Are we there yet? Said the hippo.

 The other day, someone asked me to tell them about my life in Vietnam. 
I thought my brain was going to seize up on the spot. 
Vietnam? you mean Tahilla Farm?
Where am I?

Catching the morning sun at Tahilla Farm.

I have learned over time that it is best for me to process one life at a time.
When in the USA it is all USA and when in Vietnam it is all Vietnam.
As was the case for Australia, New Zealand and England.
My heart travels better that way.

 I have been out of touch..
off the blogging radar screen, as they say,
in an effort to get ready for some big changes at Tahilla Farm.

Back to storage... "Collage of Life"

There was packing to be done and farewells to be said.
The greatest farewell of all was to "Martha"
our large maple tree. If my New Hampshire friends are reading this, 
they will be shrugging at this moment and thinking..
"There she goes again"
they heard it all..again and again.

For reasons too many to recount, 
we had to make the call and we did and she is gone.

Adieu Martha...

She left us a gift..a view we had not anticipated.
For we could never see the view through her frail branches 
and all of a sudden we could.

Mrs. H gets an idea...

The moment I saw the expanded view,
 I immediately messaged Mr. H and our architect, Sheldon,
suggesting we might want to rethink our current renovation plans.
And we did.
 We have added an extension to the master wing 
so that we can wake up to the mountain and the morning sun.
Thank you Martha.

Farewell last look.

With that, I packed my bags, took my last look
 and made my way from Boston to Saigon by way of Tokyo.

and while I was sleeping across the miles...
construction at Tahilla Farm started with a mighty roar.

As was to be expected, 
my arrival into Saigon was not without a surprise or two.
After all...Mr. H was home on his own for four months.
Just as he was two years ago 
when he selected the colour for our house.
 I said beige, he said mango and 
Chateau Mango was born.

As we drove into Chateau Mango last week, 
I knew something was up when I spotted
the large backside of an enormous animal at our front door. 
Not your everyday welcome.

Guess what?
Mr. H looked at me and said..
"Meet Henrietta Hippo"
(I really have to stop creating names for animals)
He fell in love with a similar hippo
in a hotel lobby in South Africa this summer. 
When he returned to Vietnam,
he commissioned one to be made...for us.
I thought..great, if we were in the hotel busines, 
which we are not.

What would you say?

So..we have an enormous wooden hippo that required a crane
to be lifted off the truck that it arrived on. Mr. H thinks
it will be great for the front porch at Tahilla Farm. 
I think not. 
Tika agrees.
After all Henrietta is all posture and no action.
I think Tika thought she had a new playmate.

Never a dull moment with Mr. H...that's for sure!
Wait..maybe I am dreaming this.
Pinched myself...not. are thing's going with you?

 PS..if on reflection, you are thinking 
that Henrietta's head looks more
like a dragon, you would be correct. 
She is a Vietnamese interpretation of a hippo.
Care for a seat?


  1. How beautiful is your life and enriched. I love your Mango Palace and the Hippo and your blog postings.
    Much love

  2. Love your post and Henrietta (tho I am mourning Martha with you). I know what you mean about staying
    in your current "location" and mine are all the same country! Staying present to a full life doesn't leave much time for blogging these days :(

    1. Thank you Kathleen...I just couldn't bring myself to post about it. You are so right about staying present in a full life, it can be a challenge in the best of times. Thankfully, my days are quieter in Vietnam. I have been looking forward to this time to catch up the blogging world. It changes so fast!

  3. well meant from Mr.H. but a surprise can sometimes be a disappointment...or isn't it? Sorry, but seriously said I would Henrietta send back to S.A....but at least Tika seems happy with her.

    1. Not a disappointment Rena and Henrietta is here to stay...perhaps permanently, time will tell. As you well know, you have to take expat life as it comes. Positive thinking goes a long way, especially with an enormous hippo at your front door! :)

    2. The farm will be filled with memories of your many lives and homes around the world ... and Henrietta will fit right in. She will carry a bit of Château Mango wherever she goes.

    3. Wish Henrietta a long life wherever it is and of course I wouldn't offend you or Mr.H. was
      just my serious and open belief...sorry

  4. Man, that's one big hole. It must be a basement, which is always a good thing. I can only imagine how difficult it was to take Martha down. I learned it was a sin in Portland, OR ... My neighbors shunned me until they watched the replacement grow in a slightly different spot, a Raywood Ash.

    1. Yes...a basement it will be. The footings went in yesterday. So glad you were able to establish a replacement in your garden. We have a few in mind...just a little farther away from the house. :)

  5. Oh P.S. .... The hippo is interesting. Unfortunately, as you said .... The head would be better as a hippo ... And the seat should have been made so it could be FACING guests. Good luck on that one, some things are easier to change, some better left alone.

    Karen in VA

    1. I asked Mr. H about the hippo head and he worried it would look like a creature from a Walt Disney movie...well, I got my answer. Fortunately, the seat is facing in the right direction...if you want to look at hippo teeth. I have been using it this past week ...surprisingly comfortable. That could also speak to the size of my bottom...;)

  6. Happy Monday Jeanne. Glad to hear you're settling back into your "other side of the world" loving surprises and all. If I were gone for a few months I would be afraid to what I'd come home to. LOL

    1. Thanks Sue! We have done this a few times now. Mr. H did come to Tahilla twice this summer but I do not recall any mention of a hippo. Trust me..I thought long and hard on that one! :)

  7. I love your description of how you negotiate the two different worlds of New Hampshire and Vietnam. It seems a sensible and sane way to do it. I was just in South Carolina visiting my brother for three little days, and I'm still coming down from the culture shock, not too mention the temperature shift (100 degrees there, 50 here in Maine when I climbed off the plane). So even tiny voyages can be a lot to process, but living in two very different places--now that's a challenge. An exciting one, but still a challenge.

    Beautiful tribute to Martha. The hippo still makes me giggle every time I see that picture! xo Gigi

    1. I can appreciate any break Gigi..I found just driving to Vermont for a few hours a welcome change over the summer. Good for the soul! :) xx

  8. Oh, this did make me laugh. Leaving husbands alone for two months is a dangerous business. I'm off to Scotland at the end of the week. Wish we could meet up in London again! xoxo

    1. Me too! I love that you are going to Scotland again..can't wait to hear all about it. Assume you are watching Outlander? :)

  9. Last Saturday, for the blustery wet New England chill woes, I bought a copy of Yankee Magazine for cheer up and to read the best about the foliage, apples and coziness that makes this time of year so special. Thinking now...the change to Autumn includes your saying farewell for now to Tahilla Farm. I read your blog differently when you are here or there. Have a safe and pleasant trip back to Vietnam.

    1. Thank you Maywyn! I have the latest issue of Yankee magazine on my iPad..have yet to read it but looks like a great issue. I love that magazine! :)

  10. Martha has certainly gifted you with a magnificent view. What wonderful mornings will fill you with year-round visions of the beauty of Tahilla...indeed a precious gift.
    Now Henrietta is a challenge, indeed. It will be interesting to follow her story as you figure out her future.
    The excavation project appears quite large...I look forward to seeing the in-process photos of this addition. Traveling back to Vietnam and your home at Chateau Mango now gives yet more stories to tell. Your blog posts always enchant me. Kristin

    1. Thank you Kristin...your words do the very same for me. You are so will be very interesting to follow Henrietta's journey with our next move. Challenging is exactly what it will be.. :)

  11. Never a dull moment indeed :) Henrietta looks great in Vietnam. Not sure whether she will feel so at home in New Hampshire. But I am sure you will find the perfect spot for her and she will be a major talking point.

    1. was suggested she would do well on the walking trail around our house, a "surprise" along the trail. I imagine the local animals would feel the same way. :)

  12. Hello Jeanne
    Welcome home to Chateau Mango. The removal of Martha presented a blessing in disguise and what a glorious view you will have to greet the morning.
    I am sure Tika is happy you are home.

    1. She is Helen. She is in tune with the Vietnamese lifestyle these days. Laid back and taking it one day at a time. I have yet to catch up with her.... :)

  13. So I've had time to think. Henrietta might be brilliant on Tahilla's porch. If everything else were pristine white:)

    Otherwise, I am sure she can find a loving home in Vietnam:).

  14. I quite recently saw a huge wooden hippo. What are the odds?

    1. Quinn..I understand hippos are good karma..I would take it as a positive sign, for both of us! :)

  15. Before I forget...I was looking at one home in NH that caught my eye. They had a gorgeous coffee table that was about a 2 foot thick piece of trunk. It truly caught my eye and I thought of a way to preserve a piece of Martha.

    1. Right with you Sarah...we saved quite a bit of the trunk to use in the house. So far, we are thinking of the bench for the mudroom and reading nook. We are hoping to use as much of the wood as possible. :)

  16. Chateau Mango, yes! Henrietta Hippo for Tahilla Farm, not so much. New addition at Tahilla, yes! As for me, 4AM jitters, but I've loaded a compass on my iPad, and by Wednesday night I should be ready to wing my way across the pond.

    1. Your time has finally come Judy! I am so excited for you..I know you will have a wonderful time. Paris in September...perfect! Safe travels..:)

  17. OH MARTHA................I loved YOU as the clothes line!But I do understand!Now, Mister H I doNOT understand the HIPPO!The HIPPO in SOUTH AFRICA was beautiful............take a photo and move on!I think you were left alone for too long on your own!Note to wife..........doNOT do that again!What a beautiful home you will have when its all done.........all very exciting!JEANNE I am not getting your posts via email.........happening a lot and I know others have the same problem!You are on most of the BLOG ROLLS I follow so will check in via that.I know your four legged BOY was happy to SEE YOU!XOX
    Ps. I did a POST TODAY!

    1. Contessa....I will be sure to pass on your comments to Mr. H. He always enjoys reading your comments. :) I still have yet to sort out this blogging email business. Now that I am back and have more time, I will try and get to the bottom of it. Off to read your post!!

  18. Hi Jeanne,

    The separation from one beautiful Tahilla Farm to go to a different and equally beautiful Chateau Mango can be hard. Mr. H is very thoughtful to surprise you with Henrietta to soften the loss of Martha and the long travel.

    It’s still from east to east, isn't it? And what a wonderful living.

    That’s a huge hippo.

    Best regards,


    1. Yes Edgar...east to east and you are right, it is a mighty big hippo! :)

  19. Your instagram feed has become one of my favorites...I so enjoy following along on your adventures from Tahilla to Chateau Mango, but I enjoy your writing equally. Thanks for your posts, Jeanne...they are a pleasure! xoxo

  20. Jeanne I am sure that it is wonderful to be back with Mr.H and Tikki, not to mention on the way with the new house.

    The hippo is very interesting, honestly I would have liked the Disney version but you know is certainly a conversation piece wherever it lands.

    I was saddened to see Martha go hut I am sure the beautiful view and expanded master suite will make up for her passing.

    Thank you for sharing all of your adventures on the blog and Instagram! I love your beautiful photos.

    Take care and have a fabulous weekend!


  21. When the grandchildren come along, eventually, they will either clamor for grandma to read them a story sitting in Henrietta's lap, or run from her in fright. The little boys will test their courage by putting their heads into the mouth of the dragon like lion tamers.


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