June 27, 2013

A Kindle Book Affair

I am packing my bags again to spend the summer at Tahilla Farm and you know what that means...reading and hopefully lots of it. I have a porch in mind...with my feet up. My Kindle is loaded and ready...literally. In Vietnam bookshops with English books are far and few between, I rely heavily on my Kindle for my reading pleasure. So many of you have kindly written about your favourite reads and I have taken note. I have many more books to share and I hope you have many more for me.

A note on my Kindle..you will see as you read along, it is filled with genres of all types, to suit a curious and swiftly moving mind. I am hoping that you might find something that peaks your interest. For today, just page one of my Kindle..stay tuned for more recommendations. 

As I always say...you guys are the best! Thank you!!

If you want to read more, click on 'click' below the book picture..all will be revealed once you do.

Reading on my Kindle...

Eight Girls Taking Pictures 
by Whitney Otto 
(Kristin recco)
A profoundly moving portrayal of the lives of women, imagining the thoughts and events that produced eight famous female photographers of the twentieth century. Inspired by the work of Imogen Cunningham, Madame Yevonde, Tina Modotti, Grete Stern, Lee Miller, Ruth Orkin, and others, author Whitney Otto weaves together eight stories, crisscrossing the world and a century to portray the tensions that defined the lives of female artists. These memorable characters seek the extraordinary through their art, yet also find meaning and reward in the ordinary tasks of motherhood, marriage, and domesticity. This is a bold, immersive, and unforgettable novel about women in love. Book Description (Amazon)

Living The Good Long Life 
by Martha Stewart 
( Pamela recco)
Martha Stewart’s Living the Good Long Life is a practical guide unlike any other: honest and upbeat, with clear and motivating charts, resources, and tips from doctors and wellness specialists. From the best ways to organize your home to protecting your mental well-being and appearance as you age, this book gives accessible ideas that you can incorporate every day. And when it’s time to explore caregiving for others, you’ll know how to enrich their quality of life while preventing your own fatigue. Book Description (Amazon)

Some Thoughts on Women and Ageing 
by Liz Byrski
Can we change the conversation on ageing? Getting old is tough, but it's also an opportunity to celebrate how far we have come and to shape a different future. In this essay, Liz Byrski (author of Last Chance Café and Bad Behaviour) examines the adventure of growing old in the twenty-first century: the new possibilities, the joy and the sorrow of solitude, the reality of grief and loss and the satisfaction of having travelled so far. 
Book Description (Amazon)

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 
by Anne Lamott
"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my  brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.'" Anne Lamott

Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir 
by Natalie Goldberg
Twenty years ago Natalie Goldberg’s classic, Writing Down the Bones, broke new ground in its approach to writing as a practice. Now, Old Friend from Far Away—her first book since Writing Down the Bones to focus solely on writing—reaffirms Goldberg’s status as a foremost teacher of writing, and completely transforms the practice of writing memoir. To write memoir, we must first know how to remember. Through timed, associative, and meditative exercises, Old Friend from Far Away guides you to the attentive state of thought in which you discover and open forgotten doors of memory. At once a beautifully written celebration of the memoir form, an innovative course full of practical teachings, and a deeply affecting meditation on consciousness, love, life, and death, Old Friend from Far Away welcomes aspiring writers of all levels and encourages them to find their unique voice to tell their stories. Like Writing Down the Bones, it will become an old friend to which readers return again and again. 
Book Description(Amazon)

Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 
by Katrina Kenison
(Maude recco)
From the author of The Gift of an Ordinary Day, this intimate memoir of loss, self-discovery, and growth will resonate deeply with any woman who has ever mourned the passage of time, questioned her own purpose, or wondered, "Do I have what it takes to create something new in my life?" With the candor and warmth that have endeared her to readers, Kenison reflects on the inevitable changes wrought by time: the death of a dear friend, children leaving home, recognition of her own physical vulnerability, and surprising shifts in her marriage. She finds solace in the notion that midlife is also a time of unprecedented opportunity for growth as old roles and responsibilities fall away, and unanticipated possibilities appear on the horizon. More a spiritual journey than a physical one, Kenison's beautifully crafted exploration begins and ends with a home, a life, a marriage. But this metamorphosis proves as demanding as any trek or pilgrimage to distant lands-it will guide and inspire every woman who finds herself asking "What now?" 
Book Description (Amazon)

And the Mountains Echoed: A Novel
by Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed begins simply enough, with a father recounting a folktale to his two young children. The tale is about a young boy who is taken by a div (a sort of ogre), and how that fate might not be as terrible as it first seems—a brilliant device that firmly sets the tone for the rest of this sweeping, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting novel. A day after he tells the tale of the div, the father gives away his own daughter to a wealthy man in Kabul. What follows is a series of stories within the story, told through multiple viewpoints, spanning more than half a century, and shifting across continents. The novel moves through war, separation, birth, death, deceit, and love, illustrating again and again how people’s actions, even the seemingly selfless ones, are shrouded in ambiguity. This is a masterwork by a master storyteller. —Chris Schluep ( Amazon)

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home. As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives. Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet. 
Book Description (Amazon)

The Art of Travel
by Alain De Botton
Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why. With the same intelligence and insouciant charm he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Lifede Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs at Heathrow. Even as de Botton takes the reader along on his own peregrinations, he also cites such distinguished fellow-travelers as Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Van Gogh, the biologist Alexander von Humboldt, and the 18th-century eccentric Xavier de Maistre, who catalogued the wonders of his bedroom. The Art of Travel is a wise and utterly original book. Don’t leave home without it. 
Book Description (Amazon)

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
by Sogyal Rinpoche
(Suzanne recco)
A newly revised and updated edition of the internationally bestselling spiritual classic, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche, is the ultimate introduction to Tibetan Buddhist wisdom. An enlightening, inspiring, and comforting manual for life and death that the New York Times calls, “The Tibetan equivalent of [Dante’s] The Divine Comedy,” this is the essential work that moved Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions, to proclaim, “I have encountered no book on the interplay of life and death that is more comprehensive, practical, and wise.”
Book Description (Amazon) 

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
by Sheryl Sandberg
Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. Book Description (Amazon)

The Language of Flowers: A Novel
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. 
Book Description (Amazon)

Recently read and recommend...

Serena: A Novel 
by Ron Rash 
( Kathleen recco)
New York Times bestseller and PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, Serena by award-winning author Ron Rash is “masterfully written…sprawling, engrossing and—from time to time—nightmarish,” (San Francisco Chronicle); a remarkable novel that “recalls both John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy,” (The New Yorker). Rash’s chilling gothic tale of greed, corruption, and revenge set against the backdrop of the 1930s wilderness and America’s burgeoning environmental movement was named a Best Book of the Year by more than a dozen national publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and Miami Herald. Serena is brilliant contemporary fiction that exquisitely balances beauty and violence, passion and rage, cruelty and love. Book Description (Amazon)

The Art Forger: A Novel
 by B.A. Shapiro
Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—still the largest unsolved art theft in history—one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece—the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years—may itself be a forgery. The Art Forger is a thrilling novel about seeing—and not seeing—the secrets that lie beneath the canvas. 
Book Description (Amazon)

In addition to my Kindle, 

No More Words: A Journal of my Mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
by Reeve Lindbergh  
( Joan recco)

In 1999 Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the famed aviator and author, moved from her home in Connecticut to the farm in Vermont where her daughter, Reeve, and Reeve's family live. Mrs. Lindbergh was in her nineties and had been rendered nearly speechless years earlier by a series of small strokes that also left her frail and dependent on others for her care. As an accomplished author who had learned to write in part by reading her mother's many books, Reeve was deeply saddened and frustrated by her inability to communicate with her mother, a woman long recognized in her family and throughout the world as a gifted communicator. No More Words is a moving and compassionate memoir of the final seventeen months of Reeve's mother's life. Reeve writes with great sensitivity and sympathy for her mother's plight, while also analyzing her own conflicting feelings. Anyone who has had to care for an elderly parent disabled by Alzheimer's or stroke will understand immediately the heartache and anguish Reeve suffered and will find comfort in her story. 
Book Description (Amazon)

The Mountain 
by Drusilla Modjeska
A novel as intricate and powerful as the bark-cloth paintings at its heart' - Anna FunderIn 1968 Papua New Guinea is on the brink of independence, and everything is about to change. Amidst the turmoil filmmaker Leonard arrives from England with his Dutch wife, Rika, to study and film an isolated village high in the mountains. The villagers' customs and art have been passed down through generations, and Rika is immediately struck by their paintings on a cloth made of bark. Rika and Leonard are also confronted with the new university in Moresby, where intellectual ambition and the idealism of youth are creating friction among locals such as Milton - a hot-headed young playwright - and visiting westerners, such as Martha, to whom Rika becomes close. But it is when Rika meets brothers Jacob and Aaron that all their lives are changed for ever. Drusilla Modjeska's sweeping novel takes us deep into this fascinating, complex country, whose culture and people cannot escape the march of modernity that threatens to overwhelm them. It is a riveting story of love, loss, grief and betrayal. 
Book Description (Amazon)

Happy Reading!
If you have a recommendation,
I am all eyes...

PS..For Women
Have you heard about the 'meno momo ?
read here

June 25, 2013

Caftan Love and the Meno Momo

Daughter #1 let me in on a secret the other day. She said she and her friends
have a new expression. When one is feeling overheated from an activity they
say they are having a 'memo momo' just like their mother. 
'meno' meaning menopause, 'momo' meaning moment.
She mentioned a conversation with friends where they shared 
stories about their mothers and their worst 'meno momo's'.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that one...or maybe not.

She mentioned that one of the common traits we women seem to share 
is the change in our wardrobes to address a changing figure. 
It is a common complaint amongst my friends and I imagine 
some of you are nodding along with me.
I often think that if I could just dress like Ava Gardner below...
life would be so much easier.

All is not lost, for I have come up with a solution to meno momo woes.
We do have options...and we can look pretty hip doing it.
One of them is the caftan, long or short, they look good and are comfortable 
enough for the worst of the meno momo.

My meno momo's have changed me...to looking at the world in patterns.
I know it is against the rules according to some...but really, does it matter?
If you feel good, you look good and isn't it better to have happy meno momo's
rather than grumpy meno momo's?

Lee Oliveira

A meno momo's best friend...accessories. A friend wore a simple
white dress to a lunch the other day and a similar necklace to the one below.
It was a great look...simple and elegant. Meno perfect.

House of Lavande

A woman who has mastered the caftan and accessories is decorator
extraordinaire..Charlotte Moss. Think Charlotte and you will feel those
meno momo's melt away..or rather cool down.

Charlotte Moss

If you have a good seamstress or are handy with a sewing machine,
pick up a few meters/yards of your favourite fabric and go to town.
They are fairly simple in design...if you need some ideas, I have lots
in my Pinterest Style File here.

Paul & Joe

I love sheer caftans over singlets and jeans.
The possibilities are endless especially when you are having
a peak meno momo. Once you get the hang of it, you 
can wear the look nearly all seasons, dressing them up and down.

Short, long, midi, maxi,


it all works...just have fun.
If it puts an end to a few meno momo,
it is worth it!


J. Peterman

If you are far from meno momo's but know someone who might
appreciate the expression and the trials and tribulations, feel free to pass it on. 
If you ask me..it sounds a lot better than 'hot flash'. 

As always, thank you for reading along...crazy as some of my topics may be
it is nice to know that we are all in this life together!

PS..had a meno momo this morning, I woke up and wondered'
if it was 'memo' or 'meno' that my daughter said.
'Memo' sounds better but 'meno' is closer to the read deal.
I decided to try both.
It may change again..a meno prerogative!

Before you go..with thanks to Ruth for mentioning that the image of Ava Gardner at the
top of the post is from the movie 1956 movie 'Bhowani Junction'. Here is a clip,
set to music by Florence and The Machine.

June 18, 2013

Capturing life...in Vietnam and Cambodia

 via Kristen's Custom Creations

One of the joys of photography 
is the ability to capture life...all it takes is a moment.

I gave up striving for the perfect shot long ago.
It was a wonderful release when I realised that
life is too precious and I should just record 
what is meaningful to me.
I tossed those hang ups over my shoulder and decided
that's that and got on with things.

June 14, 2013

Smiles and mischief in Cambodia

I love unexpected surprises.
I was sizing up this statue and about to give it a miss
when I caught the baby out of the corner of my eye.

Forget the statue, this little guy was a cutie..and had better looking feet.

When babies smile...it is hard not to smile with them,

they just have that way about them.

Just when I thought that was the best smile of the day...

I spotted another smile...

and another.

My daughter, Miss Christine and I are on a mother and daughter adventure
in Cambodia. It is an easy 45 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City 
and I thought...why not?
We have been getting into all sorts of mischief and smiling along the way.

Wishing you a weekend full of smiles... at every turn!


Photos...by Jeanne at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom
in Siem Reap, Cambodia

June 10, 2013

Tahilla on my mind...

Red tape fever.

Tahilla has been on my mind...day in and day out these past weeks. When I left Tahilla Farm at the beginning of May, the property was a sea of red tape, marking trees and shrubs to be removed and ones to be pruned. On my last drive to the house, I looked at the red tape forlornly...I think if I had stayed I would have dragged my feet on this project for years. 

A new view to a meadow.

We have a plan, the landscape designer, the forester, the arborist, the project manager, the grounds keeper...and I...to selectively clear trees and shrubs to expose mountain views, stone walls and hidden meadows. The plan is to bring the property back to it's origins..to regain what has been lost over the years and return it to the beauty and grace it once held. I think it is working....

Men at work...stone walls emerging.

I was fortunate enough to have wisdom and experience around me on my last visit and could see that it was the right thing to do...all of those mentioned above were patient and kind and answered every single question, even when I asked the same questions over and over again. I do things like that...I reckon if I ask the same question ten different ways, I will trip someone up. They were all on to me...their patience never wavered.

'Martha' in her early spring glory.

In an earlier post about Tahilla Farm, I mentioned we were advised to take down our 150 year old 'Martha' tree. (The realtor for the property, Susanne, called it the 'Martha' tree after Martha Stewart and it stuck). At the encouragement of readers and specialists, we decided to get a few more opinions. Perhaps more than were necessary but as I mentioned, I do like to ask the same question, ten different ways. The good news is that 'Martha' is staying...with careful pruning and cabling she should hang around for a few more years, possibly outlive us all. I believe Martha Stewart would say 'it's a good thing'. 

'Martha' showing her spring colours.

One of the tasks at hand was to clear and prune the trees below.

Red tape gone crazy...the before.

and below, what it looks like now. I would say it is starting 
to show it's beauty and grace...

Vision accomplished.

This week a raised garden bed will take shape around the barn.
Planting it will be my summer project. 

A barn and a garden.

Removing one tree with plans to plant another.

We still have a bit more to do,
there is a mountain view to contend with at the end of the summer.

The 'before' picture and later this year, the 'after' picture.

and I plan to sit right here...

Keeping it simple at Tahilla Farm.

at the end of each day this summer
taking it all in and thinking on those ten questions for the forester.

With thanks to Gary, Susan and Gordon for many of the photos above.
Wise words by Henry David Thoreau

If you are new to Collage of Life and would like 
to know more about Tahilla Farm... 
the story begins with the search for a house down a dirt road.

Welcome and thank you for reading!