Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy 21st Birthday Miss Claire!!!

Once upon a time
there was a wee little girl
with a button nose and a beautiful halo
of tumbledown curls.
We called her Miss Claire.

Miss Claire and me…when she was a wee little girl.

Her mother (that's me) loved
the times she was able to put her in a dress
and tie a ribbon to her cute little curls.

Miss Claire in search of worms

It was clear from an early age that 
those occasions were going to be far and few between.
Every attempt ended up in a dirty dusty mess.
Miss Claire was far to busy doing other things.
She declared to me that dresses were not for her.
So...I gave in and let her take the lead.
and this is what I got…a little girl
who shouted out "I just gotta be me!"
So I let her be…

Miss Claire..doing her thing

Back in the day..she had one song,
 that she loved, and memorized every word. 
One song that she would sing with all her might.
She took the words to heart and has never given up.
You can listen to the song here.

Wherever she goes…
she believes she can fly…just like 
Michael Jordan in the movie Space Jam.

The following is a photo collage of Miss Claire,
taking flight…around the world.
She turns 21 today and is still shouting
"I just gotta be me!"

Miss Claire…flying around the world.

It has been a wonderful 21 years
and I can only imagine what is to come!
To our "Original" Miss Claire,
Happy Birthday!!!

Miss Claire
Partial lyrics to I Believe I Can Fly

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
spread wings and fly away

I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly

Hey, 'cause I believe in you
If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it
I believe I can fly….

Song: I Believe I Can Fly
(partial lyrics)
(Space Jam Soundtrack)

Miss Claire taking flight in Vietnam.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Life in the Country….with a hummingbird

Hummingbird in flight...Tahilla Farm

The sunlight speaks. And it's voice is a bird:
It glitters half-guessed half seen half-heard.
Above the flower bed. Over the the lawn…
A flashing dip and it is gone.
And all it lends to the eye is this--
A sunbeam giving the air a kiss.

 by Harry Kemp

Hummingbird Dance
I love this wee little fellow. He was dancing in the sunlight, gliding past me as if to say…just try and catch me…bet you can't. When you spend time in the country…and have the time to ponder the magical dance of a hummingbird, it is hard not to take up the challenge. I have to say, catching this fellow with my camera was sheer luck. I wish I could say I have spent these past months sitting in a chair looking out to the mountain and pondering the flight of a hummingbird…alas..it has been the opposite. I have been a busy country camper.

The Luck of the Draw
Before I continue, I would like to announce the two winners of my book giveaway, Living Life in Full Bloom by Elizabeth Murray. The luck of the draw went to Pam G and and Mary WP. I thank you kindly for your lovely responses on my pasts posts. I am beyond tardy with my replies. If you have written to me recently, please know that I WILL return to you with a note. I appreciate every word and will respond in kind. PROMISE! 

Life in the Country…
It is hard to believe that I am halfway through my visit to Tahilla Farm with two months down and two and a bit more to go before returning to Vietnam. Life is full and in full bloom with some heavy duty fertilizer thrown in there. We have had an open door with friends and family coming and going, I have loved it all. It was with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to my youngest son, Connor, after a three week visit. He returned to Sydney last weekend..such a sweet soul, I love him to bits.

Connor takes in Tahilla Farm

Life in the country…

Life in the country is blessed with little surprises.
I tucked the flowers above into my car, thinking of
the scene from the movie, A Room With A View by E. M. Forster.
I will think of the very same every time I glance upon them in my garden.

Cornflowers for the Miss Alans..
Scene from "A Room With A View"

I was in a country conundrum. 
When you are without a clothesline and are desperate for one you have
to think creatively. Our big maple, Marthasaved me. It is not perfect…
but it'll do until we build a proper one next summer.

When the sun is shining and a breeze lingers, I whip up
the linens and give them a good air drying. I recently purchased
yet another linen summer cover from Rough Linen. I love
what Tricia Rose does with linen…perfect summer sleeping!

My summer cover and a country breeze.

When dear friend Lisa came to visit this week, 
a rainbow came to welcome her. 
We were sitting on the porch after the rain when
she noticed it…the luck of the Irish..at Tahilla Farm.

Under the rainbow…Tahilla Farm

If you see my wheelbarrow somewhere on the property,
chances are….

My wheelbarrow awaits...

you will find me with my purple gardening gloves, 
clippers and my garden hat.
Steadfast and true.

A few gardening essentials

 When the day is done and the sun has warmly kissed the earth
I wander down to our local pond and float…
a wonderful way to end the day.

Afternoon sun at our local pond.

If you stopped by to visit, you would most likely will find me on our porch.
From here I think of Tahilla and what will be.

Life happens on a porch

Always on my mind…
the construction plans for Tahilla Farm are coming along.
It has been a tremendous learning curve for me. 
I have never seen so many numbers…
how can so many little things add up to so much money?

A numbers game…

The good news is the Tahilla Story continues with another lovely addition.
You know how I always say..it is a small world..especially in the blogging world.
When I asked my sister-in-law if she could recommended an interior decorator...

Phyllis Higgerson

Henhurst Blog

I had to laugh, I have been following Phyllis for some time and love her style. 
To discover that she is not far from Tahilla Farm..well..
that was to good to be true. 
We met and she as delightful in person as in her blog…and..
she did not run away after seeing Fred.

A HUGE sigh of relief from this country camper.
Welcome Phyllis

With that, I leave you with wishes for a wonderful weekend. 
Thank you for stopping by and hanging out with me…
as always, it is an absolute pleasure.

Happy Weekend!

You are...
Author unknown

More on the Tahilla Farm story..here

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Living Life in Full Bloom and a Giveaway

from my garden, peonies in full bloom

Moving to a new community is like tending a newly planted garden, it takes time and patience. Groundwork is key, you need a plan, a good plan. From my desk in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where I live part of the year, I travel in and out of websites, adding to a list of all the things I want to see and do, the kind of things to help me get a feel for the heartbeat of the area  I call home in the USA…the other half of the year. I have 93 items on my list to date and they all have a common theme, discovery.

My list is comprehensive and it will take time. I need to get fitter before I climb a mountain, but I can kayak in the surrounding lakes and ponds. To my list, I have added.. shop in the local farmers markets, rumble through antique shops, pick blueberries, take a writing class, attend a town meeting, research the history of Tahilla Farm through the Historical Society, join in the local garden tours, attend performances at the local playhouse…I like long and full lists. Each discovery is as rewarding as I imagined. I tick each one off my list, move onto the next, and look for new ones to add. My expat life has served me well..you learn to look at life with a curious eye. 

One of the tasks on my "to do" list was to attend an author's book talk at our local independent book store, Toadstool Bookshop. I love this bookshop! As luck would have it, my first talk was exceptional and memorable.  In the author I saw a kindred spirit, someone who would totally understand my list..I love when that happens.

 via Organic Gardening
The woman behind the book is the talented Elizabeth Murray, a gardener, artist, lover and spirit-weaver who offers 120 daily practices to deepen ones passion, creativity and relationships. It did not take me long to gather that these are practices she is abundantly gifted in.

Some of you may be familiar with Elizabeth's story around Monet's Gardens. In 1985, she packed her bags and left it all behind to live in Monet's Gardens and assist with the garden renovation. She has written two bestselling books, Monet's Passion: Ideas, Inspiration, and Insights from the Painter's Gardens and Cultivating Sacred Space: Gardening for the Soul and a host of others since then. Her story is a fascinating one, she is one determined woman, she is a full bloomer in her own right.

I love a book that inspires me, one that makes me take pause and consider the path I am on and where I am going. Better yet, if a book leads me down new paths. Elizabeth takes you down four pathways..GARDNER, ARTIST, LOVER and SPIRIT-WEAVER..with purpose, creativity, imagination and celebration. She wants you to fall in love with life and bring blessings into each new day. Her book guides you in ways to do just that. She tells you about the FULL BLOOMERS in her life and provides unique LIFE MAPPING tools to help you create your own individual life map and find your NORTH STAR. 

This is one of those perfect GIFT books for the person who is looking for that "extra something" in their lives. It is 120 pages of inspiration, you can't beat that! It is a perfect book for the Brown Paper Book Club!

During the book talk, I thought of you and purchased two extra autographed books for a Giveaway at Collage of Life. All you need to do to enter, is leave a comment or write to me at jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com. I will enter your name for you and draw the winners on July 16th at 6:00pm (eastern standard time-USA).

from my garden..in full bloom

There are many men and women who continuously inspire me. One is my mother, Alma, who at 79 is still living an artistic life..in full bloom, with pizazz.  She has been painting for as long as I can remember and is a vibrant force within the Art Colony where she paints and lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts. If you happen upon a woman in the Rocky Neck area, dressed in vibrant colours, wearing a hat, smiling and most likely laughing along the way, even if it is to herself…that is my mother. It also explains a lot about me. ;)

Alma, my mother..in full bloom, in lilac
and still painting at 79.

Outside my mother's studio, one of her paintings,
 a home by the sea.

Another who inspires me is a dear friend, Evelyn, in Sydney, Australia. Evelyn  shares updates with me on what she is painting in her private studio, "La Maison du Bateau", a boathouse on Willoughby Bay. I love her work, she is an amazingly talented artist who has a gift with a paint brush.  Evelyn graciously allowed me to share the painting below, a work in progress, inspired by a recent tropical holiday. Evelyn lives her life in full bloom, elegantly.

Evelyn looks for inspiration in her travels.

memories of a tropical holiday

and lastly a full bloomer of a different nature.
Some of you may remember our resident porcupine, Priscilla.
I wrote about her here.
We recently spied Priscilla with a little porcupette who
I have nicknamed "Pia".
How sweet is that!
I imagine Priscilla was in full bloom for at least 
seven of the previous months.

Priscilla and her little porcupette, Pia.

Would you like to know more about living a life in full bloom?
You can visit Elizabeth's website here
leave a comment on this post
or write to me at jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

With that...
Priscilla, Pia and I send you warm wishes 
from Tahilla Farm for a wonderful week!

Priscilla and Pia

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tahilla Farm, Tarzan, Mr. H and a Birthday Wish

A few months ago I wrote about the movie inspiration 
I have been drawing on for Tahilla Farm.

Nancy Meyers came to mind with films such as..

You were all unanimous, 
I had made good choices…


Mr. H read my post and went quiet...I could tell something was coming. 

He said: "Actually, I had a few movies of my own in mind."

I said: "Ok, but please tell me the list does not involve Tarzan, 
I have outgrown treehouses.."

He said: "Better than that, the movies I have in mind for Tahilla Farm are…."

I said: "You do realise we own an antique farmhouse don’t you?"

He said: "We are renovating…let’s have fun."

I was: speechless

I like to look for the positive in every situation
and decided to think it through rationally, (as you do)
starting with the female leads in his movie suggestions.

Catherine Deneuve in Indochine

Meryl Streep in Out of Africa
Virgina McKenna in Born Free

It was looking promising..except for a slight
detour with a vampire

Peta Wilson in The League of Extraordinary Gentelmen

and I was baffled by The Addams Family..
but then again, maybe not. Afer all, we do have Fred 
as a result of one of Mr. H's expeditions.
It has an Addams family quality to it

Carolyn Jones in The Addams Family

After 27 years, life is anything but dull with Mr. H 
and I can tell you it has been a journey trying to work out 
where we are going with Tahilla Farm. 

The latest "discussion" involved the master bedroom window. 
I often wonder what our architect must think of us…

Mrs. H suggested the bedroom window in the movie... 

Something's Gotta Give

Mr. H suggested the window from the ship in the movie..

Master and Commander

Our builder mentioned the challenge of a curve.
The end result…
we just received the price to build our fantasy window.
We are back to the drawing board.

Maybe that treehouse isn't looking so bad after all?

Maureen O'Hara and Johnny Weissmuller ( 1932) Tarzan the Ape Man

I am writing this post by way of Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire and sending Happy Birthday wishes to Mr. H in Vietnam. Our travels often revolve around his birthday which means he often spends it on his own. This one is for you Mr. H…I have just the spot for that treehouse! ;)

Please join me in wishing 
Mr. H 

The post where it all began

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Call of the Wild…a bear meet

I admit, I wasn't expecting it.
My mind was elsewhere as I drove into  
the road that leads to Tahilla,

Within seconds I squealed joyfully 
at the sight of two black bears, 
thinking of of Robert McCloskey's book
Blueberries for Sal (a family favourite)
 and then I wondered
Do I drive up to them, around them or stay put?
What do you do when you encounter a bear?
I decided the best option was to stay in my car and wait.

Then I panicked.
My daughter, Miss Claire,
 runs down this road every day.
What if she was on her way…
she would turn the corner 
to Mother Bear and Cub approaching her.
I tried to call..no phone coverage.
Blasted woods.
I had to hope that she was still at home.
Then I waited and inched forward very slowly.

Each time I did…Mother Bear was not happy.
In a very meaningful way, she told me to back off.
I obliged.

Just to be sure, she did it several more times. 
Her cub was totally clueless as it ran off 
into the distance and into the woods. 
Mother Bear soon followed with one last stance 
before she slipped into the woods.

As I sat there (seemed like forever)
 I wondered again..
 what possessed me to buy a Venetian Red car?
The bear now knows where I live.
Could I be any more obvious?

I wonder if I will wake one morning 
to find bear paws along my pollen dusted car
as a sign that she knows were I live.

Miss Claire was home.
Both of us have decided to take up 
a new walking/running route.
Bear Free and in my case with a loud bell.

If you are wondering what you would do 
if you encountered a black bear.
Wonder no more…

The good people of New Hampshire Fish and Game
have this to say about black bears

If you see a bear, keep your distance.

Make it aware of your presence by clapping, 
talking, singing or making other sounds.

If you get to close to a bear, it may slap the ground, 
huff, blow and chomp its teeth or rush you
(this is referred to as "bluff charge")
in an attempt to get you to move 
a more comfortable distance away.

If this occurs, maintain eye contact with the bear, 
speak in a soft, calm voice 
and slowly back away from the bear.

These actions will help appease the bear 
and show that you are not weak, but, 
at the same time, not a threat to the bear. 

Do not run, avert your eyes or turn your back to the bear. 
The bear may perceive weakness and enforce dominance. 
The bears bluff charge and chomping of teeth 
are a defense mechanism 
to establish the bears dominance in an encounter 
with humans or a more dominant animal in the wild. 

Bears can outrun, out-swim and out-climb you. 
If you are attacked by a black bear, 
you should fight rather than "play dead".

With thanks to New Hampshire Fish and Game 
for this invaluable information. 
You can read more here.

I shall lay awake pondering it for many nights to come.

So that's what's happening in my neck of the woods..
and yours?

PS..apologies for quality of the photos.
They were taken through my pollen dusted 
bright red car window with my iPhone. 
I decided hanging out of the
car window was not a wise option.

Blueberries for Sal 
by Robert McCloskey
Read by Emily Kohne


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