Monday, August 26, 2013


This past week we again ventured over to our neighboring island for the annual Orcas Chamber Music Festival.  The OICMF  attracts very gifted and well-known musicians from around the world.

Many return to perform with Core Ensemble members Aloysia Friedmann and Jon Kimura Parker.

The Festival has grown to include a two-week summer concert series, a vital chamber music education program for preschools, K-12, and community musicians, plus an in-depth lecture series. Orcas Island's 5,000 residents plus other islanders and visitors fill the theater to capacity. Every concert is sold out and tickets must be gotten in Spring to ensure you get the program you want

Orcas Island

The Festival, established in 1998, is an award winning and nationally recognized gathering of world-class musicians, and as the title suggests- it don't get any better..

Aloysia Friedmann, the Founder and Artistic Director, plays violin (made in 1695 in Milan by Grancino) and viola (also a Grancino). She is married to the world- reknown Jon (Jackie) Kimura Parker. Her father Martin Friedmann was for years first chair at the Seattle Symphony.  Her mother Laila Storch, played oboe.  They have been friends with our resident musician Mother Felicitas, for years. Aloysia and Jackie live in Houston and have a daughter, Sophie, who just started high school. The Friedmann family has had property on Orcas since the early '50s.

The Parker-Freidmann Clan

Jon (Jackie) Kimura Parker, is an Internationally acclaimed concert pianist, born, raised, and educated in Vancouver. A true Canadian ambassador of music, Jackie has given two command performances for Queen Elizabeth II, and has performed for the Prime Ministers of Canada and Japan, and for the United States Supreme Court. A remarkably versatile artist, he plays anything as long as it has keys!  He recently toured the Canadian Arctic as part of “Piano Six” performing the music of Beethoven, Chopin, Nirvana, and Alanis Morissette on an electronic keyboard for over 1,000 Inuit school students. On top of being extremely talented he is very down to earth and has a fab sense of humor.
 Aloysia and Jackie

While every year is the best, it just seems to get better and this year maybe topped all the years.  The theme was "Czech Mate". Most of the music was Dvorak which was glorious. The last movement of his "Miniatures for two violins and viola", was restrained eloquence.  The strings of our hearts were touched! This music inspires us and encourages us to be better in what we do in our lives. It is a taste of heaven!

Laila pointed out to us, where in the world could you find 3-4 concertmasters on one stage? Martin Chalifour is concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Margaret Batjer is concertmaster of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and William Preucil of the Cleveland Orchestra. In Houston Aloysia is Associate Concertmaster for the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.


James Hardman- Orcas artist, whose works were featured this year at festival

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.
                                      - Mother Teresa 1979

How do we seek God when we are in the midst of a crisis? Every one of us will face some crisis in our lifetime and these will be the times when our faith is tested. To follow Jesus means we will have to bear the cross, which involves suffering and doubt.

It is in these times that God calls us to seek Him. Daily prayer should be a part of our life, and in these crisis moments, our prayers should be intensified.  Faith is not having the answers to why we are suffering.  Just because the sun did not come up this morning due to heavy fogs, does not mean it is not there. While we may not have insights into the why, things may become clear to us later. Sometimes a crisis now, may prove to be the gift we enjoy later.

Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a great example to us of one who suffered doubt during her lifetime. Her letters show us another side of her life. The fact that she was able to continue her work during such torment is a sign of her deep faith.

Maqbool  Fida Husain - India

“I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer, no, no one. Alone. Where is my faith? even deep down right in there is nothing. I have no faith. I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart.”

Often in times of crises we don't  know what to ask for.  We feel like asking for a miracle, but doubt even our capacity for this.  Our own limitations stop us in our tracks and threaten to take away our peace and hope. Such crises can  lead to despair, or can  lead us to humility and a deeper gratitude for God's love. In our helplessness, we can experience our need for Christ.

Remember on the cross, even Jesus asked: ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’”

One of my God-daughters has been diagnosed with two masses in her brain. One is on the brain stem, which may have been there for decades. The doctors are not worried about this, but rather the second mass in the cerebellum. A tumor in the brain can paralyze us with fear, as it has Amie.  The weeks of waiting for further tests and surgeons decisions can be a time of panic and depression, or a time of blessings.

Monastery Winter Road

Early on in this whole "mess" Amie said to me:  I would go to Lourdes and not pray for a miracle but for faith".  Fear of the unknown is natural, but it can be transformed by faith and a turning to God to beg for help. Our fear can give way to an inner peace and trust in the God who loves us. Amie is 33 and is not sure what lies ahead of her.  We pray that whatever her cross is, she will have the faith to endure, remembering:  I am with you always!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Blue-crowned mot-mot, Costa Rica
Rainbow Rosellas- Australia

It is not yet September but already the ducks are starting to arrive back for the winter.  It has been a cool, and sometimes cold, summer with daily mornings of heavy fogs.

I have recently noticed that the most read of my blogs seem to relate to birding. No wonder as it is the fastest growing outdoor activity in the USA today.

In our present economy it is an inexpensive way to  keep the family together, as children enjoy outings as much as adults. All you need are binoculars and a book or two.

Lily & James watching sea birds
I have found that it is  very contagious and my friend Rick is a case in point.  He is a young business man who travels a lot. He loves being outdoors and gets to see much of the West.  Birds give him a focus to get out and about.  His wife, who loves the outdoors as well, said to him one day,  I have to see what this is all about.  The same thing happened for my brother Greg.  When I would visit family in S. California, my two brothers would take me birding along the coast.  Greg later said to his wife, she is like a kid in a candy store when she spots something new.  So he went home and set up bird feeders and enjoys walks looking for new birds..

What are some of the reasons we bird?

- Gives you a chance to share with others and to teach young children
- It sharpens your sight
- It encourages you to explore the world
- It provides you with opportunities to meet  interesting new people  with a common bond
    No one in my community shares my passion for birds, so when I meet someone who does, it is like two souls meeting. (A fun movie to watch- which, kids seem to love- is The Big Year. This tells it all!)
- It provides a focus when you travel to new places- or old- and learn about the environment
- It takes you to out of the way places, which can lead to new friends & experiences
- It helps us to appreciate and treasure what is  in nature
- It is great exercise and helps you to relax

Aidan Birding

How do you get started:

- Get several field guides. I have found over the years that not every guide tells you all the details. Go to Amazon or  for used copies. No need to spend big bucks.

- When you go to other areas of the country or world get specific guides, for example, when I went to Texas I had a book just for that state. Places where there are many birds in a region, eg. SE Arizona or S. Calif., you can find books just for that area. Why have to page through a book of the whole US when someone has made it easier for you.

- Go for a bird walk. See what birds you find, talk about the habitat
- Set up a feeder area and learn to identify the birds they attract
Hummers at feeder

Goldfinches & woodpecker
 -Join local trips and do bird counts  (Christmas, Great Backyard (Feb.), and Migration in May)

- Internet searches can teach you much about birds (see sites below)

Tips for Successful Birding:

-There are two good times to study birds. One is at home before the trip, reading the
books so you’ll know what to look for. The second time is in the field, looking at the bird

-Walk and talk softly.  Bird walks are good times for camaraderie, but not for socializing.
 This is more important when watching and trying to listen to small forest birds than when watching large water birds. When you move do so slowly.

N. Cardinals- one of my top 10 favorites

-Stop a lot. Wait. Watch and listen. Let the birds come to you or pish ( a soft whistling sound) them out.
- Listen. Use your ears to locate birds. Directional hearing is important in getting your eyes in the general location of the bird.

-You should always have a lifelist. (a list of birds that you've seen). Some even like to do local or state lists.

Places to help you get started:
    - Your local Audubon has information and even planned walks 
    -   ( lists the 25 top Birding sites)
    -WWW.NPS.GOV (NATL PARK SYSTEM has lists of birds found in the park)   

 - is a favorite of mine.  People in areas of the world list their email
and when they can bird with you.  I first tried it in my brother Jeff's area for Orange Co. A woman answered (who I later found was the pres. of the largest Audubon Soc. in S.C.).  She had never had anyone call, so was a bit wary, bringing a friend.  Turns out she lived just blocks from my family. She had originally said she had one hour. Four hours later she returned me home. My sister-in-law was sure I was being held for ransom!   I have birded many times with Dee and she always takes me to fab places for lunch on our trips.

Bolsa Chica- a favorite spot of mine in S. Calif.

When I went to Costa Rica I emailed a man, who was out of the country, but  he put me in touch with a friend of a friend who became our "private" and wonderful guide in the north.
Internet Birding Links

    - Bird songs: I like this web site because it has neat bird sounds for a lot of birds, plus links to other bird song sites.
    - The Audubon Society: This Web site is great because it has great pictures and a list of almost endangered birds.

    - Birding on the Web has the most complete set of links for serious bird watchers.
    - Bird Feeders Online has good information on how to build bird feeders and nests.

    - Backyard Birding. This is about the best starting point for backyard birding. It has great links     to everything.
    - Bird On! has great descriptions of tons of birds, and great pictures (photos and paintings) of each bird.!
    - Cornell Lab of Ornithology (birding): This site has bird sounds of the week and the bird of the week.

So get started  and enjoy life!!!  You never know what can happen!

Unexpected friend- Australia

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Annunciation with Knitting
Recently, I came across another unusual, but wonderful artist. ANTHEA CRAIGMYLE's childhood years were spent in the rambling old vicarage overlooking the Thames on Chiswick Mall, London. Growing up in a large family, she and her siblings spent their time exploring the area. With the onset of WWII, Anthea was shuttled between London and the country in an effort to protect her from the bombings, many of which she experienced while sleeping in the vicarage cellar among young Jewish refugees and neighbors. During her school years, Anthea had the good fortune to be taught by two remarkable teachers: first, Mrs. Henry Moore and then later, Kathleen Richardson, who nurtured Anthea’s growing capacity for visual description from imagination.  At 17 she attended Chelsea School of Art and later traveled to India where she met and later married her husband.

Painting has always been an essential element of her daily life. The imagery of much of her painting throughout the 50’s and 60’s was drawn from childhood memories; neglected churchyards, gardens, and parks she associated with her experiences of WWII and her paintings frequently portrayed a somber mood.

Bringing in the Cattle
 In the 70’s, Anthea made a conscious decision to change her approach. Her life experiences were much more positive and her pictures began to reflect her love of life and her enthusiasm for other people.

Recently, Anthea has returned to the Chiswick Mall where she paints in a studio not far from her childhood home. She frequently visits and paints the West Highlands where she finds inspiration.

Flight into Egypt

"The clean, romantic quality of her work is evocative both, immediately for what they show the eye, and more subtly in a dream-like, mystical way for what lies beyond. Anthea says, “I see everything in pictures. The muddle or chaos of war and indeed of war-lives means, I think, that I’m always trying to create order.” This gives her paintings the quality of a glance - sometimes amused - into a secure and, perhaps idealized, vision of the world. Her work is a powerful reminder that the spirit and essence of life never really changes".

In doing research on her life, I found her husband, Thomas Donald Mackay Shaw, more famous than Anthea. He was born in 1923, and became the third Lord Craigmyle on the death of his father in 1944. From his mother, the daughter of the first Earl of Inchcape (eminent ship owner and chairman of P & O), he came into an enormous fortune. He also inherited her wealth of gentleness and charm. It was said of him that he was blessed by a total absence of snobbery.

St. Francis & the Birds
Madonna Sewing

In 1955 he married Anthea, the gifted artist daughter of the High Anglican Canon Edward Rich.

In 1956 both came into the Catholic Church. Their marriage was a loving, successful partnership in every sense. 

They had four sons and three daughters. Lord Craigmyle is best remembered for his generosity, to not only the Church, but to his family and many friends. He died in London in 1998 and Anthea returned to the area of her childhood, where she paints to this day. 

Highland Sheep
Anthea painting

 I love her use of colors which at times blends into her shapes, giving that dream-like quality. In many of her paintings, one can almost  reach out and touch the animals. My favorite is St. Columba in his garden in Scotland.

St. Columba

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Kathe Kollwitz

Much has been made of our new Holy Father Francis and his love of the poor of this world.  He chose the name “Francis,” in honor of the saint who gave up his wealth to live among the poor. The Holy Father has shown a concern for the poor and disenfranchised, spending time among them, blessing and kissing the needy and disabled.  In June Pope Francis got a lot more specific, calling on the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization to end the global food crisis.

“It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation...This is truly scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table.”
M. Olickov-Mirolli- Serbia

Specifically, Pope Francis laid out what he called “financial speculation” that treats food like any other commodity and affects its global price, as well as the tendency to “look the other way” when presented with troubling needs like hunger. Everyone, he said, should have access to nutritious food.  

When world hunger is spoken of so often Africa or parts of Asia come to our minds, but we forget the many thousands in our own country who do not have proper diets. Anyone who has lived in a big USA city or visited in the inner city has seen people searching for food in the dumpsters. New laws in our country ban markets and restaurants from giving away excess food which used to be donated to the needy, especially through food kitchens. Instead the food is dumped or burned.

Earlier the Holy Father attacked food waste in a speech in St. Peter’s Square on the United Nations’ World Environmental Day. “Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which at times we are no longer able to give a just value. Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry".

Betty Laduke
The Pope’s statements on food will come as no surprise to most Catholics. The Church has formed  positions in recent years on issues surrounding food, and the humanitarian group Catholic Relief Services (CRS) believes that Catholics’ “commitment to the value of each human life should be reflected in both individual choices and in the policies and structures of society.” CRS’s principles emphasize the value of every human life, focusing on community-based solutions and small-scale farms; a special preference for the poor and vulnerable; workers’ rights; solidarity across national borders; and environmental sustainability.

Betty Laduke
 Catholic Social Teaching and Food
The dignity of every human life is the foundation for Catholic social teaching (CST). The right to life for all persons, based on their identity as precious children of God, means that all people have basic rights to those things that are necessary for them to live and thrive, including the right to food. Our commitment to the value of each human life should be reflected in both individual choices and in the policies and structures of society. The bishops of the United States have reflected on CST, agriculture, and food in For I Was Hungry & You Gave Me Food and other statements, summarized below:  Here I will list only the first three:

   Protecting Human Life and Dignity.
Every person has a right to life and to the material and spiritual support required to live a truly human existence.The right to life includes the right to food and nutrition to sustain life and to enable a person to develop in dignity. The poverty and hunger that diminish the lives of millions in our own land and in many other countries are threats to human life and dignity and demand a response from believers. 

Betty Laduke

   The Call to Family, Community and Participation.
The human person is not only sacred but also social, living society impacts human dignity and the ability of persons to live in vibrant and healthy communities. Policies that favor larger scale farm operations can lead to a loss of economic viability for smaller scale family farms and the depopulation of rural communities. Hunger impacts families everywhere by interfering with children's ability to learn and develop and often forcing parents to sacrifice essentials, such as access to health care or children's education, in order to provide sufficient food for their families. Hunger and poverty in developing countries leads to increased immigration and family separation. Catholic social teaching urges that the voices of people suffering from hunger and smaller scale rural farmers and ranchers should be present in decision-making regarding policies that affect them. 
Betty Laduke

   Option for and with the Poor and Vulnerable.
We maintain a special concern for poor and vulnerable people, including those who are hungry here and abroad. The primary goal for food and agricultural policies should be access to food for all people and reducing poverty among the most vulnerable everywhere. Trade practices with poorer countries should be fair and should promote the dignity and welfare of farmers in those countries. Important moral measures of the global food and agricultural system are how their weakest participants are treated and whether the system provides access to basic nutrition for all.

Everyone can make a difference, no matter how small it may seem to us, it can be huge for another. There are many organizations out there that feed the poor.  Find one and start your donating. It can be only a matter of a few dollars a month. Some families we know have a small meal once a week and the money they saved on a larger meal (usually with meat) goes to help others. Our Community is especially fond of Heifer International which donates animals and educates peoples in Third World countries.  Giving food is one issue, but education is key in ending crises in our world:  not only education of the poor, but of politicians and the wealthy. Jeff Bridge's efforts in no kids  had brought the plight of the children in our own country to the awareness of many.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Mother Irene Boothroyd, 93, a member of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, died at the Abbey on July 19, 2013, after a short illness. Our infirmarian for over 50 years, Mother Irene was a World War II Veteran who landed at Utah Beach in Normandy on June 16, 1944. She was a member of the Army Nurse Corps, participating in the drive across France and Belgium with General Patton's 3rd Army. We called her the nurse of the Battle of the Bulge as she not only cared for the wounded in that battle in the Ardennes during January 1945, but she often treated us as if we were at war!  She attained the rank of Captain and during the Korean War she cared for wounded soldiers State-side.

 Mother Irene had a fierce love for and dedication to our Foundress, Lady Abbess Benedict, caring for her physically and supporting her vision for the Foundation of Regina Laudis. For years she extended hospitality through her care of the Abbey guesthouses and in providing transportation at a time when she was one of very few community members with a driver's license. She was the one most of us met  when we arrived for our first retreats before entrance into the monastery.

She was the first New Englander I ever met, and perhaps set the stage for what I  still think that rare breed of Americans stands for: stoic, no-nonsense, very private, and independent, yet giving of themselves.

With Lois Grant (L)
Mother was a prayerful woman and never forgot the people she served with in war. "I always pray for all of those people who served in World War II because that’s when I served. And at the Abbey we pray for (and many times put in the prayers at Mass) all the veterans from World War II, some from the Pacific, some from Europe. But I always pray for those patients whose body my hands touched in a form of healing. Whether it be changing their wounds, soothing their brow, giving them penicillin, giving them blood or plasma, or just being present in their company. And I pray for the people with whom I worked and served."

A documentary film entitled "Uncompromising Valor" about Mother Irene's life and experience as a World War II Army nurse is in the final stages of production. She was a living archive with a memory for detail that was second to none.

(Photos and information from Abbey of Regina Laudis)

Mother Irene at her Consecration