Monday, December 26, 2005

Dec 26 - Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you out there!

Yesterday was a nice Christmas day of getting together with family and enjoying company. It's the first Christmas that I've spent at home in Minnesota in five years. I got some nifty gifts - mostly tools for my new studio which pleases me a lot. And the book Homegrown Democrat signed by Garrison Keilor. But this year I got something even more special with which nothing else can compare -- the chance to have spent time in the past month with nearly ALL the people who matter to me and make my life good (and to those still far away, you are not forgotten). And in three hours Marco will fly in to Minneapolis. Who could ask for more? I spent this Christmas feeling content and lucky.

I'm also very curious about all the animal tracks I see going through the snow out in the forest below my house and across the pond. When Marco gets here I'm going to get out the snowshoes and we can go see what animals have been trecking around here. Mom and I saw a possum down by the pond a couple days ago. It was unusual because it was mid-day and possums are usually nocturnal. The possum seemed awkward, shuffling across the snow and falling into the deeper drifts. As for the tracks, we will surely see lots of deer tracks out there, but I wonder if we can find something like bobcat or wild turkeys. Britt's parents got a bear on their porch last winter over in Wisconsin, so who knows, I guess anything could pass by out there.

This morning was grey but I walked down to Afton anyways. As usual I went out to Steamboat Park, which is a natural space along the river. From there I could see farther down the river towards Afton. There's a tiny road down that way, River Road, where Britt and I once biked and found an old cabin. It was white and weathered, made of wood. It had screen porches. We snuck in and looked around and pretended it was our place. It was old, rustic and simple yet beautiful. Perfect in a way. We had once said that when we got older would buy it and live there. But Britt said that when she came back to Minnesota last year with Andrew (her boyfriend), the cabin was gone. Today I stood on the grey, icy shoreline and looked in that direction. The leaves are gone on the shore and I could see over there in the distance and it's true. I didn't see that cabin. It looked like a big house had taken it's place. A simple place gone.

Walking back along the beach I listened to the sound of the open water flowing under the thick sheet of ice that's frozen along the river's edge. It gurgled and splashed under the thick white shelf. It was a very satisfying sound.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Sign of the Day

It's just basic public etiquette, pardner...

Dec 23 - Back in MN

Once again I've gone awhile without writing. It's mostly because I'm back in Minnesota at Mom's house and there is only a 28k dial-up connection here so I tend to stay off the computer.

I got back from Hawaii on the 15th and immediately rented Blue Crush on the 16th to feel like I was still on the North Shore with Britt and Andrew watching amazing surfers and topping it off with yummy fresh tuna buritos from Chollos. In all honesty, at the end of two weeks in Hawaii I felt like a million bucks. I found myself feeling better than I had in probably three years (that would be since living in San Diego). It was like some kind of cloud had lifted and had brought out a wave of energy and optimism and fiesty vigor; a kind of unflappable pleasure in being alive and in the heady desire to dive into the world around us.

But hey, let's face it....I'm back in Minnesota now, in the snow and the pale winter sun. It's a world you do not dive into, but rather tiptoe gently around until it softens in March or April. We just passed the shortest day of the year, so the sun sets around 4:30 pm and I fell like I spend half my waking day in the dark.

But even that too isn't all bad. The sun comes out during the day and sparkles off the snow and that's magical.

Even better I've gone to hang out with Lauren and Emily twice this week, and that really cheered me up. They're fantastic. I'm lucky they're here. And relevant to this blog, they got me a surprise Christmas present of an entire Lonely Planet book of funny signs from around the world. It's funny as hell! I'll have to scan some of them and post them on this blog. Thank you guys!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dec 9 - Surf's Up at Pipeline

Happy Birthday Marco!

In the morning I went for a long walk around Diamond Head Crater and down to Kapiolani Park.

I came across a Japanese man painting the coastline.

And a chain of runners were giving each other massages in preparation for the Honolulu Marathon.

Then the exciting part of the day came! Britt, Andrew and I drove to the North Shore to watch the Pipeline Masters surf competition. Imagine the biggest waves on the planet, with the biggest names in surf riding them! I must admit I was mighty excited.

It was hard to get good pictures of the surfers with my dinky little snapshot camera, but I think you can get the size of the waves relative to the surfers. It was massive! Pipeline is one of the world's most famous huge surf breaks and watching people surf it is like nothing I have ever seen before! Beautiful. Amazing!

Spectators on the beach and signs for Rip Curl, the event's sponsor.

Beautiful! Look at that!

More spectators

Makua Rothman of Hawaii heading out to compete

Britt and Andrew, happy as clams

A surfer exiting a barrel

Then in the evening we headed to the little nearby town of Waialua where we ran into the local Christmas Parade. It reminded me of Afton's 4th of July parade back home, only tropical.

Locals in the parade

The local Hula Dance club

Before driving home Britt, Andrew and I capped off the evening by trying on visors at the local Quicksilver store.

We were still stoked. What a cool day!

Dec 8 - Kailua

Last night Britt and Andrew and I went to a divey little bar around the corner. Turned out it was full of blue collar Hawaiian men. They played pool and above all sang karaoke with all the passion of old buddies just havin' a good time. Imagine at least twenty massive Polynesian men all singing their hearts out in unison to Billy Idol and the Rolling Stones. It was endearing.

Today we went to Kailua, a beach on the windward side of the island (meaning, yes, the side where the wind comes from). It's a flat, long, beautiful beach.

It is also Oahu's most renowned windsurf and kitesurf beach. But the wind was down and the kitesurfers were waiting and watching from the shore.

Ah, memories...

We left our stuff near the shore and played frisbee in the turquoise water.

There were skimboarders...

...And kayakers.

After the beach we had dinner at a great beach shack called Buzz's. While driving out of town we passed a Stained Glass studio, so I stopped in to talk to the guy. His whole family works in the studio. They seem to do well.

I was looking at the Oahu phonebook in the car. It looks like a romance novel. Where's Fabio?

When we got home I saw, for the first time, one of Hawaii's famous rainbows. It was over the valley near Britt and Andrew's place.

Dec 6 - Waikiki and Sake

Today I went to Waikiki, which is pleasant despite it's tourist tackiness.

Beach gadgets

One of Waikiki's oldest hotels

Then in the evening Britt and Andrew brought me out for sushi and sake at their favorite sushi restaurant, Tokkurie Tei, a fantastic meal hidden in a scrappy strip mall.

The sake menu was diverse, offering both dry and sweet sakes with names like "Light of Heaven", "Good Behavior Comes After Drink" and "New Tractor" among others. The sake is poured into a glass and overflows into a laquered box and you drink both.

The restaurant has cool decorations too.

The walls are covered in hand-written panels and colorful lanterns

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sign of the Day


Why waste time getting out of the car to pick up a date?

Dec 5 - More Hawaii

Britt and I hit the town and took on the island while her boyfriend Andrew was out at sea (he works on scientific research ships). And when he got back yesterday he joined in the fun. Here are more photos:

Hiking in Makiki Valley

Running through a forest of bamboo

View of the valley

During the hike Britt and I were caught by a drenching thunderstorm

Today I was on my own. Britt and Andrew went to work this morning and I came here to Kapiolani Park

Then found sea urchins in a tidepool

In the afternoon I climbed up Diamond Head crater - an ancient volcano

Here's the view from Diamond Head

In late afternoon Andrew gave us a tour of the research vessel that he's currently working on

Here he is "hard at work" in the engine room

Then Britt and Andrew brought me to a hidden local cafe, the world's best Tiki bar!

Cocktail umbrellas and marachino cherries

After leaving we walked through the nearby port and Britt, the coolest biologist in the world, showed us zooplanktons swimming to the light, and fish swarming to eat the zooplanktons.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sign of the Day

Crowd control Chinese-style.

Aloha from Hawaii !!!!!!

After two weeks in Minnesota I've now changed climates entirely. I'm in Hawaii!!

I've come here to visit Britt. For those who don't know, we grew up together in Minnesota and spent many good hours splashing around in the St. Croix River and riding our bikes to Afton. Now she's working on her doctorate in oceanography here at the University of Hawaii. After nearly four years we finally get to spend some quality time together.

Here are some pictures:

Britt, taking me around for a first tour of Oahu.

MMMMMmmmmm ..... land of good sushi! Try the spicy tuna.

Chinaman's Hat in the background

My sandals getting some use

Sunset Beach, one of 10,000,000 incredible surf beaches on Oahu.


Britt and her former roommate Nicole in Honolulu.

Britt and I investigate an art gallery.

Breakfast this morning with Britt and her current roommate Dan. Great kitchen!

Today at Yokohama Beach

Salut Hibou! I am thinking of you!