Monday, August 6, 2018

What 60 looks like....and a question for YOU

What 60 looks like...
on the Selinda Spillway in the Okavango Delta

I have been thinking a lot about what a woman’s 60th year looks like. I can tell you it feels a whole lot better than my 59th year. About this time last year my air miles were off the charts and I was feeling well...tired..a weary tired. 

One year later.. a GOOD TIRED. 

This morning I twisted myself into some version of a Vinyasa yoga pose that looked nothing like my instructors. I looked over into the mirror and thought ...Jeanne, you idiot, why did you look? YOU look ridiculous...and proceeded to flow (collapse is more like it) into a Child Pose. My default pose when I can not keep it together...which happens often. 

This is just one of the classes pushing me into a "good tired". I am also working with a fitness trainer, Carol, two mornings a week. We work hard and it leaves me near crawling from her studio up a flight of stairs to the car park but it is a good tired and worth the energy.

 It doesn’t stop there, I am also taking a Fit Camp class two times a week with a group of ladies who groan along with me as we feel the burn. I can not remember the last group exercise class I took only because I tend to avoid them. I can't even remember the reason why but after the first class I knew I had been missing out on a great source of exercise and camaraderie. 

I love a good tired way. 

This has only been going on for two weeks and I swear my family is taking bets on when I will give up and call it quits. I have been here before..with Danny in Vietnam. They think it is hysterical...and that keeps me going.

The GOOD TIRED is now turning into RENEWED ENERGY and that’s when 60 starts to look interesting. 

With my youngest off to college in two weeks and my focus shifting...I often ask my 60 year old self... what next? 

This question came up last month as I was bumping along in a jeep through the beautiful and remote 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana. Each time I perched my camera to photograph one of life’s majestic wonders..I had that nagging question at the back of my mind...what next...MR. ELEPHANT? 

And then it happened... 

One afternoon, back at the lodge, I kicked off my boots, set my feet up and checked for an Internet connection when an email popped up. 

A long time follower of my blog wanted to throw out an idea to me. Would I be interested in hosting a Women’s Book Club Retreat at Tahilla Farm? Other words floated by...meditation, yoga, garden tour, cooking class and lots of hours of coffee/tea/wine talking about books. In my mind...The Brown Paper Book Club Retreat? At that point I ordered a beer. 

I knew this concept would need some thinking through. I mentioned it to Mr. H...he looked a bit frightened...the same look he gives me when I suggest we invite people to dinner. He says I turn into a maniac of, a Virgo? Really?

I decided I had to go to my tribe... (men included)

In the woods...Tahilla Farm

This is where you come in...what do you think? 

Would you be interested in hanging out for a few days with fellow blog readers...thinking creatively in the woods of New Hampshire? 

If you had to pick five words from the list below, which would you pick? 


Midlife health 

I selected the subjects that I have been writing about all these years...seems to make the most sense to stick with what you love. It's a start.

What I especially like about all this idea is that it takes me back to that first visit to Tahilla Farm. When I went house hunting down a dirt road and spied a studio in a barn. In that space an idea took hold...something very similar to this one. I knew one day it would come my way again...that "train of thought that can take you places that no other trains reach at all". 

It's as if he's simply taking his mind and imagination for a walk, 
and as they forage, as any dogs might do, 
he never quite knows where they will take him... 
looking for the road less travelled and the humble pleasures overlooked.'s in  the digression, the getting lost, 
the unexpected diversion that the joy of travel comes. 
Trains of thought can take you places that no other trains reach at all.
Pico Iyer

I would love to hear from you! 
Feel free to leave your thoughts 
wherever we happen to connect. 
On the blog

I am always open for discussion, 
if you would like to talk by phone or meet, 
let me know, always happy to connect! 

Jeanne xx

PS..apologies if you have trouble leaving a comment on my blog,
I have trouble leaving one too! Next on my list is an overhaul of my blog.
On that note: CHILD POSE!!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

News from a summer porch in New England..

A summer porch....Tahilla Farm

Hello! Hello! Hello!

Goodness, it has been so long, how are you?? I am imagining many of you checking in from your homes across the globe...summer, autumn and all the shades of seasons in between. We are technically a few weeks away from the start of summer ( 21 June) but it feels heavenly from where I am sitting today. When I last wrote I wondered if I would ever see color in the garden again. We have it in particular, in shades of peony. 

When we bought Tahilla Farm five years ago, we inherited what I am guessing is the pink 'Sarah Bernhard' peony below. We had to dig them up carefully with a small tractor, gently taking everything that was growing with them to ensure they would survive. This is the first year since we moved them that they have blossomed in abundance. 

We added the pink 'Madison' and white 'Festiva Maxima' in 2016 when we established the gardens. I always feel a bit guilty cutting flowers in the garden, not wanting to take away from our floral landscape. Not so this year, there are so many that I will hardly notice and the fragrance makes me want to skip out of bed at first light and run around the garden in my pajamas with glee. Thank goodness we live in the woods! 

Paeonia lactiflora 'Madison'

 Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Paeonia lactiflora 'Festiva Maxima'

A construction symphony...
As I type, a symphony of hammers and buzz saws is echoing around the property. I can't say it is music to my ears but it is pretty darn close. Our carriage house construction is growing in leaps and bounds with enough of a structure for me to figure out what is what. When the crew heads out at the end of each day, I make my way up the ladder to the second floor and have a look around. 

A carriage house takes shape.

Sizing up the second floor.

South facing studio window view.

It is always interesting to see the reality alongside what you imagined from the architectural drawings. When we altered the plans to fit within our budget, we went from spacious to cozy. I think I am going to like cozy and I think our grandson and future grandchildren will like it too!

Aussie Cooper...
Speaking of grandchildren, we all flew to Australia in May to meet our little Aussie, Cooper, and absolutely adore the wee one. I am still working within the "no social media" guidelines (kind of)set by his parents... I just can't resist those little fingers!

Shhh..don't tell mum and dad

The Brown Paper Book Club...
All this traveling, gardening and construction has allowed quality time for reading. Don't ask me how, but it has! I think I have mastered the art of "armchair traveling"....and it has been wonderful! I am trying something new, rising early (before the first hammer swing at 7:00am) and taking one hour to sit quietly and read. No noise, no distractions...just me, a book and the occasional passing hummingbird. 

View from my armchair...

It also helps that we have a group of voracious readers in The Brown Paper Book Club who are always coming up with wonderful suggestions. I have to keep my fingers nimble and my ears alert for every passing page and word. I am balancing my reading through books, Audible and Kindle. Audible has been great for long car trips and chores around the house. I just pop on my iPhone, turn up the sound and slip it into by back pocket...easy! 

Looking back, I would say there is an undeniable theme to what I have been reading lately. The central characters are women standing strong and proud in the face of difficult life challenges, some unimaginable, one after the other. Not all stories have a happy ending but you know the choices they made were the right ones. I have read all of the following books recently and am currently in the midst of reading A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, set in Maine. Two of the books, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland and Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan are based in Australia. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin  is set in Ireland and Alexandra Fuller's books Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness are memories of an African childhood in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. I highly recommend them all!

If you are interested in learning more about the books and are looking for reading suggestions, you can find the full book list at Goodreads-Jeanne and the Brown Paper Book Club. You can also join The Brown Paper Book Club on Facebook.  I added a link to the tabs under my header above and to the sidebar. You can find it here. Hopefully, any one of these links will take you to a great book to read! 

Signing off wishing my eldest son, 
Patrick and dad to little "Coop" a Happy Birthday! 
And to Miss Claire who surprised me 
with these "after shots" yesterday
of her skydiving experience in Namibia...
you got me, 
heart attack diverted!

Miss Claire...taking to the Namibia sky.
Wishing you all much happiness from Tahilla Farm. 
Would love to hear what you are planting or reading these days, 
always up for suggestions! 
You can leave a comment or write to me

All the best,

Jeanne xx

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stirring the creative soul...

Henri Matisse
1950's Karolina York Print

On this sunny morning in New Hampshire, 
something to stir your creative soul....
Henri Matisse and thoughts on life
by Helena Bonham Carter 

Monday, April 16, 2018

A cozy chair, a few books and a Carriage House

Whiling away the seasons...Tahilla Farm

Winter…Spring…Winter and a Cozy Chair

Good afternoon from wet and chilly New Hampshire! The calendar says spring but the weather says winter, again! We are all a bit weary of this never ending chill but as all New Englanders tend to do, we take it in stride. Our warmer days will the meantime, I plan to toss another log on the fire, grab a good book and settle into a cozy chair. My latest read..  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, has had me captivated by every word.  I am listening to it via  Audible and it is just wonderful. Perfect rest material...I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Cooking with Picasso and The Brown Paper Book Club

birds of a feather flock together
Tahilla Farm

Greetings from a still chilly New Hampshire! The calendar may say Spring but I can tell you, we are a good few weeks away from basking in that glorious sunshine. Which suits me just fine as I am still deep into a few projects that I am enjoying immensely. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Soul Searching...'Set Free the Statue'

Sharing: The Journey

Another snowy day is upon us...I should be shoveling, I should be outside snapping away at the glory of it all but instead I buried my head in files of papers and folders looking for a special story, 'Set Free the Statue', a story that was sent to me nearly fifteen years ago. It resonated with me so deeply at the time that I kept it to pass along to anyone else that might 'need' it too. 

Monday, February 26, 2018


Baby Roo

Mr. and Mrs. H are absolutely busting 
with grandparent pride today 
over the birth of our first grandchild, 
Cooper Lee Henriques! 
"Coop" came into the world
via Brisbane (Australia) last weekend.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

My three words for 2018...Create, Community and Health

Wintry sunrise..Tahilla Farm

I have a morning ritual, I rise, look out to the mountain and see who made it up first, me or "mama sun" (Mother Nature). It's a good day when I get to greet the far-reaching fluorescent starburst that vanishes as quickly as it rises. It’s all in the have to be quick with "mama sun"... she has a way of surprising you and shifting moods in the blink of an eye.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A few words on CREATIVE energy...and gratitude

February Tulips

My youngest son and I were driving to town this morning and I remarked that I felt really good today, brighter in some way, better than I had in a while. He asked if that was because he worked all weekend and was working a full day today. I said yes...partly, but for good reason. It gave me time to navigate my life around the house, something I promised myself in the month of January. It was time to delve into those boxes we save for a rainy day, in the cupboards we close as quickly as we open and think "not now". It was time. I had left it for nearly two years, it was time to properly unpack our belongings from Vietnam and place them where they needed to be. I knew it would be a lengthy task and I knew I could think of better things to do but we had rain for two days and I didn't feel like skating on ice. I put my apron on and thought...right..

Sunday, January 14, 2018

In the month of January....a 'recharge' and a reading list

Lavender, books and a view from Mr. H's 'Master and Commander' window.

Happy New Year!

I hope your year is off to a roaring start or a gentle one...whichever suits you best. I ended the year with a wonderful big family roar and now that everyone has flown the coop, am easing into a gentle start.
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