Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Message: Don't Take Life for Granted

On the eve of Thanksgiving 2015 I am uploading to my computer photographs I took yesterday at Charleston's beautiful and historic Magnolia Cemetery, about which I have written two books.

I am always touched by the gravesite of little Annie Kerr Aiken who was not quite 3 years old when the throat disease diphtheria took your young life in 1856. Passersby often place small toys and stuffed animals at this site, or as I saw yesterday, coins. Thirteen cents someone placed here- bad luck?

Well, you can't argue that Little Annie has bad luck and misfortune as many children did in the 18th and 19th centuries. Happy Thanksgiving everyone- and do be grateful and give thanks for the life you have. Do not take it for granted!

("The Children of Magnolia Cemetery" is a big chapter in my 2014 book, "In the Arms of Angels: Magnolia Cemetery- Charleston's Treasure of History, Mystery and Artistry". This book, and my 2011 "The Birds of Magnolia Cemetery: Charleston's Secret Bird Sanctuary", are available on and at select Charleston area shops and historic sites.

"Little" Annie Kerr Aiken  (1853-56)
Annie was the daughter of Joseph and Ellen Aiken
Annie's site is a true masterpiece of Victorian funerary art
Annie has plenty of company in the expansive Aiken-Martin plot near Magnolia Cemetery's back lagoon

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kizoa Slideshow: Magnolia Cemetery in All Its Splendor

Kizoa is a fun, easy to use, slideshow and collage program for creating colorful presentations put to music and an array of special effects and animation.

I created this Kizoa slideshow about Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. I have written two books about this grand 19th Victorian necropolis. You can read about them on another blog I have called BirdsEyeViews.

Magnolia Birds - Kizoa Online Movie Maker

Another great thing about Kizoa is that it is free! Free up to a point. There is a nice assortment of music option with the program. But if you want to add other music, you may have to pay for that before your slideshow can be shared. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Goodread Review of "In the Arms of Angels"

I was excited and pleased to recently come across online this very favorable review of the "In the Arms of Angels" book about Magnolia Cemetery that I published last year. The review is on Goodreads, a website that helps readers "meet your next book."

Thank you Courtney! I'm glad you like my book and appreciate the great time and effort I put into it!

Friday, October 9, 2015

My "Best of Magnolia Cemetery" Video

I just cannot seem to get enough of Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery! 

Books, videos, photographs, blogs posts, articles, taking friends and visitors there, even a special CofC class that ties in with "MagCem." In preparing to take my "Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teach the Living" students on a tour there recently, I used the opportunity to record video of my favorite Magnolia Cemetery landmarks and memorials. 

So without further ado  (drum roll please!)...I present to you "Patrick Harwood's Best of Magnolia Cemetery" video:   

The music was found on my go-to free music website,

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Santee Coastal Reserve Part II

Last Monday I had a very nice "staycation" outing back to the Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area north of McClellanville, S.C.

It was warm day and very buggy along some pathways along the 24,000 acre nature site. But my friend Beverly Donald and I came away with some excellent photographs. The clouds were gorgeous, enhancing wide shots like the ones below.
Love this photo!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Santee Coastal Reserve WMA

I came across a "kettle" of Barn Swallows last month while exploring the Santee River region north of McClellanville, S.C. I was driving toward the Intracoastal Waterway to see if the ferry was running to the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center (it wasn't- it only operates certain times of the year)
A nice spot this ferry landing!
If only I had my own boat! 
The ferry to the Yawkey Center- I tried to get the guy to take me across but no luck there

Sunday, July 12, 2015

College of Charleston Faculty Book Display

I was excited yesterday to finally see the display of recent faculty publications in the College of Charleston's Addlestone Library. My 2014 Magnolia Cemetery book is in the bottom right hand corner.

The display is on the third floor near the Special Collections/South Carolina Historical Society section. 

The CofC faculty books will be displayed throughout the summer. I'm quite honored to be part of this presentation!  "In the Arms of Angels: Magnolia Cemetery- Charleston's Treasure of History, Mystery and Artistry" remains available for purchase. See the column to the left for stores and other sales information. My two books are also on the shelves of the Addlestone Library and all of the public libraries in the greater Charleston area. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Favorite BVI Photos

The beautiful British Virgin Islands was a dream vacation!  Alesia and I stayed for a week at the fabulous Scrub Island Resort. This is a five-star Marriott property of just more than 50 rooms. All of the views face the beautiful Caribbean Sea. 
Marriott's Scrub Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands- our room was in the building at top, second from right

As lovely and comfortable as the resort is, we didn't spend that much time there, at least during the day. Fortunately, the weather was great the whole time we were there.We went on two snorkeling excursions and on another day took a ferry to Virgin Gorda where we rented a car to tour the island and also snorkeled at Savannah Bay Beach (pictured below) and Virgin Gorda's popular The Baths National Park- both places were exceptional: Savannah Bay quiet and intimate; The Baths much more crowded and so unusual with all those huge rocks.
Virgin Gorda's Savannah Bay 

                                             Bath Beach on Virgin Gorda
               The Caves at Bath Beach offer another neat natural wonder

Another interesting rock formation, and the best snorkeling spot we hit during our visit, was The Indians, located off Norman Island. Our snorkel boat anchored nearby and our group had a great time swimming around and through these giant jutting rocks.
The Indians- the name has different origins. Not disputed: excellent snorkeling!

I had much fun with our new GoPro Hero4 Silver camera. Using the special wrist mount, I was able to capture nice underwater stills and video and neat above the water shots too.
See my YouTube video! 

This is one of the caves we swam into to snorkel and look around

A school of fish seen at The Bath Beach on Virgin Gorda

Pretty yellow/black striped fish amid coral at The Indians

For both our snorkel outings Sara from Dive BVI was our awesome leader

Returning to our boat

GoPro image from Virgin Gorda's Savannah Bay

There wasn't too much British apparent-seen or heard- on BVI. This was an exception, on Cooper Island where we stopped for lunch during a snorkeling excursion.  We had a memorable lunch also aboard Willy T's pirate ship off Norman Island

Great sea views from the Cooper Island Beach Club Restaurant
Willy T's had a fun atmosphere. Some people jumped into the water from the second deck

Alesia and I aboard the snorkel boat

We had a wonderful, whirlwind time on Scrub Island and the rest of the British Virgin Islands we were able to see from land, boat and underwater. We met three couples from Charleston, which was a surprise. And, we also had a celebrity encounter at the St. Thomas airport waiting from our plane home. We met Craig Conover from the Charleston Bravo show "Southern Charms." 

Scrub Island, despite its name, was anything but. The location and resort design are incredible. The rooms are luxurious. There are many amenities including free kayaking and stand up paddle boarding, which we did for the first time- such fun! 

Scrub Island is not the easiest place to reach, but the ferries and cabs and short time spent walking around BVI's largest island, Tortola, only added to the very stimulating vacation experience! The beach (and bar) at Jos Van Dyke, Willy T's, The Caves, The Indians, The Baths, the ferries, the boats, the many small islands and their Caribbean beauty- all will bring great memories for years to come. 
Some additional favorite BVI photos:

Dinner at one of Scrub Island's two fine restaurants

View from Scrub Island of neighboring islands
                                                             The marina at Scrub Island
Ferries are a way of life for BVI residents and tourists as well. They are clean and efficient. And they give you great views
from the water. The BVI archipelago consists of more than 50 islands, some developed, some not.
Busy Road Town on the island of Tortola is the capital of the BVI
The Scrub Island Resort's small market offers necessities, breakfast and other meals
Our room- very nice (we scored a sweet suite upgrade!)
Living room area with a porch looking out to the resort and the Caribbean
Scrub Island's beach is fairly small but offers nice chairs and activities like this bounce float, kayaks and stand up paddle boards
Ahh, the life of leisure, even if just for a few days, was so nice! 

Another favorite BVI photo- this is at Scrub Island's North Beach, which is a 10-15 minute walk from the resort. Staff will also take people there on golf carts.   Great times on the BVI! Maybe we'll get back there some day...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Flurry of Talks in March!

This photo and short article appeared in today's Summerville Journal Scene. Many thanks to Louise Guy for inviting me to speak at The Village at Summerville Presbyterian Community. I really enjoyed the large attentive audience of residents and staff. Mrs. Guy has deep ties to Magnolia Cemetery, going all the way to its opening in 1850. A number of her Johnson ancestors are interred there, as is her late husband.

Mrs. Guy really surprised me with this beautiful display she and a staff member prepared to publicize my talk on March 12. She was kind enough to let me have the fine piece of work, which I have already used as a backdrop to me books at a presentation a few days later!
Wonderful Magnolia Cemetery Display!

March 12 was a busy day for me. After my Village at Summerville appearance I headed to Seabrook Island where I spoke to some 130 folks at an event sponsored by the Seabrook Island Natural History Group. Marsha Bird and her husband Ben treated me to dinner at the lovely Seabrook golf course club house. Wow, what a great view of the golf course and ocean from that restaurant! 

Marsha and Ben told me a great story about a photography book by Charles J. Moore that is all about the Great Egret rookery in their Seabrook backyard! I plan to accept their invitation to see all this firsthand! Thank you Birds and thanks to all the people who came to my talk. That's the biggest audience I've ever had! 

With Marsha Bird at Seabrook's Lake House on March 12

A few days later I had the privilege of talking about Magnolia Cemetery and my book to the Charleston chapter of the South Carolina Genealogical Society. It was neat for me to not only meet fellow history and research enthusiasts but also to be in the Masonic Lodge in West Ashley where they meet. 

I saw the large painting of late 19th century Masonic leader Peter Coburn. A local descendant of his who saw Mr. Coburn's artistic headstone and write up in my book (page 153) had told me about this painting in a Masonic Lodge locally. I didn't know it was at the Masonic Lodge where I speaking March 15 until I walked in and saw it in the lobby!
I'm looking forward to giving more presentations in the months ahead! Contact me if you're interested in me speaking to your group. Thank you! 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter 2015 Backyard Birds

(A number of new photos were added on February 15 and March 22, bringing to 17 the number of different birds photographed in my backyard recent weeks)

This weekend I spent some quality time on my back porch enjoying the warmer winter weather while photographing some of the visitors to my feeders and nearby trees.

A nice variety of feathered friends feasted on the array of seeds and suet hanging from my (warning: product placement!) Wild Birds Unlimited set up located several feet from my porch. I like the position because the birds are very easy to see and the squirrels can't jump onto it from tree branches or the roof. Also, quality photography is possible while I'm sitting on the porch or stealthily looking down through my upstairs bathroom window.

Chipping Sparrow Pair
I like this photo of Chipping Sparrows because of the front and back perspectives it has. It's neat how symmetrical the feather pattern and colors are in the bird on the left.

These small birds don't spook as easily as most types that come to the feeders. They are focused on their eating and don't mind my presence nearby clicking (silently) just a few yards away.