Sunrise – Sunset

Sunset from my patio

When I lived on Guam, I always thought the sunsets were particularly spectacular, and they were. I haven’t seen anything like them anywhere since then. I will find those slides someday and do a post on them.

In the meantime, the sunsets (and sunrises) on the Big Island of Hawaii and other places are beautiful, too, and in a different way. It’s not easy for me to explain, but here are a few for you to enjoy.

The sunset above is from my patio, looking out toward the ocean.

Each morning, we walked along St. Petersburg Harbor around 6:00.

2014-07-13 23.57.15

This sunrise picture was taken just as the dark was ending on Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I spent a few weeks this summer visiting my brother.

Coffee Pot Bayou

Early evening on our cruise, we enjoyed sitting on the top deck. Here I am looking toward the bow of the ship. It was not quite sunset, but getting close.

Sunset just starting-toward bow

I attempted a shot of the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico heading toward Cozumel, Mexico. The reflection on the water was almost too bright to photograph well.

Sunset on cruise

At the end of the cruise, my brother took this picture on our return, with an interesting view of Tampa Bay just before sunrise.

early morning return to St. Pete

A hui hou!

Remembrance of an Era

My brother recently posted about the concert he attended in Florida. Because he mentions that it was more about his sister’s era (that’s me!) I thought I would share it with you. Of course, watching the video clips he chose certainly did bring back a lot of memories. Since many of you don’t read my brother’s blog, he has given me permission to repost it here!

Enjoy!! And let me know if you are in my era, too! Thanks, Hilton!!

Work o’ the Weavers at St. Pete Palladium Side Door

A few nights ago, a friend called and said, “We’re going to the [Work o’ the] Weaver’s concert Thursday night at the Palladium. I know you like that kind of music. Do you want to come, too.” I said yes immediately.

Although I’m not quite old enough to remember The Weavers themselves (that’s more my sister’s generation who lived through all that in California, San Francisco, North Beach, the hungry i, etc.), but I am old enough to remember all the groups the Weaver’s spawned (The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and others of the American Folk Music Revival).

And…I am old enough to remember seeing Joseph McCarthy on someone’s television (we didn’t have one then). I mention that because the Weavers and other folk singers of that time, as well the classical composer and American legend, Aaron Copland, were all hauled before McCarthy’s committee and interrogated. And, yes, they were definitely left-leaning sympathizers and supporters of Henry Wallace for president.

Thursday night’s concert by the contemporary tribute group, Work o’ the Weavers (see, was one of the most enjoyable musical evenings I’ve had in a long time. If you ever get a chance to hear the group, go. Their appeal is not limited to folks my age; I saw a number of teens and young adults there who were bobbing and swaying and singing “Good Night Irene” along with us of the blue-rinse set.

My guess is the only demographic group not represented–or if they were there, they kept on the down low–were Tea Party members, because the tradition of the Weavers, which the Work o’ the Weavers is all about, is definitely tied to the Progressive movement during the Great Depression and World War II. So many of the songs that were sung then, and last night, are unfortunately still appropriate now during the Great Recession, especially the pro-labor and pro-peace songs.

The concert was in two parts. In the first part, every song was woven into a detailed narrative of the history of the (original) Weavers. It really was a complete history of the group, the music, its composers and lyricists, and the times. It was not just a series of songs by the Weavers. It was educational in a very real sense.

The second part of the concert followed the dictum of Pete Seeger, who is close to the members of the group and endorses it, to not just look backward, but to sing also what the Weavers would sing now if they still existed today. What a wonderful idea. Three songs from that second half were my personal favorites for the night: Red Goes the Vine/In Dead Earnest, We’re Still Here, and My Peace. They’re all on a CD called We’re Still Here. That’s a link to the MP3 “album” which just costs a hair over 1/2 what the actual CD sold at the concert cost. I recommend it, highly.

The Work o’ the Weavers website has plenty of information and videos. Here’s one, Work o’ the Weavers – Distilled, that gives you a good feel for the group.

The lyrics of the aforementioned song, “My Peace,” was written by Woodie Guthrie just after he was hospitalized with Huntington’s Disease and set to music by his son, Arlo Guthrie. Here it is being sung by the Guthrie Family – My Peace:

If you’d like to see some video of the original Weavers, here’s The Weavers – Around The World:

Here’s a Youtube presentation of them singing the first song the Weavers ever recorded, The banks of Marble – The Weavers (that’s Pete Seeger singing solo on first verse):

The words of that song are so appropriate today, maybe more than ever before. Here’s a more recent recording just by Pete Seeger and with a more meaningful video — Banks of Marble:

And…thrown in for good measure and having almost nothing to do with The Weavers or Pete Seeger or The Work o’ the Weavers other than it’s authentic, old-timey American folk music is this video I stumbled upon while looking up the other videos — the Best Bluegrass Clog Dancing Video Ever Made. Unfortunately, that has to be watched on Youtube, itself and can’t be embedded. So, please click on the link. That’s old style clogging. I promise you will not be able to hold your body still. I just LOVE that music!!!!!
If you make a purchase through any of the Amazon links in this article, I make a few cents but your cost is not increased in any way.

Seven-Link Challenge

One of the blogs about blogging I read is ProBlogger. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? This week, there was a challenge to respond to seven categories. I decided to take part, mostly because it requires some thinking about my posts in the past and where I’d like to go in the future. Here are the seven categories:

1) My first post.
I started this blog as a record for myself only. I was trying to make soil from compost and other materials in order to get something to grow on this acre of rocky lava we call a`a.

2) The post I enjoyed writing the most.
The reason I enjoyed this post is that it is about a special family event I wasn’t able to attend. My first granddaughter got married in October on the mainland and I couldn’t get away from teaching to fly over. Also, I didn’t take the pictures, but it showed several of my children and grandchildren. Needless to say, I shed a few happy tears as I put it together in a post.

3) A post which had a great discussion
I’ve written about lilikoi (Passion fruit) several times and each post brings more discussion than anything else I write about. Mainland readers probably don’t have a clue what lilikoi is, so it’s mostly Hawaii residents who get into great discussions about this fruit with an unusual flavor.

4) A post on someone else’s blog I wish I’d written.
My brother writes a blog that is way more popular than mine, and he tells of great things to do in and around the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area. Like me, he writes about his travels. He and I had just been to England, and we both loved London. I absolutely love this post he did all in black and white photography. It gave me an entirely new perspective to London.

5) My most helpful post.
This post was about a little book that has guided my life and the lives of others over and over. If you are looking for a way to set goals and objectives for the next year, this is the book that will help you.

6) A post with a title I am proud of.
I think the reason I’m most proud of this title is because it represents several decades of waiting to have my book of the same name published. It is about a book I used in my psychology practice and with students. It can also be a self-help book by exploring some hidden meanings in your life.

7) A post that I wish more people had read.
This was posted to honor AIDS Day, and invites us to look at our lives and how we respond to unexpected events in our lives. AIDS awareness is growing, but still not enough.

It took me a while to decide on each of these categories. There are so many posts that would fit into each category. After looking at these seven posts, I get a good sense of where my pleasures reside in writing this blog. My topics have evolved quite a bit over the past two years, and on an unconscious level, I think I have been going in the direction that most suits me best.

I hope you are finding these rambling posts helpful when you garden or cook or travel or reflect on life.

A hui hou!

Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

Florida Sunken Gardens

(Note: all the individual pictures in this post link to larger images in Flickr; just click on the smaller images you see here.)

Last year, my brother at invited me to offer two guest posts. This year, I’m excited that I can reciprocate. Be sure to check out last week’s post, which was also from him. When I visit him in Florida later this year, I will know I’ve gotten on his nerves when he takes me to visit the Sunken Gardens! It is with great love and joy that I present my brother, Hilton. I’ll be back next week. Mahalo, Hilton!

A hui hou!




That’s the “tag line” for the St. Petersburg Sunken Gardens. It’s well chosen. The afternoon I first visited the St. Petersburg Sunken gardens, was following a particularly stressful job interview and negotiations. I bought my ticket to the gardens—actually, I bought a year pass which I’ll discuss shortly—and entered into four acres of solitude and reflection right in the heart of downtown St. Pete. Slowly walking along winding paths that conceal then reveal verdant surprises, the tranquility helped me make up my mind about how to proceed with the issues that led me to seek some respite. The experience totally satisfied my need for garden paths, ivy covered rugged stone walls, miniature water fall fountains, and koi ponds. The Sunken Gardens botanical experience was exactly what I needed that day.

It was apparently what other people needed, too. A small troop of kindergarteners immediately fell silent upon walking into this magical world. A middle aged woman and her mother spending an afternoon together walked about. A soon-to-be bride and groom and their best-man and bridal attendant where there checking out the area where weddings are conducted. The occasional other single senior, such as myself, moseyed about, taking pictures, sitting on benches, or just standing, listening to the birds.



Here’s a quote from the Sunken Gardens brochure about the history of the attraction:

“Sunken Gardens has been a landmark in St. Petersburg since 1935, when it officially opened as Turner’s Sunken Gardens. In 1903, the four acre property was purchased by George Turner, Sr., a plumber, who was an avid gardener. He drained a shallow lake, that dropped 15 feet below street level to provide a rich soil to grow fruits and exotic plants from all over the world. By 1924, his amazing garden was attracting visitors who paid 25 cents for a stroll through the beautiful, lush gardens. Papayas, citrus and exotic plants brought the tropics to this subtropical area. Grover heaters were brought in to heat the magnificent Royal Palms, bougainvillea and other cold sensitive tropical plants during the winter. The garden became world renowned for its unique collection of plants and colorful blooms. In the 1950s, exotic wildlife was added to the growing botanical attraction… In 1998, Sunken Gardens was designated a local historic landmark, and in 1999 it was purchased by the City of St. Petersburg.”

There are 24 different areas of the botanical gardens. My personal favorites are the Chilean flamingos, the parrots and other exotic birds, the bromeliads, the lily ponds, the various koi ponds and miniature waterfall fountains, the Japanese garden, the arched bridge, the little spots to meditate and rest, the tropical fruit garden, and the butterfly garden.

Adjoining the gift shop for the Sunken Gardens is the Great Explorations Children’s Museum. Although it is adjoining the gardens, it is completely separate physically so the quietude of Sunken Gardens is preserved.



Another quote from their literature describes their facilities for weddings and private parties:

“Since 1935, Sunken Gardens has been a favorite setting for exchanging those special vows…The Garden Room, a great location for your banquet or reception, is located in the historic 1926 main building. It was designed keeping its history in mind, creating a loft-like feel with high wood ceilings and metal beams. Overlooking the exquisite gardens, this special room’s uniqueness makes it unlike any other wedding experience.”



The following are the best links I found for additional information and reviews of the Sunken Gardens.



I find it particularly interesting that the Sunken Gardens began as a non-commercial enterprise, the private garden of an individual expressing their love of the garden experience. My sister’s website, Lava to Lilikoi ( covers her own garden and farming on the side of a volcano on the Big Island (the Island of Hawaii) in the state of Hawaii. Weekly, she chronicles her gardening in photos and narrative. She has also had posts on private gardens of other people (mostl in Hawaii) that show the kind of personal devotion to gardening George Turner, Sr. had with what became, eventually, the St. Pete Sunken Gardens. Please take a peek at these posts of Lucy’s on some lovely private gardens:

I know absolutely nothing about plants or flowers. I’m just a person who loves to bask in their beauty and oxygen. But, Lucy is the opposite in that regard. Horticulture is definitely one of her things! She helped me identify the flowers in the pictures I took for this post. But, even she wasn’t entirely certain of a couple so if we made a mistake, please let us know.




I don’t buy many yearly passes to local attractions, but I bought one for the St. Petersburg Sunken Gardens. For a senior, it’s only $35 ($40 for non-seniors; $50 for Family, that includes membership for two adults in the same household and dependent children through the 12th grade or two grandparents with their grandchildren—which I think is a lovely idea). The annual membership is much, much more than free admission for one year. It also includes invitation to members-only events, discounts on special workshops, 10% discount in the gift shop, the newsletter and access to horticultural information. What sold me on buying an annual membership, however, was the free admission to over 145 botanical gardens participating in the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admissions Program (reciprocal program brochure). In Florida, alone, there are 16 participating gardens, including the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens just across the Skyway Bridge down in Sarasota and the Florida Botanical Gardens up in the northern part of the county that I covered in the Inkwatu Florida Botanical Gardens post.




There are also joint plans that combine the gardens with tickets to Great Explorations. It is especially important in a depressed economy that those who can donate to educational causes such as the Sunken Gardens do so. They have a variety of options from Contributing members at only $100, that gives you a family membership plus 5 free admissions guest passes, up through Private Benefactor, that includes quite a number of special privileges, and Corporate Benefactor, that includes such really nice features as a special employee day with free admission and special activities, company signs during special events, complimentary individual memberships for employees, and several other benefits.



There are a number of workshops and special shows throughout the year, most of which are either free with the annual membership or offered at a discount with the membership. One coming up in March which I plan to attend and cover in Inkwatu is the Orchid Festival, Sunday, March 22, 10am to 4:30pm. which features commercial orchid growers from Florida, lectures throughout the day and thousands of orchids for sale. It will be free with paid daily admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors (55+), $4 children (2-11) or free for annual members.

Sunken Gardens is located at 1825 4th St. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33704; general information 727-551-3102; wedding and rental information: (727) 551-3106. It is open Monday through Saturday 10am to 4:30pm and Sunday, noon to 4:30pm.


Florida Botanical Gardens

Last year, my brother at invited me to offer two guest posts. This year, I’m excited that I can reciprocate. I am unable to post anything myself this week and next, so you will have the pleasure of seeing what Florida has to offer! Actually, many of the plants there are the same that we have here in Hawai`i, except that Florida has soil as well as higher humidity. It is with great love and joy that I present my brother, Hilton.

A hui hou!


The pictures in this post are all of the Florida Botanical Gardens
and are in random order, unrelated to the text.

Kids have “mountain top” experiences that key in to fundamental aspects of their intrinsic personalities and unlock an affinity that lasts for the rest of their lives. Visual memories come floating up throughout their lives whenever circumstances similar to the peek experience occur. Such a formative experience for me was visiting the Jewel Box, in St. Louis, Missouri, as a child.

Forest Park is a very large St. Louis park (descriptions vary from 13 ½ to 17 acres) dating from the late 1800s that is home to the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Muny opera (outdoor light opera), the St. Louis Science Center, the McDonnell Planetarium, and the Jewel Box.

The Jewel Box is a several storey Art Deco greenhouse built in 1936, partially with WPA funds. It’s on the National Historic Register. Their website describes its dimensions as “50 feet high, 55 feet wide and 144 feet long, containing about 7,500 square feet of floor space.”

It’s recently been rehabilitated to the condition it was in when I was a child. It was a safe place and my parents would let me wander among its labyrinthine paths amidst fake grottos, hills and small waterfalls, or climb the stairs to look out over the spacious interior. When I first read Arthur C. Clarke’s description of the interior of the vast interstellar spaceship in Rendezvous with Rama, the image I formed in my mind bore a strong resemblance to the Jewel Box of my childhood.

A related set of experiences for me, about the same time in my life, were on the grounds of a small inspirational publishing house in Litchfield, Illinois, called the Sunshine House. Much smaller, it nonetheless shared many of the same features of the Jewel Box: wishing well, wandering paths, flowers and plants in faux rock garden settings, soft, piped-in classical music. I still remember hearing J.S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring on one particular childhood visit to the Jewel Box.

Somewhat later in my life, my love affair with botanical gardens continued into my adolescence with the many hours I was allowed to wander, unescorted, through the numerous parts of the University of Illinois Arboretum while my father was taking professional development courses in Urbana every summer.

The trend continued right up to the present including forays through the U.S. Botanical Gardens in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and, of course, large open parks with similar enchanted paths such as Forest Park itself, San Diego’s Balboa Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate, and New York’s Central Park. Just south of St. Petersburg, Florida, is Sarasota’s Shelby Gardens that I have tremendously enjoyed and which definitely fits the wandering-through-the-magic-of-nature mold. I suspect that the reason botanical gardens attract us so much is that they resonate to the motif of the enchanted land into which the hero must venture and then return that is part of The Hero’s Journey explained in the book of the same name by Joseph Campbell.

Which brings us—finally—to the topic of this post: The Florida Botanical Gardens, located right here in Pinellas County. The gardens are actually one of three attractions at the Pinewood Cultural Park: the Florida Botanical Gardens, the Gulfcoast Museum of Art, and Heritage Village. A map of the entire grounds can be found here. You will definitely need the map as the grounds are quite extensive. So far, I have only been to the botanical gardens portion. That alone took several hours to enjoy, so I would not attempt all three attractions in the same day.

The Florida Botanical Gardens features native Florida flora (and some wild fauna), primarily Bromeliads, Palms, and Herbs. In addition to some large areas such as the Wildlife & Natural Habitats and the Aquatic Habitat Demonstration Area, it’s organized around smaller themed gardens: the Patio Garden, Herb Garden, Tropical Fruit Garden, Seasonal Garden, Succulent Garden, Butterfly Garden, Bromeliad Garden, Palm Garden, Formal Gardens, Wedding Garden, Topiary Garden, Rose Garden, Jazz Garden, Cottage Garden, Tropical Walk, Tropical Courtyard, Sculpture Gardens, and the Native Plant Garden. (That’s a heck of a lot of Gardens!)

One feature of their website is worth making note of: What’s In Bloom by Month. That will help you plan the timing of your visit to best advantage. Information can also be found at their website on the Wedding Garden, mentioned above, that is available for garden weddings.

When your out-of-town relatives visit, take them to the Florida Botanical Gardens. I highly recommend it. (Especially if they are getting on your nerves and you need some space and silence!) Admission is free and it’s an excellent environment within which kids may have formative emotional experiences as I did, long ago at the Jewel Box.