Friday, July 31, 2015

Listen to your life….


Life… the holy and hidden heart of it in the mountains of New Hampshire.


If I were called upon 
to state
in a few words
the essence of everything
I was trying to say
it would be something 
like this:

Listen to your life.
See if for the fathomless
mystery that it is.

In the boredom 
and pain
 of it
no less than
in the 
excitement 
and gladness:

touch, taste, smell
your way to the 
holy and hidden 
heart of it
because 
in the last analysis
all moments
 are key moments,
and 
life itself
is a 
grace. 


Words by

   Photo by me…after a storm,


On that note, 
wishing you 
a wonderful weekend!


Jeanne xx

PS..thank you for you lovely
reunion thoughts..
I left comments for you. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Through The Looking-Glass…40 years later


Jeanne Marie
'Jean'
Favorite Saying:
Friendship is a horizon which expands as you approach it.
Ambition:
To discover the life of the mind, pursue wisdom,
and to take a place in the world.
 
1975

Yes, my friends, that is me, a turtleneck kind of girl, sporting a classic high school yearbook pose in 1975. Have you looked at your teenage self recently? Earlier in the month, I took the plunge and went to my first ever high school reunion. Looking at my high school yearbook was the first step in my backwards journey.

It's been years since I dusted off the pages and when I did I had to laugh…blogging was not even a figment of anyone's imagination back then but clearly it was in mine. My 'favourite Saying' and life 'Ambition' smack of all that that has spilled into my keyboard and onto the pages of Collage of Life these past five years.  My friendship horizon is still expanding and I am still in search of finding my place in the world…I should probably be VERY concerned that at 57 I am still writing like my 17 year old self. We will not delve to deeply into the looking-glass on that one, for I am afraid of what I might discover. ;)


As for the reunion, it was a night to remember but getting there did not come easy. I debated this topic a while back here. I missed them all, the previous reunions that appeared on the calendar every five years. Some were missed by choice and most others were due to living overseas. But truth be told, I never felt endeared to the idea of returning. Why step back when we spend so much time looking forward? I can go on and on with every imaginable reason for not going but then suddenly I felt compelled to go. It felt like an unfinished chapter in a book that needed to be written. 

In my usual fashion, I was off to a late start the night of the event and barely had time to get ready. I grabbed a hairbrush, pinched the cheeks, added a dash of lipstick, a spray of perfume, threw on the summer whites, my Vietnamese caftan, a few necklaces, bracelet, earrings, silk scarf, sandals and flew out the door for pre-reunion drinks with friends. One hour later, I walked through the front door of the local American Legion Hall into what ended up being three hours of hugs, screams, laughter and dancing. The same string of words were on everyone's lips throughout the night..

You haven't changed a bit.
What have you been doing for the past 40 years?
Do you know who that was?
What ever happened to…?
Who did we just talk to?
Do you remember…?
What was that person's name?
I remember when…
I wish I could remember his or her name….
Do you remember me?

I wonder if this was the same line of conversation 
for the 20th and 30th reunions?
;)

Here is what I learned to be true…

In many ways, we hadn't changed at all and it was lovely to see. Having just looked at our high school yearbook, I was struck by how similar everyone looked to their teenage selves. There were no dramatic changes or discoveries…you discounted the obvious features distinguishing age and looked beyond. My assessment was that we were all ageing gracefully. 

It was fascinating to hear people sum up the past forty years of their lives. Their jobs, families and most importantly, their hopes and dreams for the future. In hindsight, I wished I had put on my old Yearbook Editor hat and noted everyone's aspirations for the upcoming years. It is on my list for the next reunion.

I love the photo below, it is everything a photo should not be, blurry with people looking anywhere but the camera but one truth is evident, their was joy and laughter and even though forty years had passed, once connected again, it was as if time had stood still, in laughter.  In my books, life doesn't get any better than that. 


I tried to sneak out of the shot but they caught me.
Spot the purple scarf.


In the name of ageing gracefully , I decided to do something to mark the occasion. I came across sunglasses in a shop that I once owned in 1986 (my thirty something self, below). Long out of fashion, they seem to be making a comeback..or so I was told by the sales person. My daughter, wise one that she is, felt that they "were me"…so I bought them and I plan to rock them...again.

Me…1988.

I was hoping to show a recent pic of me (really) but a funny thing happened this week. I went in for dental surgery and came out looking like a chipmunk on steroids….and then some. Why I tried on sunglasses in this state of metamorphosis is another matter. I reckon it can only get better…right?


So how about you?
Are you in, out or over high school reunions?
Have you looked at your high school self recently?
Have you brought any fashions from the past back into your life, 
just because you can?

My favourite part 
about striding 
through my fifties
 towards my sixties
is that anything goes.
Because I say so. 
:)


Sending Happy Stylish Thoughts your way…

Jeanne xx


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Summer Rental and my Airbnb BFF


Mrs. H gets an idea…which leads to a summer rental and her Airbnb BFF.


Last summer I had an epiphany after a very large ailing maple tree was cut down at Tahilla Farm. The epiphany went along the lines of tweaking the architects plans to take in a wider view of the landscape. My idea was a long shot but it worked. Unfortunately, I was a bit short on the math in regards to timing. I packed up the house, sent the contents into storage thinking that we would return to Tahilla in May/June 2015. I was delusional and off by five months with a more realistic date given to me of October 2015.

It was clear a summer rental was needed and hopefully one close enough to Tahilla so I could stay in touch with the day to day goings on. My search efforts from Vietnam were frustrating. The Internet lagged, dates were impossible and the accommodations were depressing. I find it hard to work with depressing and lagging Internet service.

And then..a glimmer of hope as I tuned into the rental website, Airbnb. I had used this site last year to find rental accommodations in Sydney and had pretty good luck. I wasn't sure if I would find something in our small country town within a reasonable distance of our home for the entire summer. But…as luck would have it, the rental gods were with me. I found a log cabin, up a hill (which feels like a mountain), in the woods, within potential walking distance to our house (if I was feeling particularly energetic).

The owner and I chatted back and forth via email, getting to know each other, as you do when you are about to rent your home to a stranger. It is one of those situations that could go very wrong or very right, for both parties. We connected by phone last week, he was in London and I was in San Francisco. By the time I hung up the phone I was ready to be his Airbnb BFF…like.. really.. forever.

I have been in this little cabin on a hill (which feel like a mountain) for nearly two weeks and am absolutely smitten with it. Within a few days of my arrival, my son, Connor, arrived from Australia for a three week visit. We are both loving the atmosphere and vista. Some days I have to remind myself that we have a house under construction that I should be visiting. The cabin is that 'kick back' friendly kind of living…the kind I love. It has provided me with all sorts of ideas for Tahilla. I love that too.

I will describe it to you as I describe it to my friends and family who will be visiting over the summer. Are you ready?


It's a bit tricky to find the street, but when you do, 
 drive slowly up the hill (which feels like a mountain). 
The neighbours ask for 10mph…please oblige.
Keep on driving…



until you spy a cabin in a field of foxgloves.



If you arrive in the late afternoon you will catch them in their glory.




I will be there to greet you. 
When you arrive be ready to relax.
I promise you will, it is that kind of place.



The decorating style is playful and charming.




Love books? You will love this cabin..
in fact, you may never want to leave.
Think sabbatical…a long one. 



You know the afternoon light I mentioned earlier?
It gets even better when it settles into the house.



Afternoon and morning light. 



Feel free to pull up a chair and read a book anytime you like. 




or throw yourself (gently) onto the couch and settle in. 




 I promise you will be intrigued by each and every book. 
My Airbnb BFF has a spectacular library.




He asks that you enjoy his books,
and you will.



For you arrival, 
I snipped a few budding peonies at Tahilla Farm 
and brought them back to the cabin.
The fragrance is out of this world.



I swear they wink at me as I pass by...



My Airbnb BFF has thought of everthying right down to comfy beds.




and the bedside table book stacks…





Especially fun when you want to spend time reading in bed 
which you are more than welcome to do. 
Read for as long as you like.




You can sleep in and come on down to the kitchen when you are ready.
Coffee will be brewing. Just grab a cup and help yourself.




Daydreaming out the kitchen window is allowed any time of day.




 Feel free to daydream inside as well. 




It is hard not to..seriously, really hard not to. 




And when our day of exploring is done and we head 
back to the cabin on the hill (which feels like a mountain) 
we can grab an India Pale Ale chilling in the refrigerator...




or whatever drink takes your fancy,
and mosey onto the porch to put our feet up.




 Watching the sun set over the mountains is a favourite pastime.



After all…






we will not want to miss any moments that take our breath away. 
:)



And that my blogging friend is a little insight into our summer rental and my Airbnb BFF. I should qualify this by saying I have elected to call him my BFF…he has no idea of this, shhh!  Have you used Airbnb before? It is worth a look if you find yourself travelling around the world and are looking for accommodations. There are a few options available, you can find a host with extra rooms to rent or rent an entire home as I have done. You have 190+ countries to choose from. I rented an apartment when I travelled solo to Sydney and was very happy with the accommodations, just as I am with this situation. You do have to read the fine print very carefully. Each situation is unique and extra charges do have a way of adding up. Some people enjoy travelling to new countries and staying with local families to fully appreciate the culture. Others might be looking for the most economical way to travel. There seems to be something for everyone. It just depends on your travel style and if you are willing to travel outside the normal channels. 

On that note…
sending you best wishes from the cabin on the hill (which feels like a mountain).

More to come on Tahilla Farm…things are humming along!
Thank you for all your comments and suggestions.
Love them all!

Jeanne xx

All photos taken by me,
Jeanne Henriques.
More photos on my Instagram page.




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Feels like home….




Construction anxiety….
It has been exactly one week since I returned to Tahilla Farm by way of a birthday celebration in San Francisco and our home, Chateau Mango, in Vietnam. I admitted to anyone who would listen that I was nervous about going back. Call it a case of construction anxiety but I could not help but wonder if I would drive up to Tahilla Farm...and fall flat on my face wondering what we had done. 

Dorothy and the Emerald City...
My faith in the design and people involved with the project has never wavered but it is one thing to see photographs, chase emails and make decorating decisions via Pinterest and another to stand in front of the real deal. I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz...anticipating her greeting at the gates of Emerald City, hoping her quest would be successful. 




The drive from Logan...
Would it be as I hoped? The driver who picked me up from Logan Airport, Jerry, heard all about it…for two hours of rush hour traffic. I think he was just as anxious as I was by the time we arrived to Tahilla Farm. We both breathed a sigh of relief as we drove up. He glanced into the rear view mirror, I was in the back seat smiling…I am sure he thanked his lucky stars that he did not have an emotional female on his hands. 

A chubby woodchuck...
He transferred my bags to my waiting chariot (Outback Subaru) and he said farewell. I turned toward the house and felt a hushed silence fall over me. I was thankful to be alone, I needed time to process what was standing before me. I looked over to the fields and spotted the blooming peonies above. I wasn't expecting to see them, having thought they were long gone in the wave of demolition last year but there they were…bursting forth with pride. I took it as a sign…a sign that was quickly thwarted when a very chubby woodchuck, the one who made mince out of my garden last summer, dashed out from under the peony bush and beelined it to the fields. I had to laugh.. a strange welcome home..but it felt right.

Up, down and around...
The house was as I had pictured in my mind and more. I climbed up, down and around and finally found a way into the house. I found some parts were as I imagined, some smaller, some larger but as a whole, it was coming together, just as we planned.

The summer rental...
Satisfied, I drove off to our summer rental, a cabin in the woods which I affectionately call my 'cabin retreat'. Stay tuned on this one, it is fab!

The Cabin Retreat


By way of Sydney..
And so begins the summer of 2015, my third at Tahilla Farm. Although the house is not due to be completed until October, I know that each and every day will be eventful. The best so far was the arrival of my youngest son, Connor, who flew into Boston from Sydney late Saturday night. I took him along to Tahilla on Sunday morning…hoping he would feel what I feel.

Feels like…
Four words is all it took as he walked through the house "it feels like home". Week one, mother feeling pretty happy. One week down, nine to go, fingers crossed.



Happenings around Tahilla….
Week One



Mr. H will be happy with his 'Master and Commander' curves. 

Mrs H.  happy to get up close and personal with her kitchen faucet.
Newport Brass..even better than I hoped for.
It's the little things.



Picking a grout colour for the laundry room floor…
who knew there were so many colours to choose from??

I got a hex thing going in all the bathrooms…love hexagon tiles.

Decisions, decisions, where to put Mr. H's hippo and rhino tiles.  Long story...


Shades of stone for the front entrance and mudroom.
Love stone..with radiant floor heating.

Deb, a mighty marvel, builds a stone wall.


Tahilla boulder's, red tagged for a 'contemplative' garden.


Jeanne has a case of truck envy.


Tahilla Farm and her rocks.

Feels like home. 




If you have any thoughts or questions please feel free to pass them on!
I love when you do!
jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

Daily update here.

Happy Trails!

Jeanne xx

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

By way of San Francisco…



Along the way to Lombard Street...


On the road again…
I am on the road to Tahilla by way of San Francisco. We stopped into SF for a family reunion to celebrate my mother-in-law's 85th birthday.  I have written about her over the years, when she was 80 with The Intrepid Traveller and 82 with The Travelling Sisterhood. She is an amazing woman and an inspiration at 85…I have every confidence that she will still be travelling the world at 90. There is no stopping that woman once she sets her mind to something. I love that about her.

People in the know...
Speaking of love…I am passing it on to readers who have left me a trail of San Francisco travel tips between Facebook and Instagram. This is my first trip to SF and while I did a bit of research, I thought it would be fun to ask people who are in the know. I lucked out…travel tips are below.

Uber me….Uber you
But first… Are you an Uber user? If not, and you are planning to spend time in San Francisco, can I suggest you download the App before you arrive? I speak from experience. There are places in the city where you will not find a cab..trust me when I say, it will be a frustrating experience. After walking many blocks (while on the phone with various cab companies), riding several crowded buses in the wrong direction, we all swore (nine of us)..Uber would be in our life by the end of the day. The flip side of the story is that we were able to visit sections of the city that were not on our list and through it all, we had to laugh. What else can you do?  I am happy to report that several of us downloaded the Uber app as soon as we returned to the hotel and rode merrily off into the evening sunset with the comfort of knowing an  Uber  'black car' was never far away.  We used it a few times during our stay and it is brilliant…a must if you plan to explore the far corners of San Francisco, especially in the evening. Enough said on that subject.

Readers travel tips for San Francisco…what they said
Lisa…go to Hotel Monaco and Maiden Lane Shopping
Kathy..climb Mount Tamalpais near Golden Gate Bridge
Laura..visit  Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown and shop Union Street
Paula… try The Slanted Door restaurant for great Vietnamese food
Carren.. visit North Beach to see Beach Blanket Babylon
Linda..take ferry and lunch in Sausalito, shop Fishermans' Wharf, try cheese at Cowgirl Creamery and olive oi ant McEvoy Ranch store.
Hilda..visit San Francisco Botanical Garden
Lisa…try Peruvian food anywhere, drinks at the St. Regis Bar, Clift Hotel Bar and R&G Lounge. Eat at Shanghai Dumpling for Chinese food, hang out with the hipster crowd at Delfina's in the Mission, go to Dolores Park for an intense experience, grab a sandwich at Bi-Rite Market and ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery, try Boulevard Restaurant near the Ferry Building, drive through Sea Cliff neighbourhood to see the mansions, hike Sutro Tower and walk across Golden Gate Bridge, eat at Coi for super refined food.
Karen.. cable car from Union Square, shop Sutter Street.
Sarah…join Avital for a walking food tour
Lisa..visit Farmer's Market on Saturday morning at the Ferry Building
Pamela…shop Bellochio's on 10 Brady Street
Clarie..shop Gump's in Union Square
Ann..eat at Top of the Mark at Mark Hopkins Hotel
Cindy…eat and shop at Ferry Building
Rodney…visit Flora Grubb Gardens
Jean…wear flowers in your hair

To all those who provided their San Francisco favourites, thank you!!

We wandered..planned and unplanned, taking in the city as it came. In and out, up and down, on foot, by cable car, by bus, by taxi, by Uber…and through it all we only managed to capture just the essence of San Francisco. One thing was clear…there is so much more to explore in and out of the city. We will save the rest for another time…for now, here are a few of my favourite shots, in no particular order. More SF photos on Instagram,  here.

A walk along the waterfront is a must.
 Port of San Francisco.


Feeling creative with a black and white moment at our hotel, The Fairmont.

Love museums…this one, is definitely worth a visit!
 de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco


Docked…SS Jeremiah O'Brien Liberty ship



A fellow bus traveller..


For the 85 year old birthday gal,
 pink peonies with a hint of geranium…
at Spruce Restaurant


A mecca for tourists, Lombard Street, with eight hairpin turns…
a curvy downhill experience.


Can we give it up for the colours of this house and garden?

It all happens in one block…the crookedest street in the world.

Purple paint passion on the streets of North Beach

Wishing on a fish…or two.. on San Francisco Bay.

Buddha Haven…on Havens.

Walking the streets of SF with a camera is a must. If you can, do it on your own,
fellow travel partners will thank you. ;)

This little fellow, Walter, surprised us in a taxi today…
he hopped over the front seat and made himself comfortable.
I can tell you, I was not expecting that!

A painterly moment (above and below) from our trip
 to the San Francisco Botanical Garden this morning. 

For the love of a garden…and a blue veil.


The Blue Veil, 1898
by Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862-1938)


I discovered 'Poets in the Garden' at the de Young museum.. a program for San Francisco Bay Area students. Students are introduced to fundamental principals of art viewing and creative writing and are offered the opportunity to select artwork as inspiration for the poems they create.

One of my favourite paintings and student poems...

Untitled by Jonah Copi
Seventh grade, the San Francisco School
written for The Blue Veil (above)

I shift and change
places with her every move.

I glide, flowing in the air
with the slightest gust
of wind.

I hide her beauty and 
ensure her innocence.

I conceal her emotions
with my blue shadow and
act as her barrier.

It is my duty to protect her
and I do my best.

She is helpless without
my blue, silky shield.

The two of us become one
as I cling to her forever.

I give her clarity 
in a state of confusion.

I give her guidance
in a time of fogginess.

I am not only her veil
but her friend and protector.


With that we say adieu to San Francisco.
Mr. H heads due west back to Vietnam.
Mrs. H heads due east to New Hampshire
and Tahilla Farm.

Catch you on the other side! 

PS..
If you would like to add to the San Francisco travel tip list,
please do. Leave a comment or write to me
jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com
I will add it to the list, happily!
Thank you! Thank you!

Jeanne xx 

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