Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Most of us have heard the old axiom, "The camera doesn't lie."  Well, that may true at times, but at others, if it isn't lying, it's telling a whopper of a fib. 

Case in point:  The reference photo used for my self-portrait.  In particular, notice the left shoulder as we look at the photo. 

It doesn't scream "wrong", but upon closer examination, the sharp focus does make it appear too small--even though it must obviously be turned away from the lens. 

Now, lets look at the painted version of this photo.

Notice how huge my head looks compared to the left shoulder.  Could it really be that small?  After all, I do workout! :)  I count myself among the many who have been looking at photographs for such a long time, we cease to question their accuracy anymore.  We simply accept them as "truth". 

The Maestro always told me that cameras lie and illustrated the fact many times.  Enough, that I finally believed him, especially when he would correct one of my painted copies of a photo which, until then, I thought was perfectly fine.

The painting was troublesome from the minute I deemed it "finished".  It took a day or two to realize what needed to be done.  So, this morning I put on this shirt and stood in a mirror, attempting to duplicate the pose.  I was physically unable to make myself look like the photo or the painting. 

What I did instead, was to begin making corrections to the painting, based on what I saw in real life.  It needs more work, but have a look and let me know if you don't agree that  this looks more true-to-life.

Ta-da-a.  Since everyone was either too nice to chastise me, or simply didn't notice this  blunder, now's your chance to say, "I saw it all-along" or, "I knew something wasn't quite  right" or, "I was aware of it, but didn't want to hurt your delicate feelings".  Go ahead...I can take it! :)  In fact, I deserve it for working from a photo! :(

So, stay tuned for the debut of the corrected shirt.

Have a nice evening everyone! :))

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A New Work.

I realize it seems like all I do is tour the island and play. :)))  Okay, it's mostly true, but I have been painting since we've settled-in, too.  Nnamdi, Jeanette and the large, mysterious combination still life, cityscape and skyscape have kept me busy between visits to glorious beaches, tourist sites and sunset watching.

The large painting often requires drying time between countless do-overs, so in order to have something to work on, I began a self-portrait--the first since moving here.  My goal was to have no goal and just paint it as I saw it, using what I secretly hoped would be bright, "island colors", whatever that means.

What I mean is, I don't want it to look like it was painted in a place with a cold, dreary, rainy or dark climate...not that we've ever lived in such a place. :)  Like Vincent in Provence, my hope is this new, perpetually sunny land will subtly (or boldly) change my palette.  It's already changed my attitude, wardrobe and skin color, so it was time to see what else might be different.

This is the reference photo.  Lots of light, an Aloha shirt and even a hint of a smile--vastly different from most previous work.  Wa-a-y different from the photo I sent to Jeanette Jobson to work from!  That one, though taken here, still exhibited the other style in the pose.

The beginning.  I used a pencil and smeared the shadows in with my trusty index finger.

Adding some darks.

A little more color added and an attempt to get the wild pattern of my shirt.

Here it is now, Sunday, 27 October.  Click to enlarge, if you dare.  After all, it's nearly Halloween and who knows what horrors may emerge from the image...

Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Byodo-In Temple.

Thursday, 24 October, we decided to drive to the windward side of the island to take a look at the Byodo-In Temple.  To learn all about it, here's a link Click

Michele surveys the grounds of the Byodo-In Temple, located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Kahaluu, O'ahu. 

The temple and the large cemetery for all denominations backs up against the magnificent Ko'olau Mountain range.  It's not a mountain range as most of us know them, rather it was formed as a single mountain called Ko'olau volcano.  What remains of Koʻolau is the western half of the original volcano that was destroyed in prehistoric times when the entire eastern half—including much of the summit, slid into the Pacific Ocean.  The modern Ko'olau mountain forms O'ahu's windward coast and rises behind the leeward coast city of Honolulu.

It seems most every visitor, no matter how small, feels the need to sound this huge gong.

A large Buddha is located in the center section of the temple.

A black swan and Koi in the large pond on the temple grounds.

What tourist attraction would be complete without a gift shop?  Byodo-In Temple is no exception.  Plastic smiling Buddhas, dragons, incense and all manner of spiritual objects were available.

We felt like we needed to have a look at this place, but it will not make our list of "must see" places on O'ahu.  Luckily, we made it home before rush hour and in time for sunset!  That made it a good day. :)  Hope your day was good, too.

Another beautiful sunset.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Surf's Up On The North Shore.

I had to share this photo and surf forecast from the late local news Sunday.  For those of you who have visited the North Shore of O'ahu during the winter months to see the huge waves, or actually tried surfing them, this may not seem very impressive.

Much bigger waves will arrive over the winter months at the North Shore, but to me, this is most impressive.

For local surfers, this first large swell of the season is tremendously exciting, similar to the thrill skiers experience when the first decent snow storm blankets their favorite ski slope with champagne powder.  It brings the promise of bigger surf to come with excitement and challenges most of us can only watch in awe from the safety of the shore.

Another big day at the North Shore is forecast for tomorrow.

Have a great week, everybody!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Another Week In Paradise.

During the news broadcast Thursday evening, I couldn't resist snapping a photo of the seven-day forecast:

Notice that those two perfect forecast temperatures of 85 and 73, are identical for the entire seven days!  If there was any question as to why we live in Hawaii, this photo should answer it.  The "muggy" is due to the occasional drop-off of the Northeast Trade Winds.  Generally, the NE Trades keep the humidity levels at about fifty percent, making all the sunny days quite comfortable.

This sunset, taken on Monday, October 14th, is another reason we love this place so much.  It was quite a show.  Out of curiosity, we found out that the shortest day of the year, December 21st, is still 10-hours, 50-minutes, 12-seconds long!  Sunset seems way too early for the length of the days now, but that's mainly because I seldom crawl out of bed for the half-past six AM sunrise! :))

Work on the large, confused composition painting continues.  I say "confused" because the piece is comprised of three centers of interest:  A small table covered with a breakfast and vase of flowers, Chinatown and Honolulu Harbor and finally, the morning sky.  If you've seen any of my previous work, you know that simplifying things isn't my strong suit.  Maybe all three areas will end-up being of equal importance!  Can I make it work?  Time will tell and I've got lots of that! :) 

A partial view from our lanai, with a cruise ship berthed only half-a-mile away.  This ship is in the painting.  Should it be a "portrait", or rather a "suggestion"?  I'm leaning toward "suggestion".  This is a bit of a close-up view and even here you can easily see what a chore it would be to detail it.

Another partial view looking a bit to the right.  I have included a "suggestion" of the Coast Guard Cutter, berthed at Sand Island which is the south side of the harbor.  The foreground buildings are part of Chinatown.   

Trying to make sense out of this very busy scene spread out before me has been challenging to put it mildly.  I'm convinced it can be made to work, but it brings to  mind  trying to juggle bowling balls and machetes!

One particularly tricky issue is that of atmospheric perspective.  I have studied and understand this observable fact, however it isn't what I see each morning.  Must be the clear, middle of the Pacific air, coupled with the fact that the buildings spread out before me are not far away.  The harbor edge is just half a mile and even Sand Island, just on the other side of the harbor can't be much more than a mile distant.

If the buildings are too detailed and sharp-edged, it doesn't work and if everything is grayed and close in value, it's not what I see.  I hope to resolve these issues and post a photo, but you know how that goes...

Out of frustration, I'm about to begin a self-portrait to have something to work on while the large painting is drying between sessions.  It might prove interesting to see what the skin tones are like in this new-and-always bright and colorful light. :)

I hope you all are having a wonderful autumn weekend.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Quite A Dinner.

Tonight, we decided to try another neighborhood restaurant, Legend Seafood.  It's located a block away in the Chinese Cultural Plaza, featured in an earlier post.  We knew our dinner would be great because we were the only non-Chinese people in the crowded, bustling restaurant.  Okay, time for some photos...

The Legend Seafood Restaurant menu.

Michele peruses the extensive menu.

Our waitress was a great help in making our choices.

Finger bowls were the first things to arrive at our table.  They would come in handy during our meal.

Michele's sake arrived next, along with a glass of sauvignon blanc wine for me.

A view of the restaurant.

I got a photo of our waitress' handwriting showing my order.  One line says, "Drunken Clams" and the other says, "Stir-Fried Honey Walnut Shrimp"...I think. :)

Our appetizer was "Drunken Clams".  Though the broth was mostly soy sauce, we're guessing there might have been some white wine in there, too.  The garnish was Chinese parsley, aka, cilantro.

Michele ordered "Live Crab With Spicy Salt".  Servers made a point of showing diners that the Dungeness crabs were actually live.  This was a wild one!

Michele, ready to try the crab.

My choice, recommended by our server, was Stir Fried Honey Walnut Shrimp.  Both of us thought this was one of the best shrimp dishes we've ever had.  Initially, Michele was skeptical, but once she tried the perfectly cooked shrimp, she changed her mind.  We had heard of this dish at another local restaurant and two customers there highly recommended it, but this was our first taste of the dish.  It's truly amazing.  Normally, we bring home a fair amount of leftovers, but we finished this one!

So, next time you're in Honolulu, tell your cab driver you want to go to Legend Seafood Restaurant in the Chinese Cultural Plaza.  You'll be glad you did!  I hope you all had a wonderful dining experience tonight.

PS  On our walk home, we stopped in the Regal Bakery.  We departed with a couple of creme brulee doughnuts, two glazed-bacon, a blueberry scone and a couple of others they threw-in for free.  Sweet!!  We can hardly wait for breakfast!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

First Humpback Whale Sighting And A Sunset.

Big News!  The first of an estimated 12,000 Humpback whales which winter in Hawaiian waters, was spotted off south Maui, Saturday, October 5th, at 7:36 AM.  The sighting was confirmed by the Pacific Whale Foundation.  The crew and passengers of the foundation vessel, Ocean Voyager, were thrilled to see the adult male enjoying the warm water.  Captain Gabriel Wilson of Ocean Voyager said the whale was sighted about two miles from Molokini.  A passenger, Mr. David Willicome, of Calgary, Canada, took the photos seen here.

The majority of North Pacific Humpback whales migrate from their feeding grounds, from Northern California to the Bearing Sea, to the warm Hawaiian waters, arriving in autumn.  They remain here until about May, giving birth, nursing their young and mating before heading north once again.

First of the season!  Photo courtesy of Mr. David Willicome, of Calgary, Canada.

Another shot of the first Humpback whale arrival of the 2013-14 season.  Photo:  Mr. David Willicome, Calgary, Canada.

Another bit of good news...the path of the sun has moved sufficiently south for us to watch it disappear into the sea from our lanai and today's sunset was truly worth the wait.  We hoped to see the Green Flash, but it didn't happen.  From now until late next spring, we'll keep watching daily, with the hope of not only seeing the Green Flash, but maybe getting lucky and getting a photo!  Hope you had a good day, too.

The beginning.

Getting there.


Friday, October 4, 2013

The Country.

"The country", is one of the expressions used here when talking about the North Shore.  This part of O'ahu is much less developed and even though many tourists still make their way there, the pace is slower and the feeling is completely different than Waikiki and the rest of Honolulu.  We made the easy hour drive north on Thursday, to visit one of O'ahu's true gems.

This is what most people think of when hearing the term:  "North Shore".  Uncrowded beautiful beaches and great waves.  The waves certainly were not the "monster" size today, but they were big enough to bring out the serious surfers.  If you click on this image you'll see a couple of them riding the wave near the horizon.  The famous really big waves normally arrive over the winter months, so today was just a bit of a tease.  For those of you with any doubt, let me assure you it's not me in this photo! :)

Waimea Valley  is located across the street from legendary Waimea Bay.  It's a quiet valley dedicated to the preservation of the Hawaiian culture.  This plaque says it best:

Click on the image to enlarge.

We spent most of the day here, exploring the extensive collection of both native and imported plants, trees and flowers.  There is a paved trail through the valley and after following it for about three-quarters of a mile, you arrive at a sacred waterfall and pool.  The birds, the quiet and the lush landscape of this valley is truly special.  Benches are situated along the broad path and side trails allow you to wander through ancient ruins and even more amazing flora.  There is a shuttle service to the waterfall for those who choose not to walk.  Cool water is available along the path, too, and it's free.

At the waterfall, visitors are allowed to swim in the pond.  The park has a couple of snack bars, so you can have a shave ice or Ono Pop, or a meal.  From three PM until seven PM today, they had a Farmers Market.  At the market, I finally purchased my first packet of Kava!  I chose one mixed with chai and now I'm looking forward to having a need to "mellow out" to see how well it works. :)

After touring the Farmers Market, we left the park for the beach.  We parked along the two-lane road which parallels the coast and walked the short distance to the beach.  We were surprised to see signs posted that said "No Swimming".  That didn't stop me from walking down to the water, where we found a couple and their dogs frolicking in thigh-deep water.  They told me the life guard never said a word, so I had Michele come down to join me.  She chose not to swim today, but I had to get in, even if only to play close to shore.  I subsequently spoke with the life guard about the signs.  He told me the term, "Swimming" is relative.  The danger due to a strong current today, was more likely to affect tourists and young children, but locals and surfers would be okay.  I must admit I was thrilled at this common sense approach to enforcing the no-swimming rule.    

After enjoying the water, we headed for Haleiwa for dinner.  We stopped at Jameson's By the Sea as our first visit was so enjoyable.  Since we arrive a little later than our prior visit and the sunset is a little earlier...you guessed it.  We enjoyed a spectacular sunset from our table, though no green flash today.  It was quite a day!  How 'bout some photos?

A peacock wandering the grounds seemed to enjoy posing for photos.

A view of just a tiny bit of the valley.  Steep walls made it seem more like a canyon than a valley, but that's just semantics.

A heliconia plant along the path.  The flowers along the way were breathtaking and it was hard to believe it's autumn and getting cool in much of north America.

A Cannonball tree, with its well-named fruits hanging around.  We saw one of these at the Foster Botanical Garden during a vacation a few years ago.

Click to enlarge to learn about the Cannonball Tree.

Michele inspects some of the countless plants along the way to Waimea Falls.

A Shama Thrush, native to South and East Asia, introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1930's and 1940's.  Most of the birds seemed quite unafraid of humans, so it was not a problem getting photos.

Visitors walking to the falls.  I don't know the name of the shrub or small trees with the beautiful crown of white blossoms.  This was taken from one of the many paths off the main road to the falls.

I know this looks like the proverbial "chicken crossing the road", but it's really a jungle fowl, a member of the pheasant family.  We saw quite a few roaming the valley, but never heard any chicken-like "clucks".  I'm guessing they have their own language. :)

No lack of giant trees and plenty of shade available during the hike to the falls.

One of a large number of hibiscus flowers seen today.

Can you see the thorns covering every inch of this tree?  They didn't need a "Do Not Touch" sign here!

Click on the image to enlarge and read what the signs on this tree do say.  Ouch!

Michele, off the main trail to look at a typical Hawaiian family home.  There have been archeological digs in the valley and researchers know how the early Hawaiians lived here.

These two jungle fowl thought they were hiding, but now they're famous!

Another flowering plant I do not know the name of.  We probably should have rented the audio tour devices, but there are numerous informative signs and labels throughout the valley, so we didn't.

This gigantic plant made us think we'd entered, "The Land That Time Forgot".  It sort of looked like a espalier banana tree on steroids.

We made it!  At the waterfall, there was a snack bar, this vendor selling early Hawaiian musical instruments and toys for children, a changing room for those wanting to swim in the pool formed by the waterfall, life jackets and a life guard.

Click to enlarge to read about the falls.

If you're expecting Niagara or Angel Falls, you'll be sorely disappointed.  Though only about 45-55-feet high, these falls were spiritually very important to the native Hawaiians who lived here seven hundred years ago.  The pool beneath the falls is about thirty feet deep.  Visitors are allowed to swim here, but they are required to wear a life preserver.

Swimmers enjoying the cold water.  I took this from a long row of bench seats for those who prefer to look only.

Wow!  I really need to get a book on flowering plants of Hawaii.

More flowers, but sorry, no names.

I don't know the name of this plant, but the bug is an "earwig".


Red Ginger!  Finally...one I'm familiar with.

No idea.

The butterfly almost gets lost on this blossom.

You gotta love this one.

Simply amazingly beautiful.

I'd say it's an orchid, but I've been wrong before.

The "Polka Dot Begonia".  Finally one with a label, though the name is self-evident.

A Farmers Market was held at the entrance to the valley, so we had to have a look.

Several food vendors were there, plus this very talented guitarist and singer.  Got Belgian waffles?

Believe it or not, we resisted these fantastic looking sweet rolls.

Our only purchase was a packet of Kava, the relaxing, mellowing beverage made from the pounded and dried Kava plant root.  The packet I purchased had chai spices mixed in.  I haven't tried it yet, but will soon and I'll report back with any scientific or spiritual discoveries. :)

After cruising the Farmers Market, we hit the beach.  It must've been about four o'clock and as you can see, we had it pretty much to ourselves.  The lady leaving the water is Donna.  Her and husband Eric and their two dogs were enjoying the surf, despite the "No Swimming" signs.  That was all I needed to get in there, too.

Looks like a smooth ride.  The monster surf is probably a couple of months away, but I'd have been very happy with this size wave.  We didn't stay too long and after saying our goodbyes to Eric and Donna, we packed-up and walked to the car.  We had a nice dinner on our minds.

We drove toward Haleiwa to Jameson's By The Sea restaurant.  We were seated in the covered, but open-air section where we had enjoyed ourselves so much on our first visit.  As the sun sank lower, the manager stepped outside to raise the awnings, revealing even more of the darkening sky.  This is what we saw.

What a delightful end to a great day in Paradise.

As the sun slipped beneath the distant waves, we shared a slice of lilikoi cheesecake.

No green flash, but as pretty a sunset as we've seen.  Hope your day was a good, too.