Saturday, November 5, 2011


This very well done video was forwarded to be by Ron Bonneau, one of my blog followers. Thanks so much, Ron!  It was a computer project meant to simply be shared with other people in the area, but has had over a million viewers on You Tube.

Friday, November 4, 2011


With all the rain from last spring onward, the chore of keeping my garden going, I did not get to do much birding.  "Soundwise"  I am always capable, even with my hearing deficiency, of identifying bird calls and songs, even though I don't "always" visually capture the bird.  Even this last September and October, the raptor (hawks, falcons) season, the weather was not always good.   Even though The Mount (Esopus and the Hudson River) are "pretty much" on the "Atlantic Flyway", I did not see too many migrating raptors. that Fall has pretty much morphed into winter I have the hope of both hearing and seeing owls.  Here is a good Eagle Owl sequence in slow motion that my friend and fellow Redemptorist Missionary, Kevin MacDonald sent me.  Thanks, Kevin.

Friday, October 28, 2011


It just so happened last summer that Stephen Colbert did a comedy sketch at one of the Corn Camps where I often visite to say Mass, prepare some of the Roman Catholic seasonal workers for their sacraments as are Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist and Marriage.  The program was funny.  But it also made some very important points in support of the reform of the USA's oftentime harsh and oppressive dealings with undocumented immigrants.  Stephen showed just how very hard and demanding agricultural day labor is.  He ended up by saying something to the extent of "You legislators really need to fix this Immigration Policy.  I certainly am not qualified or capable of doing that difficult work. But these people are.."  ENJOY STEPHEN'S HUMOROUS PRESENTATION TO CONGRESS.  (Some considered his presentation disrespectul and silly.  But one legislator I know said it was very good.  He thinks that legislators need to hear these kind of ideas).

Friday, October 21, 2011


I thank Ronnie, one of my friends for this nice VIMEO film, THE LIFE OF FLOWERS.  I just LOVE time lapse films of nature!!...ENJOY!!

Life of flowers from VOROBYOFF PRODUCTION on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Since Saturday, Oct 15th I have been part of a "regional intra parish mission" by the Roman Catholic diocese of Metuchen here in Perth Amboy, NJ.  I am working in the parish of St. Marys which is, as is most of this town 80% hispanic.  Most, if not all, of the hispanics are from the Dominican Republic.  Many families have spent nearly 40 years here in Perth Amboy.  Since I spent close to all of my 32 years in the Caribbean working in the DR I am enjoying preaching the Word of God to my "old and new friends". The two pictures here are of me visiting various homes where there are sick people.  I thank Ramón, Deac. Barsilio and Rubén as well as Juan and Ramona for helping me find and visit the sick.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


 A week ago we had a group of United Methodists pastors here at The Mount.  There biggest concern was what had happened in the wake of Hurricance Irene and the following flooding in Catskill Mountain towns like Prattsville, Windham and Margaretville.  The flooding carried away entire herds of cows, an entire horse farm as well as doing damage to churches and parsonages in the area.  The pastors urged even seniors who had some time to come and just "encourage and support" the young people working in the disaster relief work.  Yesterday (Oct 4th) my brother and I drove up through Vermont which is still digging out from the enormous flooding.  Here are some shots I took in Vermont across from the blocked Highway 107 on the way into Woodstock VT.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


This is my confrere, Fr. Tom Travers next to one of the trees Irene brought down on our road down to the Hudson.


This is how our dock looked the day after Irene passed through.  Many huge trees, and even one large floating dock that had broken loose somewhere on the River came crashing or floating onto our own dock.  We were largely spared the damage and destruction of many people here in Ulster County who lost homes, animals and large pieces of their lawns and riverfronts.

This is a spot out near our old "Pell Silo".  Right behind it, near the "fallen barn" where I often worked as a seminarian is a place where  I have gone to pray, read the Scriptures and meditate.  (This spot is on the southern border of riverfront property owned by the Bruderhof Community who will begin "leasing our 413 acres beginning February, 2012)


This was a most beautiful "double rainbow" over the Hudson a week or so ago.


I have not done anything on this since the end of last July. these last few months before I move to our GateHouse and allow the Bruderhof Community to begin their lease on Mount Saint Alphonus,  I'd just like to show you some of my recent shots of "in and around" Esopus and "The Mount" (This is a view from what we once called the "Acre Pond".  It looks southwest towards what is our northern entrance off Highway 9 W).

Sunday, July 31, 2011


I am from Pittsburgh PA where my Redemptorists founded the parish of St. Philomena's back in the 1800's.  Two of our Redemptorist Saints (St. John Neumann and Blessed Francis Seelos) worked there.  John Neumann later went as bishop to Philadelphia where, as a great "immigrint bishop" he served immigrint Catholics, not only from his native Bohemia, but from all parts of the world.  John Neumann died, apparently of a heart attack, falling to the pavement at 42 years of age on Vine St. in Philadelphia...Francis Seelos, who had also come as an immigrint to serve the Catholic immigrint peoples, also spent time in Pittsburgh at  St, Phils with John Neumann.  Francis Seelos is called the Smiling  Ascetic in one great book on his life, because he worked so very hard and was very joyful.  Seelos spent his last years in New Orleans where he died of yellow fever. 
Today, visiting my own Dad's grave here in Calvary Cemetery in Pittsburgh I came upon the place where my many Redemptorists priest and brother confreres have found their final resting place...On it are these truly beautiful statues of both John Neumann and Francis Seelos.  As the inscriptions say they were placed their by  Rev. John Kelly, C.SS.R. who inspired a "young and future Hudson River Birder" to desire being a Redemptorist missionary.  Thanks, Fr, John!!!  And thanks  Regina Kelly who is a Redemptorist oblate and is living her last moments on earth in a hospice here in Pittsburgh as she awaits her own joyful reunion with  Christ, the Blessed Virgin and, of course, with St. John Neumann and Blessed Francis Seelos .

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Next January I will continue being the HUDSON RIVER BIRDER, but I will have to change the introduction above.  Because I will no longer live in THE MOUNT.  I will live in a gatehouse at the entrance to this place which from 1907 until 1987 was the Theological Seminary for the Redemptorist Fathers and Brothers of what we call our Baltimore Province.  For many reasons into which I will not enter our governing chapter has decided to cease ministry in what we called from 1987 until this present year, Mount St. Alphonsus Retreat Center.   Right now I am preparing a 10 minute video for our August Century of Blessings celebration.  I will try to describe with old and new images how God's work has been prepared for and done here at "The Mount" during what will actually be 104 years...I was ordained a priest in our chapel here 46 years ago.  I am the third one from the left. I have never forgotten the exact tile upon which I knelt with that candle waiting for Cardinal Spellman's hands to bless and annoint me for this mission which has brought me back to this great castle on the Hudson River which I left in August of 1966.  (You know I was really not much of a birder then. I do remember, of course, the Northern Mockingbirds.  Who wouldn' as much as they are the most "in your face, joyful bird around.) 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heh!!...It's an Eagle

It is a special treat kayaking on the Hudson. It is one of the best ways to see the American Eagles that one will just "chance upon" sitting in a branch.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


This is another wonderful VIMEO video done by a great Spanish film maker, Cristóbal Vila from Zaragozza. The connection between the mathematics, and most especially the geometry of nature becomes most powerfully clear as this three minute or so film shows.  I wondered what the 137.7 degree item meant. Maybe you will.  Enjoy

Nature by Numbers from Cristóbal Vila on Vimeo.

Friday, June 17, 2011


The names of the artists of this famous mountain of "El Yunque" in Puerto Rico are in the next post.




The names of some of the Philadelphia barrio artists and local sponsors are seen in a detail in the post after this one.  (It is the lower left hand corner of this mural which I did in close up)ç




Philadelphia is where St. John Neumann became a bishop.  Before he was a Redemptorist missionary priest like I am.  He had come from Bohemia in the 1800's to preach the Gospel of Christ to his fellow German immigrants who had come to the US for a better life and for work.  At our Redemptorist Parish of St. Peter's is the shrine for him.  He is the first male made a saint in the USA.  He fell of a heart attach a few blocks from this church at 5th and Girard in Philadelphia.  Tomorrow will be the 200 anniversary of his birth here in Philadelphia, and so we will have a big celebration.  (John Neumann had been working the area of northern New York State, Pennsylvania and West Virginia when he decided to join us, the Redemptorists.  He was pastor in my home parish at what was St. Philomenas in Pittsburgh PA.)
Today I walked from our parish here in 5th and Girard up to Visitation Parish where other four of my Redemptorist brothers have a very good apostolate amongh the spanish speaking as well as English speaking... Along the way I took photo of the most beautiful street murals done my community artistic groups.  I show some of these on other posts today. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


One of the many species of birds, wildlife and flowers discovere by Commander Lewis, of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition is the "Lewis Woodpecker".  It is a beautiful mixture of red, green, blue and grey and is a Western Bird.  About five years ago when two of my friends and I visited Yellowstone National Park and followed (more or less!) their route in that area, I was anxious to see one of them.  But never did.  This beautiful VIMEO video by Dom DesJardin may be the closest that you and I will ever get to actually seeing one....This is what Don himself says about this film on his site on VIMEO.

"This is one of the best looking of all North American woodpeckers. It's also one of the most unusual, in that it has very broad wings that allows it to foray out from high perches and catch flying insects out of the air. Two scenes, first showing it working to remove the stinger and venom sac from a wasp it caught, finally succeeding and eating it. Second scene is showing it perched high on a dead pine tree looking around for its next meal. November 2009, Lake Los Carneros, Goleta, Santa Barbara County, California, USA."

Lewis's Woodpecker from Don DesJardin on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Banding Peregine Falcons on Thogs Neck Bridge-Bronx-NYC

This is a most unusual video of three male Peregrine Falcons being banded on the top expanse of the  "Throgs Neck Bride" in the Bronx.  The bander of the DEP is immediately attacked by the parents which he cooly brushes off.  Then he bands the three males one called Bayside as Throgs Neck is part of the Bay of New York on the way to Willets Point where the New York Mets have their baseball stadium.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MY FATHER'S GARDEN-a film by Mirko Faienza of Italy

As the Hudson River Birder my "original" plan had been to place on my blog both images and comments on the land, the flora and fauna (mostly "birds") that exist both on the property of "The Mount" and in nearby places here in Ulster County.  The truth has been that I am really not anything like a pro photo or videographer.  So......I have been embedding some of the best nature and scenic videos that I find on the web.  (On one occasion I received a "reprimand" for not getting permission to embed something.  So now, before I embed something I write the videographer as I did to Jozef Weigert in Hungary and just recently to Mirko Faienza, a professional videographer in Bologna. ITALY.  Mirko sent me a most gracious letter saying that he was delighted that I might embed his wonderful film on nature called....MY FATHER'S GARDEN.  It is truly marvelous, including the music that Mirko uses, synchronizing the insects' and flowers' movements most excellently with the music.  THANK YOU, MIRKO.  Enjoy everyone!

My Father's Garden from Mirko Faienza on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


This is a wonderful video from VIMEO done by Leonardo Dallessandri

Under the Lucan Sun from Leonardo Dalessandri on Vimeo.
This is the Common Blackbird.  It is a very sweet singing and relatively friendly songbird that exists both in the Brittish Islands as well as in Italy, where I saw and heard it a week ago, as well as in the rest of Europe.

Catherine of Siena--Peace Maker Saint

Yesterday I put a picture of OUR LADY OF PEACE that I photographed in the Roman Basilica of "Mary Major".  Along with Mary, the Mother of God who, with her Son, ardently desires peace, forgiveness and reconciliation in today's world is the great saint, Catherince of Siena.  In my trip with my two brothers to Italy I visited the house where Catherine of Siena was born. There I took this photo of the holy and powerful St. Catherine.  Catherine spoke both to kings and to Popes urging them to create peace and to allow reconciliations to happen.  Needless to say she was not always heeded.  But I add this picture of Catherine hoping for peace in our terror torn and war torn world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our Lady of Peace

When I arrived in Italy on vacation with my brothers on May 1st there had been first the information about the air strike in Libya in which the son of Khadaffi was killed and also the news about the raid on Osama Bin Laden's haven in Pakistan in which he was also killed...For this reason the most poignant image that I have brought home from Italy is this one of OUR LADY OF PEACE.  It is in the Basilica of Mary Major just one block from the world headquarters of us Redemptorist Missionaries on the Via Merulana in Rome....Killing our enemies, "taking them out" as the phrase says....will not bring peace to the world. My two brothers and I were "warned" on arriving in Rome that there was a "travel alert" for Americans travelling abroad.  The fact is that there exists the need of a "peace making and reconciliation alert" in all parts of the world.  Recently I read something that said that..."one of the gravest mistakes in today's world is the belief that idyologies can be overcome simply by killing or "eliminating those who believe in them or live by them"....Many years ago there was a group in Venezuela called "Los Guaraguao".  They sang of injustices in both Venezuela where the poor lived in "Casas de Cartón (Cardboard Shacks).  One of their most popular songs was..SI SE CALLAN EL CANTOR  (If the Singer is Silenced).  The song dealth with the death squads that in that era as in our own kill, threaten and maim those who speak out against evil and injustice.  One of the last phrases of this song went...."If the singer is silenced...LIFE is silenced.."  One of my firmest beliefs is that in today´s world the prophetical voices are not heard or not heeded.  Leaders who are both prophetical, loving deeply humanity and are religious in the deepest and truest sense of what religious "should mean"  need to speak up.  In this way the extended arms of OUR LADY OF PEACE and of her little Jesus who also has his hand outstreched will lead us to the peace that nor political leaders nor terrorists have achieved.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


These are the three muses, of Painting, Arquitecture and Sculpture that are part of the beautiful "Tomb of Miguel Angelo.  We saw them in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy

Long Eared or Tufted from the South Florida

Kyle, a friend of my brother Dan, shot this short video of what seems to be a Long Eared or a Tufted owl, or whatever it is called in South Florida..

Friday, May 6, 2011


I have been here in Italy with my brothers.  I have seen millions of what I gather are Bank Swallows or a unique European version of Tree Swallows. In the beautiful medieval towns of Florence, Pisa and Siena which we visited they "control the skies" 2nd, of course, to the Rock Doves. Here in Venice where we are staying with my Redemptorist confreres the Rock Doves above and on the Plaza of St. Marks  will greet us tomorrow when Benedict XVI  comes to Venice for a huge open air Mass.  Enjoy some of our moments.
At Rome's  Colliseum
On a Bridge over Arne River in Pisa
On Route to Redemptorist Parish, Our Lady of Consolation -Venice

Saturday, April 30, 2011


This is another truly splendid video which the filmaker, Terje Sorgjerd,  made, using some wonderful time lapse photography on the highest mountain in Spain.  As he says in his explanation one of his chief goals was to take some high altitude, clear time lapse shots of the Milky Way.

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Before my two brothers and I go to Italy this Saturday, I would like to share with you some pictures of my favorite haunts at The Mount. They are the route that I like to follow, entering at the dip in the road after our Northern entrance from 9 W. One goes to the left along what we always called "The Acre Stream"..Then up along the Acre Pond which is our northwestern, rock lined border with the owners of the Apple Bin.  There is one picture of the blooming Purple Beech which I have on Google Earth..

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


A very beautiful website where very wonderfully shot videos are found is where I found this one, SPRINGTIME. It was shot by Joseph Weigert ten months ago in the outlying area of Gyomaendröd in Hungary.  It is truly beautiful, with music and artfully and carefully rendered...Here in Esopus, NY we are "waiting for" our own slowly arriving springtime.  The video is 5 mins long, but well worth it. HAPPY SPRINGTIME!...And the 2nd video is called FLOWERIZED.  It is an equally glorious nature video.

Springtime from Joseph Weigert on Vimeo.

Flowerized from Joseph Weigert on Vimeo.

Monday, April 18, 2011



I found this very nice video by a Miss Shaw who prepared it for her primary grade school class.  It has the "Events of Holy Week" set to this song by Leona Lewis.  Today I heard the melodious sing song of the Eastern Pewee who have "finally" arrived here at The Mount.  Holy Week begins joyful, gets somber and sad on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.  Then on Easter, when Jesus rises to new life, as happens each springtime for the Eastern Pewees, plants, vegetables, flowers and earth..Holy Week is filled with a Joy which I truly hope will grow and grow in our world and never end.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Here are two pictures: first at what we used to call "The Acre Pond". The pink bench you see is part of the old "Penalty Box"  where our rougher hockey players back then in the 60ties spent a good part of each game.
And this is a view as one move up along the trail that skirts the Acre Pond heading toward the Pell Farm one sees the Apple Bin orchards to one's left.
And the pink blossoms high up show "spring springing to life".

The Budding Weeping Willow
And some small buds and thorns that I found along the southern flowing stream passing right below my Sylvester Feeley Abundant Life Garden......By the way I have "resisted the rules" of planting.  I have reduced the rows between my beets, radiches, red and green lettuce and broccoli to less than 10 inches.  I am going to try and plant some "Burpee Seedless Tomatoes" at the end of May.  And I still have some packets of cauliflower and turnips to sow this Holy Week.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Spring is a time when the earth, deeply asleep and cold, "resting" during, in this year's case...a "very long and difficult winter...when the earth "comes alive again"...For this reason Roman Catholics, as many other christians celebrate Baptisms at the end of Holy Week as we celebrate Christ himself arising from the dead to NEW LIFE...For this reason I share with you this quite moving Baptismal Rite from Curtis Park in Texas.

Baptism Spring 08 from Steve V on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


In the nearly three years I have spent on the retreat team here at Mt. St. Alphonsus I have created at least three retreats that treated our the connection between all things in the universe.  Call it ecology.  Call it Creation Theology.  The fact is that all life is connected.  We human beings, with our intelligence are the "crown" of creation.  But our intelligence, besides being a great "gift of God" holds us responsable for being just and compassionate caretakers (stewards) of all life.  Right now I am preparing a Holy Week retreat for women (1 day) and for Men (3 days).  One recent Roman Catholic Saint, St. Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein), has helped me understand how, if we understand the "connectedness" of all life, all people and all created can "lead us to God".  This is what happened to Edith Stein, born a Jew, become a great philosopher but never allowed to have a professorship in her native Germany, first because she was a woman and later because she was also a Jew.  The experience of being excluded, hated, despised led Edith Stein to understand and accept the person of Jesus Christ as one who like the Yom Kippur "scapegoat" took all the evil and all the pain and all the sin of our world and destroyed it.  No one likes suffering.  But Edith Stein learned that great love leads people to great suffering.  It happened with Jesus. It happens with good, valiant and loving people of all times.  And it happened with Edith Stein.  

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sustaining 2nd Generation Mexicans in the Faith – 3/28/11 : Currents

Recently Fordham University had a most interesting panel on the subject of Sustaining the Faith of 2nd Generation Mexicans in their Catholic Faith.  This video shows my Redemptorist confrere, Rev. Francis Skelly C.SS.R. and also Deirdre Gould (Cornell)  with whom I have been working in Migrant Ministry here in Ulster County.

Sustaining 2nd Generation Mexicans in the Faith – 3/28/11 : Currents

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I truly loved this short video shot by Justin Leyba who shares it with us on VIMEO.  Justin tells us that he decided to film this walk in the woods with his little sister.  As he says in the caption, he shot it entirely without aid of a tripod. I hope you find it as beautiful as I did and long for the end of this long, harsh winter and the arrival of spring.

Winter's Gone- Short Film from Justin Leyba on Vimeo.


During the ten years that I worked in Immaculate Conception Parish in the South Bronx one of my delights was going on our roof which had a great view south and west.  On the water tower of "Cookies" right in front of us I saw two perched Kestrels.  Later on I discovered and observed two of their nesting sites which I have learned NOT to advertise on the Internet.  On one occasion we observed the "first flights" of two recently fledged Kestrels.  It was wonderful, because they were not only as big, but a bit bigger even than the female (Mom).  (Females Kestrels are usually larger than the male.  Here is a very well shot video of two fleding Kestrels at a site unknow..

American kestrel nestlings about to leave the nest from Brady Beck on Vimeo.

Tips for Organic Gardening

Monday, March 28, 2011


As the temperature stubbornly hovers below freezing here at The Mount (Esopus), my potted violets look outside and say, Wow!! That sun is great, but thank God the Birder doesn't open this window. We'd freeze to death!"... Last year Easter was before April 8th and our three magnolias were in full bloom by the 12th of so of the month. I don't think it will happen this year.  But who knows!  Two good days of sun and they will burst out with their great, uninhibited beauty.  Meanwhile you'll have to be content with my two violets.
(Song by for Japan --Michael Africk and Mai Kuracki)
4 mins.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


One of the most joyous signs of Spring last year for me was that I "finally" saw two Eastern Meadowlarks out in our northern pastures here at the Mount.  The silo and pieces of the original barn still stand.  We had Black Angus cattle there from the early 1950 ties.  There is a pre civil war small cementery there where workers of Robert Livingston Pell are buried.  It was called the "Smith Family Cementery" but there is the name Terpenning there which is still a family name here in Esopus.  Our now deceased tax assessor was a Terpenning and had asked me about the names on the tombstones there.  At any rate I finally saw my Eastern Meadowlarks flying between the marvelous Purple Beech Trees that were near the original Pell Mansion and the western border of The Mount in the meadows.  There song, although not as long as the Western Meadowlarks, is still quite musical.  I'll put the Western Meadowlark first.
And here is the Eastern Meadowlark...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

St. Fiacre-Irish French Patron of Gardeners, Potters and Florists

Today my friends and "Garden Advisors". Jack and Marty Roberge,  visited my Sylvester Feeley Abundant Life Garden.  (Jack and Marty were the ones who advised me to choose the spot on The Mount last year. It is on a hill just behind cypress groves.  It was cultivated back before the 50ties as a peach orchard and possibly in the 60ties for potatoes.  It gets about 9 hours of good spring and summer sun each day.  I had pretty good luck last year as a first time gardener.  Starting in early April I planted carrots (which never came to much), red and green leaf lettuce which were very productive, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini and Beafsteak Tomatoes.  The tomatoes did pretty well.  But I did not stake them well and the voles ate a lot of them. I also did not get after the hornworms that weakened my tomatoes, but all in all the tomatoes did just great.  My best tactic was surrounding my garden with a ring of marigold, which are natural pest controllers.  My 2nd planting was of bush beans which did just fine, cauliflower which the slugs got.  (I put the cups of beer out too late!!!  They had already taken care of the cauliflower)  Marty and Jack gave me this anachron done by Patricia Baker    who does each one individually.  This saint, Fiacre was born in Ireland but emigrated to France where he became a kind of agricultural hermit.  He is said to have had quite miraculous powers of planting and also of healing people.  However he has the bad reputation of having excluded women from his monastery because of a woman who claimed he was a sorcerer.  (You can google information on Fiacre, but one has to know that myth gets confused with fact and real history with this ancient saints. (Notice the phrases above and at the sides of this anachron. Also notice all the details of fruits, birds, owls, butterflies, and all kinds of vegetables.) Join me in praying hard to St. Fiacre for my and all gardens this spring!      

You can find pictures of Patrica Banker's anachrons at  and also at                                                                                                                                               

Thursday, March 24, 2011


This video is down by a group called SELAH.  It seems that the word SELAH comes from the Bible, mostly from the Book of Psalms.  It has varied meanings.  But one of its meanings "rest" or "interlude" gave rise to a kind of peaceful, meditative christian music as is this video.  (Here at Mt. St. Alphonsus on a Wednesday of each month we have a TAIZE musical concert in our chapel with lights, soft, beautiful and meditative music which is probably a lot like the SELAH musical concerts begun in 2000) THIS VIDEO IS 6 MINUTES LONG.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Even though we are still having snowfalls, IT IS SPRING.  This video made in Mt. St. Auburn Cementery in Galveston Texas is truly beautiful.  Even in the height of Spring Migration down in Central Park, NYC one does not see as many Neo Tropical warblers as in this video.

Mt. Auburn Cemetery 5/22/2011 from Jackson Childs on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FANCY --by Reba McIntire and a LENTEN REFLECTION

Last Sunday, travelling on NY Rt 42 towards Monticello, NY to say a Mass for Hispanics I heard Reba McIntire's version of "Fancy  that tells of a poor girl from New Orleans whose Mom and little brother are sick and dying.  The Mom, despite her poverty, prepares a beatiful dress for her daughter and implicitly insinuates that she "go where she had to and do what was necessary" to have a better life. It is a powerful song that shows how poverty and desperation and the indifference of others can drive persons to sacrifice their human dignity.  This video by Reba shows a "good end" to a terrible life journey.  I think Lent calls us to help ourselves and, most especially others, out of journeys of pain, aimlessness and self destruction towards journies of HOPE, LOVE, SOLIDARITY AND FAITH IN GOD.  The song was written by Bobbie Gentry in the 60ties.


"Well, I remember it all very well lookin' back

             the summer that I turned eighteen.

We lived in a one-room, run down shack

on the outskirts of New Orleans.
We didn't have money for food or rent

to say the least we was hard-pressed

when Momma spent every last penny we had

to buy me a dancin' dress.

Well, Momma washed and combed and curled my hair,

then she painted my eyes and lips.

Then I stepped into the satin dancin' dress.

It had a split in the side clean up to my hips.

It was red, velvet-trimmed, and it fit me good

and standin' back from the lookin' glass

was a womanwhere a half grown kid had stood.

She said, "Here's your last chance, Fancy, don't let me down!

Here's your last chance, Fancy, don't let me down.

God forgive me for what I do,

but if you want out girl it's up to you.

Now get on out, you better start sleepin' uptown."

Momma dabbed a little bit of perfume

on my neck and she kissed my cheek

Then I saw the tears welling up

in her troubled eyes as she started to speak

She looked at our pitiful shack and then

she looked at me and took a ragged breath

She said, Your Pa's runned off, and I'm real sick

and the baby's gonna starve to death.

She handed me a heart-shaped locket that said

"To thine own self be true"

and I shivered as I watched a roach crawl across

the toe of my high-healed shoe

It sounded like somebody else was talkin'

askin', "Momma what do I do?"

She said, "Just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy.

They'll be nice to you."

She said, "Here's your last chance, Fancy, don't let me down!

Here's your last chance, Fancy, don't let me down.

God forgive me for what I do,

But if you want out girl it's up to you

Now don't let me down,

now get on out, you better start sleepin' uptown."

That was the last time I saw my momma

when I left that rickety shack

The welfare people came and took the baby.

Momma died and I ain't been back.

But the wheels of fate had started to turn

and for me there was no other way out.

It wasn't very long after that I knew exactly

what my momma was talkin' 'bout.

I knew what I had to do.

Then I made myself this solemn vow:

I's gonna to be a lady someday

though I didn't know when or how.

But I couldn't see spendin' the rest of my life

with my head hung down in shame.

You know I mighta been born just plain white trash.

but Fancy was my name.

She said, "Here's your last chance, Fancy, don't let me down!

Here's your last chance, Fancy, don't let me down.

God forgive me for what I do,

but if you want out girl it's up to you.

Now get on out, you better start sleepin' uptown."

Wasn't long after that a benevolent man

took me in off the streets

One week later I was pourin' his tea

in a five roomed penthouse suite.

Since then I've charmed a king, a congressman

and an occasional aristocrat

and I got me an elegant Georgia mansion

and a New York townhouse flat.
Now I ain't done bad

Now in this world there's a lot of self-righteous

hypocrites who call me bad.

They criticize Momma for turning me out

No matter how little we had.

But I haven't had to worry 'bout nothin'

now for nigh on fifteen years

But I can still hear the desperation

in my poor mommas voice ringin' in my ears.

"Here's your last chance, Fancy, don't let me down!

Oh, here's your last chance, Fancy, don't let me down.

God forgive me for what I do,

but if you want out girl it's up to you.

Now get on out, you better start sleepin' uptown."

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Before I chose this short video on Lent, I had listened to Stephen Colbert.  I like Stephen Colbert, most especially for the strong stand that he "seemed" to have taken regarding the need for Immigration Reform.  He recorded his program up at Gill's Corn Farm  In West Hurley, NY.  last summer. It was both funny and made some strong points about how the Immigration System has been broken and needs reform.  As Stephen is a practicing Catholic he will often link his humor to this. On his first program this year near Ash Wednesday he did a skit where he had ashes on his forehead.  Then he explained that traditionally LENT was a time when Catholics gave up something.  Then he improvised saying that, Catholics should give up something that is very important to them. Then he said (and it was meant to be a joke) So since my Catholic Faith is very important to me I have decided to give it up for Lent.  I still like Stephen Colbert, but his approach was really misleading.  You can find his sketch at this link
Maybe you found it funny, maybe not.  But this video hits the "target" on what Lent is about.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


At the moment I, as all of you, have been very saddened by the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in the Northern Provinces of Japan, so devastated by the earthquake and tsumani, and of course ALL of the Japanese people. The picture below is of a beautiful place in the metropolitan area northwest of Tokio called Mt. Takao.  It is a beautiful wooded natural beauty of Japan, a site of temples and a truly holy and sacred place.  I have no exact information on what effect the natural disasters have wrecked on Mt. Takao.  But I am sure that it is accessible these days many Japanese people go there to pray, to mourn, to be healed by the untouched and undevasted beauties of nature.  Below I have a video done just this last January on the BIRDS OF JAPAN.  It begins on Mt. Takao and goes to different spots in Japan. Beginning with Mt. Takao, which is Northwest of Tokio the other places where Mr. Geraphty shot his video are all in the extreme south of Japan: Kyoto, Himeji, Hiroshima, OHARA, Uemo Koen, Nijo-jo and Jigokudami.

And I think that it is good at this moment to see a place where, at least a month ago in Mt. Takao, many Japanese children were laughing, enjoying the antics of many species of birds in this video done by  Rob Geraphty just last month . ENJOY AND PRAY TOO!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


One of the first songbirds that I saw and learned to identify back in 1997 when I got into hawk watching and birding in Central Park was the Ruby Crowned Kinglet.  At the time I thought that it was a warbler.  But, of course, it is not.  The kinglet is "close" to the Neo Tropical warbler family or the, so called, "Old World Warblers".  Here in Esopus, where I have not had the abundance of time to search, watch and wait, I have never seen a Kinglet, nor this one nor the Golden Crowned Kinglet.  But there is always a first time.  In this video one can actually see the red crown.  But, with a fast moving kinglet, unless they are threatened or angry it is not easy to see. ENJOY!

Monday, March 14, 2011


I just want to share this short video on the Red Cross's efforts to help the country of Japan after their earthquakes and tsumani....

Sunday, March 13, 2011


One of my most consoling experiences, even during the toughest moments of this severe winter, are the gentle chirpings of the Eastern Bluebird.  Here on the grounds of Mt. St. Alphonsus, due to about 300 birdhouses placed by Cornell and some by our deceased Bro Charlie Summers, we have many, many Eastern Bluebirds. It is the "State Bird" of New York.  They are always here, even in winter. But as spring approaches they are "abundantly here".

Eastern Bluebird from Rob Lavoie on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Yesterday the fast running stream that runs NORTH from the gate towards what we used to call The Acre Pond ...this stream had budding crocuses and water lilies..Beside it was one quite furtive female Red Winged Blackbird.  I have finally realized how truly furtive the female Red Winged Blackbird is.  I have "heard" them these past few days.  But I only saw this one.


Along the stream that goes from the SOUTH entrance of Mt. St. Alphonus flowing beneath our cementery and below the pastures NORTH towards what we called "The Acre Pond", I found more "signs of spring" which are, I think buds below the water of water lilies.