05 September 2016

Heart to Heart...



Misty morning in the garden, Tahilla Farm


I have had several heart to heart talks these past few days…some of the longest days that I have ever had. I talk and I talk and I talk…until I think the words will no longer come...but then they do. I am talking in silence...to myself…every minute and hour of the passing days as I take in the full measure of life and death.

My brother Charlie passed away this month after a long battle with diabetes. He was 54 years old.  Husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend to the many people who came to farewell him last weekend. His death was expected and unexpected. He had been in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation since May.  He was better and then he wasn't and then he was again. Every day was a 'wait and see', every day gave us hope. He had that fighting Irish spirit...knock him down and he would get up, knock him harder and he would get back up again and again. His last fight came in the early morning hours on August 20th.

He will be missed profoundly, more than words can say.

Lavender in bloom...

During the past two weeks family and friends have come together in grief…in it's raw and inexplicable form. We have started a journey together, one that will never end. Together we will weave the memories of his life, cherishing the ones that intertwined with each of ours.

It's personal, it's private, it is something we all carry together, each holding on in our own way. In the days, months and years to come we will breathe him into existence, into the very fabric of our being. He will continue to be with us forever more.

Butterfly calling...

When we built Tahilla Farm I thought of many happy occasions that would be held here but it never crossed my mind that it would be the starting point for healing over the death of my brother. In fact, he told me just a few short weeks ago that his goal was to be well enough to come to Tahilla to sit on the porch and enjoy the view. He said he would stay for as long as it took to fully enjoy it. I shared that story as we all sat on the porch this weekend...sisters, mother, wife, son and daughter.


Porches are the best remedy...

We all came together this weekend, doing the things you do to start to find inner peace. Talking, crying, laughing, reading, walking, writing, sketching, eating, shopping, cooking, exploring…just doing what each of us needed to do, together, to start the process.

My mother, sketching a view at Tahilla Farm.

A sketch of me.



And that is when it started to happen...the 'signs' appeared.

I should mention that some of us are great believer in 'signs'. It doesn't take much to stir the imagination in our family. During the church service I noticed a bee swirling around each speaker, including myself, at a dizzying pace, much like my brother's personality.  I knew then it would be the topic of conversation in the hours to follow and it was.

There is something comforting about these little 'signs' when they appear. I think of them more lightheartedly than some but knowing that it brings comfort to those that 'see' is worth the tale. They bring lightness and joy at a time of deep sorrow. A gentle reminder when we need it most, to say I am with you…even now.

As we gathered at Tahilla, we noticed an abundance of 'signs' in every direction.

Garden views...

The life of a garden..


Dragonflies, butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and a feather...

I occasionally spot dragonflies in the garden but on this occasion they welcomed us with eager enthusiasm.  Dive bombing was more like it. I have since discovered that dragonflies are a symbol of survival and when present it is a 'sign' that our loved ones are never far away, even after death. They bring peace to a grieving soul….and they did..to us all.

I purposely planted flowers to attract butterflies. I have been told they are a symbol of personal growth and spiritual rebirth, bringing peace, joy and love to those who appreciate them. We all marveled at the number of butterflies gracing our garden this weekend, surely a 'sign' that our loved ones who have passed before us were all together.

Butterfly bliss...

A favourite of mine, the ever curious hummingbirds,  darted in and out and amongst the butterflies and dragonflies.  It is said their wings move in the shape of an infinity sign symbolizing love. We felt love all around us.

Like butterflies, bees are said to be a symbol of the soul and a symbol of a unified family. You do not need to wander far from our doorstep to see and hear them. We listened quietly…a symphony like no other.



I didn't think much of it at the time but it did pass my mind that a beautiful downy feather laying in our path while we walked in the woods two days ago might have some meaning. I left it…but it nagged at me. I read today that if you come across a feather in your path, an angel is with you, offering comfort, to let you know you are on the right track. I was curious to see if the feather was still waiting for me.

I grabbed Tika and went in search. I recalled where I picked it up and that I had placed it on a hemlock branch, thinking it would be protected amidst the needles. We walked back and forth a few times, Tika with her nose to the ground and me with my eyes to the ground..and there it was, in my path again.


That little feather is now tucked away with my collection of feathers. It rests front and center forever more to remind me that an angel rests at Tahilla.


Me and Charlie

My brother Charlie, may he rest in peace, forever more.


PS.
Thank you for reading along and for the words of sympathy
that have followed these past weeks. It is so very deeply appreciated.
If you would like to contact me, to talk about your 'signs' 
or what has helped you through the grieving process, 
please do. I would love to hear from you.

jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

Jeanne xxx




23 July 2016

Bless This Mess...


Moon rising over Tahilla Farm in July.


Hooley Dooley! Has it really been that long since I last wrote a post?? In case you thought I had fallen off the face of the earth...I am still here, in a mess of sorts. A good mess.

Before I start the 'mess' talk, I want to thank you for your kind words on the last guest post, A Military Wife by my DIL, Cherie Henriques. Your words of understanding and encouragement touched her deeply...and me, thank you so much. xx

Back to the mess....well, it's all happening..in the garden and in the house. Since my last post ( in May!!) we have planted a garden, Mr. H and two of my children have come and gone, our shipment from Vietnam arrived last week and with one week to go...Miss Claire is about to embark on an adventure a lifetime with the Peace Corp..in Africa..for two years. Oh yes, and just to make that beautiful mess even messier, we are throwing a party for the construction crew of Tahilla Farm..a way of saying thank you for making the long journey to Tahilla Farm so rewarding. The guest list will be somewhere between 50-80..I think, I will know more soon as the event is imminent. A few things on my plate? You betcha!

Bless this mess of a life of ours, I am grateful...every day, chaos and all.

If you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed it is just about impossible to see a photo without a mountain in it...which I never tire of viewing. I did manage to climb to the top of it with Miss Claire last month. Actually...it was more like her sprinting to the top and me straddling up the mountain between two walking sticks. I can tell you..it was a great feeling when I finally reached the top..and then watching her sprint back down the mountain as I straddled along. ;)



From a mountain top...in July.


It's all about the garden...May, June and July

Plants arriving in May.

Garden views early June.

Porch views to a garden in July.

Pots arrive from Saigon in July..ready for the garden.

Capturing the sunrise in July.


A garden grows mid-July.

Miss Claire and Tika swimming at the local pond in July.

My escape...whenever time permits.
(which has been once this summer)


Tika finds her napping spot with a view to the garden in July.


Speaking of Miss Tika...
she is doing just fine!


Tika takes to the trails in July.

And that's the news to date on this steamy morning in July.
I have missed sharing and writing and reading with all of you. 
If you have sent me a note and I haven't responded yet, 
please know you are not forgotten. 
Really and truly! 

I have been waiting for a rainy day to catch up..
which hasn't seem to come along this summer. 
All in good time.

In the meantime...
wishing YOU a wonderful day!

Jeanne xx

Tahilla attire..hiking boots, garden clogs,
gloves, clippers and hat and
plenty of walking sticks...
to climb a mountain. 

More photos on Instagram here



07 June 2016

A Military Wife...

I am sharing... a post written by my daughter-in-law, Cherie Henriques. It is a wonderful, heartfelt perspective on life as a military wife. As a mother, I feel especially blessed to have Cherie by my son's side. We are both feeling an extra tug on our heart today as my son leaves for an overseas assignment. We are all praying for his safe return and are proud of him and the commitment he and his fellow officers have made to protect and serve. God Bless each and every one.





Being a Military wife...
by Cherie Henriques

27 May 2016

Tika of Tahilla…she made it!


Passing rainbow cloud…Tahilla Farm

There has been some serious nail biting going on at Tahilla Farm this week as we patiently awaited Tika's arrival from Ho Chi Minh City to Boston. Everything went topsy turvy when President Barack Obama arrived in Vietnam earlier this week. For security reasons, Tika's flight was pushed back two days. I admit it had me in a panic…something that is easy for me to do.

14 May 2016

Whispers…lots of little white whispers

Whispers….lots of little white whispers. 

We spend most of our time in a kind of horizontal thinking.
We move along the surface of things…but there are times when we stop.
We sit still. We lose ourselves in a pile of leaves or it's memory.
We listen, and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.
~James Carroll

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!
Greetings!

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...

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.

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.

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