November 2nd, 2022 / posted by paularath

View of Noresund, Norway from our train window between Oslo and Bergen.

It was time to leave Oslo for Bergen, where we were to board our Viking ship to take us north with the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights. It was really hard to say aloha to Erik Holtedahl, whom I will always think of as “my Norwegian brother.” He is going to try to come to our 2025 Punahou reunion. What a joy that will be!

Jerry and I took a train from Oslo to Bergen so we could see some of the countryside. It was an ordinary commuter train with lovely big windows to stare out of. The train ride is about five hours long and it was quiet, occupied mainly with students returning to their university classes in Bergen or business folks going about their business.

Every view had its own beauty, pristine and serene. Water is everywhere in Norway, with fjords and lakes springing up throughout the country. However it isn’t frozen over, even in the midst of a wintery February terrain. It often has this foggy mystical appearance. Simply gorgeous, but a bit disconcerting without more snow!

A typical snow scene in Geilo on our train ride to Bergen. But the snow is not as deep or plentiful as it has always been in Norway.

Erik told us that there has been very little snow this year throughout Norway. In fact, he has seldom visited his family’s mountain cabin this year because there is barely enough snow for his cross country ski trips. Global warming has been very obvious – and clearly detrimental – throughout the country.

 

We highly recommend Hotel Park Bergen!

We loved our hotel in Bergen, the family owned Hotel Park Bergen. http://www.hotelpark.no Erik recommended it and we are so happy he did. It’s centrally located and is superbly comfortable and welcoming. It is run by the daughter of the woman who started the hotel and everyone on the staff treats you like family. The 35 rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed and the entire hotel feels like a private art gallery. The art is eclectic and much to or liking!

Jerry in the Breakfast Room on our first morning at Hotel Park. So many choices!

We happened to be staying in the hotel on the first day it had been open since November, 2021. I think there were only two rooms occupied, so it felt as though we were the only people there. But a couple of days later it was full, due to its popularity.

The morning smorgasbord was superb, with a plethora of healthy options, including Jerry’s favorite, smoked salmon on a bagel. Norwegian jams and cheeses are some of the best in the world and there were many choices.  And even the Breakfast Room is a haven for art!

Ochre is a popular color for Bergen Buildings.

On a walking tour of Bergen’s waterfront, we saw quite a collection of odd artistic murals on walls. I have no idea if the Bergen artists are part of Pow! Wow!, or if they have even heard of it. But I think Jasper Wong, one of the founders of Pow! Wow!, might want to make a trip to Bergen to see what the artists there have conceived!

Bergen is covered with artistic and humorous graffiti!

Is this little girl studying to be a fish dentist? Or is the fish trying to bite off her cute little turned up nose? Who knows what lurks in the mind of the muralist who conceived this quirky piece of art?

Another example of Bergen wall art. Jasper Wong, do you know this artist? What could he do with the little pigs on Waokanaka Street?

Just a few facts about Bergen:

  • Population: 285,000
  • 28,000 students, 10 percent of the city’s population
  • The Polish people are the largest immigrant group in Bergen
  • Graffiti is welcomed as an art form.

And a few fast facts about the Kingdom of Norway:

  • Population: 5.3 million
  • Currency: Norwegian krone
  • Norway ranks #4 in GDP per capita
  • 400 islands with ferries going between them
  • 65 electric car models are found in Norway
  • Oslo has made the parking laws so strict that it has encouraged most people to ride the bus or ride a bike. Public transportation is fantastic!
  • I never met a single person who didn’t speak English.

I am so proud to be a Norwegian! And I even have a Norwegian middle name (Ragna, pronounced Rungna or Ranya) which is from my beloved paternal grandmother, Ragna Helsher Rath.

Paula Rath

October 15th, 2022 / posted by paularath

It’s been awhile…so it’s time for an update on our movie, “The Big Bend.” As you may remember, Jerry and I are executive producers of a full length feature film titled “The Big Bend.” We got involved because of a close friendship with the writer-director, Brett Wagner, and his wife, Kathryn. Check out my 2021 story for more background:   https://paularath.com/2021/11/the-big-bend-comes-to-hiff/

Last fall we attended the world premiere of our movie in Austin, Texas, where it was a sell-out and needed extra showings to accommodate the attendees. A few months later it showed with great success at the Hawaii International Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Feature. It receives kudos wherever it goes and we are so proud to be connected with this outstanding movie!

“The Big Bend” is currently making more rounds through film festivals across the nation, as you can see from the movie posters in this blog. If you know someone who lives in these areas, please let them know that they can see it themselves! At most film festivals, you can see things in theatres or online if you are a subscriber.

We don’t know where it’s going to land finally and you will be able to see it in person or in your home, or both; there are so many possibilities available in the current movie environment! But you can be sure I will let you know when it becomes available. It is well worth seeing!

In the meantime, enjoy our latest trailer for “The Big Bend”!

Paula Rath

 

October 10th, 2022 / posted by paularath

Rumi Murakami’s Anna Shirt in white     Photo courtesy Rumi Murakami

The Great White Shirt has a prime place in my wardrobe, and I’m guessing it’s way up there in nearly everyone’s wardrobe, male or female.

This staple gives you a tried-and-true option – a no-brainer which can come in handy when we’re short on time or simply can’t decide what to wear. The classic white shirt has timeless appeal. And regardless of your signature style, there’s a Great White Shirt to suit you.

Man of Style Andy Reilly of the U.H.-Manoa Fashion Design and Merchandising Department, loves his Rumi Murakami Docomomo Shirt…in white, of course!

It can take a lot of searching to find the perfect Great White Shirt. (It took me years!) But once you do find it you will want it in every color!

My classic favorite for the past few years has been the Anna shirt by Rumi Murakami http://www.rumimurakami.com I have two of them, in case one happens to be stuck in my ironing hamper. (Yes, I’m a dinosaur and I enjoy ironing a Great White Shirt to have a crisp look. (But I have worn my Anna shirt without ironing it and it’s great that way too.) I style it by rolling up the sleeves a bit. It’s easy to accessorize with a necklace, choker or pendant under or over the neckline and it’s bracelet friendly. It’s great with jeans, leggings or a skirt.

My favorite GWS is the Anna by Rumi Murakami. My necklace is also by a local designer, a gorgeous pearl Waterfall by Lynda Caris of Muse IX Designs. The pearl earrings are also Lynda’s. She sells her exquisite jewelry at Nohea Gallery in Kahala Mall. Photo by Jerry Mayfield

I highly recommend trying on any potential Great White Shirt, or any garment you are considering, for that matter. And be sure to look at both the front and the back. Just pre-Covid, I was in Cos on Regent Street in London and I was in a rush and didn’t try on the white shirt I bought. When I got home I realized that the back is a different fabric than the front, and it’s diaphanous. That means I have to wear a cami under it, which was not my intention and the result is that I seldom wear it.

As always, I leave you with my refrain: Shop local and buy local! When it comes to fashion, our local designers offer a fantastic array of garments and accessories! And as we know, they aren’t just wild prints and cliched silhouettes! Even our most beloved classics can start right here in a local designer’s studio.

Paula Rath

October 2nd, 2022 / posted by paularath

“Our” little piggy family at the corner of Pali Highway and Waokanaka Street. Photo by Jerry Mayfield

When we began our house hunting expedition in 1989, we drew a four-mile radius around Straub Clinic & Hospital. Jerry was on call as an orthopedic surgeon pretty frequently then, and he couldn’t stray too far from the hospital. So naturally we came to think of our home in upper Nuuanu as an urban environment. It’s lovely and serene and rainforest-like, but it’s really not far at all from the busy heart of Honolulu.

Recently, however, our neighborhood feels quite rural, and even, at times, a little bit wild. Why? Because a family (or families) of wild pigs has taken up residence on our street.

At first we saw a single sow with some of her piglets – sometimes as many as five at a time. Apparently this little family enjoyed foraging in our next door neighbors’ yard. They only came up our front walkway once, and they didn’t even nibble on our mondo grass or clamber on our rocks. I guess they found it boring.

They never seem to be in the same groups or configurations. Sometimes just two or three little piglets on their own; other times a sow with five or six in tow. They have been visiting Waokanaka Street long enough that we’re pretty sure there have been two and maybe even three litters. There are teenage-looking pigs and teensy little ones. They come in various colors, from deep black to pale tan.

It’s really hysterical when one or two tiny piglets decide to wallow and create a lovely mud bath in the lawn by the brass Nuuanu sign. There’s so much pleasure in these unexpected moments life offers us!

Paula Rath

March 28th, 2022 / posted by paularath

Our favorite sculpture in Oslo. It’s a depiction of iconic comedian Gledessprederen. It makes us laugh out loud just to stand in front of it!  Photo by Jerry Mayfield

 

Jo’s House on Bygdoy Island, Oslo, where we stayed. The middle section on the lower floor, with the four pillars, was our apartment. Erik booked it for us, as Jo is a friend of his, and it’s quite close to his home. We loved it!

While our first day in Oslo was a search for my family’s roots deep in the heart of Norway’s farmland, our second day was an urban adventure with Erik Holtedahl as our amazing guide.

Would you believe that Erik rides a bike nearly all the time and all year round? Neither snow, sleet, nor ice deter him. However we are not quite that hale and hearty, nor are we acclimated to icy sidewalks and roads, so we rode the bus with Erik to downtown Oslo. The public transportation is remarkably efficient and inexpensive throughout this well-run city.

In fact, Oslo does everything it can to deter people from driving. Norway is a country that is doing whatever it can to reduce global warming.  Parking is at a premium and it’s a complicated system of small zones which demand that you pay meters each time you change zones. And the paying system is wildly confusing! Gas is about twice the cost of gas in Hawaii. The result? Hardly anyone drives!

Oslo Opera House, on the banks of Bjorvika Waterfront District. It’s part of the beautiful ongoing Fjord City Project.
Photo by Jerry Mayfield

Oslo features many different styles of architecture, which adds to the beauty of its location on the water. Two new buildings are particularly exciting: the Opera House and the Munch Museum. On a less icy day it would be lovely to walk on the roof of the Opera House, but that was not a workable option for us. Instead, we wandered around and through the Opera House with its elegant combination of woods and marbles. It competes with the Sydney Opera House in my opinion.

Munch Museum, photo by Adria Goula

Erik said the Munch Museum has been quite controversial, but I like it. We tried to get entry, but it was sold out so we bought tickets for the next day.

Feeling a bit hungry, we popped into a pub for lunch. But it was a traditional Irish pub and didn’t serve food – only booze. As we were sipping, a group of English lads came bounding in to watch a Manchester United soccer match. They brought the news that, as of 10 a.m. that morning, all Covid restrictions had been lifted in Norway. Whew!

Our extraordinary guide and dear friend Erik Holtedahl, enjoying a beer at the pub.

Would you believe there is a group of Norwegian “Polar Bears” who swim in front of the Opera House every morning year round? Not sure of the water temp, but I know it’s frigid! Erik often swims year round off the island of Bygdoy, near where we stayed in Jo’s House.

We did get into the Munch Museum the next day, and I’m so glad we did. I learned a great deal about Munch!

Unfortunately, most art history courses teach only one Edvard Munch painting, “The Scream.” But there is so much more to this versatile artist! The Munch Museum does a great service in showing his works in many media: lithographs, prints, drawings, watercolors, oils, and more. Here are just two of the Munch pieces I photographed to offer a tiny slice of what awaits in the museum.

A Munch lithograph of his artist friend Hans Jaeger

 

A Munch painting with a very different mood from his most famous work, “The Scream.”

The museum just opened in October, 2021, and it takes advantage of the natural light, as well as all the contemporary knowledge of best practices for a museum. (The only crowded room was the darkened area where “The Scream” lives.) It’s a “must” when in Oslo! And the Museum restaurant is superb. Try the Norwegian potato leek soup!

A traditional Norwegian regional ensemble.

Don’t you love it when you happen upon a new place for the first time and you are treated to a unique cultural experience? That’s what occurred when Erik took us to Oslo City Hall. We walked into the middle of several diverse Norwegian families gathering for a group infant naming ceremony in the beautiful City Hall lobby. The women,  both mothers and Tutus, were wearing the traditional outfits worn by the women from their town or region. Each outfit was quite different, featuring embroidery, trims, ribbons, pendants, aprons, belts – all sorts of different accessories. They were also made of different fabrics, including cotton, wool, velveteen and linen.

Erik said that the traditional garb is having a resurgence and is being worn for all sorts of gatherings and fetes.

Paula Rath