Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Shangri-La’

Finding a path

Like a lot of other people, I dream about what I might like to accomplish in the New Year.

Like a lot of other people I wrote a lot of resolutions, tried the concept of focusing on just one word as the inspiration/impetus for the year-.

And then there’s the project idea with writing out the various steps needed for completion—a la Franklin planner—–which turns out is probably the way I work best.

One of my goals/projects has been to improve my understanding and use of Spanish. I learned a fair amount of Spanish ‘on the job’, took Spanish in junior high—a century ago—attended some church services in Spanish…practiced Spanish on mission trips and in restaurants along with taking a formal class in Mexico and in Arizona. Both fun trips with lots of sight-seeing on the side and wonderful meals and memories.

I am working now with Duolingo……muy facil except for learning what is masculine and what is feminine. Husband commented a Spanish noun is made of two parts—the article and the word–whereas English we don’t separate them—that makes some sense—but still it is rather humorous to think of testicles and scrotum as being feminine.

Another goal was to improve my web presence in terms of this blog. I’ve been writing on it for quite some time, not always so regularly and usually with photography. At first I would not write anything unless I had what I thought a spectacular photograph…..well, maybe not quite spectacular but certainly interesting and well composed. I also learned how to input them from my photo site—that site has grown unwieldy and I need to deal with that huge task.

I read several blogs and have been impressed by some of the mechanics and the look of their blog—and thusly this year I am taking a course in blogging hosted by WordPress.

My assignment for this lesson is to identify my ‘ideal reader’. And if that seemed overwhelming to take a look at the blogs I read and figure out THEIR ideal reader.


Slice of life

Not dismal or angry or angst driven but not sugar-coating things either.

Interested in observing life—but maybe that is the same as the first.

common interest–photography/arts/nature/science

Process—not necessarily in something I do.

NOT interested in political commentary or proselytizing of anything

Shangri-La Orange Texas

The above photo was taken two days ago in Shangri-la Gardens, Orange Texas. Due to Covid and the recent trio of hurricanes, much of the Garden is closed and there is a one way path through it. The fountains were not running and although a beautiful day perfect for strolling through the garden, there were few visitors and very little was in bloom. Gardening is always a game of patience; there was a lot of clipping and planting happening—promises for the future.

And now I will check off completion of this lesson, take the quiz and move on to the next lesson.

Shangri La and a boat ride



On Veteran’s Day, my veteran and I decided to take a trip to a nearby garden–Shangri La–in Orange Texas.

Mr. Stark owned a lot of land and was quite wealthy–establishing an art museum with a large collection of Western Art that is frequently shared with other art museums around the country—but he also enjoyed horticulture. Shangri La was set up as a display garden; people would spend their Sunday afternoons strolling through the walkways and enjoying the flowers and assorted displays. After his death, it fell into some disrepair but has since been renovated and is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

A bird blind is set up especially for photography and viewing of the birds although nesting season is long over. We did see two large alligators enjoying the sun on a ramp in the middle of the pond—and then there were turtles–lots of them—everywhere there was a branch sticking out of the water–there were no less than four turtles sunning themselves.

We signed up for the boat ride despite ominous clouds but were fortunate to only be chased by mosquitoes. Our boat captain was retired from Dupont and had a lot of interesting stories to tell=–as did our guide who detailed the loss of a microscope into the water during one of the school expeditions.

A great barred owl could be heard===Who cooks for youoooo== egrets were perched on the trees and an osprey flew over us returning home from a fishing trip.

A few scarecrows remained from the recent contest—and workers were busily putting up Christmas lights as well as weeding and pruning.

Pumpkins and gourds lined the walkways–and there were plenty of mosquitos encouraging us to keep moving.

More photos are on smugmug at




April 26, 2008




On Friday, my husband and I decided to spend a day just looking and enjoying. We both love to go to the beach, especially during the winter months and even more so in the early morning when we are the only ones there. We didn’t wake up quite as early as we had hoped, but we stopped at the Dunkin Donuts at the end of our street, picked up coffee and two donuts each and headed for the beach.


The wind was from the south and there was very little beach showing. The sanderlings were running this way and that hunting up tasty morsels for breakfast. I watched a pair execute some sort of mating ritual, with one bird huddling into the sand as the waves crashed around it—perhaps indicating it was ready to nest. Both of us wandered about taking photos with the sun peeping out behind some rather thick clouds and gleaming across the waves and sand.


Our next stop was the bird sanctuary on the way back from McFadden Beach to Sabine Pass. I had noted the gate on our way down and it seemed like a good time to check it out. Glen preceded me down the path while I stopped to take photos of a very large rabbit and some lantana. It wasn’t long before I could see him running back towards me, waving his arms furiously. He was being swarmed by deer flies. I decided he was rather wimpy and headed down another path—and soon was swarmed too. I ran back waving my arms as well. I’m sure the birds thought we were quite strange. We both hustled back to the truck, and sprayed each other generously with repellant and wandered back through the area in a small haze but at least no bites. The only bird we saw was a crane but several other birders were there with large cameras and binoculars.


Shangri-La, a garden that has recently opened in Orange was our next destination. We arrived a little after ten, just in time for the boat ride. Lutcher Stark, a timber magnate and conservation pioneer owned nearly 300 acres of swamp and timberland in the middle of the city of Orange Texas. During his lifetime, he planted hundreds of azaleas and camellias, built paths, and invited the public to see his gardens. People would dress in their Sunday best –around Easter time—to tour the gardens. One year over 20,000 visited in just three Sundays.


In 1958 there was a killing freeze, and most of his azaleas died. The land then naturalized to a large extent and was no longer open. There was a huge estate and heir fight over what would happen to that land; the heirs wishing it to remain natural; the foundation wishing it to be revamped into Stark’s original vision. The last direct heir died several years ago, and work was begun. Hurricane Rita destroyed much of the refurbishing and took out many trees. The garden was opened just this past month. Some of it is formal gardens with sculptures and large rocks with quotes on them; large parts of it is natural vegetation.


There is a large rookery with a blind built for photography. It is a wonderful place and will be beautiful after all the initial plantings have established themselves.


Our final stop was Esther’s. It is prime crawfish time here. Glen had the boiled crawfish—five pounds!—and I had the crawfish platter.


It was a good day.


Photos of McFadden Beach are here:


Photos of Shangri-La in Orange Texas are here: