OH, IT IS GOOD TO BE HOME!

Hello little monster (Not you! You’re adorable! That ⬇️ monster!) Oh, it is good to be home! MUSICA!

But first of all, let me say, in a quiet, but excited voice, YOUR BOOKS ARE ON THE WAY!!!🎵 This was a perfect welcome home gift for me!!! If you preordered Distilled Genius, then get ready, because they started going out on Friday and will continue to do so all week! At least! You may already have yours!

When we drove up, fresh off the ship, these boxes of books were waiting on our front porch!!! How’s that for timing?

I dove straight into the boxes (after hugging and kissing the little monster) … I couldn’t wait! It’s not real until it’s real! I love the red ribbon!

And something else I think turned out good . . . Almost all my books have dust jackets, I love the way they look, and the little “extra” you get to read on them … they seem to finish the book. But with some books, especially a reference book like this one, I find that dust jackets get in the way. They slip off, they get torn, and sometimes I get frustrated and take them off ~ and never can find them again! 

So I did something with this book that I’ve never done or even seen before. I glued the dust jacket down and Trompe l’oeiled the cover flaps! See the shadow on the edge of the flap? It’s not really a flap! It’s all glued down! Have you seen books like this before? Maybe I invented it! Look at all the trees we saved! Makes me so happy!😂 Made in America!

Anyway, I’ve waited a long time to do this book (as you know, there’s a queue💖) and I couldn’t be happier with the way it came out. If you pre-ordered, you should know, there is a little surprise in the envelope, don’t accidentally throw it away! There will be one with every order until we run out of them (even if you didn’t preorder!). If you haven’t got yours, we still have them, you can read more about Distilled Genius here . . .

So back to the little monster! He has not punished me for going away! I keep waiting. In fact, he cuddles
alongside me in my chair, or at night. I think it might be, after all these years, dare I name it, could it be love?

I’ve come home to the little things, and I am almost giddy with the delight of it… my own home where I can nest and hygge to my hearts content… 💞

As I putter around the house, unpacking, doing laundry, putting it slowly back together, his eyes are always on me, except when he’s asleep as he is now in the desk drawer next to me. My shadow.

All so soft and peaceful in the old creaky house I love so much

The new needlepoint pillow I bought in an antique store in Harleston UK and smooshed into our luggage to bring home … looks pretty good in my pale green living room! (Before you even ask: Paint color, Martin Señor Colonial Williamsburg Green Light ~ 🤣)

Of course the children were waiting for me, a feast for the eyes … the Beatrix Potter figurines I collected in my 20s that have been in every kitchen I’ve ever had and went onto this shelf in 1989 when I bought this house and have watched over this kitchen ever since …. and their new friend from home, a tiny painted shell Rachel bought for me from children selling their artwork for Ukraine on the beach in Southwold, (the beach town I showed you in my last post). Whew, that sentence was a mouthful for such a tiny little shell!

And yes, the ritual filling of the tiny vases . . . such an important part of the puttering!

If ever I am feeling sad … or lazy, or tired, or lonely I just go outside pick a flower or two, bring it in, put it in a vase, walk around the house finding the perfect place for it, and my mood gets an instant lift. Something about the garden, the sunshine, the birds, smells, and sounds, and the small gesture makes the difference.💝 We came home to wildness in the world, very hard days we are living through, I want to pat everyone’s head and say it’s going to be okay … but I’m reminded, the only part any of us have much say over, is our own homes. And that’s not a little thing… we have the power to make them heaven on earth, bake a pie, and voila! We are lucky, not everyone in the world can say that!

We’ve been lucky so far … we came home to the most wonderful weather, our windows are open, the curtains flutter in the sea breezes, the island is abuzz with summer life, the harbor is filled with little white sailboats flitting around in the blue, we had our first Fish Sandwich at John’s Fish Market (a summer tradition for us, I take tiny bites of it’s juicy goodness to make it last), and of course, we walk our walk to the sea each day. It’s good to go away, good to challenge yourself, and drive on the wrong side of the road, and good to come home, alive and well, full of inspiration, and plotting for the next time!

Beautiful on Martha’s Vineyard just now ~ our walk to the water in the morning is heaven … and FLUFFY. When we left there weren’t any leaves on the trees and bushes in the woods, and now the island could actually use a haircut!

Quiet sandy pathways and the sounds of seagulls. . .

Yup. I know you know how I feel.💞 Kindred spirits.👏

And speaking of houses … I know you love them the way I do . . . so, up next, a little house entertainment from me and Joe to you from England . . .

The bunting was everywhere . . . but look at these great houses . . . wonky roof lines, no two windows alike, narrow walking paths, like secrets, go between them to other parts of the village, and out, and onward, to the next one . . . amazing history … just hanging out there like they aren’t even amazing, just normal! Tell your children:

Normal? Ha! And all handmade . . . because England decided not to let this charm go in lieu of big new shopping centers!

the bluest of blue skies, the whitest of fluffy clouds, the tallest of hedgerows . . .

Pubs and pubs and more pubs . . . how we love them!

Because they have been here FOREVER too . . .

I found critters to make friends with . . .

Bricks and gingerbread, and the MOST amazing trees

I could go on all day with trees!

Trees and pathways to discovery and serendipity . . . Spring in England is the cat’s meow.

Many of the trees are as old as the rest of the country . . . you give them a hug and ask, could you please tell me your secrets?

There really aren’t very many photos of us together, it’s either him alone, or me alone, or a tree alone . . . Rachel took this one . . . but I promise you 

THIS is how we felt most of the time. Verklempt at the beauty. (This old photo of us in tears was taken by my niece. We were all on a glass-topped boat on the Seine in 2001, having dinner, going by the sparkling Eiffel Tower, while a woman was singing La Vie en Rose ~ and Joe and I, being normal people, teared up from the beauty.) Leaving England, saying goodbye after two amazing months of our first freedom in years, sailing by the Isle of Wight as we left Southampton, this is what we were doing.

I’m sure we weren’t the only ones … 

Perhaps the tears this time came from our stunning arrival in New York Harbor . . .

It was so beautiful … Staten Island Ferries with sunrise making them shine, passing ships!

Our ship was filled with Brits and Germans … and Americans, all thrilled to get up at 5 am to watch the Queen Mary 2 slip quietly down the harbor, and see the sun rise over New York City . . .

And as we sailed past the Lady with the Light, the gift to America from France, the promise and hope of everything we stand for ~ more tears.

Our crossing was perfection . . . we were wined and dined, we slept like babies . . .the views were stunning . . .MAS MUSICA

Rainbows, fog, blue skies, sunshine, and fast-moving clouds . . . we had it all!

Here are more views for my armchair travelers . . . ❌⭕️❌⭕️

But in this one, so foggy, there wasn’t so much of a view! The ships horn blew all day . . . ships have been in these waters, going back and forth for hundreds of years. Now it’s our turn. 

Nothing ever stays the same at sea . . .

Joe and I had every good reason to be toasting, but someone has to hold the camera! Our life together seems like a miracle. Since the first moment we met all those years ago, and first spoke about our matching dreams of sailing on an ocean liner to England. Sit down at an oyster bar and the cutie next to you says this! How can that BE? Especially when you KNEW you were finished with love forever??? How does that happen? 

Look a this delicious lunch! Henry the VIII did not have it this good!

They treated us so well. And just a reminder, ask our other girlfriends, this trip is affordable! Right? We had 90 kindred spirits join us on our way to England (on the way over, most flew home) . . . and, from what I hear, they loved it as much as we did! PLUS, you don’t have to deal with an airport, AND you can take as much luggage as you want! So if you’re inspired, make a reservation! And go!

 This was the hardest part . . . saying goodbye to Ray and Paul! But the fact we were able to spend so much time together made it all okay … an even deeper deepening of an already deep friendship!

Our last pub lunch together was made even better because my old friend Elaine (my boss in Fairy Tale Girl if you remember) had joined us in England by then!

The other thing about pubs, they all have outdoor gardens and tables … pretty special in this covid-ridden world we are having to deal with.

Elaine, Joe, and I walked all over this amazing place called Chartwell, inside and out, Winston Churchill’s gorgeous home in the country. Talk about history! It was all there . . .

Elaine in Winston’s kitchen . . .

Churchill’s garden and one of my favorite plants, called Gunnera … isn’t it fabulous? It wants “wet feet” in case you have that . . . I tried to grow it in my creek at the Studio, but it wasn’t having any of it. I might have to try again! It’s very picky, it wants everything PERFECT! 

My best new discovery . . . Do you see Elaine there in front of that giant bush or tree or whatever it is? Know what she is doing? She is taking a picture of it up-close so her phone will tell her what plant it is. A wonderful free app for your phone they are advertising everywhere called Picture This.  Now I have it too, and it works! I can’t tell you how great it is to not have walk past something beautiful and say, I wonder what that is?! Joe and I have argued about the blueberries growing on the dirt road where we walk for YEARS… now, as soon as they turn into berries, we are going to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I can’t wait! 

Okay, one more picture … a National Trust house full of William Morris that we toured … just LOVED IT. But you see, it’s the books that make it!!! Which is WHY, I’m pretty sure, the future for e-books isn’t as bright as it used to be! No good book smell! Not good for decorating! Carrying real books is good for arm muscles. See what I mean?

So all this lovely home sweet home stuff will be coming to an end for us soon. We hadn’t planned it, but while in England Joe and I started talking about how much we missed California, our friends and family, my Studio. It’s been years! Plus, my family is going to sprinkle mom’s ashes and I want to be there for the hugs. At first we planned to make our trip as quick as possible, and take the train so we could get home . . . but as time went on, and more bits of my new book began filtering in (the very first pages were sent to me in England that’s me hugging them there), we realized we really wanted to drive so we can visit our favorite Independent Bookstores (it’s been a long time for that too), and see as many of my Girlfriends as possible along the way. We aren’t going everywhere, we really DO want to come home and stay home, but we figured we could at least stop at the ones along the route. So that’s what we’re going to do! It will take three weeks, most of August (brilliant, traveling in August, pray for us!) We’ll take the train home, and hopefully be here by September 14! We are going to meet you more than halfway, so now you have to come find us if you can! We’ll all be careful of Covid, I don’t want anyone to get sick. And I’ll ask the bookstores to turn up the air-conditioning ~ I think it will be HOT!!! If you see a puddle, be careful not to step in it, it could be me! Here is our schedule so far. There are more dates coming, to see them scroll down on the home page, in border to the right of the blog post, and click on COMING SOON/EVENTS to get updates.💖

Some of the bookstores are already decorating! This is Prairie Path in Wheaton, Ill where we’ll be on August 10! Making me feel so welcome. Sandy sent it ~ I’m so excited about this trip!!! Hope to see you there!

The first signing and talk is the 28th of July … right here on the Cape at Titcombs Books in Sandwich! Come!

Must go now . . . I have to design the covers of the 2022 calendars before we go!!! Much more little monster kisses to be given, and Gazpacho to be made! I hope you are staying cool, and having a WONDERFUL summer, and counting your blessings every day. I hope you LOVE the new book. Thank you for your faithful correspondence, it means the world to me!

 

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SO MANY WORDS, SO LITTLE TIME

So many words, so little time is exactly right as you are about to see. I wrote this first thing last… you’ll have to read to the end to find out what it means!!!

As promised, here we are, driving to Carrie and Stuart’s . . . 

almost there…

It was Insta-bond, they did it last time we met too… map-men! “Tell me again where am I?”

This front door just LOOKS like Carrie! When we met them last time, Carrie (American) and Stuart (English) were living in Oxford where he is the most AMAZING tour guide in case you ever get to Oxford (contact Stuart Holloway at stuart@oxfordwalkingtours.com ~ he was born there and knows all there is to know about it), and she was running a small bed and breakfast. They’d bought a get-away house in Wales. But they sold their place in Oxford, and moved to the Cotswolds. Of COURSE we wanted to see their new cottage … 

We’ve always stayed in touch with emails, at Christmas, on Twitter . . . I was dying to see her new kitchen because I have to say, she does Kitchen so GOOD!

Am I right or am I right?

Their tiny place in the Cotswolds, perfect distance for Stuart to commute to Oxford, and great for walks for Jack and Buddy. Note the door to the garden that goes through her sun porch …

Love the bunting!

Note how window opens into sun porch ~ British Country Living should look at what Carrie does with houses!

Because they are adorable! This was her kitchen in Oxford!

And this her Wales kitchen! (I know you would want to see!)

This is her house in Wales too … don’t you just love it? Such a sparky eye she has! I hope she opens an antique store someday … I would love to shop there!

So out we went, off to the pub, we stopped for a moment at the river across the street so Stu could throw the ball for Buddy!

He’s pure entertainment! (Stu is too, but I was talking about Buddy!)

Happy Dog …

Walking to the pub, this art gallery is dressed for the Queen, just like the rest of the country!

had to stop at the village grocery … 

Bought this one … seems so appropriate!

Our guys ordering lunch! Carrie and Stuart are so lucky… they have this wonderful pub within walking distance of the house … a real butcher shop, the village store, and this! Not to mention walks in all directions!

Carrie and I met at the first picnic we had at Stourhead in 2016.

There they are, very picnic-cute.

We bonded over their shoes ~ I had to tell them how cute they were!

Our time together was too short … but I can say that no matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done over here! We walked home from the pub through the little village, amid the cow parsley … which is everywhere. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Home, saying goodbye, but Buddy was ready to play ~ me too, doing a redux of our goodbye curtsy at Stourhead … only with pants, not such a good look …

Better with dresses. . . What a wonderful time we had!

The rain had started, and off we went, hill and dale, to our new rental house in a place called Harleston in Suffolk, East Anglia …

It’s that bump on the right side where the D in England ends…  Our first time in this area of the country.

This was our first view of our new village just driving in. Isn’t it festive? The wind was blowing and the bunting was flapping making it all so alive … we liked it immediately. And now, to keep promise number two in my last post . . . to show you why I called our rental here “the Cottage that wants to be a Castle.”

I didn’t really think it when I first saw it … it was a corner flat in an old brick house  … I think my first hint was the high ceilings … and then I started looking more closely …

At the old wooden floor, the dip in the stair leading to the kitchen, the tile . . .

The kitchen was wonderful, old yet modern in a strange way, since very little in it was actually modern.. .

The kitchen counter was aluminum bent into a counter shape! I liked it. I’ve never seen that before, but it seemed practical. You couldn’t hurt it and it would last forever!

Not exactly Carrie’s kitchen, but still pretty good!

These tiles, the ones lying flat, struck me as castle-like … and the rounded brick between the leaded windows… ask me who put the flowers there . . . yup. twas me!

All the windows had the rounded brick . . .

The hanging kitchen lamp seemed rather royal also!

Beautiful gas stove, all built into tile . . . I was beginning to think whoever modernized this really . . .

. . . held onto the past . . .

We thought the kitchen cupboards were put there, maybe in the 1930s. They looked handmade, but the details were timeless . . . which made me curious about the rest of the house . . .

It was a long way to the only bathroom which was upstairs . . . but the tile was wonderful in there too. . .

Details . . . the base of the toilet! Fancy! So queen-like! The sink was set into a dark antique wood table …

The bathroom was big, with high ceilings, a tub, and a standing shower too . . . rather regal, don’t you think?

The hallway for the bathroom, and the two bedrooms was very long . . . with pretty trim …

. . . the arched doors and wood floor were perfect and fit right in . . .

We stopped calling the bathroom, “the bathroom” and started calling it “Tipperary.” “Off to Tipperary” we’d say … and start singing . . .

Back to the living room, where for the first time I noticed the dark green, gold, and purple decor … royal colors! A green velvet sofa, the other love seat is dark green with tiny stars all over it! That needlepoint pillow over there on the sofa I got in an antique store, it’s going home with me!

We settled in and began doing what we love the most, going on long walks in the countryside . . . I am never not amazed . . . it’s all so beautiful. This is one place you don’t have to make your own magic, it’s all here waiting for you.

Going into the ancient churches we find on our walks … saying another goodbye to my beloveds . . . we were in time for evensong, all ages singing like angels filling the high ceilings with song.

Eating chunky chips and English peas, enjoying “pie of the day” in Pubby Wubbies . . .

Visiting WWII museums which are everywhere in this part of the country, full of detailed history . . . You meet the nicest people there, all of them as touched by what was done by the greatest generation as we are. The history of British and Americans during the war too… all of it. So connected.

Of course we were watching all the build up for the Queens Jubilee, 70 years on the throne! All of England is in love with dogs. Sometimes I think we’re the only ones here without a dog!!! 

And taking note of the window decor everywhere we went! This is someone’s house … looks like it’s made from cardboard boxes!

This one was painted in a store window…

Another window of someone’s house. The bunting and decorations were everywhere, it was a huge celebration, the Queen had granted a four day holiday, and the entire country had plans.

Her life story filled the newspapers. It’s been so much fun to be here for this celebration!

But THIS was what Joe and I were waiting for … it was our plan! Ray and Paul and Elsie came to stay for 5 glorious days. Rachel had planned it all, and had many lovely surprises waiting for us!

We had a sunny little terrace outside the kitchen door where we could hang clothes on the line and have breakfast at a small table.

Darling girl!

So this was where we went on the Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne!

To the beach! Where the boardwalk was lined in these colorful little beach “houses.”

I’ve seen paintings with these little English “bathing huts” of all colors, but never in person, and certainly not in action!

But we could see inside of them, SO CUTE, with little kitchens and sofa beds… people own them but you can rent them out too . . .

This one is Drama Queen! Because it says so!

Lots of them had handpainted signs on them.

This one was all decorated for the Jublee, people put their chairs out on the boardwalk to sit in the sun. I would think SUN would be operative word here, I don’t think these charming huts would look as wonderful on a cold rainy day!

Here they are from the back as we were walking back to the parking lot.

But back to us . . .

Just a gorgeous breezy day for a walk at the beach. How people put their bare skin in that north sea water is beyond me! But this was maybe the very first really wonderful spring day this year and everyone was out to enjoy it!

They brought their books, had tea, and read in the sunshine . . .

It was so festive, flags flew . . .

Bunting snapped in the wind . . .

In the little village where we went for lunch, there were lots of people with the same idea! But Ray had booked us a table so it was easy and delicious!

My toe hurts bet-tee sang out from the roof-tops . . .

We wandered through town, went up to the church,

We went shopping. . .

And took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other! It was a perfect day that ended in a pub as all perfect days in England should do!

But Listen, I hate to tell you this, especially while looking at this adorable pink pub decked out in bunting… but I have to GO.

I mean, REALLY go! This is our last day here, I just didn’t want to leave without telling you, waving goodbye, and giving you an update! But it’s almost 3 pm, we leave here to drive to the ship at 6 tomorrow morning, and I haven’t packed the 2000 suitcases we brought along with us ~ Yikes!  

So I obviously am leaving some things unsaid!!! Like how Rachel got into that window! I mean we had some serious serendipity take place on this trip that I haven’t even told you about. Bookstore serendipity and Castle serendipity. But I promise, I will!

You know, I shall return! This blog is a home away from home! but still home!

Suffice it to say, it’s been every dream come true and more. We love it here. We love home too, so we are always in trouble, quandary wise.

Ray and Paul are coming to Southampton to see us off . . . and they’ll be coming to visit us soon on the island! And . . . should this day ever come, 

Oh, and a quick PS, I’ve had several people write and tell me I should write a book about the English Countryside . . . So I thought I might mention that I have!!! A Fine Romance comes …

Complete with pictures and watercolors and maps . . .

All handwritten, of our first real trip through the English Countryside and it looks like THIS!

ALSO, guess what? The trucks are picking up our new books at the printer TOMORROW … they are done! It’s really happening! We have a holiday in the middle, but they will be on their way to you very soon! And see this above? In honor of Distilled Genius, I’ve been invited to have my art on the cover of  the catalogs that go out to Independent Bookstores!!! Such an honor, I’m thrilled, as I’m sure you can guess! So many nice things already happening with this book! And guess what else? Joe and I are leaving to go out and sign books on August 4th, driving to California, and stopping along the way to see you … I will give you dates and times next time we meet … but so far we’ll be at Titcombs in Sandwich on Cape Cod, at Unlikely Story in MA, at Learned Owl in Hudson Ohio, and the Pairie Path in Wheaton ILL. We are waiting to hear and hope we can go to Rainy Day in Kansas City, to the Tattered Cover in CO, to Kings English in Utah, to Rakestraw Books and Vromans in CA. And in Nov, we’ll be at RJ Julia in CT. I’ll be more specific when I get time. I know this doesn’t half cover the country, but I’m hoping you can meet me halfway! I’d love to see you all . . .

Oh yes we can! So much more to tell you, I hate having to go . . . but I’ll be on the island in a week! It will feel like no time at all … but we are so happy to be ship ahoy tomorrow, coming into NY Harbor past the statue of liberty soon with miles of memories!

This post is done to here. If I have time, I will go back and add some MUSICA and more art, but first! I have to pack!!! Joe is looking at me!! If you leave a comment and it doesn’t go through, it’s because I’m on a boat, and probably don’t have Internet. Don’t give up on me!💖

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