Monday, March 30, 2009

The In-Crowd.. for Now

The purpose of this convoluted rhyme
Is to highlight that instant in time
When staying in the moment
Helps to focus one’s intent
Allowing for an experience that’s sublime

During this past weekend, I got the chance to experience “in-person” some enjoyable performances and I wanted to take time to reflect on the value of participating “live”. On Friday night, Dianna & I went to see the touring Broadway production of “Wicked”, a clever musical backstory of the witches from Wizard of Oz re-imagined by Gregory Maguire. The cast was top notch but we both were perplexed by the general audience reaction which seemed much more interactive than most theater performances with clapping, cheering and whispering. In some ways it was as if the audience was an extension of the cast – almost like a viewing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Maybe we’ve gotten used to our Portland center Stage plays where we absorb the consistently high quality content quietly…

Saturday night started with a dinner outing with Ted & Rick at Clay’s Smokehouse and then arrival at the Rose Garden for a game between the Blazers and Memphis. Since the Philly loss that Sean & I attended the Blazers had comfortably beaten Phoenix and with just one game separating Portland Denver, and Utah, emotions were running high. The Blazers came out with energy and the crowd provided vocal and moral support that helped a double digit home court win. The concept of “home court advantage” applies to many endeavors beyond sports. The comfort level one has in familiar settings such as a beloved neighborhood or in a gathering of familiar friends is something we all crave. The noted philosopher D. Gale summed it up as “There’s no place like home”

Our evening ended in Southeast Portland at “The Goodfoot”, where Sean’s band “Reeble Jar” ( ) was headlining. We skewed to the older end of the crowd but it was interesting to note that it could have been the early 70’s with the dress and the vibe of Reeble Jar’s funk. The only tip-off was the ubiquitous cell phones waving as the Bic lighters of the 21st century. RJ’s music is hard to sit still for but it was fun to watch how the show was enhanced by the crowd reaction. The band is preparing for a month long tour across the Western US in June and that should be an invigorating month. They hope to return to Eugene and use some studio time to produce their first non-audience album which will be a big departure. Should be fun to watch & hear develop.

The end of the weekend brought the dramatics of Tiger Woods winning after a 284 day drought, using a script that we’ve seen before. With daylight fading and wind swirling, and a motionless gallery watching, along with the biggest TV audience since 9 months ago when he was in the identical situation, Tiger calmed sank a 16 foot putt to win Arnold Palmer’s tournament. Once again he showed not only how to be in the moment, but to seize it and define it…. Great theater that isn’t the same if you watch a replay…

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Although the most recent outcome was a pity
It won't diminish the tone of this ditty
Because while the shorts have gotten longer
Blazer fan support has gotten stronger
As the Rose City revisits "Rip City"
On a late spring afternoon in early June 1977, in front of a sellout crowd of 12,666, The Portland Trailblazers scored 108 points, beat the Philadelphia 76'ers and the resulting NBA Championship fundamentally changed its perception of itself. On an early spring evening in late March of 2009, with a sellout of 20,620 fans, the Blazers scored 108 points but lost to Philadelphia during a push to return to the playoffs after a 6 year drought. Although much has changed in form, fashion, finance both personally and globally over the span of 3 decades, it's interesting to reflect on what hasn't changed.

The role of sports in society is widely debated as some feel it is emphasized too much in our educational system and garners more coverage in the media than other more significant issues. The role model aspect of sports has suffered as the perception of "win at any cost" has dominated recent headlines. Still, there are aspects of the sporting experience that are valuable for a society, particularly during challenging times. I've always felt that being able to identify with a team and vicariously participating in their ups and downs is valuable experience for dealing with life's inevitable ups & downs. I've been fortunate with my fan support of Medford, Stanford, and St. Louis sports teams and their level of success, so the thrill of victory has been experienced a number of times. (Medford's 1970 State football championship, Stanford's 1972 Rose Bowl and the numerous good showings in other sports, and the STL Cardinals entertainingly contending often with World Series in '64, '67, '68, '82, '85, & '06) The 1977 Trailblazer championship was another of those great memories and it's interesting to see the impact of that event still resonates with fans, many who weren't even born then.

Last night's game was enjoyable, especially since Sean was able to come up from Eugene to catch the game with me, much like Evan did when he lit briefly in Portland between foreign assignments. Sean came up with some buddies who were performing at the Mt. Tabor Theater, and he'll be back on Saturday with Reeble Jar, playing at the Goodfoot. Ted & I have tickets for the Memphis game so we hope to catch the early portion of Sean's show after the game. We settled in our seats during player introductions and after a nearly flawless 1st quarter when the 76'ers outshot their name (81%), we felt fortunate the Blazers were only down by 5 points. Aldridge kept the Blazers in the game, and Oden looked good in limited action but the Blazers still were down 58-44 at the half. A spirited comeback led by Rudy and Steve Blake made for a exciting 2nd half and with 20 seconds left, the Blazers were just were they wanted, Brandon Roy with the ball and a chance to win, tied at 98. Brandon had an off night, including his final shot and the resulting overtime only provided Chalupas for scoring 100 points, not the sweet taste of victory. The buzz in the crowd was some disappointment but more appreciation that the Blazers came back and gave themselves a chance. In the recent past of a few years ago, the team might have packed it in after falling behind by 20 but the current Blazers aren't quitters, and that sends a good message to the Portland psyche. Bad bounces, calls, or breaks are part of life on and off the court and the response is the valuable lesson. I look forward to experiencing more of those lessons… MTP

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Hep Now, Dude!"

For almost 90 years he kept a good attitude
Biscuits & Gravy was always a favorite food
A builder of things, a fan of baseball
He experienced a lot, and survived it all
Looking back, he was one cool “Dude”

March 21st 2009 would have been my dad’s 91st birthday and I’m down in Medford for the weekend to acknowledge the occasion with family. Sean rode down with me from Eugene and since we needed to gas up before we reached Medford, we stopped at Canyonville and ate at Seven Feathers Casino and bought a group of Keno tickets with my dad’s favorite 3 number combination 38-39-41 and ate one of his favorite meals, chicken-fried steak. We left before all his tickets played, but we had about as much luck as he usually did. At least I got a 3 cent discount on gas and the Prius cruised along at 43mpg.

Thursday night, Dianna & I went to Portland Center Stage and saw their production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”, a witty send-up of Victorian manners aided by multiple cases of mistaken & deceptive identity worthy of some of Shakespeare’s comedies. It reminded me of my dad’s phases of identity during his 9o years of life…

He was born in SW Missouri n the spring of 1918, just missing St. Patrick’s Day but close enough for his Irish mother and was christened Thomas Julian Ponder. School records identified him as Julian, but from an early age everyone called him “Dude”. The entire family seemed to have a thing for nicknames as his brothers were Diskin (Dick), Herschel (Brandy), and David (Pete). When I asked him why, he said he didn’t know but his father George was always called Steve! Anybody who knew my dad before WWII knew him as Dude, so it was always easy to determine length of acquaintance. My mom never called him anything but Tommy or Tom, so it was sometimes confusing when relatives would visit. During college, one of our favorite phrases was “Hep now, Dude!” to register enthusiasm, so when I received a letter addressed to “Hep now, Dude” Ponder, we had to decide who got to open the letter first. I took my dad back to his 60th high school reunion in 1997 and when we stopped in the local gas station on the site of my dad’s first job pumping gas, my dad told the story of his uncle building the first station in the county on that spot. A guy in the back room heard us and came out and said “Is that “Dude” Ponder, and my dad remet a classmate he hadn’t seen since the day he headed off to join the CCC’s during the summer after graduation. He got assigned to Oregon and initially was the camp cook near Grants Pass, just about 20 minutes West of where I’m typing right now. His fond memories of his experiences in Oregon are what led him and my mom to relocate to Medford in the spring of 1958 with their 5-year old. (The photos above are 50 years apart at the apartment I left in LA-when we went down to a family reunion, he gave detailed directions from the LA airport right to the apartment – try that even if you’re not blind!) During the next 16 months, we lived in a 16 foot trailer with convenient bathroom facilities just steps away until we moved into the house as I started first grade. I special have a special appreciation for indoor plumbing…

It was a poignant drive down our street tonight, a drive I’ve made 100’s of times. In the later years, my folks would be anticipating a return from college or a visit from Portland, and would be checking their clocks to see if I met my projected arrival. Pati is now living in the house which is a good feeling, but I know it doesn’t have the buzz it once did with kids running around on the ballfield during all seasons or in and out of the house at all hours. The Fowler house is like most of us as we hit our 50’s, still recognizable, but some things sag and others are the worse for wear. Things have faded except if you’ve allowed an 87 year old blind guy to make the color choice. If you ever fly over Medford at the right angle, it will be easy to spot the day-glo yellow house on the left.

Tomorrow we’ll all reconnect as Cody and his girlfriend Amy will be down from Corvallis where Cody just became an OSU grad and we’ll get to catch up with Vanessa & Kaden, and Sandi & Steve. Dad was always big on getting family together and if the topic of getting together with folks came up, he’d have his “lid” on and be out the door before you finished the sentence.. For tomorrow the sentence might begin with “Hep, now,Dude…

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

We never know what tomorrow may bring
Which is why we like hope to eternally spring
It’s the best approach in dealing with stress
In which we usually can find some success
It’s all in “How One Perceives Everything”

On this “Lucky” Day of the Irish, (of which I can claim 25% heritage) I was reflecting on the difference in philosophy between those who rely on hope versus those who cast their lot with luck. “Hope” has become a buzzword in the recent political season but I think it could be a significant factor in helping us deal with the challenges with which we are currently grappling. Two Thousand years ago, we were reminded that three greatest virtues were “faith, hope, and charity (love) and the greatest of these is charity” Most people remember this quote using love, but the intent is on empathy, caring, and compassion for others, not romantic love, much to the chagrin of wedding planners everywhere. Faith is based in the present and is a belief in an outside power to determine outcome. Hope is future based and is a more optimistic mindset, encouraging one to seize opportunities though the choices made. Restoring a sense of hope in the midst of what seems like incessant “bad news” seems like an important early step to getting people to come up with new solutions. Einstein’s quote that “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”, is a good reminder that thinking differently can by itself change our perceptions of a problem and give us new options.

I’ve been reading about a number of people in the last few months that thought differently and changed the world. One is R. Buckminster Fuller (“Our power is in our ability to decide.” ), a 20th century architect, inventor, and visionary who promoted the concept of “Spaceship Earth” He came by his “transcendental” thinking naturally, as his great aunt was Margaret Fuller, a close contemporary of Emerson & Thoreau. He didn’t discover his purpose until his mid-30s when he was bankrupt and suicidal, having lost his young daughter to illness. He had an epiphany and decided to devote his life to an experiment, to find “what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity”. In the 1930’s-40’s he designed efficient cars and buildings including the famous geodesic dome (of which the Tacoma Dome is one of the larger examples). Portland Center Stage had a great one-man play about his life earlier this year. If you want to know more about him, check out the Fuller Institute ( )

The biography of Joseph Priestly (I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning...”), “The invention of Air” is a fascinating profile of a pivotal figure in the early development of America. An English theologian, political theorist philosopher, and inventor who became friends with Franklin, was much sought after for counsel by Adams, Jefferson and others. He can claim the discovery of oxygen and principles of electricity, the invention of soda water, and was the founder of the Unitarian Church. His life could be described as the hopeful exploration of scientific and spiritual principles

Two more shining examples of hope personified are Helen Keller and Victor Frankl. Helen Keller (“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope or confidence.” “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”), although deaf and blind, her insights into the human condition continue to inspire.

Frankl believed that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." His experiences in a concentration camp formed the basis for his “Man’s Search for Meaning” which lead to his development of Existential Therapy, which encourages one to make new & healthy choices if desiring better outcomes.

All this rambling helps me remember the importance of choices in life and significance in looking forward to those choices. Restoring confidence in our current world is going to require people to step up and participate in new and different ways and I look forward to the adventure. “Good Night and Good.. Hope” -MTP

Friday, March 13, 2009

PI vs Pie


Sometimes a Friday and a 13 coincides
If one is scared, the result is he hides
But don't despair, rely on your pluck
Positive thinking will bring you good luck
Unless you are Roman and March has an Ides

Three point one four one five nine two
It's been around forever - it's not new
It appears everywhere in here and in there
Circumference divided by diameter, if you care
It's irrational I know but it's true!

It's lucky Friday the 13th for the second time in a month, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow. March 14th is perfectly juxtaposed between a Friday the 13th and the Ides of March and is International PI Day as well. Though not well known, this holiday is deserved due to the unique nature of that famous mathematical constant. "Pi is strange because it's both an irrational number (its decimal expansion never ends or repeats) and yet the number is also transcendental (no finite sequence of algebraic functions could ever produce it)", states SF. physicist Ron Hipschman. The fact it is also Einstein's birthday adds an interesting bit of synchronicity. (Happy 130th B-Day Al!)

We've already been treated to National Square Root Day ( 03/03/09) but be sure to mark your calendar for the next occurrence on 04/04/16 (Mayans excluded) I'll be busy preparing for my 63rd birthday.

We plan on celebrating PI day with a gathering at Dorothy's to hold a masterminding session, a brainstorming /accountability process with a long and storied history. Popularized by Napeleon Hill in his 1937 book "Think & Grow Rich", it expands on the idea of a group of like minded individuals supporting each other in pursuit of personal goals.

Hill's definition is, "The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony….No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind."

The acknowledgement of a "Higher Power", focused intentions of the group, and supportive accountability provide a good environment for goal attainment. This is much more successful that "New Years resolutions" or a To-Do list since it has a more consistent support structure. I've had great experiences during this century being involved in the MM process and I especially appreciate our current MM group.

Afterward, we'll celebrate with Pi(e) at 1:59 and play some cards during the afternoon. Maybe on Sunday I'll revisit a little Shakespeare for inspiration...

"No lean & hungry look" MTP

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ode to Mom

Sylvia Ponder wore many hats in her life
Mother, Gramma, great neighbor, friend, and wife
But the roles I will remember most
Were made of cinnamon and few could boast
Of a better use of butter on a knife.

Mother's Day is two months to the day away but March 10th is always a mom reminder. My mom passed away 15 (!) years ago today after a sudden stroke claimed her, at what with each passing year becomes the increasingly young age of 72. Evelyn Sylvia Silverness born October 9, 1921, parted her name in the middle, using Sylvia her whole life, as did her younger sister Agnes Eleanor. She was of hardy Norwegian stock, growing up with a brother and 3 sisters in NW Minnesota. She lost her father in 1931 in the midst of the depression but her mom and the kids continued to run the farm. We heard stories of early milkings and blizzards that would blind you between house and barn, and benefited from early skills she learned with abundant fresh homemade bread and cinnamon rolls, and the shrewd knack to stretch a buck during lean times.

Mom smiled a lot but rarely laughed although the Tilt-o-Whirl at the annual county fair seemed to unleash some girlish laughter. She didn't sing much, but possessed a fine voice during our occasional visits to church. She was an inveterate crossword puzzle fan and reader, particularly of Erle Stanley Gardner (who may have been born Stanley Erle), and Readers Digest and its associated condensed book series. Ironically, I think I got more of my introspective "pondering" style of personality and love of books from her side of the family. She tended to be quiet except when she was rooting for one of her kids or grandkids at a sporting event and her work behind the scenes to get things accomplished was common ocurrence. When I'd show up with a gang of college friends in town for a weekend of Shakespeare, a brunch for 20 would magically appear. She was as comfortable in high heels as rubber boots and could wield a gun or a hammer as easily as a needle & thread or spatula. She was proud of creating a home out of the bare land of the Agate desert in Medford when we impulsively moved there in 1958, and the trees and the yard are testament to her perserverance.

There are some people you don't notice or fully appreciate until they're no longer in your life and you realize their consistent impact. Knowing the joy she received from watching her grandkids grow, I regret she didn't get the pleasure of watching them and rooting for them as they journeyed to adulthood.

The last four days of my mom's life were spent in a coma, seemingly unresponsive though her grip was as strong as ever. I was on a Pacific Power corporate jet returning from a Utah budget trip when the on-board phone rang and said arrangements were made for me to fly directly from Portland to Medford by 5:00 PM. At 4:30, with my dad at her side, my mom suddenly sat up, smiled one last time as if seeing long-lost family, and then lay down and passed peacefully.

Thanks, Mom, for a lifetime of gifts...

You'll notice in the pictures above, the one constant thing is an arm around me - to me that's the perfect metaphor for my mom... A hug waiting to happen.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Vacation Concludes….

The time has come to return to our chosen vocation

We do so begrudgingly with little elation

Physicists have studied and know without seeing

That solid, liquid, and gas are 3 states of being

But we know only two, OnVacation or UnVacation

The last day of a vacation and the first day back in the "real" world always have a disjointed feel, so it's probably best that we lost an hour of sleep last night. We packed up, played grocery delivery person for John & Sally with our leftover food and took a leisurely drive to the airport. Since I was operating under the assumption we had a 11:30 hopper to Oahu, I saw no reason to rush our departure. Halfway there at 9:45, Mary questioned why her itinerary showed a 9:55 boarding time, and we realized why professional travel agents exist. A calm, grounded airport porter worked some magic while I rushed to drop the car off and he had us in possession of the last four seats on the 10:55 flight by the time I got back. We still had a two hour layover in Honolulu, so we ate our brown bag lunches and played a last pinochle game in the Islands for this year. Smooth flight and then a quick 30 degree adjustment to Portland weather as Merry picked us up. The cat hadn't given up on our return as he needed another heat source for a cold night's sleep. Aloha until another time..

There are many types of vacation, some yet undiscovered. Feel free to add your own…

Ad-vacation – Going someplace enjoyable while on a business trip

In-vacation – Praying for no rain

Man-cation – Usually involves golf, BBQ, and/or beer

Me-cation – A personal Mental Health Day

Medi-cation – Out-of-country travel for medical procedures

Play-cation – Fun 24/7

Pour-cation-Likely result of an Oregon vacation 9 months of the year

Ray-cation – In search of sun…

Sea-cation – An ocean get-away

Stay-cation –"Think Local, Go Local"

Suppli-cation – You just let go and relax

ZZZ-acation – Restful retreat and recreation

Friday, March 6, 2009

The S.P.A.M. Chronicles - Day 18

The vacation concludes with no sign of disaster
The pace seems to pick up and move a lot faster
We journey north toward the shores of Bali Hai
As our friends from Seattle, John & Sally sigh
Over the melodic musings of a slack key master

The final full day of our Hawaiian vacation comes to a close with an enjoyable slack-key guitar concert at the north end of the island. The morning was low key as Mary & Dianna finished up some last minute shopping and sightseeing with Merlin at the wheel. We headed out on our road trip at noon for about an 80 mile roundtrip and took the scenic route east and north. We revisited Anini Beach for some views and to stretch our legs and then checked on progress at the Princeville Westin Hotel which has been closed for major renovations since September. You usually can get great sunset views over the mountain called Bali Hai but we had no access and the clouds ended up thickening by days end. As we arrived in the town of Hanalei, the rain greeted us and kept us company as we drove 8 more miles to the end of the road to Haena Beach, the jumping off point for the hike along the NaPali coastline. We returned to Hanalei and dined at Tropical Taco where orders were placed for fresh fish tacos and “Fat Jack”s, a filling deep-fried burrito. Today’s concert was at the Hanalei Community Center. The largely famous and famously large late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, a sweet-voiced native Hawaiian ukulele player helped raise the money to fund construction of this wonderful gathering spot

Doug and Sandy McMaster have been performing on Kauai since they moved here in 1999 and performed 100’s of Sunset concerts at the picturesque Hanalei Bay until they became too disruptive. They now perform twice-weekly 2 hour concerts for 40-50 people and share music and stories of their responsibility to continue the tradition of old-style slack key guitar. As the skies opened up outside the Center, the sun was shining inside as we were treated to a wonderful and relaxing performance. John and Sally were able to attend with John’s daughter and son-in-law and grandson Gabe but were only able to stay for half the show as a 2-year-old’s priorities are sometimes different from those of the older folks.

We worked our way back toward home, pausing at a vista overlooking the Taro feils of Hanalei, with final stops at Wal-Mart and Costco to shop up and gas up respectively and then we wound down with a little ice cream and games until 10:00. Most of tomorrow will be a lost day of travel, especially since our clocks jump 3 hours ahead before we get up Sunday morning. It’s been an enjoyable and relaxing stay with plenty of good memories so we return home bearing gifts of “He mea waiwai loas, maluhia, pomaika’i, and luana” (very valuable things, peace, good fortune, & enjoyment) Mahalo -MTP

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The S.P.A.M Chronicles - Day 17

Here on Kauai we get Ihilani
The day ends with the twilight Alohilani
I‘ve taken time to write this Mele
Before we return to Kahale
So we’ll remember the joy of the Haunani

Or for those not versed in Hawaiian… (and yes it does rhyme)

Here on Kauai we get Heavenly Bliss
As day ends with the twilight Sky sun-kissed
I‘ve taken time to write this Poem
Before we return to Home
So we’ll remember the joy of the Beautiful Mist

Last day of the vacation to savor the south end of the island as we head north to end the day with a slack-key guitar concert with some of favorite performers. The clouds and rain greeted us this morning but skies cleared and when Mary sounded the shout, Whales, Ahoy!”, we raced to Shipwreck Beach where we caught an active display of spouting and fin slapping. We followed the whales as they moved west and then returned home to prepare to leave more than footprints and take more than memories. This group could never be accused of writing “Confessions of a Shopahlic”, but we did want to bring a few things home for friends and family. First stop was the Lawai Shell store where I was able to procure my Hawaiian dictionary for today’s entry and practice my surfing. We then headed down to Kauai Chocolate for some required purchases and visited Salt Pond Park on a beautiful afternoon before we made our 8 minute visit to the Hanapepe Sunshine Market for the third time. Last stop was at the Kauai Coffee Visitor Center and Plantation where we picked up vital provisions for the souls left behind on the Oregon Trail. Home for dinner and the magic refrigerator provided a nice Bento Bowl as our endless supply of pork chops we cooked last week were diced with rice and it was all very nice.

A final Poipu sunset wasn’t as color ful as we hoped but it was still a nice exclamation point to our stay. We started the laundry/packing process during our evening game playing which had been taking an ugly turn from the guys point of view but normalcy was restored to 50 % of the participants by evenings end.

This will be the last e-mail I foist upon a suspecting public as I am ready to introduce something potentially even more irritating but less intrusive – my own blog. It will be called MT Ponderings and will be located at The advantage for readers is: a) no e-mail clutter, and b) no need to read. I’ll post sporadically, hopefully weekly as the muse encourages. I’ve enjoyed setting time aside to use some long-dormant skills and would like to continue. Thanks for your interest … MTP

The S.P.A.M Chronicles - Day 16

Today’s weather was fit for a duck
But we are not bemoaning our luck
For last night in the sky,
A small asteroid whizzed by
And spared us from a cosmic Mack truck

Being over here in Hawaii teaches you a lot about gratitude and you get many chances to practice. The note at about our close encounter last night with a 100 foot rock that sailed by within 50,000 miles reminded me of how often we don’t even know half of the things to be grateful for. This asteroid was about the same size as the one that hit Siberia in 1908 and leveled 800 square miles of forest. We can apparently relax until 2029 when a 1000 mile wide visitor passes within 20,000 miles. I’ve now decided to start the day being grateful for an intact planet in spite of the fact it is a little worn around the edges.

In keeping with this theme, we were thankful this morning that we were warm & dry in bed at sunrise as our first real heavy rainstorm was in progress at sunrise. Today was my chance for KP duty so I flipped out a dozen pancakes with some scrambled eggs for the gang for breakfast. We got a phone call from John & Sally mid-morning and they ventured over for a visit between showers. Our next big adventure is a visit to Victoria in early May with them, so we talked logistics and swapped stories for a while.

We followed to recent pattern of making lunch our major meal and we dine on some of Merlin’s black snapper flown in from Oregon. We only have two days left to jolt the local economy with an infusion of our shopping dollars, but we decided to wait until tomorrow as strolling weather kept being interrupted by showers. We cruised the shoreline in search of whales and sunset but had little success. Glad to get a call from Evan after he just finished attending a Wynton Marsalis concert at Grinnell. Plans are still on track for his spring break Nicaragua adventures as they finally got funding from the college.
Spent a quiet evening at the condo running through the gamut of games before setting time aside to “feed the blog.” We hope to “go West young man” tomorrow to Hanapepe. (That phrase was given to Josiah Grinnell by Horace Greeley and it got him as far as Iowa where he established his namesake college…) We just intend to buy coffee and chocolate… “Mahalo” Mike

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The S.P.A.M Chronicles - Day 15

A migratory species searches for good weather
They congregate in big groups like birds of a feather
For our Makahuena gang who prefers to act “local”
We stay under the radar and try not to be vocal
And avoid the confusion when large groups get together

A comment was made last night at the concert about the influx of visitors and the impact they have on the Island, filling the restaurants, buying up event tickets early, and staking out the best spots on the beach. The impact this year caused the rental car shortage as Mainland fares dropped dramatically and people booked cars late and in many cases were out of luck. Some clever people even resorted to rent U-Haul trucks. Adopting the philosophy that it’s best to stay “far from the madding crowd”, we have been fairly successful finding out of the way spots or picking times when the crowds are light. It helps we’ve come to Kauai seven out of the last eight years and the neighborhoods start to feel as familiar as Hillsdale. Our only absence was in 2005 when Mary was recovering from bypass surgery the previous fall and we opted for our Italian trip with Rick & Diane. That’s a story that could fill a blog on its own…

Clouds, not crowds partially obscured the sunrise this morning but we got some good color (see attached) and then M&M went off to the Menehune Market in search of fresh cinnamon rolls and malasadas a week after Malasada Tuesday. (Also see attached) That filled the breakfast portion of today’s program and we entertained ourselves with reading and games while we waited to hear from John & Sally. Mary and Dianna cooked a pot roast with local carrots and potatoes which we had for lunch and then Dianna & I walked over to John & Sally’s condo which was only about 200 yards away. John’s daughter and son-in law and their 2-year old Gabe are also staying, so it’s a much livelier household than ours but they where out sightseeing at Waimea Canyon. We enjoyed a bowl of coconut ice cream and talked about our plans to reunite in Victoria in early May like we did last year to the amusement and enjoyment of all. Sally showed us a proof copy of her daughter-in-law Rebecca Wells’ (Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood) new book, “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder” We met her while she was working on the book so maybe it planted a seed…

Back home for a little road trip to the West since the skies were dark and we climbed the hills above Kalehalo for some nice panoramas of the Poipu coastline. It was smoked salmon & guacamole pupus (appetizers) while we watched some classic old movies, “Key Largo” & “Lost Horizon” Early read on our remaining agenda is Koloa for some souvenir shopping tomorrow, Hanapepe on Thursday, and north to Hanelei Friday before girding up for the return home on Saturday…Aloha MTP

Monday, March 2, 2009

The S.P.A.M Chronicles - Day 14

Writing daily verse has become de rigueur
Though good material can be quite meager
Singin' blow ye winds in the morning, Blow ye winds, heigh ho, Clear away your running gear, And blow, blow, blow!
The Almanac Singers, Guthrie & Seeger*

*1941 arrangement of a traditional tune from the 1800’s by Woody Guthrie & Pete Seeger

A blustery start to the day greeted us as we met John & Sally at the Point for a virtual sunrise. Heavy clouds and a strong wind made four Northwesteners feel like we were enjoying a brisk July day on the Oregon Coast. Not surprisingly, we were the only folks who ventured out all the way to the viewpoint as M&M caught the view from the parking lot. Clouds thickened and a typical Hawaii cloudburst was on display mid-morning, but by noon the sun and wind had dried things out nicely for our Koloa Sunshine market. We were at the starting gates a few minutes before 12:00 and everyone had their assigned duties Since I’m the designated driver and not qualified to assess the quality of fruits or vegetables due to only a passing acquaintance, I lurked on the outskirts and people-watched. The Kauai Tourist Board apparently has struck a deal with the Weather Bureau since by 12:20 it rained again and then promptly stopped by 12:30. Sean called me from Eugene to check in which was nice since his e-mails have been bouncing back and he’s one of the few remaining members of a friendly audience who hasn’t been subjected to these ramblings.

Most of the group recaptured their sunrise sleep depravation while this correspondent worked on a development to unveiled by the end of the week. A creative use of leftovers from the past few days provided a great lunch of chicken rice soup and sandwiches and the magic refrigerator also was generous at dinner time. We knew our entertainment would be this weeks installment of E Kanikapila Kakou, which this week featured songwriter Eric Lee. He and his fellow musicians were very talented but it leaned a little too much toward Hawaiian lounge rock & roll for my taste. Still, the purpose of this event is to highlight authentic interpretations of Hawaiian music, and as he just won a Hawaiian “Grammy” for his latest album, who am I to be critical?

Back home by 9:30 to Five Straight –Pinochle split before retiring for the evening.

A question was asked about the title of this digest and I’ll quote from Day One in case you missed it…“As a result over the next 18 days you will sporadically receive our version of SPAM which generically will recap the Sights, Play, Activities, and Music we encounter. Consider it a tropical/topical version of a Holiday letter...”

Mahalo for your interest… MTP

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The S.P.A.M. Chronicles -Day 13

A new month arrives packed with a few more days
We can choose to spend them in a lot of ways
The days should get longer as we approach spring
Except for this week with the daylight-saving thing
So we’ll have one less hour to recover from this craze

It’s good we’re not tied to an agenda as the day’s itinerary was different than we thought last night. We had intended to had north to Hanalei to listen to our favorite slack-key musicians Doug & Sandy McMaster ( ) They have shows at 4:00 PM on Friday and 3:00 PM on Sundays, so we’ll try and catch there show Friday. John & Sally arrived last night, but we weren’t able to connect until mid-day, so we made plans to meet near the coconuts at tomorrow’s Sunshine market.

Welcomed March by flapping in the breeze at Makahuena Point at sunrise and then had a quiet morning with reading and games. My Sudoku fixation is growing, as I made the mistake of bringing a large book of advanced puzzles. Now I see why it was on the bargain table at Borders. Merlin & Mary went into town to church and Dianna & I got a chance to get out for a walk on the wind-blown cliffs. I’ve received some comments expressing condolences about the weather which means I haven’t conveyed the right impression about how much we enjoy our vacation climate. We know other parts of the country are getting stormy weather, so we’re grateful we can run around in shorts, though their has been some muttering by observers as I walk by. When M&M returned they brought back a catered lunch from Costco and then we headed out for some sightseeing on our loop from Poipu Beach to Spouting Horn. Back home, the sun went down like clockwork and we had a light dinner and once again the battle was joined in pinochle with the guys edging ahead. It’s the only game we can win against our wily opponents.

I’ve attached a photo of today’s sunrise and the view from around the corner on our walk… Aloha - MTP