We’re Doing It!

Check this out! We’re doing it!!! I’m so proud of us! As you know, packing up a house to move is not easy! But we plod along, one foot in front of the other ~ and it’s working! Even with breaks to have fun! This is my studio window … from where I’m sitting right now! The view has changed! Scary, or what? Need Musica! 

I SO love old music!!! I hope you do! New music too, but there’s just something especially touching about this old WWII stuff. So what’s new? Basically Joe and I have been flitting around in two worlds. The wonderful world of our friends, and our “normal” springtime Island life, the garden,🪴 walks, books📚, parties, and making lots of wonderful new memories 📸 (because it ain’t over till it’s over, and even then, I promise you, it ain’t over) ~ and the other world, slow-moving, dust-eating🧹, boot-kicking, forced-march, teary-eyed, earth-based, packing🧳, barn-emptying, decision making, deep-cleaning ~ discovering lost things, wonderful things, and remembering💌. Put it all together, and we have Real Life. Something we are learning to rise above!🥳

I probably don’t need to explain much with these pics! I think you get it… This is the packing room. Formerly known as the dining room.

Do this long enough and you begin to look around the house for new creative ways to pack things! We’ve hired a wonderful old friend to help us, and this is totally HER!👏 A true packing genius! First time I realized, that space thing, it’s an art!💞

From the dining room to the living room, she has marked all the boxes, listing everything that’s in the boxes on the boxes, they are numbered and the numbers correspond with a list of everything on paper, plus she photographed them. All bases covered, this should work! 🤞

It’s not pretty! Probably more like making sausage.

But you know what is pretty? All the clean and empty rooms, with clean and empty closets! It’s been one room at a time. Packing up what we’re taking. We took the four poster in this room. We have three, having four-poster beds is based on my childhood books and old movies, and I HAD to take one of them with us. For Louisa May Alcott. For Beatrix Potter. For the memories.💞 Do people even have them anymore?

We took this one. Bought all our four-posters 30 years ago at Leonard’s Beds in Rhode Island.💝 

I’m kind of proud of how pretty the rooms look even with nothing in them! This is the “baby room.” These walls used to have all my oldest family photos on them, my grandparents as children, and our kids (my siblings) as babies.

You’ll recognize this one . . . it’s my Peter Rabbit Room  (click here if you never saw my Peter Rabbit Room💝). You can still feel the coziness in this lovely room tucked under the eves, so much like a tree house (easy to feel it lying in bed, looking at the tops of trees outside the windows) . . . and I left behind two tiny bits of Peter-Rabbit-Room: a cloth purse in the cupboard lined in blue and white check, Peter Rabbit on it, with his cotton-ball tail, and there’s a door hanger as you go in, with Peter Rabbit on it, that I got at Hilltop. But those two things up there ⬆️, they go with us.

Our bedroom, see any tiny ears?

There he is! This is his “rubber-band room” … We play every morning and every night before bed … and whenever he can trap me up there during the day. I stand at the door and shoot rubber bands (thick hair-ties) over the bed to where he is standing on an exercise bench! He catches them… see his eyes? He is waiting!

My studio . . . kind of my last pack-job, not done yet. For any of you involved in this same kind of nightmare ~ all this just proves that if we can do it, you can too!

Yeah, we tried that. Doesn’t work. It’s actually a lot like writing a book, or any big project ~ at first it’s so disorganized it feels overwhelming, but then, you just put one foot in front of the other, and one day progress becomes visible, and you are surprised to say “I’m DOING it!” Deadlines are helpful for me, but we have changed ours 3 times, however…

The kitchen . . . Not done, because we still live here, but getting close! We took everything off the fridge, and now it’s all working its way back on!

The truck got here yesterday and they started loading . . .😳I’m not thinking about it. 

Not even trying to hide this truck! It’s like having Godzilla in your driveway.

Joe and a helper worked until about 10 last night when it was cool and moonlit ~ they got a lot done!

The whole trick in loading a truck is balance. Is what they say. (Carrie in England and I have been texting back and forth ~ she wrote this funny thing: “Is there anything worse than moving? No. Nothing. By the end you’re chucking hammers and screwdrivers in with the China.” 😂🤣 And that’s exactly where we are right now, and exactly what we’re doing. Soon we’ll likely be throwing last-minute loose papers, shoes, tea balls into the back of the truck!)

They finish loading today . . . and supposedly that truck full of stuff will be on the ferry this Saturday! We’ll see. Then we clean up the house, and make it look beautiful. That’s when we officially put it on the market, and in about three weeks, we pack the van … an ice chest full of goodies goes between our seats, Jack’s carrier sits on top of the ice chest, and we fill the van with my original art and other stuff that goes with us! And off to see the wizard we will go!

And in the MEANTIME … the other side of our lives, the beauty side . . . because that’s there more than ever!

We walked over to Lowely’s the other night, walked home under this moon, amazing how pretty pictures of night sky can be with just a regular iPhone.  

Daily I take my scissors and go out to visit Joe’s little wildflower garden, our first, to pick a flower or two, and to see what new thing is coming. We have no idea, we just got a big bag of mixed seed on the internet and threw it out there. First up was poppies! Something coming now I have no name for . . .

XXX

Here it is!

We went out to Menemsha for dinner aboard our friend’s sailboat   . . . to hang out, eat, drink pink wine, and watch the sun go down ~ Jaime brought these gorgeous flowers, we brought potato salad from John’s, the fish market I told you about in the last post … they make it JUST like I do, except they don’t use onion, relish, or celery. But they do the hard part, so we just gussie it up and voila! Tis the season, and if you can’t get to John’s, look here! It’s the best recipe! (From my Summer Book if you have it.)

Be sure to add the mayo to the eggs and potatoes while the potatoes are still hot or warm! It’s the trick to the deliciousness!

So there they were, waiting for us . . . that’s Jaime in the hat with the blue dress. She’s my friend who had TRIPLETS (a total surprise), all boys, and then a year later, ANOTHER boy! No one could have done it better. But, I’m still not over it. I probably would have given up on life that very moment, even before the actual BIRTH!😳 But the boys are wonderful and in their 30s now. Back then I saw an article about Jaime in our local paper … then I saw her for the first time shopping in Edgartown. I knew it was her because she had a stroller for THREE, and those 4 babies were all in there! What a gal! In so many ways. Besides making life for all her friends so much more festive, she’s a famous caterer here on the Island.💖 

There’s George, the Captain of the ship (called appropriately LOL, because that’s what you do when you’re on board), working the bar.

Such a gorgeous night . . .

Before we went to the boat, I saw this set-up on the beach … had to go take a picture … I think it was a wedding shower! What a party! When I first moved here, my sister and I took a table & chairs, champagne, cake, salad, paper cups and plates, tablecloth, and brought my Dad here for his 60th birthday in my little old VW convertible. We bought cooked lobsters at the fish market up the street, and celebrated his birthday right in that same spot on the beach. Swam to get the butter off, and drove home under the trees with James Taylor singing to the stars. Now that’s a memory!

 

On the boat, same thing, we ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed, we breathed this rarified air and watched the sun go down. More wonderful memories.

The sunset turned Joe pink, and made his hot pink shirt even hotter!

Well, I have a hundred more things to tell you, but this is already long enough and I still have more! For one thing . . .

Remember this? Recognize it? Yup! Downty!

Better known as Highclere Castle (as in Downton Abbey). I did a whole post about this wonderful day… you can read it HERE!  

Well, guess what? Highclere Castle is having a contest that anyone can enter! I got an email from Laura who reads my Willards and is also their media person ~ she told me about the contest and said I should tell you! The winner will receive a three-day, two-night trip for two to Highclere Castle this September complete with airfare, accommodations, ground transportation, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Castle and estate, and tickets to an invitation-only VIP cocktail party hosted by Lord and Lady Caravan! AND she sent us a bottle of the Highclere Castle Gin! It came in a velvet bag, tied with gold cord, and even a little recipe book! It’s good to have friends in high places! Made with botanicals from the estate and from the orangery and with the lavender planted in the 9th century by the Bishop of Winchester. We got it, but we haven’t tasted it yet. Saving it for when that truck goes away! Or tonight, whichever comes first.😁

You can enter the contest HERE. They say if you buy a bottle of Downty gin (I renamed it) they’ll give you 20 chances to win the trip ~ it’s a promotion … but you don’t have to in order to enter, Laura stressed to me that it’s free! Nothing to lose! And it’s all inspired by the coming release of the third Downton Abbey movie! Big-time Red Letter Day!💞

 

So what else … in my last post, at the bottom, I listed a whole bunch of books and movies to read, listen to, and watch … I need to add Band of Brothers to it, which streams on Netflix . . . as suggested by one of our Girlfriends. We watched the first episode last night, so GOOD. Killer good. Scared to see the next one as we are talking D-Day, but ready to sqwinch my eyes closed just in cases. Just finished Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, so good. We both cried at the end. No wonder so many baby boomers ended up on drugs in the 70s and 80s … everyone had PTSD after the terrible violence of the 60s, I was only in the 11th grade when John Kennedy was killed, it was one after another, John, Martin, and then Bobby … and I have brand new respect for President Johnson. Little tug of my heart for him.💖 Books are such wonderful things.

Something else, if you go to the top of this Willard you will see “Home Cooking” . . . put your cursor there for a drop-down … Take your time, look at “Summer Recipes,” and “How to Cook” … for lots of summer deliciousness and cooking demonstration blog posts. Kellee did a wonderful job putting it together! Happy cooking!

Look Here . . .

We got the Secret Notes back in! They’re hand-made so it takes a while, but so special. . .

This is our first year without shrink wrap on our calendars .. NO plastic. I’m happy! I can’t believe all the tags and plastic and stuffing there is with everything we buy . . . I hope it works well. Be sure to let me know if you have problems. Fingers-crossed it works.💞

So, time to go and start throwing things into the truck! But I had to show you . . .THIS was the very first night in our house way back when. JUST the beginning of 35 years of wonderful friends, food, and FUN! (But I think what I’m hearing here is “We need more beer!”🤣)

Here’s to us Girlfriends! Happy summer! Thanks for all the wonderful sweet comments! Love you! 😘

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A little May, a little June . . . a little happy, sweet old tune . . .

Hi everyone! Keeping busy? Me too . . . but time out for a girl party! That’s this! MUSICA    (Just click on the record!)

It feels like I’ve been keeping track of the months forever! It’s really time I update this photo … do you recognize these? Calendars all the way back from 1993 ~ but this photo only goes to 2013! And here we are, looking at 2025! Big surprise from us today because the calendars came early this year!💝
Yes! I’m excited to see them! But so early! We are hoping they last till Christmas … but just in cases, if calendars are one of your stand-by gifts, be sure to get them soon … we don’t always run out but, as some of you know, sometimes we DO!😳

Here they are! This is the cover of the 12″ x 12″ wall-calendar! (Still practicing painting people, thought I would bring her home from Farmer’s Market with the groceries! Look! She stole my ring!)

Here’s the back of the wall calendar . . . so you can see 3 of the months for 2025 . . .

This is the extra-large desk blotter ~ the cover shows all the months for the whole year . . . but . . .

Here’s the month of April up-close . . . each month has tear-off pages, the year-in-advance, huge squares, and extra room to write! 

This ⬆️ is the cover for the Mini Wall-calendar… a picket fence with hollyhocks, very fun to paint! And here ⬇️ is September . . .

An up-close look ⬆️ at the September top and bottom page for the Mini.

Last but not least, the cover for the purse calendar ~ it’s the same size as a checkbook. There are more pictures of everything at that link.😘

Here’s where the calendars are conceived, before they’re delivered and ready for adoption by you!👼

Here are the California doctors preparing the babies for delivery (what am I SAYING HERE???🤣)

All from me, with you know what!💞💞💞

With you know who.😹

And guess what else? Susan Branch Studios is now on the new wholesale site called Faire! Before, if you wanted to find my things you had to get them directly from us . . . but now, if you have a retail store (and a resale number) you can sign-up to carry my cards, notepads, books, and things in your shop at wholesale prices, no matter how big or tiny it is! You can shop through Faire or you can contact us directly for wholesale prices! This is all new to us ~ Calendars and books will be on the Faire site soon!❤️ But the rest of it is ready right NOW!!👏

Last week the Island had its unofficial opening for the season, Memorial Day! And like forever, we got our flag up in time for the kids!

I’ve painted calendar pages about this delightful event that has been happening right in front of our house since the 1800s! Not just here, but all the schools on the island … For us, it’s the Tisbury school up the street, kindergarten through 8th grade. With flags waving, they march by me and my camera as they parade down Spring Street in the dappled sunlight to the harbor ~ on their way to the shore to throw their bouquets of flowers into the sea in memory of the heroes who fought, lost their health, or their lives, for our country, for us. Our grown-up chests swell seeing them and hearing their little school band play patriotic songs! Remember “Over There” from the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy? 🎵…The YANKS are coming, the YANKS are coming, the drums rum-tumming everywhere . . . so beware, say a prayer, send the word, send the word, over there, 🎶 we’re coming over, we’re coming ovER and WE WON’T COME BACK TILL IT’S OVER OVER THERE! 🇺🇸 YAY!

If you haven’t seen Yankee Doodle Dandy, or if it’s been a long time, look for it. It’s about George M. Cohan, born on the 4th of July, who wrote wonderful songs that you barely ever hear anymore. It’s so good! You’ll love it. It’s WWI, but it’ll bring back memories you don’t even have! And then you will!👏

XXX

Here’s a scene from the movie … still gives me chills. Being born just after WWII means that even though the war was over, we kids still grew up with it. My parents and their friends were the Greatest Generation and this was their LIFE, so the 1950s was still a total reflection of the war. TV was filled with it ~ besides Yankee Doodle Dandy on the Million Dollar movie for 7 days straight, there was Sgt. Bilko, Hogan’s Heroes, No Time for Sergeants, I Led Three Lives ~ and at the movies, there was Operation Petticoat, Mr. Roberts, The Caine Mutiny, Bridge on the River Kwai, and tons more  … while my dad was busy building our bomb shelter in the back yard! Seeing men in military uniform was normal everywhere. My uncle was in the Navy until the 70s. Much of the camaraderie among close friends and family came from what they all went through together. It must have felt so good when it was over . . . but so many young years lost. No complaints from them, not ever.💖

They were children during the Depression, and in their teens and early twenties, they were hit with WWII. The men were sent away and most women were left at home and went to work in factories to keep the home fires burning. Everyone wanted to help. But it wasn’t easy. They lost boyfriends and husbands, kids lost moms and dads, parents lost children, grandparents lost a  generation, and siblings lost each other. (And imagine how it was in England, being bombed every night!) It marked them, and still marks many of us. (If we thought Covid was bad, imagine THIS nightmare for six-ish years.😩) But we definitely learned from it . . . our parents showed us that money didn’t grow on trees, and that it wasn’t everything. We learned how to make do or do without, and found out we could have anything because we could make it ourselves. We felt their patriotism, admired their courage, adopted their pride, learned to work hard, and we still feel their values in our hearts. And so, I cry when I hear the old music, even after all these years. I love seeing that spark carried forward with these neighborhood kids and hopefully they won’t have to experience a terrible war to be taught what matters all over again. The lessons need to last much longer than just a few generations. My darling daddy would love that.💖 My darling daddio. 💖 Blog Daddy to you guys. On the 80th Anniversary of D-Day ~ Probably the reason we are all here to celebrate and honor as we do.💝

And there’s Joe! We were late this year, we ran like crazy to get the flag up before the kids got there . . .

And JUST made it!!!

Because HERE THEY COME! Cutest dang thing!

I’m not sure who is more excited, them or me, or their teachers!

But they do love it, we can hear their excited voices easily a block away … always on the last Friday before the holiday weekend. I’ve been taking pictures of it for the last 35 years! And not one bit of difference in any of them! Only the faces have changed! Those first kids I saw are at least 40 now!! And I bet they’ve never forgotten this.💝

Night and day, out there with my camera . . .🇺🇸

I was hanging my flag even back at Holly Oak (see the roof?), before I knew about the kids! Finding out about their parade was the frosting on the Martha’s Vineyard/New England Cake! (Along with church bells, graveyards, fog horns, houses, seasons, husband, and girlfriends.💞)

Here I am, at Holly Oak, when I first got to the island! And see that little apple picture on the cupboard?

Here it is again … I brought it with me from California (where I painted it …) 

And here it is again, practically in the same spot, already up for our first dinner party in our new (old) house.

Here’s an up-close . . . and now it’s  on its way BACK to California. We decided it would be the simplest of the simple things for us to remember my years here, so Kellee made prints of it, available for the first time, as of today, in our webstore!

 Let me show you what it looks like here in June, it’s the month everything blooms!

It’s gotten very fluffy around here!

Both in town and out on our walk, lots of green fluff! We’re still listening to An Unfinished Love Story by Doris Kearns Goodwin while we walk, and it just gets better and better! I found out I knew NOTHING about what was happening politically in the 60s!!! I’ve always been a slow starter! I’m just glad to find out there will ALWAYS be new things to learn about! Makes life so exciting!

Joe planted our first wildflower garden in the way back of our garden … and now it’s starting to bloom with these paper thin poppies in all variations of pink and orange. I go out every day, it’s tiny, but I’m thrilled to finally have this!

I took a tiny vase of them to Lowely’s TGIF the other evening . . . cutting tiny wildflowers is a very good way to show your undying love . . . I hope she saw that!❤️

And we’ve been going out to dinner with best friends and the best views. A very wonderful combination!

And then there’s that gigantic camel’s head in the room(s) that I try to pretend isn’t there. We’ve done such a good job! We have actually downsized! I’m proud of us. I didn’t think it could be done. But as usual, all the way along we’ve been reminded

The “pantry shelf” Carlton made for me at Holly Oak, is empty and ready to go!

Here it is at Holly Oak after Carlton remodeled the kitchen for me. Such a handy shelf, only one jar wide so nothing can hide “in the back!”💖

I will miss every room in this house, but maybe the pantry the most! Extra fridge, food, bowls, tablecloths, big pans, trays ironing-board perch for Jack (or for drying bread at Thanksgiving ~ and sometimes even ironing!), washer and dryer, baskets, recycling, back door with screen door straight out to the “Teahouse of the Vineyard Moon,” where we’ve had so many summer dinner parties under the twinkle lights  … Joe got out Jack’s cat carrier so he can go in and out and get used to it being around so he’ll be okay with it when we actually have to use it! It’s a good thing he already likes to be inside things.👏

Time to go! I have to plan what to make to take to a party on Saturday!

I can’t wait to take you on our cross-country, cucumber- sandwich, kitty-is-coming-with-us drive across country …  It’s going to be so much fun! Freedom! Road Trip! eeek! Off I go! Thank you for dropping in  … And don’t worry about me, other than the 20 lbs I’ve gained from eating my way to a stress-free life, I’m fine. Love you! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

P.S. Since today is the 80th Anniversary of D-Day, a very sad and amazing Red Letter Day in the History of the world, I thought I would add a few inspiring, touching, meaningful, educational, wonderfully written, and EXCITING Books and Movies with AHA moments galore that we have learned from and loved. There are so many! It’s a subject without an end. Hopefully these will inspire curiosity to take to you to other stories . . . Please feel free to leave your own suggestions!💞

MOVIES  and DOCUMENTARIES

  • Darkest Hour
  • The Rise of the Nazis, PBS (Amazon Prime)
  • Mrs. Miniver
  • Bridge on the River Kwai
  • The Longest Day
  • Schindler’s List (the reason Steven Spielberg was born, book is JUST as good.)
  • Dunkirk
  • I Was A Male War Bride (fun, Cary Grant)
  • I’ll be Seeing You (1944)
  • The New Look (on Apple+, about Dior and Chanel in Paris during the war)
  • The Major and the Minor (more fun, has Ginger Rogers in it)
  • Downfall (Apple +, Peacock, Amazon Prime)
  • I couldn’t bear to watch Private Ryan, but I think I might try again and just skip the first half hour . . . 😥
  • If you want more . . .

BOOKS

  • Dead Wake Erik Larson
  • The Splendid and the Vile Erik Larson
  • Against All Odds by Alex Kershaw
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelley
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • A highly rated list of WWII books from Amazon

NEVER FORGET

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