Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Paintings And Other Stuff

You must be a bit shocked to read the title of this post, but it's true.  The four unfinished portraits hanging in the studio have been neglected long enough and I'm working hard to get them done.  That, however, doesn't mean life outside the studio has stopped, so I've included some photos taken over the past couple weeks.

Mr. Parviz Samiee.  In an ideal world, this would've been completed and arrived at his home in time for Christmas.  Guess I missed that goal!  It's starting to show the kindness and bright soul of this gentle man, though tomorrow will no doubt bring a few more tweaks, including the background.  It's close to signature time and more importantly, shipping.

The sp at 65 is getting there, too, in my humble opinion.  Definitely not signing time yet.

And speaking of "other stuff"...Yesterday, this rooftop, and another, just out of the frame below, were  two of the locations for the bang-up season finale of, "Hawaii 5-0".  The buildings are about a block from our lanai and not only were we entertained by the "shoot-em-up" action, but for the first time, we were able to see the stars at work.

"McGarrett", Alex O'Loughlin, makes a point to "Dano", Scott Caan, while "Chin", Daniel Dae Kim  , looks on.  I'll never admit to being star-struck, but it really was fun to see them.  Both of us spent way too much of the day playing voyeur.

During the many breaks, the stars tended to grab a seat in the shade and make (or receive) a lot of phone calls.  Their long day on a building rooftop in Hawaii was brutal and you many have noticed Dano has removed his sweat-soaked shirt.  That ice chest is filled with cold drinks and the entire cast and crew did their best to keep hydrated.

Notice the exhaust funnel McGarrett and Chin are hiding behind.  Several of these props were placed on the roof.  after one scene, I saw a crew member pushing one to another location!  Up to that point, we were convinced they were legitimate roof structures!  It's a classic example of the "magic of Hollywood".

Alex O'Loughlin is very energetic, hard-working and in great shape.  It's now late afternoon and the production has shifted to the other rooftop.  The story line, from what we could tell, included a shootout on the other rooftop, with the "good guys" protecting the current nemesis, Gabriel.  The "action" continued with the stars and Gabriel jumping to the other rooftop.   We'll have to see the episode to find out if the "bad guys" are trying to free him or kill him.  Here you see Mr. O'Loughlin and another man placing Styrofoam coffee cups on the deck.  The weird thing was, as soon as they had them arranged, they began picking them up and putting them in a plastic bag.  We have several theories as to their purpose, but who knows.

This is "Gabriel's" stand-in about to make the leap to the other roof.  It seemed to take forever to get the rigging, landing pad and crane operator synced and ready to go.  We don't know if a safety net or airbag was on the ground between the buildings, but based on the amount of time and caution exercised, our guess is there was not.

Here is Alex O'Loughlin making his jump.  It could have been his stand-in, but we were pretty certain it was, indeed, him.  They worked almost till dark.  If you've never seen a TV or movie production team working on location, it's really amazing.  It looks like choreographed chaos as the technicians, electricians, video and sound experts, assistants, producer, director, actors, caterers, camera people, vehicle drivers and special equipment operators, make-up and hair specialists, builders, prop people, armorers and hangers-on move about the set.  It all gets done, eventually!

A week ago on the golf course, I got this photo of a Japan Airlines plane about to land.  If you click on the image, you'll get a better look at the gorgeous aquamarine water color reflecting off the aircraft underbelly.

And finally...A few sunsets and cloud formations:

First time we've seen this:  A rainbow, but it was embedded in that cloud formation.

We don't see cirrus clouds like this very often, either.

 Hope you had a good day and an even better tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Quick Trip Home

After checking out of our room, we had an hour or two to relax before heading for the airport, so I wandered around the hotel taking a look at what I missed.  Not long after that, we were back at the small West Maui-Kapalua Airport checking in for the thirty-five minute flight home.

The airport was deserted when we arrived, with only a couple of Mokulele Airline personnel sitting at a shaded picnic table outside the small terminal.  It was such a joy to experience this relaxed atmosphere instead of the usual airport crowds and pace.  It felt like we'd gone back in time about fifty years and we loved it.

The plane arrived on-time and just a few minutes after the passengers exited and collected their bags, it was our turn to board.  There were only five of us heading to Honolulu and we were on our way one minute ahead of schedule.  Just like the flight to Maui, we were both busy taking photos throughout the short flight.  Here are some photos from that day:

The view from the hotel, with the three-tiered pool and Molokai in the distance.

A massive meeting room.  The length of the ocean side was all windows and doors with great views.

A large painting titled:  "Makalapua Molokai-Plantation Course At Kapalua", by Betty Hay Freeland, a Maui artist who has several works hanging in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.  We met her while she was doing a demonstration painting outside the Village Galleries Ritz-Carlton shop, located just off the hotel lobby.  This painting was my favorite.  I could see myself standing on the course admiring that view.  Sadly, this photo doesn't do justice to the colors or the size.

An early Hawaiian bird feather collar on display in the hotel lobby.  Wow!  Time does fly and we've got to get going. 

View of Molokai from the tiny West Maui-Kapalua Airport.

On our way home!  This shot shows the hotel, surrounded on three sides by the Bay Golf Course.  The open space between the hotel and the ocean is a sacred burial ground.  A large, impenetrable hedge keeps guests out in a nice way.  The spit of land sticking into the water is the Dragon's Teeth lava formation which we explored on our first day.

A beautiful sheltered bay on west Maui.

Michele checks her photos as we reach O'ahu.

A different view of one of the parasail boats we see daily.  Click on this, or any of the photos for a closer look. 

View of Diamond Head from the north side as we approach the airport.

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, locally referred to as "Punchbowl".

Sand Island to the top of the photo, the harbor and our building is in there somewhere.

An American Airlines jet taxis for takeoff.  You don't get to look down on a major airport from such a low altitude very often, so this was great fun for us.

Hawaiian Airlines inter-island commuter jet lifts off.

The shadow of our plane on beautiful Mamala Bay.  Any yes, that's the Mamala Bay golf course on the left.  I spend a fair amount of time there, practicing and playing, but you knew that. :)

The only thing, besides memories, I brought home.  It was a wonderful visit and I promise you won't have to suffer through another post about it.  It's back to painting!

Have a nice tomorrow!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Last Day On Maui

Our final full day on Maui included a visit to the spa for Michele and a round of golf for me.  I don't have any photos of Michele's day, but when we met late in the afternoon, she was smiling and very relaxed.  No doubt she had been treated like a queen with a body wrap, long massage, pedicure, manicure, steam bath and dry sauna, slathered from head-to-tow with rare and exotic body oils and face and hair elixirs and potions.  It seems it was good for her.  She actually glowed!

My round of golf was at the famous Kapalua Plantation Course, site of the annual PGA Tour Hyundai Tournament of Champions.  I've watched the tournament on television for years, always in awe of the scenery and the course, never thinking I'd ever actually play there.

It proved to be a real challenge to my "work-in-progress" game.  The others in the foursome were from Anchorage, Alaska, Rochester, New York and a man who splits his year living in Danville, California and Kapalua.  Two lovely wives with great senses of humor rode along with their husbands to enjoy the scenery.  Their presence also "helped" us maintain decorum despite some awful shots. 

Though I would've liked to play better, it was still a very special treat.  I've been exceptionally fortunate to play several famous golf courses and this is a wonderful addition to the list.

This photo was actually taken the day we arrived.  In the afternoon, after our beach walk, I decided to jog to the course for a look prior to Friday's round.

The story of the Plantation Course.  As you might expect, the staff was congenial and friendly and the grounds and course perfectly-manicured and maintained.

Another photo taken on Wednesday.  A visitor snapping photos of his

After a visit to the practice area, I had some time before tee-off to take a look at the locker room.  Nice!  Worthy of professional golfers to be sure.

To qualify for the Tournament of Champions, a player must win a PGA Tour event the previous year.  This is Brandt Snedeker's locker showing the tournament he won in 2015.

Taken on Friday, aka "The Big Day".  The staff had the golf cart loaded with rental clubs, six Titleist golf balls and all the tees and ball markers one could ever need.  On my way to the practice area, one must go through a tunnel beneath the road.  They spared no expense to make this the most colorful tunnel entrance on the planet!

Each cart had its own touch-screen computer, featuring an inter-active course map with different views available and precise GPS-distances from the cart to the pin.  In the event you wanted to avoid a ravine between you and the green by playing two shots around it, you could simply tap your finger where you wanted your shot to land and instantly know the exact distance for each shot.  It was a very helpful tool, though I imagine the for-hire caddies aren't  too thrilled about it.

The practice area.  Miniature golf bags filled with balls were placed at each station and you simply hit as many as desired.  It was included in the greens fee. 

The near carts are parked near the putting green and the more distant ones are beside the first tee.  The scenery was breathtaking, with sweeping vistas of the Pacific and Molokai.

This gives a good sense of the steepness and up-and-down type of course it is.  That's Jim holding the flag and Roger watching our Alaskan State Trooper putt.  This setting reminds me of some of the paintings by California Impressionist painter, William Wendt.  See...I wasn't only thinking of golf. :)  Maybe I should've been!

On the tee at the long par-5 eighteen hole.  When the pros play here, this hole is over 600-yards long from the back tees and they still hit the green in two shots!  It was my best showing of the round, with a long drive to the bottom of a huge right-to-left, down-sweeping fairway, a solid five-wood second shot and a hundred-yard pitching wedge to the large green.  Sadly, I three-putted for a bogey.  It was quite a day and a lot of fun playing where the pros play.  Oh...and the scenery wasn't bad, either. :)))

We were both tired after this day and eager to return home the next day and get some rest!  Vacations are not easy!  One more post covering the hotel, some of the artwork and the plane flight home.  Stay tuned.

Hope you all had a good day.      

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lahaina And Whale Watching

Day two of our visit to Maui began with a cab ride to the former whaling town of Lahaina.  I guess it still is, only now, whales are studied and enjoyed!  Wow!  People are capable of changing. :)  We decided to wander around the town for awhile before boarding a Trilogy catamaran for an afternoon whale watching sail.

Lahaina was the capitol of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1820 till 1845, when the capitol was moved to Honolulu.  The town was the center of the Pacific whaling industry from the early 19th-Century until about the late 1850's, when oil was discovered in Pennsylvania.  Today, it's a tourist destination with whale watching, snorkeling, diving and a host of art galleries, restaurants and historical sites.

Again...enough chit-chat for now and time for some photos of the day:

Coming into Lahaina, we spotted this historical exhibit featuring the Sugar Train at the Lahaina Station.  The sugar industry on Maui is officially ending as I type this.  One hundred employees of the last sugar plantation and mill were laid-off yesterday.

A giant banyan tree, planted in 1873, now covers an entire city block and is sixty-feet high.  Michele is reading a historic plaque about the Old Court House to the right.

That's one old banyan tree!

The aerial roots which are themselves as big as large trees spread out beneath the canopy.  It's a great place to sit and relax in the shade. 

An "Old Salt" standing outside the Old Lahaina Inn smiles as Michele tries to give him a kiss.

The Lahaina Old Fort ruins.

Click on the image to enlarge it and grab your strongest reading glasses! :)

Underway aboard one of the Trilogy whale watching catamarans at one-thirty.  The crew could not have been friendlier, providing drinks, food and answering all questions about Humpback Whales.  That's the west side of Maui in the background.

A whale watching raft of the Pacific Whale Foundation zooms by our vessel.  The foundation has at least three types of whale watching ships available.  This is their "sport" model.

Let's get right to the "good stuff".  The whales really put on a show for us that day!!

With West Maui for a backdrop, a whale does a fin slap for thrilled passengers.

Tail flukes suggest a fairly deep dive according to our hosts.  At one point during the cruise, the captain put a hydrophone into the water and we could hear males nearby singing.

Darn!  Just missed a full breach.  At least you can see the evidence of the jump.

A full breach in-progress!  You have to be ready at all times on a whale watching cruise if you want to document behaviors like this.  Someday, I plan on going without a camera and simply enjoying the show.  Click on the image for a better look.

A two-fer!  If you click on this photo, you can actually see the whale's eye.  This may, or may not be a couple of males fighting for the "fin" of a female.  Or, it might be a calf, based on the relative size of the whale next to it.  

Got lucky again!  I can't tell you what a thrill it is to see these magnificent, gigantic creatures performing these maneuvers.

After the cruise, we continued to explore the town and I spent some time in their museum:

The Hawaiian flag.  The next photo has the story.

Click to read the history of the flag.

Whale killing harpoons.

A modern way to kill the great beasts.

Implements used to strip blubber from whale carcasses, as well as, other tools of the trade.

After another rest under that giant banyan tree, it was off to find the restaurant where we had dinner reservations.  Michele discovered the place while visiting various websites with information about dining in Lahaina.  The place is called, Sale Pepe,  Italian for "salt" and "pepper".

The story of the chef and the menu convinced her it would be very close to what we experienced in Italy.  She made a great choice!  We had way too much to eat, but took our time, Italian-style.  We came for the wood-fired oven pizza, but didn't let that stop us from trying several other items.  We ordered a bottle of Chianti and a glass of Pinot Grigio for Michele, then went to "work".

For the first of three antipasti, we shared a plate covered with very thinly-sliced soppressata and prosciutto di Parma and pecorino Toscano cheese, served with small wedges of focaccia.  What a great way to begin a meal!

Next for Michele came crostini pomodorini arrostiti e ricotta:

It's basically toasted bread with cherry tomatoes roasted just until they "exploded" and ricotta cheese.

I was happily surprised to see crostini di fegato, or chicken liver pate on small pieces of toasted bread on the menu.  They were "Americanized" just a little:  The bread was twice as thick and the amount of pate on each piece of bread was double an Italian portion.  The two on the plate would have made a meal!  Also, they added flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top.  The flavor was spot-on and it was a delight to try them.  With more food on order, we stopped and the remainder went in a "go box". 

The pizza we ordered was the classic Pizza Margherita.  The charred edges of the crust and the red, white and green of the Italian tricolori (tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and sprinkle of basil leaves) took me back to my first navy visit to Napoli, and introduction to the original.  Of course, there they use Mozzarella di Bufala, which isn't easy to come by on the mainland, much less Hawaii.  Here's a link to a 2012 New York Times article by Sam Anderson, all about Craig Ramini, and his efforts to produce water buffalo mozzarella in northern California.  If you've ever tasted this unique cheese in Naples, you'll find the article quite fascinating.  By the way, you should put a visit to Naples on your "to do" or "bucket" list just to taste the real thing.  It can be life changing and I'm dead serious about that.

So, after enjoying most of the pizza, I ordered an Affogato for dessert.  It was perfect.  Michele received tiramisu as yet another birthday gift and then ordered a favorite digestivo amaro, which tasted exactly like the one I would share with our Italian landlord nearly every late afternoon.  I was just about done-in, but asked for a shot of grappa.  It was the magic of the evening that made me do it, though I did not finish it.

We were stuffed, and soon in a taxi on our way back to the hotel.  It was a good day.  One more to go, but I'll save that for the next post.  Have a good tomorrow everybody!