01 May 2016

My Secret French Girlfriend and the travelling washer...

Roadside service...Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
With thanks to my SFG for this photo!

I hope this post finds you well...I am taking a mini-break from my packing schedule to share a great photo sent to me by my Secret French Girlfriend. Say what? Yes, let me explain...

I have written before about the book My Stylish French Girlfriends by Sharon Santoni....and I put my friend in this very special category for she is both stylish...and French...but she likes her anonymity.

What is very special about my Secret French Girlfriend is that I met her through Collage of Life. I have to say...this blog has rewarded me immeasurably. If I had never started writing all those years ago...well, we wouldn't be here would we? And if we weren't here, I never would have discovered Tahilla Farm or the many friendships that have developed along the way. I count my blessing for this little space called Collage of Life...especially when events like this happen...

It all started....
My SFG wrote to me about 18 months ago to say she read my blog and felt she had found a kindred spirit.  Like me, an expat and travelling spouse, she had been on the move with four boys for 20 years. She could relate to my story and as luck would have it, she was moving to Ho Chi Minh City. The questions and answers about life in Vietnam flowed over the following months. When she and her husband came for a "look see" visit we all met. Mr. H and I instantly warmed to them, feeling like we connected with old friends. Our laughter and conversation never skipped a beat. They moved to HCMC a few months later and since then a lovely friendship has developed. My SFG has a spontaneous gusto for life, has a passion for the color red and looks stunning in it. She is learning Vietnamese to add to the many other languages she already speaks, has a great sense of humor (a must for me), an eye for the beauty around her and is a super talented photographer. She has thought about writing a blog...which I encourage wholeheartedly. I just have to get her past the anonymity part..

Passion for red..Chateau Mango

Which brings me to the travelling washing machine photo above...I recently mentioned that I was on the hunt for a new washer and dryer for Tahilla Farm, my SFG offered up the photo as a possible solution. I can't decide which I love more...the backseat passenger 'wearing' the washing machine or the Zombie Personnel jacket on the driver in front of them. This photo arrived at just the right time....my SFG seems to always know when I need a boost. I love when friends do that.

What do you recommend?
So...as we are talking about washing machines, let me put this question to you...do you have a washer and dryer that you recommend? Are you a fan of top loaders or front loaders? Do you stack or have them side by side? Do you go for the tried and true brands or the latest with all the bells and whistles? Dying to know because my machines at Tahilla Farm are about to die and I need to replace them soon!


One line or two? or three?
The other project I will be working on this summer is the construction of a clothes line. Once upon a time I could rely on our beloved old tree, 'Martha', to look after our fresh air drying needs. Now that she is gone, I need to find another source. We have a design, I just can't decide how many lines I should have built in...one, two or three? Any thoughts?

by Marta Orlowska

And that's a wrap...
I have dilly-dallied long enough, 
time for this woman to get back to work.

I hope the travelling washing machine brought
a smile...I just love that photo. So typical of
Vietnam! Thank you my SFG! ;)

Before I go,  I want to thank you for
all your lovely messages. They are much
appreciated and mean the world to me.
If you have written,
I will be back in touch soon!

Thank you! Thank you!
Thank you!
for reading along.

Jeanne xx

27 April 2016

The 'Tahilla Pack' and men in black...

Chateau Mango, Vietnam

This morning eight men dressed in black whizzed 
into our driveway and parked their motorcycles 
alongside our house. 
They came to start the 'Tahilla Pack'. 
The time has come. 

I have spent weeks tagging and sorting, inside and out. 
I have to say it has been hard not to feel nostalgic 
for what we have created at Chateau Mango.
It's been a labor of love.

View to a garden and a hippo.

Even though our days in Vietnam are not quite over yet, 
Chateau Mango will shortly be a shadow of it's former self. 
And that's ok...we knew this time would come. 
We have been planning for it since we arrived four years ago
and we certainly have been busy.

This goes with that...kind of.

I can't help but wonder...
what will it be like when Chateau Mango 
merges with Tahilla Farm?

Tahilla Farm awaiting a garden.

I have been able to keep my sanity through it all 
with the help of my youngest son, Connor
He came home for a two week school break...
I just love when he comes home,
Tika does too.

Connor has since returned to Sydney
leaving his mother talking to herself again.
Mr. H is keeping quiet.
Smart man.

I fly back to Tahilla Farm in two weeks
where a garden party awaits and a college graduation.
Our Miss Claire is graduating!

Claire is off to Africa in July 
for a two year assignment with the Peace Corps.
We are so very proud of our girl in 
 red, white and blue. 

Miss Claire sporting red, white and blue.

I would love to share one more thing. My mother, Alma,
was recently interviewed and asked to tell
 a little bit about herself and her shop. 
It was so much fun to view
and since many of you have asked...
here is Alma and her thoughts about turning 80.
Go Mom!

Wishing you a wonderful week!
Thank you so much for reading along!!

Jeanne xx

19 April 2016

For Ellie and Teddy....

I never ceased to be amazed by the magic of the blogging world. My family often teased me about my 'imaginary friends' those 'virtual men and women' spread out across the globe who I knew only through words...until I started to actually meet them. Some are now counted as some of our dearest family friends. It warms the heart to think how those friendships evolved.

11 April 2016

Decorating Notes....Tahilla Farm

Transition new house to old house via a reading nook.

If you asked for a postcard last month, I am happy to report, it is on it's way! I also asked if you had any questions for me and many of you did. Tahilla Farm seems to be as much on your mind as it is mine. So let's begin...

29 March 2016

The Habit of Light...

An opulence of beeswax and light...Tahilla Farm

I discovered a poem today.
I read it once, twice..
and I know it won't be the last.

23 March 2016

The Postcard Trail....

First postcard to Mariana in Glasgow...from Hanoi

My postcard list is growing and I am delighted! If you asked for a postcard from me on my last post, consider it duly noted. If you would still like to receive one, please leave a comment or email me jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com.  I would be happy to write to you!

16 March 2016

Write to think, think to write...

I had an ‘OOPS’ moment last night in my attempt to do some editing on my blog.  I inadvertently published a post I wrote last year. When it arrived into my inbox I new the deed was done. So...if Hip Hop Happening Mama and a Paleo Priest sounds familiar to some readers, you are not imagining it. 

11 March 2016

The beating heart of adventure...Antarctica

It is 5:15pm on Friday afternoon in Saigon and the house is extraordinarily still. I call this the bewitching hour, when I have the house utterly and completely to myself. I wander from space to space, inside and out, enjoying the silence. It is the time of day when my thoughts run away from me and when I realise it is best to just let them run and play. Given my nature, it won't last long so it is best to enjoy it while I can.

I am going to let them run and play all the way to Antarctica. Why? Because I can.

Mr. H and I have a travel bucket list and I have to admit Antarctica has been somewhere on it...until now.

We have had family and friends return from recent trips to Antarctica singing poetically about their travel experiences. Each time I hear a "YOU MUST GO TO ANTARCTICA' my heart starts to do a little dance. I am not sure if it's the thought of the extreme cold or the possibility that I will will fall in love with the vast wilderness of it all.

Enter Joan Lawson, who I have come to appreciate as a pollarhullar, a danish word for a person with the yearning for the polar regions. I have read that a victim of pollarhullar will forever be drawn back to the very extremities of the Earth. Joan has been to Antarctica 14 times and looks forward to the next trip.  I am hoping pollarhullar is not contagions but based on Joan's writing and peoples comments about their experiences I think it might be.