March 2011

San Francisco Surprise

Week 8 of 52

Aloha all…

Some of you (very astute) friends out there will notice today is Thursday, not Sunday, and that we missed our regular Sunday programming this past week. Well, I was in San Francisco having way too much fun this past weekend and just got back to Seattle last night, while Harrison stayed here in the Northwest visiting some (more) of his old friends and seeing some fun musical events.

We started out the week by having lunch in Tacoma with three beautiful young ladies: Laurel and Brianne, the daughters of our dear friends Rick and Maggie, and Brianne’s daughter Kate. We had a great time catching up; Laurel is an occupational therapist, Brianne is a lawyer specializing in estate law, and Kate is just cute and soooo well-behaved! We did feel a tad old since Harrison has known Laurel and Brianne since they were Kate’s age!

Most of you know that I have three best friends with whom I travel each year; two are in San Francisco, one in New York. Each year we save and plan for one special trip; however this year Ann from NY and Kate from SF and I planned a surprise for our friend Cathy (also from SF) for her birthday. (We’re calling it her 59+ birthday!) Kate told her she was taking her away for the weekend, but much to her shock, Ann and I showed up at the hotel in Napa! Yes, that IS a tiara she’s wearing; it says BIRTHDAY PRINCESS on it and that photo was taken just moments after we walked in the door.

Cathy's Surprise

Cathy’s 59+ Surprise

The surprise weekend continued with a spa day at one of the fancy wine country resorts, lots of laughs, and for you cribbage fans, a few amazing hands of cribbage. Ann got three 5’s and a 10 dealt to her, with a five as the upcard!!! We had to call the cribbage masters in Hawaii to help us count it! It was the second highest hand you can get in cribbage and a hand we had never seen before… and may not again! Below are photos of us before our massages… and then dressed up to go to dinner, which came complete with a Sommelier (a wine steward) which was a bit lost on us. We would have been happy with a simple bottle of wine; he could have skipped the acidity, bouquet, and if it was musty or oaky… but the guy was cute.

The celebration didn’t stop after we got back to San Francisco. Kate put on an amazing dinner party for Cathy and invited all of her interesting women friends… to say that Cathy (all of us, really) felt special was an understatement. It was fun for me on another level: Cathy lives in my old flat near the Haight-Ashbury area of the city. I rented it for about four years when Harrison and I were dating; when we got married in 1991, Cathy moved in. So for me, it’s like ‘going home’ when I stay there. Brings back lots of fun memories….

Harrison stayed busy while I was off having fun with The Girls. In our continuing effort to bring the film Taylor Camp to a wider audience, he showed the DVD to friend and Seattle film critic/writer/journalist Steve Reeder, who had some useful comments. Harrison also went to a Tacoma Symphony concert with Rick and Maggie and saw Deborah Henson-Conant, the Hip Harpist. Check out these YouTube videos to see a harp played as you probably have not seen it played before. (If there is such a thing as a Blues Harpist channeling Jimi Hendrix… she’s it!)

We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming this Sunday as we are officially now in Week 9 of 52 and our time in Seattle will come to a close pretty soon, but not before we have a very busy and fun few more weeks ahead. We continue to be in awe of how many people ask to receive our weekly update; as one friend told me this past weekend, “there is so much bad news out there, it’s fun to hear that someone is really living their dream….”

This coming Sunday you’ll hear about meeting up with Swiss friends, seeing some old friends who live in an amazing Victorian, and we’ll throw in a Barbershop quartet just to keep things interesting…!

Until then,
A hui hou!

Sharene (and Harrison)

Portland and Ashland

Week 7 of 52

Aloha all!!!

Wow, what a week! I didn’t think you could go ‘on vacation’ when you’re retired, but that’s exactly what we did! We just got back to Seattle a few hours ago after a magical week with friends in Portland and Ashland.

Many of you know Margie Boulé, or at least know OF her. She’s quite the celebrity in Portland having been the host of a morning TV talk show there for years and the most popular columnist for the Oregonian (before they slashed staff and she was part of the fallout of that sad situation). She also has many theater performances and singing and emcee credits on her resume. We had so much fun being with her; she’s a wonderful storyteller and knows so much about so many things (and you never know when she might just break into a song; it’s like being in a musical!). Harrison has known her since his days at KING radio in the ’70s.

Margie welcomed us into her and her wonderful husband Dave’s amazingly beautiful home in the West Hills of Oregon (he’s working near Seattle these days so we missed him in Portland but got to see him right before we left Seattle). Margie immediately took us on a driving tour of her beloved city; she is quite the ambassador of this exceedingly charming city and before long, we fell in love with it as well. After spending several days there, we decided if we should move to Portland, the area to be is within walking distance of NW 23rd Avenue. (Think Union Street in SF and you’ll have a good visual.)

That first night we ate at Portland’s oldest restaurant, Huber’s (started over 130 years ago!). Wonderful atmosphere; very rich paneled woods and booths and hearty, good food. BUT! If you have an extra minute (actually one minute, 20 seconds) watch this video of them making these killer Spanish coffees (OMG, were they great!!!). It’s a great drink AND floor show!

Boule Dinner

Harrison, Margie, Pete, Jan

Margie is one of these multi-talented people and is also a gourmet cook (and check out her gorgeous tableware and linens…). The next night she had a dinner party and we got to see her brother Pete, his wife Jan, and her good friend Randall (not pictured but he’s a Shakespeare scholar and lots of fun!). A wonderful feast and good friends; life doesn’t get any better than that.

We spent a half a day at PAM (the Portland Art Museum) and were blown away by the number of exhibits and the diversity of the art. Incredible. Then we went to a movie at a place called the Living Room; you walk in, order your lunch and they bring it to you in your cushy, chic seats complete with trays so you can have your meal (with wine if you want!) while you watch the movie. So civilized, these people!

Harrison with DivaThe last night we were there, Margie designed a progressive dinner for us. Since Portland is known as a ‘foodie’ town, she decided to show us some quintessential places (in hopes to ‘seal the deal’ in having us decide on Portland over Seattle after our year of travel is over). We started out with an appetizer at Pok Pok (most restaurants are very, very small, 4-12 tables, and chef/owner run)… after very tasty Asian chicken wings there, we headed over to Navarre which specializes in small plates so we sampled several and left nary a crumb nor drop of wine… then, we headed to our favorite street—yep, NW 23rd—to Papa Haydn for amazing desserts… after which we waddled home and went to bed!

Does it seem to you like we ATE our way through Portland??????

We got to spend a little time Friday morning with Dave, and got this photo with their very smart dog DIVA who knows 45 tricks including singing and shutting the kitchen cupboard doors….

With Nancy and JimAfter our goodbyes, we headed down to Ashland. It took us 6 hours; this was the longest road trip we had ever taken in our Honda Element (hey, we lived on an island!). We spent the evening and had dinner at the home of our dear friends Jim and Nancy… more HK friends from his KING days, but Harrison was also in business with them after he left Stanford and we have a Hawaii connection with them as well because Nancy was raised on Kauai and she and Jim still have interests there, so we had lots of fun catching up with them. (Note the shaka sign!!!)

Saturday was a FULL day. First we all took a nice walk to the very charming downtown in Ashland and had a hearty late breakfast. Then, walking to the theater, the most beautiful, light dusting of snow started falling… just magical. We saw the most fantastic Shakespeare play (which Ashland is known for in case you weren’t aware; this is the place to go see the Bard in the USA). We saw a contemporary version of Measure for Measure… absolutely one of the best live theater performances I have ever seen. If you have any opportunity for a weekend getaway and get to Ashland, we highly recommend it; it will probably be there through the summer. We stayed at (can you believe it?) The Palm Cottages; yes, it was a done up in a Hawaiian motif and very sweet, so now if you go, you have a place to stay too!

Pahoa ScrambleBut Hawaiiana didn’t stop there. On our (very long) drive back to Seattle, we pulled off I-5 in Vancouver, Washington, just to check out the downtown area. It was Sunday and dead, dead, dead. But we pulled over to a cafe that looked open, went in, and found not only a restaurant decorated in surfboards, shaka signs, and all things Hawaiian, but check out the menu… yes, you’re reading it right, one of the breakfast selections is a PAHOA SCRAMBLE!!!!! So of course, we had to eat there. Who knew our little Pahoa town would show up on our trip!

So, we’re back from our great trip south. Mahalo to all our dear friends who made it so special; it was so much fun to see you. Our Week 7 was wonderful and we have another busy week coming up. We know how lucky we are to be embarking on such a wonderful adventure, so thank you for letting us share it with you. We try to remember to be grateful each and every day for this amazing opportunity and fantastic friends and experiences.

So with that, on to Spring! It’s here!

A HUI HOU!!!!!

Sharene (and Harrison)

A Busy Week

Week 6 of 52

Well, it was an interesting and busy week, on the international front as well as Week 6 of our year-long adventure.

We were concerned about our former partner, Steve (we call him Suma), and his wife Iku, who live in Japan, so as soon as we heard about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan (about 4:30 am PST) we sent them off an email. Suma wrote back that stuff was crashing  all around them; things flew off the walls and dressers, etc. Thankfully they live in a new building (not far from Tokyo) and the earthquake building codes are really strong there, but being on the 20th floor is a little disconcerting for them. Even though they are used to earthquakes he said this one just grew and grew, didn’t stop for a long, long time, and there have been constant aftershocks. Now here’s where it gets interesting. A few weeks ago he had been planning a trip to Mexico to see some friends. He went to book it online, the system froze up, and he couldn’t get it booked right then. When he went back later to book it, something told him to hold off and not go. Turns out, he would have left today had he booked it! He doubts he could have gotten out today, but he certainly wouldn’t have wanted to leave his wife with all that’s going on. Something somewhere in the cosmos was working with him.

In 1989, I was working in downtown San Francisco on the 25th floor of a 25-story building for Bank of America, which had a very strict dress code. (Pantsuits for women??? Forget it! We wore business suits and heels, every day.) One day in October, I woke up and boldly decided to wear flats that day, even though it was a fashion disaster for someone who is 5’3″ to wear flats with a suit. I was sorry the moment I walked into the office, and I decided not to commit this faux pas again. But, you guessed it, it was October 17, the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake. I ended running down 25 flights of stairs (no way was I staying in the building… I figured it was MUCH safer out on the street with the bricks, glass and other stuff flying around)! So I walked the four miles to the Haight and my flat in my flats. Karma (shoe karma?) was with me that day too… makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

So, two little earthquake stories from two very lucky people, unlike the thousands who are dealing with this terrible natural disaster. I know how scared I was that night in 1989; I remember feeling all of the aftershocks and feeling so small against such power. Our heart goes out to the good people of Japan (who were most likely more prepared than anyone) in the coming months. We were also surprised to see the damage in Kona; it isn’t covered in the mainstream news much, but if you weren’t aware of the significant damage that happened in Kona, check out this:

There was even a large home that was swept into the sea.

For us this past week, we decided to go out, enjoy Seattle, and see friends whom we had not seen because we were laying so low after we arrived, so we have been social butterflies all of a sudden.

With Rick and MaggieWe had a delightful day with our dearest friends, Rick and Maggie, who came up from Gig Harbor and spent the day with us here in West Seattle. We took a long walk along the promenade and then they treated us to a very special dinner at Salty’s, complete with a drop dead view of the Seattle Skyline. So good to catch up with them; we talked all day and into the night.

Harrison and BJOn Tuesday, we had lunch with BJ; a woman who was a true institution at King Broadcasting—and still is for that matter. (For my WR friends… think Arica.) She started in 1972, and at a very young 82 years she still gives tours of the studios to groups! Check out her photo… we should all be so lucky to look so great at 82. She was a lot of fun to visit.

Dave in BellevueWe also went to Bellevue, spent some time at BAM (the Bellevue Art Museum), and saw a fascinating exhibit of a woman who somehow makes three layers of glass into an amazing resemblance of a photographic piece of art. We then had a wonderful Thai dinner with Dave, a friend from Portland who is now working in Washington; I think he was happy to have company and we were so happy to see him.

Dog Tag RobeWe had so much fun the next day; we went to an opening at SAM (the Seattle Art Museum). They had a very whimsical artist named Nick Cage who did some very colorful costumes. Really over the top. For our Big Island friends, think Ira Ono and his trash show on steroids! My favorite piece, though, was not one by Cage, it was a HUGE cape that literally took up an entire room. The metal cape is made entirely from military dog tags… pretty powerful.

After the museum, we walked down to Pike Place Market to get some dinner. Harrison had found a place but I knew nothing about it, so I just followed him as we made our way through all the interesting shops and stalls of this historic area. We ended up in charming Post Alley with lots of restaurants, shops, flower boxes, a cobblestone walkway… until we came to a nondescript door… we actually walked right past it… then backed up… HK decided this was the place… Well, don’t let the door fool you!!!! You open the pink door to The Pink Door and you are transported to an elegant basement restaurant that makes you feel you are in Paris in the 1930s! Great food, live music… fun night; leave it to Harrison to continually surprise me. Too dark to get a good photo, though.

Steve RWe continued eating with former colleagues and friends of HK’s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday we went to a New Orleans-style restaurant for lunch with Steve, who has a great voice and an encyclopedic knowledge of classical music and independent films… interesting guy and I had my first (but not last!) beignets (OMG-delicious). Ben and Mary Lou in SeattleBen and his wife Mary Lou fixed us a wonderful dinner at their home on Phinney Ridge Saturday night; we talked and drank wine late into the night. Steve and DebbieOf course it was the night we switched to daylight savings time, so we lost an hour, just in time to get up early Sunday morning to have breakfast with Steve (a different Steve!) and Debbie. Not that we needed another reminder that we weren’t in Hilo anymore, but we had to laugh when we read the description of one of the daily specials:

Early Spring Forager’s Scramble: Foraged and found wild, locally foraged stinging nettles and organic caramelized sweet onions scrambled into three Stiebr Farms free range eggs, and topped with a piece of Pt. Townsend Creamer’s red alder toma style cheese…

Ken’s Pancake House this was not!!!

A busy news week all around. We realize our little outings are not all that exciting, dramatic or even important, but so many friends have asked us to chronicle this year-long journey that I’ll continue doing it each week and in a time of political craziness, wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, and lots and lots of negative crap, maybe we can send some positive energy out there. Our friends and family are important to us, and when large natural disasters do happen, the first thing you think about is the people you know in the affected area, because friends become more and more precious all the time. We just want you all to know we care, even during the quiet times.

We’re off to Portland and Ashland this next week; wishing everyone a safe and disaster-free week.


Marvin Hamlisch and More

Week 5 of 52

Good week for us!!! Feeling healthy again, got out and had a little fun! Seattle still continues to amaze me and we have been blessed with lots of blue skies, gorgeous snow-covered mountain vistas, and the most extraordinary city skyline that I have seen (and I’m quite the snob when it comes to San Francisco and Honolulu).

Saw a wonderful concert this past week with Marvin Hamlisch doing a tribute to Cole Porter; the man is a true entertainer and really connects with his audience. But I have to tell you, when we walked into the concert hall and I looked around at 2500 (almost sold-out) seats in a very new, fancy hall, I said to Harrison, “Hmm, we’re not in Hilo anymore….” This was also validated when we looked in the program at the personal donor list and it STARTED at $5000. And here our wonderful Historic Hilo Palace Theater is so grateful to get $50 donations. So here’s my shameless plug… if you live on the Big Island and you can afford to help support the Palace, please do! It’s such a landmark in Hilo, and having been on the board I saw first hand how HARD everyone works to keep it open. They need any help you can offer!

The concert was fantastic. Mr. Hamlisch was funny, gracious, told Cole Porter stories, and basically mentioned numerous times how thankful he was whenever he saw a young person in the audience. He is passionate about American composers and making sure the youth know about them. I thought that was quite charming. The two singers he had performing were wonderful Broadway-type singers so it was a true treat.

Now that we are well, our social calendar has really filled up this coming week; we’re having a lovely day today with our dear friends Rick and Maggie, and we have lunch or dinner dates pretty much all week. Will take some photos and share them next week. In the meantime, here are a few photos of our beautiful condo that our dear friends, Jim and Donna, own in West Seattle and who have allowed us to stay during our time here. Thank you so much!!!

Until next time, a hui hou!