May 19th, 2020 / posted by paularath

During the past couple of weeks I have been enjoying interviewing prospective scholarship candidates for our Palama Settlement student scholarships. (Sadly, we’re on Zoom this year.) It’s always one of my favorite times of year, as I get to catch up with students we have been helping the past year, as well as meeting new students who need a little assistance.

I inevitably well up with tears when I hear them talk about their lives. Many have GPAs I didn’t know exist, such as 4.25. They are an ambitious, often driven, group. Most come from the Palama neighborhood and many grew up in nearby public housing. They are often the first person in their family to attend college, and they are out to prove themselves. They are future accountants, social workers, mechanical engineers, physical therapists and pharmacists.

It’s really inspiring, and that’s why my family is now sponsoring The Rath Family Scholarship. Perhaps you would like to help? Just go to www.palamasettlement.org

So what does that have to do with my blog headline? Well, this year some of the students turned the table and asked the interviewers what we are doing during the COVID-19 crisis. I became tongue tied and couldn’t think of anything I am doing creatively.

But that’s not really true. I am doing some creative projects, though not as many as I “should” be doing. I am making curtains, getting back into a painting style I haven’t tried for many years, and creating my one-of-a-kind greeting cards.

Hand-dyed shibori indigo silk organza with Italian interiors fabric and a special button.

As I sit down at my sewing machine to assemble the fabrics, ribbons and assorted notions for the cards, I think of a reason for each card to exist. Here are a few:

An invitation for a chat and cocktail with a friend you haven’t seen for too long:

A great card to invite a friend for a chat and a cocktail!

In lieu of sending flowers to a friend who may need a little blossom:

Layers of silk organza over a skeleton leaf.

Just a little nudge to say “Hey, thinking of you”!

Buggy for art

A reminder of a day long ago when you swam in the ocean and sat on the beach with a friend or loved one:

Hand dyed indigo shibori with a little fish swimming through.

Honestly, though, some of the best cards are sent for no reason at all. I have been sending cards to friends “just because” since the shutdown started, and have learned that they are much appreciated.

  • Paula Rath

 

May 9th, 2020 / posted by paularath

OK. I admit it. Since the coronavirus quarantine, I have watched way too much TV. (And that includes quite a few movies on our TV screen.)

But I will defend my habit by saying that I do quite a bit of homework about a show, series or movie before I invest my time in it. And if it doesn’t grab me right away, I shut it off.

My most trusted source for research is the New York Times blog, “Watching.” Although the writers tend to skew a little younger than my demographic, I find them well worth reading, and, often, worth following down the path of a new screening experience.

That said, here are a few of the programs Jerry and I have enjoyed together during this seemingly endless quarantine.

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND

This Italian series has captivated us, and we are waiting anxiously for the next season, although that may be awhile. Based on a series of novels by Elena Ferrante, it takes place in Southern Italy, in a small village near Naples in the 1950s. It’s definitely not a scenic village, as its mainly low cost housing. (Jerry and I have spent many weeks in an Umbrian farm on art retreats, but have never been south of Rome.)

The main characters, Elena, played by Margherita Mazzucco and Lila, played by Gaia Girace, are friends from small kid time. The first two seasons (16 episodes) take them from early childhood to early adulthood. It’s a complex and sometimes confusing relationship and we are totally engrossed in each of the characters.

UNORTHODOX

It’s an added bonus if I can learn about a different culture, and this series offered a great deal of insight and information about the Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community. Based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, the plot involves Esty, a young Hasidic wife who flees her oppressive community in Brooklyn to go to Berlin. Tense and probing, it takes her deep into a world which is completely different from the world in which she grew up.

“Unorthodox” resonated with me on a personal basis. When I was a freshman at Goucher College in Maryland, I was assigned a roommate who was extremely different from me. She was an Orthodox Jew, although not Hasidic. I had never been exposed to Orthodox Judaism, so when she put a mezuzah on our dorm room door, I didn’t know what it was. I also didn’t understand why the other Jewish girls in the dorm were angry and upset, particularly on my behalf. (She didn’t discuss it with me or explain it in any way.) I think I get it now.

The leading cast of “Line of Duty.”

LINE OF DUTY

Our favorite TV channel, by far, is Acorn TV, on Amazon. It offers the best of TV from England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.  And our favorite British police procedural, “Line of Duty.”

Although we don’t enjoy CSI or Law & Order, we find this series intelligent and engrossing. It follows a police anti-corruption unit and follows DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James) and Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) in a relationship that is as complex as the script in all its twists and turns. Not a hackneyed character in the whole series.

SISTERS

Another Italian series, this one also takes place in a Southern Italian village. The scenery is spectacular, and the village itself, with its charming houses carved into hillsides, took us right back to our beloved Italy.

It’s a mystery, in which lawyer Chiara (Anna Valle) returns to her hometown from Rome to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her sister Elena (Caterina Morariu). Chiara’s mother and her sister’s children are charming additions to the cast.

Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in “Little Fires Everywhere.”

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

We just started binge watching this series yesterday. Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington head an excellent cast in this story of two families who could not possibly be more different.

It’s already had several unexpected twists and turns and we anticipate plenty more. The cinematography is terrific and the characters are more nuanced than one would expect.

April 30th, 2020 / posted by paularath

Antarctica, one of my favorite places on earth.             (My personal photos)

These are alarming and confusing times, and it can be challenging to imagine the end of this set of circumstances.

And yet, people all over the world are learning new ways of living and employing innovative ways of thinking. As an added bonus, we are relating to one another in creative new ways. (I never thought I would be an enthusiastic user of Zoom or GoToMeeting!)

A little bird daring the waves on my favorite beach, Papailoa.

Does that mean we are growing, although our world often feels as though it’s shrinking?

One of the glorious sunsets from our deck in Nu’uanu.

Psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, as part of their University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Post-traumatic Growth Research Group, have identified seven areas of growth that spring from adversity:

A greater appreciation and strengthening of close relationships

A greater appreciation of life

An increased sense of compassion and altruism

The identification of new possibilities or a purpose in life

A greater awareness and utilization of personal strengths

Enhanced spiritual development

Creative growth

A perfect dahlia in Rousham Gardens, Oxfordshire

…and, oh my, COVID-19 has certainly brought us adversity in many forms! Are you experiencing personal growth through this pandemic?

Paula Rath

A time to stop and appreciate a glorious sunset

April 22nd, 2020 / posted by paularath

Arlene Woo’s watercolor, “Man in the Mountain,” won Best in Show in the Hawaii Watercolor Society’s Member Show.

While museums and galleries are shut down during this treacherous time, art is finding its way out into the world in all manner of innovative ways.

Leave it to artists to find a way to have their work seen, in spite of the quarantine.

One outstanding example is Gallery Iolani at Windward Community College, where Toni Martin and her innovative staff have put their current show, Fiber Hawaii  2020, on a video. The show is presented by Hawaii Craftsmen and is titled “In, of or About Fiber: Functional and Non-Functional Objects Made in Any Craft Medium.”

The gallery staff walks you all around the show and brings you the name of the artist and a little about the materials and process used to achieve the work. And, hey, the music is great!

I am proud to be part of this show, and delighted to enjoy the video featuring so many creative approaches to fiber.

You can see my recent work hanging in the video, two framed pieces of fiber art on canvas. Both are inspired by North Shore beaches. As you may recall, I did a lot of my growing up on the North Shore, and it often appears in my work.

I would like to share the link with you here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI4c-TEo_Ac&feature=youtu.be

An original watercolor by Nancy Taylor.

Another local arts organization, the Hawaii Watercolor Society, is showing its entire current show online at www.hawaiiwatercolorsociety.org.
It’s the HWS annual Member Show, and it is really worth checking it out. If you see a painting that sings to you, it’s also possible to buy it online.
Watercolor is often considered the most challenging form of painting. It’s not for the timid.
What I especially love about this show is the depth and breadth of the paintings. The juror, Anthony Lee, wrote in his Juror’s Statement:
“I was especially impressed by the wide range of watercolor paintings that were submitted for me to review this year. They included well-observed representational artwork with diverse subject matter, as well as stylized abstract art, all executed with great authority and precision. As we live in the culturally diverse islands of Hawaii, I believe each artist has paid tribute to this special environment through his or her work.”
Although it’s sad to think of the lovely gardens and galleries of the Honolulu Museum of Art devoid of patrons, it’s a treat to escape online at www.honolulumuseum.org to check out the local artists featured in the First Hawaiian Center and the “30 American” show at HoMA. And hey, for you hungry cinephiles, the Doris Duke Theatre has put some of their special films online for us to enjoy. Check it out!
Paula Rath

 

April 16th, 2020 / posted by paularath

The doors of the iconic Rath Building are shut right now, but important work is going on behind the scenes.

Palama Settlement has been providing social services to our neighbors for 124 years. The Settlement is often called upon to perform extraordinary duties in extraordinary times. In 1918, our Pa Ola Camp was turned into a hospital for Spanish Flu patients. During WWII, our campus was transformed into a field hospital by the Army.

Today I saw two more examples of the exemplary services we are providing during another time of crisis, the coronavirus.

Although our athletic and educational programs have been, by necessity, put on hold, our Palama campus has become a food distribution center. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, our Community Development Department is busy preparing and distributing bags of groceries from our Emergency Food Pantry. The needs have risen radically and we, like the Hawaii Food Bank, are having difficulty keeping up with the demands.

Toward the end of a long day, Palama employees stand ready to deliver meals.

Our neighborhood keiki are able to receive breakfast and lunch at nearby public schools, but many were going without an evening meal. So this week, Palama began serving a grab and go supper to needy families. The meals are made by Kapiolani Community College and served up by Palama employees.

Donna keeps track of who is in need, and just how much.

Program Administrator Donna Taniguchi has put together a team of staff and volunteers to deliver meals to grab and go clients. The first day, we gave away all 75 meals within 30 minutes. The next day, we upped the number of meals to 125, and they were fast dwindling within a matter of minutes.

We will do the very best we can to meet the needs of our community.

For more about Palama Settlement in the time of coronavirus, or to make a donation, please go to www.palamasettlement.org 

Paula Rath