Posted tagged ‘Garden’

From My Grand Bahama Garden: RED Avocados!

January 11, 2011

Now here’s something you don’t see every day. In fact, after living here on Grand Bahama Island for over 20 years, I’d never seen one until a couple days ago. Looks more like an apple or a big plum, doesn’t it?! But look inside at the familiar creamy green …

Yes, it’s an avocado! (And a perfectly ripe and tasty one too.) A quick Google search shows it’s a Florida variety of avocado that turns red when it ripens. These beauties came from a tree in an out of the way area behind the guest cottage garden. This is what they look like growing way up on the tree …

(and yes, I drew the little arrow and circle on the photo so it’s easier to find the avocado, but other than that, all these photos of the avocados are straight out of the iPhone camera, no-retouching at t’all!)

I had no idea avocados could be red. But Miss Lue knew. Miss Lue is an amazing woman who hails from Jamaica originally and is the reason we have clean clothes around here every week. And clean everything, despite my creative clutter. We are truly blessed to have Miss Lue in our lives. In addition to her generous and helpful heart, she also has a green thumb and knows about all sorts of edible island garden treasures. I only knew we were already graced to have two different varieties of green avocados in our garden, but to find a new kind — a RED avocado (I just have to keep saying that because I’m so in awe of it) — feels like winning some sort of tropical arbor triple crown!

I’m so pleased to be at the stage of life where horticultural discoveries in my own back yard are my idea of Headline News. Worthy of a special report. All these amazing trees and plants, and I’m finally getting acquainted with them on a deeper level and asking their names and stories. Pleased to meet you, Red Florida Avocado.

red-when-they're-ripe avocados

so yummy

And thank you again, Miss Lue, for the introduction!

Miss Lue: Household Heroine, Wise Island Gardener & Patient Teacher of Natural Grace

Famous Blueprints: Our Humble Historic Home

October 7, 2010



A few years ago we were delighted to discover that our unassuming little home in Grand Bahama was born from famous blueprints—designed by Alfred Browning Parker, whose post-World War II contemporary modernist work in and around Miami made him one of the most sought-after architects in the U.S., garnering high praise even from Frank Lloyd Wright—a guiding influence in Parker’s organic architecture philosophies.


Originally constructed for a former chief executive of The Grand Bahama Development Company, our modest two-bedroom home shares architectural roots with a much grander home, built by one of Freeport’s founding families on Sea Shell Lane. This property was recently sold by Coldwell Banker James Sarles Realty and photographed by fine art photographer Christine Matthäi. Matthäi’s artful images capture the home’s classic oceanfront elegance and the timeless organic nature of Parker’s work.

Sea Shell Lane residence photographed by Christine Matthäi

Parker shared a passion with Frank Lloyd Wright for designs that worked with local climate and natural materials. In tropical climes that meant louvered shutters and windows that allowed prevailing ocean breezes to cool things down in the days before air conditioning became commonplace. Parker’s sensitivity and commitment to use of indigenous materials is also evident in the limestone rock that is incorporated into both our humble abode and the Sea Shell Lane residence.

Beautifully blending local materials, recycled materials with then-modern techniques like poured concrete was part of Parker’s modernist mission. His designs are still relevant today in the way they seamlessly merge the interior with the exterior—blurring the boundaries between building and landscape in classic organic architecture.

Sea Shell Lane photos by Christine Matthäi. 2010 ChristineMatthai.com

In our little part of paradise, the grand old trees that surround the property are visible everywhere and bring a particular kind of contentment and sense of well being found only in the shade of their longevity. Our stands of mature trees were planted by Lila Gonsalves—the first President of the Freeport Garden Club—and I send her quiet thanks on an ongoing basis for the green goodness we regularly enjoy in the garden.  Sir Jack Hayward also had a hand in our arbor abundance, having given the now towering 40-foot tall Royal Poinciana tree that graces the front entry, to the original home owners in a coffee can—a tiny sapling housewarming present that bursts out in dazzling splendour every May & June.

Royal Poinciana entryway tree in full bloom

A kiss of the sun for pardon

The song of the birds for mirth

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.

— Dorothy Frances Gurney


Our small home and the Sea Shell Lane property are the only two known surviving residential works of Alfred Browning Parker on Grand Bahama—a tie to modern day Freeport’s history that still smiles on the ideal of harmony between human habitation and the natural world—an essential element in preserving our island’s inherent beauty and grace as we make our way into the future.

Related Alfred Browning Parker Links:

Alfred Browning Parker: The Master of Coconut Grove:

Modernism Magazine (Volume 11, No. 2 | Summer 2008)

House Beautiful Magazine

The legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright commented on a home Alfred Browning Parker built for himself in the Coral Ridge area of Miami, featured as House Beautiful Magazine’s 1954 Pace Setter House:

“This Florida house aims at the highest goal to which architecture may aspire: organic architecture. Along this new but ancient way a home where the enlightened mind can flower, where people can develop their fullest potentials, is still a possibility.”

Slide Show: More of Christine Matthäi’s photographic images of Sea Shell Lane residence, click here.

Let’s Dance!

August 4, 2009

flamenco.heart

Oh, sweet life.

Swaying to a samba beat.

A sheaf of smooth writing paper.

Eclectic embraces of everyday exquisiteness.

Aqua ocean vistas.

Chilled mangoes.

Basil and tomatoes plucked from the garden patch.

Succulent stories.

White sand beneath my feet. Movies screened on a moonlit beach.

Books. More books.

Veni. Vidi. Visa. (I came. I saw. I shopped!)

Luscious Italian everything.

Abundant wispy plumbago plants.

Gardenias. Night blooming jasmine.


Mary Anne Radmacher’s word gardens of inspiration.

Anne Lamott’s writings.

A freshly sharpened bouquet of pencils.

The Beauty & Truth Laboratories of Rob Brezsny.

Daffodils.

Dallying.

The light in my husband’s eyes.

That little inside joke that makes my daughter laugh every time.

Seriously silly stuff.

Long, deep kisses that last three days. (And the movie, Bull Durham, where that line came from!)

Playing with words and images and impressions and ideas.

Dreaming.

Having fun making art. Supporting art.

The steady thrum of a printing press.

Grey’s Anatomy.

iPhone ingenuity.

Vintage wines. (And whines!)

Memorable martinis.

Movie therapy.

Extravagance.

Exuberance.

President Obama!

My dear, dear wonderful family and deeply fabulous and funny friends,

(each enchanting in their own way).

Merrymaking.

Meandering.

Merengue.

Making a difference.

A lot of alliteration!

High tea. High heels.

Serendipity.

Passionate purposes.

Time and tides.

Into-me-see.

Soft landings.

Deep breathing.

Gentle lessons.

A tender touch.

And writing. Yes, definitely writing!

Those are just a few of my favorite things. (I really did start out to make a succinct list of just a handful of things, but then one happy thought leads to another, doesn’t it?) It’s hard to stop once you start to put a list like this together … so many pleasures and inspirations to ponder. I love it all. And I want it all. And writing that down helps me remember that I already have it all when I take a breath and really look and sit still long enough to simply enjoy and reflect on the swaths of sumptuous blessings that flow both through me and to me every day.

That’s what starting this blog is about for me.  I am inspired by the wisdom, wit, and whimsy that wing their way through the web and keep us all connected when we’re brave enough to open our hearts and share all the things we love about life, as well as all the things that haven’t quite made that list just yet! We can talk about those another time; right now I’m just pleased to be giving this blog a first twirl ….

The mysteries and marvels, musings and music, are tuning up. Let’s dance!


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