Tuesday, November 24, 2015


This Thanksgiving we have much to be thankful for- in spite of a troubled war. Our Holy Father Pope Francis has declared the coming year a special one for the Church, hence the whole world. 

“We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of MERCY. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. MERCY: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. MERCY: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. MERCY: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. MERCY: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”

“It is a journey that begins with spiritual conversion. That is why I have decided to announce an extraordinary Jubilee centered on God’s mercy. It will be a HOLY YEAR of MERCY. We want to live in the light of the Lord’s word: ‘Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful’ .

“I am convinced that the whole Church will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and making fruitful the mercy of God, through which we have all been called to give consolation to every man and women of our time. From this moment on, let us entrust it to the Mother of Mercy, that she may turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey.”

The Holy Year of Mercy will be an opportunity to encourage all Christians to meet people's "real needs" with concrete assistance, to experience a "true pilgrimage" on foot, and to send "missionaries of mercy" throughout the world to forgive even the most serious of sins.

The Jubilee will begin with the opening of the Holy Doors of St. Peter’s Basilica on the 8 December 2015, Feast of the Immaculate Conception and  will conclude on 20 November 2016, Christ the King.

Benedictine nuns of Turvey Abbey

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I have written about our nearest neighbors, (2/11/15)  and when Ned knew I was going to Hawaii, he spoke at length about his family, telling me of their early days as missionaries, and of one great uncle who is a famous artist.  Imagine my surprise when I visited the small jewel of a museum in Waimea and saw some of his great uncle’s paintings in the permanent collection.
Manoa Valley- (where I used to live)
DAVID HOWARD HITCHCOCK was born May 15, 1861 in Hilo, Hawaii. Since his father was also named David Howard Hitchcock (1831–1899), he generally went by D. Howard Hitchcock. His mother was Almeda Eliza Widger (1828–1895). His paternal grandparents were missionaries Harvey Rexford Hitchcock  (1800–1855) and Rebecca Howard (1808–1890). His father was a lawyer who served in the legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and his sister Almeda Eliza Hitchcock Moore (1863–1895) was the first woman lawyer in Hawaii. His uncle Edward Griffin Hitchcock (1837–1898) married Mary Tenney Castle, daughter of Castle & Cooke founder, Samuel Northrup Castle. 
After graduating from Punahou School on Oahu, Hitchcock attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where he saw his first art exhibition. Back in Hawaii, he wandered the volcano wilderness with a sketch pad and watercolors. French artist Jules Tavernier, painting in Hawaii, saw Hitchcock's sketches and convinced him to study art seriously. After Tavernier's death in 1889 Hitchcock studied painting at the Académie Julian in Paris and returned to Hawaii in 1893.

In 1894, Hitchcock became one of the founders of the Kilohana Art League, an active art program in Honolulu at the turn of the century, exhibiting at least twice a year. He married Hester Judd Dickson (1865-1921) on June 16, 1898 at the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, Honolulu. Her maternal grandfather was Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803-73), an early missionary physician to Hawaii.
During extensive travels in the 1900s, Hitchcock explored the volcanic regions of the island of Hawaiʻi, and in July 1907 he made his first visit to the island of Kauaʻi, where he painted Waimea Canyon. He toured and painted the island of Maui in 1915 and 1916. He was a leading member of Hawaii's Volcano School, and his most important paintings date from about 1905 to 1930.

Pali gap from Kaneolu Bay, Oahu
His paintings were exhibited at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle in 1909 (where he was awarded a prize) and at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. In 1927, he exhibited several paintings at the opening of the Honolulu Museum of Art, where he had a retrospective exhibition in 1936. In 1939 he exhibited in the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco and at the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Hitchcock died in Honolulu on January 1, 1943 after personally witnessing the Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He had three children.

Halemaumau (Lake of Fire)

In 1966 his son Harvey donated a painting of the volcano goddess Pele which was displayed in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park visitors center. The Bishop Museum (Honolulu), The Boston Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Isaacs Art Center (Waimea, Hawaii), and the Oakland Museum of California are among the public collections holding paintings by him.

The auction record for a painting by David Howard Hitchcock is $82,250. This record was set by Windward Oahu, Hawaii, a 12 by 18 inch oil painting on canvas sold May 19, 2006.  His lovely colors brought back the old Hawaii for me...

Under the Cliffs of Molokai

Waimanalo Beach. Oahu

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Notre Dame- Paris

Mother Prioress Therese and the Community of Our Lady of the Rock offer their prayerful support to the people of France and all those in the world afflicted by terror. As we mourn the deaths of all in Paris and pray for the healing of that city, let us also pray for a world in which peace, respect, and love will always triumphant over violence and hatred.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Canonization of St. Damien
St. Damien

One of my favorite Big Island artists (I did see some of his work in person) is DIETRICH VAREZ, who created the block prints of Sts. Damien and Marianne Cope of Molokai. His new work is a third “future saint” of Molokai, Brother Joseph Dutton. The civil war veteran and layman from Stowe, Vermont, served Kalauapa patients for the last 45 years of his life, from 1886 to 1931, primarily as a “dresser of sores.” According to Varez, his design includes the American and Hawaiian flags in tribute to Jospeh Dutton’s patriotism and a desk, pen and paper in recognition of his prolific letter writing. 
Brother Joseph Dutton

DIETRICH VAREZ, who was born in Berlin,  came to Hawai'i at age 8, when his mother married his stepfather Manuel Varez. After the war-torn Germany he'd known, it was love at first sight, and his romance with Hawaii still grows. He is said to be one of the Big Island's most beloved artists. He has an MA in English  from The University of Hawaii.
Shunning publicity and working in the simplest possible fashion with linoleum blocks or canvas, he continually shapes his strong personal expression of Hawai'i. By nature Varez is a quiet and retiring man, he lives with his wife Linda (also a noted painter) in a remote rain forest setting near Volcano Village on the Big Island.

Isolated by several miles of bad road, he is able to maintain the tranquility he desires for his work. The subject matter in most of Varez’s work is inspired by traditional Hawaiian legends, integrating mythological figures in scenes with flora and fauna typical of the diverse Hawaiian environment. His work is informed by graphic interpretations of traditional Polynesian designs, as seen, for instance, in Hawaiian quilts, and is especially rich in imagery from the Hawaiian rainforest. I especially love his birds.

Varez has published more than 225 wood- and linoleum-block prints.  Varez has stated that he actively avoids other art that might influence the unmediated nature of his vision. His recent graphic work has branched out to include more modern stories, notably that of Sts. Damien and Marianne of Molokai. His work is widely known through books that he has illustrated, and, in some cases, written.

Saturday, November 7, 2015



In my search for new birds in Paradise, I was lucky to have two exceptional guides- one an old friend and another a new friend.

My “new guide”, Gerry Dean,  is a friend of Karen’s and had my target list before I arrived.  He recognizes all Hawaiian bird calls and can identify a species by its characteristic movements, talents that come in handy when a bird is backlit by the sun or partially blocked by foliage. Gerry not only knows the birds, he knows the plants, animals, and lots of great stories about the past!

Of the 19 birds on my target list he found me 12- I had found 4 myself the days before we met. Without him I am sure I would not have found many of these unusual birds- he not only knew the area, he knew which tree they would be in!  At the top of the list is the PALILA, a bright endangered, endemic honeycreeper, found in only one forest on the dry slopes of Mauna Kea. We saw four, one a female cracking a seedpod of the mamane tree. This is no simple process as Gerry pointed out. While gripping the pod with her feet, she ripped open the tough hull to get to the seed inside. I could hardly do it with fingernails.

Hawai'i Elepaio

While in the same forest we saw the rather drab - for island birds- HAWAI'I ELEPAIO, another endemic bird. 

Later we would find the OMA'O an endemic thrush, the  APAPANE, Hawaii's most common forest bird, HAWAI'I CREEPER, HAWAI'I AMAKIHI (another yellow honeycreeper- yellow birds in the Tropics drive me nuts and without a good guide could be impossible to differentiate). 
Hawai'i Amakihi

Later, we found the glorious red 'I'IWI (an endemic not new for me) which was once highly prized by the Hawaiian for their feathers. It is thought the feathers of 30,000 birds were used to make one cape for the ali'i (chiefs). 

Alien (introduced) birds included  a small flock of the lovely RED-BILLED LEIOTHRIX (Peking Nightingale), the tiny RED AVADAVAT (Strawberry Finch- yes it does look like that berry), AFRICAN SILVERBILL, BLACK-RUMPED WAXBILL and COMMON WAXBILL (the latter three known as Estrilda Finches from Africa), and various game birds released years ago from Asia for hunters in Hawaii (like the  BLACK FRANCOLIN). The YELLOW-BILLED CARDINAL which came daily to bathe in the pool at the house was a favorite.

Black-rumped Waxbill

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Another favorite bird was the alien CHESTNUT-BELLIED SANDGROUSE, a native of Asia, found only on the Big Island.  It has a most amazing characteristic of collecting water for the chicks back in the nest. At the water, the adults soak up water in the breast feathers before returning to the nest to "water" the babies- a unique feature of the sandgrouse family. Adults can fly distances of up to 10 miles to find water, gathering in flocks to drink. 

Yellow-billed Cardinal

These birds bring my life list of USA birds to 655 and total of world birds to1486. So what is next on my birding ventures??? Only the Lord knows!

Red Avadavat

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Avi Kiriaty, though not born in  Hawaii, certainly has captured the soul of the Hawaiian landscape and peoples. He was born in Israel in 1957 but his journey through life has taken him from the Israeli Army, to a Greek Island, to a winter cottage in New Hampshire. Following the birth of his daughter Keytoe, Avi moved to Hawaii. His first year was spent on Kauai, where he experimented for a time with oil painting. From there he moved to the  eastern side of the Big Island, to begin to live “kama‘aina” with the land, farming and fishing. His son, Jazz, was born here on an old Hawaiian homestead. Avi then moved to the Puna Rainforest and began to live the life of an “artist”.

Father Damien of Molokai
While Avi has worked in many media... oil painting, linoleum block printing, lava and bronze sculpture, pencil and ink drawing, watercolors, ceramic platters, and serigraphs, my favorites are his oils. They are a feast of lush colors and bold lines,depicting the Polynesian lifestyle of every day events.  Here I present a few of my favorites, some recalling my years living in the islands.  "Kanaka Blues" reminds me of the many nights listening to the great slack-key artist, Sonny Chillingsworth  and "Soldier fish" of the many hours diving in clear blue waters as assorted rainbow colored fish swam by me.

 Here in Waimea, I visited the local museum and saw some of his paintings- colors amazing!  I could write a blog just on this museum but... the director is the aunt of my sheep shearer on Orcas  Island, and one of the artists in the permanent collection is the great uncle of our closest neighbor on Shaw. Small world!

Kanaka Blues
Soldier Fish


Avi Kiriaty

My big birding trip for the year was the Big Island of HAWAII.  I lived for two years in Hawaii- many years ago, doing some work at the Uni. It was one of those memorable times in one’s life, especially the people and the beauty of the islands. While birding was not at the top of my priority list, I could not but help notice the varied and colorful birds that visited our yards and the hills behind us.  Today most of Manoa Valley (Oahu) is developed and many of those fabulous birds are on the endangered list or have vanished.

Native Hawaiian birds are few - and dwindling. The best birding is on the Big Island and I was lucky to have two wonderful guides, one an old friend, the other new, plus my hosts Oblate Karen and her family.

Birders come from all over the world hoping to see three Hawaiian birds, in particular: the akiapolaau, a woodpecker wannabe with a war club-like head; the nukupuu, an elusive little yellow bird with a curved beak, one of the crown jewels of Hawaiian birding; and the alala, a critically endangered Hawaiian crow that's now almost impossible to see in the wild.

Hawaii Amakihi

The state of Hawaii has over 1/3 of the plants and birds listed on the U.S. Threatened and Endangered list, and is known as both the endangered species capital and the extinction capital of the world.  But now 28% of Hawaii's 93 native bird species are extinct and another one-third are listed on that dratted list!


Many birds  once filled the formerly thick forests of the Hawaiian Islands before logging, cattle ranching and feral animals introduced in the last two centuries - such as European boars, sheep and goats - razed and uprooted most of the birds' habitat.

The red and black 'i'iwi was once the most common of the endemic birds in Hawaii, but this vivid honeycreeper has disappeared from most of its former range. Their long, downward-curving bills are specialized for sipping nectar from tubular flowers, but they also feed on insects, spiders and moths.

To find native birds you need to find native habitats. Hawaiian forest birding is "jungle" birding so at times it's challenging to find or see birds. They're often in the canopy or thick understory and flit around and hide. Lighting can be terrible on overcast days- a problem we have in our own islands.

The main forest habitats are intact 'ohi'a-koa-tree fern rainforests at middle and higher elevations on Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea and the mamane-naio dry forest on the southwestern slopes of Mauna Kea. A kipuka is a remnant island of vegetated land surrounded by a more recent lava flow where primary forest often remains undisturbed. Other habitats include beaches, sea cliffs, grasslands, urban settings, golf courses, ponds, and roadside overlooks.
Pueo (Hawaiian owl)

Lower elevation habitats consist mainly of introduced vegetation containing mostly foreign finches, sparrows, doves, gamebirds and others. Many of these birds are concentrated on the leeward side, where they were introduced as late as the 1960's. There is also an elevational line around the island at about 4,000 feet corresponding to the mosquito belt and also to the range of early human habitation, below which native forest birds are mostly gone. An exception is the Hawaii 'Amakihi that may have developed an immunity to avian malaria and pox.

The Pueo (diurnal owl)  likes to sit on fence posts or the rocky outcrops of old cinder cones now domed and covered with tall grass. I was lucky to see them often.