Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Coming of the Magi
While perusing art for my Christmas Blogs, I found this woman whose sheep I love, and thought her work appropriate for the season.

Scottish Artist FRANCES WATT is a woman of mystery in contemporary art.  At the peak of her career in the 1960s, she achieved some measure of success as an artistic chronicler of the male-dominated world of money-making in London’s Square Mile financial district. By the early 1990s, Frances and her art were all but forgotten. The recent sale of a cache of pieces, kept in storage for 30 years in Aberdeen, has drawn well-deserved attention back to an artist.

Edith Frances Watt was born in 1923 in Falkirk, Scotland, the daughter of a Church of Scotland minister. When she was three, her father was called to the Scottish Kirk in Geneva, Switzerland, where she spent her childhood. The family returned to Scotland in 1936, and when her father died two years later, Frances and her mother moved to Highgate, London. She would live there unmarried for most of her life, devoting her time to drawing and the local choral society for which she designed programs.

She had formal art training at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting in London, honing her skills by copying the Great Masters. 

Her first public exhibition was in the 1950s. A decade later, she was commissioned by the Council of the Stock Exchange to create a visual record of business activities at The City.

Working in pencil, pen, and watercolor she made hundreds of studies of anonymous financiers at desks and on the trading floors  at the Royal Exchange, the London Discount Market, and Lloyds of London, many of them, used as illustrations in the Times newspaper. Frances's drawings on biblical themes present a very different side of this impersonal chronicler of the Square Mile.

Her love for animals also found expression in a whimsical watercolor of Jesus tenderly taking a roadkill rabbit into his arms. A dog and a sheep also figure as two more traveling companions for the Risen Christ and two disciples in a mixed media painting of the Road to Emmaus story in Luke 24:13-32.

Frances wrote on the margin of the painting: Joy of companionship...The earth is subject to Him...The animals recognize Him...The GREAT PEACE has come into the World...Atmosphere-Peace.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Lullaby of Winter (Nicholas Mynheer)

“May you be blessed

With the spirit of the season, which is Peace,

The gladness of the season, which is Hope,

And the heart of the season, which is Love.”

                                                                                             Irish Blessing

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Hawaiian Mother and Child- Charles Bartlett 1925

Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.

Come away from the red music
Of Mary's veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
From the House of Gold.

Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!

Be born, sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born unto us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.

Came forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.

Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.

Mother M Francis (late Abbess of the Colettine Poor Clare

Monastery in Roswell, New Mexico)

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Dawn Chorus of Christmas- Stephen Whatley

This last Sunday of Advent gets us closer to the birth of our Savior.  Revealing His LOVE for the world, God sent His only Son so that we  may live through Him.  It is His LOVE that drove heaven down, and it is this same LOVE that redeems, reconciles, transforms, and makes all things new.  God is with us and He lives among us. This Christmas season, may those around you be drawn to His Love.

Thus says the Lord: In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you: and I will preserve you and give you a covenant for the people... Is. 49

Christmastime is a season when love of God and of our family, and friends and even strangers we meet along the way, fills us all, but the real challenge is to continue feeling and showing that love when Christmas is over so that it fills the entire year.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Mary Furhmann

The third week of Advent is about the JOY that is ours because our Savior has entered the world. Angels heralded His birth  and kings came from the east to worship and marvel at what God has done. We too marvel as well, that the Son of God would come into our world, as a wee child taking on our humanity.
On this third Sunday, the priest wears pink at Mass, to remind us to rejoice (hence the name of the Sunday is Gaudate- or Rejoice). Just like the color pink, joy has many shades. Rejoice in the Lord always” are the words we sing this day.
This theme of joy, reminds us that the Christmas message is one of rejoicing. We should have great comfort and great joy, even as we still live in a world with sorrow and pain, knowing that our savior is near.
 “The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom, they will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song,” Isaiah proclaims. This third  week of Advent provides us with the opportunity to experience the joy which only Christ can give us.

Dr. He Qi
Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!.... The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your minds and hearts in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4"4-7

Monday, December 7, 2015


Today we are experiencing our 5th power outage  since Nov. 1.  Thanks to a generous benefactor we have a powerful generator which keeps the monastery warm and functioning- as well as the chapel, but our guests are not so lucky as there is nothing to keep them in the light!  There is a wood stove at one house where they can gather, but…
This wind storm brought down a massive tree which hit the main power plant here on Shaw, knocking out power for parts of Orcas Island as well as all of Shaw. Seven poles were effected so it is a major clean up for the crew.
Our OLPACO (local company) lineman crew is the best, comprised of local men, many who have been here most of their lives. They seem to be fearless, sometimes putting their lives “on the line” for us.  As in this case they have been at it all night and continuing through the day in cold and rain.
Outages here in the islands are not always due to local problems,  but can be caused by mainland accidents (where are these power plants people are always crashing into?)  or downed trees in areas that feed the underwater cables that are the power source for the islands.  Such is Island life!

 We are always grateful to our men who come to the rescue of all bringing light! 

Saturday, December 5, 2015


One of the most prayed for petitions today is for PEACE, yet it seems that daily we come further and further from any kind of world peace. The world is not at peace, because human hearts are not at peace.  We are all pulled in opposite directions by competing desires and torn apart by loyalties to different ideologies.

Jesus taught us that peace is not just making everything calm, but rather peace for the whole of life. As the Prince of Peace, Jesus came to help us love one another and accept one another, even when we are very different or even disagree with each other. He came to include the poor, the lonely the unusual and rejected. He came to bring peace between one another.

And for those of us who are in Christ, our peace is doubly sure, because we not only have the peace of God with us right now, we have the peace that comes from knowing that nothing at all, not even death, can separate us from the love of God that is our in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This Advent as we hear- or sing- “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men” let us reflect how we actively work at bringing that peace on earth… in our own families, with neighbors and friends, and even those we may consider our “enemies”. And let us pray for those who seek to kill the peace efforts of others.

Let us this week pray to our Lady Queen of Peace, who has promised us world peace, obtainable only through prayer and a change of heart- one which reflects her Son.

Our Lady Queen of Peace

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


The beatification of the Polish Franciscan martyrs Friar ZBIGNIEW SRZALKOWSKI (33) and Friar MICHAL TOMASZEK  (31) (as well as Father ALESSANDRO DORDI) will take place in Chimbote, Peru, on Saturday, December 5, 2015. The Pope's representative, Angelo Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will preside.

What caught my eye at first was this martyrdom took place not far from the mountains where I birded on 2 occasions when in Peru.  Upon reading the story I decided these men  merited mention for their charity to the poor of Peru.

The two friars were living in Pariacoto, on the western side of the Cordillera Negra, a mountain range which runs perpendicular to the Andes in an east-west direction from Mocho-Choshuencovolcano to Cerros de Quimán. Pariacoto is perched at an altitude of 3,000 feet in an idyllic natural landscape bathed by a perennial sun.

The area is inhabited by a poor, indigenous population deeply rooted in Christianity. For over forty years, the people of Pariacoto had gone without the assistance of a local priest until, in 1989, three Polish friars from the Conventual Franciscan Order arrived and established a vibrant Christian community.

Pariacoto, Peru
This, however, did not go down well with the Communist revolutionaries, who in those years, infested much of Latin America. In particular, the three friars were despised by the Communist revolutionary movement known as Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), which saw religion as the greatest enemy of humanity.

On the evening of August 9, 1991, a commando of some 20 guerrillas stormed into the mission and kidnapped two of the friars, Zbigniew and Michal. Through an extraordinary coincidence, the superior of the mission, Father Jarek Wysoczanski, was in Poland at the time for the wedding of his sister, and for the arrival of Pope John Paul to his country. The two prisoners were taken to the center of the town, subjected to a sham trial, sentenced to death, and then taken to a secret location where they were shot and killed.

Their bodies are buried in the parish church, which has become a place of pilgrimage where people also come to beseech graces

Frs. Zbigniew & Michal
According to Father Jarek Wysoczanski  (the superior) they were full of enthusiasm and love for God, and were burning with zeal for their mission of evangelizing the indigenous people of Peru.
Friar Zbigniew was a man of few words, but very active. He was fond of studying and had great love for the natural world, being a passionate ecologist. In the mission he  acted as an engineer, a worker, a medical doctor, a nurse, an architect and even as a brick-layer.  His generosity is still remembered in Pariacoto.

Michal  loved community life and attended to the day-to-day running of a community. He also educated the children and young people. He was patient, helpful, friendly and cheerful. He was liked by everyone and, as a consequence, the young attended Mass in great numbers. Shortly before his death there were over 200 young people in his group.
 Father Alessandro Dordi was an Italian priest whose work of evangelization with the poor also cost him his life at the hands of the Shining Path. Fr. Sandro, as he was known, came to Peru in 1980, the year in which the Shinning Path launched its violent campaign to bring Communism to power in the country, killing thousands.  Today, the indigenous people still suffer the effect of that dreaded group. At the time, Peru was also experiencing a severe economic crisis.

Born in 1931 and ordained in the Italian city of Bergamo at the age of 23, Fr. Sandro fell in love with the people of Santa in Peru. He worked to increase literacy, defend the dignity of women, teach catechism, and built chapels and parish buildings. His work drew the ire of the Shining Path, which relied upon hatred and discord among the people in order to recruit and maintain power.

Father Sandro
In August 1991, Fr. Sandro learned of the killing of the Polish priests in a nearby town. In a letter to a priest friend, the future blessed wrote, “We are particularly anxious and concerned these days. You have certainly learned that the Shining Path killed two priests of the Diocese of Chimbote on August 9. They were two Polish Franciscans who worked in a valley like mine.”

He was riding in a pickup with two seminarians on his way to celebrate Mass when masked men from the Shining Path surrounded the vehicle and forced the two seminarians to get out. Fr. Sandro was shot three times and died.

May these new saints intercede for the People of Peru, that here be justice, hope and a deepening love of Christ.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


It isn’t    I    
John August Swanson
 It isn't often that I use this BLOG for personal opinions- or things which tend to be controversial. All who know me know that I am passionate about many things and have strong ideas which can often lead to arguments. but one thing I cannot stand is to see the way so many youth of today are throwing away their lives... either through neglect by parents, lack of moral education, or just a disregard for life.  We only have to tune into the daily news to see how youth are killing themselves or one another. The recent tragedy in Paris is a prime example.

Our society today lacks HOPE which is the last virtue to flee the soul. Our youth have nothing to live for so it is easy to disregard life. I realize that most who read this are part of the "choir" and are doing or have done their part, but maybe even though your children have left the nest that responsibility goes on...with grandchildren, or children in one's Church or children in the neighborhood. Yes, I know, none of us wants to get too involved as it may raise the hackles of a parent or teacher or whomever.  Even if prayer is what we have it is still an active way to help the youth of the day.

This Advent we all need to be more focused on what the season is all about...HOPE, JOY, PEACE  and LOVE! So each week I would like to take one of these virtues for meditation for us all.  Maybe when we come to the Lord's Birthday, we will have a little more to offer this year, especially for the youth of our world. Pope Benedict described Advent as the season of hope "par excellance". By the virtue of hope we trust that God will provide us with the graces necessary for our salvation. 

Advent is very pertinent to our present age, which does not trust anything that is not material. Hope is humble confidence that God won't give up on us. Hope is the virtue that is critical for survival in life. We won't survive without it. We die physically (hence so many suicides), emotionally (so many with mental problems) and spiritually (so many on drugs). The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1817) says:  Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life as our happiness... relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

In this season  as we again invite the Lord into our hearts, trusting in His mercy and love, and renewing our faith in His salvation, let us try to spread some of our own faith and hope to others who do not get the message of the season!

Dawn of Hope- Daniel Gerhartz, USA

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