the disaster the Japanese people are currently dealing with.

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal.  May it be so for the Japanese people.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tacoma and Seattle Way Back in 2008.

These two photos were taken on two separate trips to Tacoma and Seattle, Washington, a few years ago.  In Tacoma, we visited the Glass Museum and the hot shop to watch live glass blowing demonstrations.  The photo posted is of Tacoma's Union Station railroad depot, now something of a museum, too, with lots of glass sculptures by world-renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly.

The other photo was taken inside a restaurant called, "Chinese Cuisine", located in Seattle's famous, Pike Place Public Market.  We enjoyed a tasty late lunch there and on our way out, these servers allowed us to take a snapshot. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Thinking of Dad", 2011

My father passed away on February 27th, 2011.  Since then, in quiet moments I'm often lost in thoughts about him.  This may not make a lot of sense, but this painting is meant to honor him.  He was a man of few words and he spoke so rarely, as I grew older I realized how little I really knew him.  One could know him, at least a little, by seeing how he lived.  By inference, it was easy to see that he was a good man.
This painting is my silent tribute to Dad.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Comes to Portland!

YES!  Finally!  It's still rainy and a bit cooler than is should be for this date, but I'm overjoyed at what I'm seeing around the city.  Here are a couple of photos of a small park I jog by on the way to the studio.  Before long, the entire city will be brightly dressed in pink cherry blossoms, with a nice splash of yellow provided by thousands of daffodils.
This year, the Japanese Memorial along Waterfront Park, with it's small forest of flowering cherry trees will take on special significance in light of the earthquake and tsunami.  My heart goes out to the people of Japan.  The world is in a lot of trouble now, from man-made, as well as, natural causes. 

Maybe artists and other kind-hearted souls will show the world a better way to live.  It's time to stop killing each other and the planet.  I know this probably sounds a little childish and naive, but I can't help it.  With the coming of Spring, my hopes for the world are always new again.  That's all I have to say about that....for now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Man In Need.

My studio is located only twelve blocks from our building, but it seems light-years away some days.  This poor soul semi-routinely emerges from the apartment building across the street from the office building my studio is located in.  He appears to either be homeless or barely scraping by, perhaps with a subsidized apartment.  Listening to him, and I'm no psychiatrist, schizophrenia may be among his mental issues.  Many poor citizens lack meaningful access to the health care they desperately need, especially mental patients.  People do their best to avoid him as his behavior leaves serious doubts about their safety.
He paces up and down the sidewalk, yelling at the top of his voice about politics, law enforcement and a variety of other topics.  There is serious anger in his voice and his rants are peppered with curses, racial slurs and all manner of wildness.  He seems completely unpredictable, though I've yet to hear the police arrive or an ambulance.  I'm rather surprised that no one has beaten or killed him to shut him up.  He's not the only person around with mental issues.  It's impossible to ignore the poor guy, even while hard at work in my eighth-floor space.  Today, in the middle of a pouring rain shower, without a proper raincoat or hat, he began his rant.  I was compelled to look down and decided to snap a few images.  I believe he would make a most interesting model, but I lack the nerve to approach him.  My eighth-floor perch allows me to observe this troubled soul without directly interacting.  Maybe living in a city has cost me some humanity.  One tends to become a bit jaded when seeing the homeless everyday.     
As a fellow human being, I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like trying to help him, yet fear and lack of training in how to deal with mentally ill people makes me hesitate.  I guess it's possible he does receive visits from mental health workers, maybe he even has medications, but fails to take them.  I'll probably never know.  He could turn up dead tomorrow and I doubt anyone would care.  There would be no obituary or funeral.  He would just be gone.  Sad.    

Monday, March 7, 2011

Henry's Place, Honolulu, Hawaii.

In my last post I mentioned a small fruit market in Honolulu.  By the time I made that post, I'd already forgotten the name of the place.  I took a wild guess at the name and, thanks to search engines, I found it.
It's called, "Henry's Place", and it sits across from the Embassy Suites Hotel and in the shadow of the new Trump condominium building.  Amazingly enough, people have been in love with the place for so long, many have posted photos.  I thought you might enjoy seeing this small, but wonderful market.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

House Hunting in Honolulu Friday, Flying Home on Saturday, Back to Reality Sunday, Mar. 6, 2011.

Friday brought scattered showers and a few localized heavy downpours to Honolulu, but that was okay with us as house hunting was on the agenda instead of the beach.  We had two, closely-spaced appointments in the same area and headed out at about 11:45 AM.
We factored in a stop for lunch along the way and in the nick of time found an open-air burger joint called, "Cheeseburger Waikiki".  As we enjoyed our really great cheeseburgers (mine had pineapple and avocado), one of those localized downpours began to drench the area.  Luckily, open-air usually includes a roof and this restaurant thankfully had a roof. 
The rain stopped as we paid the bill then walked a few more blocks to a building called, "The Waipuna".  The building was a bit old, and not air-conditioned, a possible deal breaker here.  The 28th-floor, three bedroom condo was also showing its age, however the large covered lanai and spectacular views were most impressive. The central location would also compensate for some of the other flaws.  At any rate, it was nice to finally begin the house hunting chore.  Shortly, we were on our way to the next appointment at a nearby  building called, "The Windsor".
The entryway was quite beautifully landscaped with water falls, koi pond and a foot bridge.  The unit we saw here was on the 33rd-floor, with two bedrooms, but no lanai.  There was a pool, separate barbecue area and  large, well-equipped fitness center.  It came furnished acceptably, though I'm sure we'd add our own touches if we were to rent here.   
 Lanai view from the 28th-floor condo at the Waipuna.
 View from the Waipuna condo lanai center section.  We could see about 180-degrees from this lanai and there was plenty of room for a nice table and chairs. 
 The Windsor
 Part of the landscaping at the entrance to the Windsor.  View below is from the Windsor rooftop lanai on the 44th-floor.  The four corners are open-air and the center area is covered and has a tables, chairs and a grill.
On our walk back to the hotel, we came across a tiny fruit market we used to purchase papayas from in our old navy days.  We couldn't resist getting a perfectly ripe beauty for breakfast the next morning.  We thought the market had long ago been demolished to make way for ever more condo buildings and hotels.  What a pleasant surprise to find it still in existence.
That night we had our final dinner at an Italian restaurant called, "Il Lupino", and it was exceptional.  It was a nice way to close out our vacation.
Early Saturday morning we enjoyed that sweet and juicy papaya, checked-out and caught a cab for Honolulu International Airport.  Michele had booked us on a Hawaiian Airlines flight home, but out of Maui, so our first flight was a 37-minute jaunt to the Valley Isle.  Flying "space available" can be stressful if the flights are mostly full, but Michele is an expert at picking those with the best chances of us getting seats.
It paid off, big time, as we ended-up in first class and had a wonderful trip home to Portland.  The Jet Stream tailwinds were strong and helped us get home in less than four-and a-half hours!  It was the quickest 2,565-mile flight we've ever been on.
So, I guess you could say it was a most enjoyable and productive vacation.  We saw and did some things we had never experienced, enjoyed several new (to us, at least) restaurants and had our first look at possible places to call our next home.  I still have some of that beautiful tropical suntan (okay, okay...sunBURN) and didn't gain any weight.  Michele thoroughly enjoyed our wonderful anniversary celebration and her birthday surprise, as well as, having all the flight planning work out so well.  We return home with our desire to live in Hawaii not only intact, but strengthened, and are more eager than ever to make the big move.  Whew!  Back to the studio and easel tomorrow.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Diamond Head, Thursday, Mar. 3, 2011.

Today was dedicated to scaling Diamond Head.  I double-checked the location of the park entrance and with a single dollar bill to secure admittance, began the jog to my greatest challenge as a non-mountain climber.
When reading the on-line description of the trek and climb, it's easy to get the impression anyone can successfully scale the crater.  My experience, you might say, differed somewhat.  The jog to the park entrance was about two miles, a fair amount of that jog, uphill.  The trail was rough and anyone who might be "balance challenged" would not enjoy the hike.  Today was mostly cloudy, but still quite warm and a full-sun day would make the climb that much harder.  The steps, which number about ninety-nine near the summit, are very steep and the degree of difficulty is increased by the fact that people coming down share the path and steps.  Near the top, things get even more challenging as everyone must use the same narrow paths around the summit.  All-in-all, it's not a very easy trek.  I shared the experience with all shapes, sizes and ages of people and witnessed the struggle of many of them.  Some poor souls were shod in flip-flops, one woman was carrying her infant.  I was astounded at much of what I saw. 

I'm paraphrasing here, but the Japanese say you must climb Mount Fuji once in your life, but only fools climb it twice.  This is my take on climbing Diamond Head.
I finally made it back to the hotel a little past two PM.  Michele was concerned about what had happened to me.  We crashed the rest of the afternoon until a little after six PM.  We went down to the Beach Bar to catch the sunset and have a pre-dinner umbrella drink.  What a treat.  The surf, the sun and a whole bunch of very mellow people.  It's seldom you can be in a place so pleasing to so many people.  Everyone is happy and why not?  We've never been to such a beautiful place and you would have to work, really hard, to be unhappy here.  We feel exceptionally lucky to be able to visit this Pacific island paradise and hope to live the rest of our lives here in a little over two years.
Dinner tonight was at a restaurant called the "Hula Grill", located in the Outrigger Hotel, right next door to our hotel.  It is about two stories above the beach and our table on the veranda gave us a great view of the pool, palm trees swaying in the Trade Winds and waves breaking just off-shore.  It was a breathtaking setting for dinner. 
After dinner, we took a walk along Kalakaua Avenue, so full of life, crowded with couples simply enjoying the comfortable sea breezes and being outside.  The bright lights and street performers add to the magic and even older couples seem to be enjoying themselves.  What a place.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2011.

What a day.  Michele's birthday, in Hawaii.  We enjoyed a fabulous breakfast buffet at the Veranda restaurant here in the hotel.  After that, for a little while we watched filming of an Australian sitcom called, "Home and Away", in the lobby.  We found out that was what we'd seen from outside the hotel a couple of days ago.  We mistakenly thought it might have been a scene from the new, "Hawaii 5-0", but now we know what it really was.
So, after that, we walked a block to catch the bus to Chinatown, to finish our look around.  What an interesting place.  We walked through several grocery stores, as well as, an outdoor market and purchased a few items seldom available outside an Asian community.
Next, we walked to the Aloha Tower.  This national historic structure was the tallest building in Hawaii when it opened in 1926.  The views of the harbor and surrounding areas were spectacular.
Before heading back to Waikiki, we stopped in at Don Ho's place for a drink and light lunch.  We shared an order of Ahi Poke and I had a "Longboard Lager", brewed by Honolulu Brewing Company.  Any beer with a surfboard on the label can't be all bad, and it wasn't!
We soon after caught the bus back to Waikiki, slipped into our swimming suits and headed for the beach.  We swam for about twenty minutes or so, then left the water to relax for awhile poolside.  We'd received an invitation yesterday, to attend a wine tasting today at 5:30 PM, so it was time to "suit up".
By 7:30 PM, we were checking in for our reservation at the "Beach House" restaurant, located in the hotel.  We were seated on the veranda, overlooking the huge Banyan tree and the beach.  The live music was perfect, the food spectacular and by any measure it was a beautiful evening for Michele's birthday dinner.
As our waiter, Branden, brought dessert, he placed the black pearl necklace I'd gotten her only two hours earlier, beneath a menu, "in case there was something else she might want".
Michele lifted the menu to find the small box and opened it to find the pearl.  She was surprised to put it mildly.  We usually save up our gifts and celebrations for a trip like this and the trip is the gift.  SURPRISE!!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY Michele!  It was quite an evening and a dinner to remember.