SPECKS ➡️ . ..

Good morning everyone! Happy Tuesday! Happy new Willard! Specks, you ask, what CAN she mean? MUSICA

Shadows through leafless trees grace our clapboard house as the sun comes up over the harbor on this beautiful spring morning.

Forsythia’s in bloom at the end of our driveway, part of it planted by Mrs. Bowditch (who lived here 1949-1989), her legacy and gift to the neighborhood, and part of it planted by us! Blooming again, as it does every year, thank you very much!Sometimes, as you know, I find things I have written (or painted), maybe never used, tucked between my books ~ like this ⬇️, which I typed at the top of a page, then printed it out, then ended up using as “scrap paper” on which was also a messy list of favorite songs (I write them down as I think of them), for MUSICA. I had just given the list to Judy for Monday Musica on Instagram, read this, and was marveling at how much this paragraph fit my life right NOW … it was undated, and clearly it was summer when I wrote it . . . but as far as I’m concerned, it’s perfect for now . . .

Yes, we made it into a  little vase!

Reading that, now I’m DYING to feel the kitchen floor under my bare feet!! Something wonderful to look forward to! And, go ahead, put on a sweater and seek outside, just this once! It’s heaven outside too!

Joe’s been taking down the storm windows, just like everyone else around here, just like we do every year, putting them in the barn . . . a few at a time as the days become warmer . . .

Seek outside, and bring the beauty inside ~ there is such HOPE in it, and your window sills will love it! Forsythia’s not toxic to curious kitties so they can love it too!💛

We have a bumper crop of Cardinals this year . . . here is a female who may have caught sight of me taking her picture from my kitchen window. This year I am determined to see a baby cardinal…Google showed me what they look like so I am better prepared.

She’s a beauty! 

I love the colors of each season, changing them out is part of the celebration. I’ve been going through my house gathering everything that’s yellow or pink . . . redecorating.  I’ve had two parties since we last spoke! Reconnected with our friends which is what feeds US!🌸

Little vases and yellow birds . . .

Daffodil, and rabbits in a yellow cup!My decorating is a testimony to the antique barn, the yard sale, to the slow gathering of little things that make life sweet! Not caring if they are perfect, or if they are valuable, only caring if they want to come home with me.💖 Sort of the way you choose your rescue pets.💖 For the earth (which doesn’t really need more stuff!)! For the seeing eye. For the heart.❤️

I put away all the brown and navy-checked dish towels and got out the yellow and pink.💝

I used jelly beans as table decorations and while we hung around the table after dinner, just talking, being together, slowly but surely, everyone, grazing like bunnies on the lawn, ATE them!🥰 I hadn’t occurred to me, but I will do it on purpose next time!🧡

At the end of my TGIThursday Girlfriends party, everyone took home a little harbinger of spring!💛

Our mornings have turned pink too … I was just outside taking this picture when I was reminded of watching the moon cover the sun yesterday! We weren’t in the path of complete bloto-nation (can’t remember epic phrase used by media, path of oblivion? Something like that, but bloto-nation works), but we had a good view and got our happy little moon-crescent shadows on the driveway and it all reminded me of how much I love to celebrate the moon that belongs to everyone!🌓 MAS MUSICA

I have a file of moon photos, taken from everywhere, from our front porch, rising above the desert from our window on the train, in the English countryside, above ancient gravestones, next to church spires and lighthouses. My own personal moon in Capricorn makes me do it, structure is my name, fascination is my game, and what gives us more structure than the constant, dependable, and beautiful moon that asks nothing of us? 🌠 If you live to be a hundred, you’ll experience about 1,200 wonderful magical full moons in your lifetime. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not really enough.💘

I loved how yesterday was a pure celebration, moms and dads and kids and grandmas and grandpas! We count on the earth, count on the seasons, count on the universe, to keep its promises, to do what they’ve always done . . . and we’re always ready to celebrate ~ the first red leaf in the fall, the first dancing daffodil, the first snowflake, our first tentative step into salt water, every year, all these firsts . . . even the way the shadows change in our houses… keeps our senses alive and ready to make a party of it. 🌸🌸🌸 Yesterday was a really big party ~ not often are we all on the same page like that these days!😲 It was the perfect start to Earth Day! I just LOVE April!🌸

We think of everything being so dependable that we melt down when an earthquake shows up out of nowhere (despite it being very much like an eclipse, only scarier), or a blizzard, where they DO NOT BELONG. But the MOON is still so dependable in this constantly changing world, you can plan parties around it!👏 Like we did yesterday! I’ve loved planetariums since my first AWESOME visit to Griffith Park Observatory with my 4th grade class . . . the excitement, the sharing of this first look into the heretofore silent unknown, something no one had words yet to express, the lights dimming until it was dark, our chairs leaning back to the dome of stars appearing in a black sky, some of us up on our knees, necks crooked, eyes wide, thrilled to see the planets revolving, the constellations appearing, a booming voice saying words we’d never heard, telling us about Pegasus and Zeus, folklore and mythology, ancient Greek and Babylonian traditions that go back to the 18th century BC, BC ~ inconceivable! It didn’t turn me into an astronaut as I was uninterested from the very beginning in leaving the earth for any reason, but it did make me starry-eyed 🤩… and it enlarged my curiosity . . . and it even made me feel forever connected to ancient children!

And every bit of it is all still worth running down to the harbor, one of us practically in her jammies, to take pictures.

What so many people talked about feeling yesterday, staring up at the sky like earthlings have done since the beginning of time, under the shadow of that same old moon, reminded me of what I wrote about after my visit to the planetarium on board the Queen Mary 2 ~ when, like yesterday, we were given lovely insight, a moment to wonder about our place in the universe.💖

It’s one thing to be in a planetarium on land . . .


But, it’s something else to be in a planetarium while on a ship at sea . . .

. . . where every day was automatically, unavoidably about the vastness, unpredictability, and wonder of ocean and sky, then suddenly, this, a very different perspective, where we became much smaller, not only in this sea and sky, but aware that we were connected even by tiniest parts of our world that can’t be seen with the naked eye. I felt the deep beauty of it, the boundlessness, the gift, and the sadness too, welling up. Suddenly, in that planetarium sky on board the ship, we watched our sun, our very own star, disappear into the cosmos ~ and we disappeared with it . . . specks with an outsized entitlement to it all . . . this was the part I didn’t catch in the 4th grade, when I discovered we were so much more than I thought we were, but the part that’s called wisdom that we (hopefully) get as we get older, is the part where we realize we’re so much less than we thought we were.💖 Sometimes feeling like a speck is a good thing.

Put it all together with moments of unity and connection as we experienced yesterday, we say more, more, more! we want more!… is there ever enough, no, I don’t think so! The adventure continues! 🌠🌠🌠 We never stop learning.💖

As for home, a couple of things we have loved streaming that I want to tell you about, the first is The New Look, about the lives of Christian Dior and Coco Chanel after the Germans invaded France. SO good! Details of history! You’ll love it. Twelve episodes on Apple+. (Now I’ll be looking for a Granville Rose in Dior’s honor, in his sister’s honor, for our garden!) And the other one is (of course) A Gentleman in Moscow. Set your minds at ease, after only 2 episodes I already know it is doing justice to the magnificent book, which if you haven’t read, run don’t walk and get it ~ (unless you have something against utter charm, then forget it of course)!!!💝 

We are still walking the walk every morning, through the leafless woods, in the cold sunshine, out to the water, an ear pod in my ear, another in Joe’s, listening to the same book from my phone. Right now we are listening to Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. So far it seems to be a  light-hearted story about a family of daughters learning about their mother’s almost-famous life as an actress ~ she is telling the story while they pick sweet cherries on their farm in Michigan . . . it might be a little TOO light-hearted for me, but it’s not over, and Meryl Streep is reading it, so I’m not complaining. It has themes that could almost be her own life she’s reading about. Makes us exercise, we look forward to “reading” so much!

One last thing, for my California girlfriends … I promised I would tell you if there was going to be an “estate” sale for the things we let go when we were there. And there is . . . it’s happening on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 19-21. It’s not worth buying an airplane ticket (there are no quilts in the sale, and no Beatrix Potter figurines!), so unless you have a penchant for old post cards, or maybe 30 years of collected wine corks (I heard the seller, Mike, is charging 25¢ a piece for them!), or menus from restaurants and ships we have known and loved, this wouldn’t be the place for you… I hardly remember what else is there, but here are a couple of photos I took before I left, the one corner Joe had begun to decorate for Mike… and then the whole room, as far as it was at the time. I have no idea how it will be set up, but the address is 2416 Lopez Drive in Arroyo Grande, CA, if you’re in the neighborhood and want to take a look, go straight down the driveway to the barn on the left.

I hope you have a wonderful day and that all your flowers bloom and each time it rains you can see them grow by inches… I’m having a No Mow April to go with my No Mow May … I loved it last year!  





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Good morning my darling people! Thank you for all your good wishes! Happy Spring, Happy Easter, Happy Almost April, Rabbit-Rabbit, and of course HAPPY MUSICA . . . Let’s talk about Intentions! I jumping ahead to April, heck with the end of March that will not end! We’re so close! And we’re home! After two months being spoiled to pieces in California, and another wonderful train ride from coast to coast, we’re home! And my word for the day is INTENTION. Probably my word for the rest of my life. Things to do, pictures to paint, designs to create, books to write, calendars to conjure up, places to go, people to see, dinners to cook, gardens to plant, TGIF’s to have, and naps to take . . . and (within reason) I’m on it!

Number one, I have to show you this precious thing I JUST found this morning.🙀 Sherrie, the friend who took care of Jack while we were away, painted this picture of him and put it where she knew I would find it!💖 Isn’t it wonderful? What a good surprise! See his devil eyes, and the claws that clutch that fish? Don’t even try to take it! Sherrie got to know Jack very well! She captured his essence!💖

And despite everything, he still loves me!😻 The feeling is forever mutual!😍 

Nothing changed, we’re back and immediately attached at the lap!

And, speaking of welcome home’s, LOOK what Mother Seraphima and the Sisters sent me for Easter!!! The mooshiest, softest, bunny bear ever!

He came in this Easter basket, made of boiled wool and filled with treats! Maybe I will use it as a purse! Or fill it with daffodils for the TGIF I’m having for my Girlfriends this Thursday. For sure, the minute it’s empty, Jack will be in it! If you don’t know who Mother Seraphima and the Sisters are, read my story of our first meeting, our friendship, and all about their House of Creativity HERE. Happy Easter to my own Mother Seraphima and the Sisters!💖

With all that I feel I’ve been quite royally welcomed home. This huge wonderful hydrangea covered in blooms was delivered the day after we got here! An early Birthday present from my girlfriend Evie!💖 What a GIFT! 😘😘😘 SO if I was at all sad about leaving California, I have gotten over it!💖 (Mostly)

Before I left California I designed some new Spring Cards  . . .and they have arrived!

Kellee ordered lots of these ~ diamond Birthday headbands (and more are coming ~ she sent me one and I love it!) I will be quite the picture in my headband, with my bunny purse, and perhaps a hydrangea in my buttonhole!💖💖💖 I do love birthdays!Judy, Kellee, and I had so many inspiring meetings while I was there (Sheri is working hard on her farmstand, but we’re keeping her whether she’s at our meetings or not!) We have all kinds of new things in our store, and have plotted lots of good surprises for the future. Everything is already in action. Might have to change the name of the store to “Boutique” … Not going to stop the fun meetings either, we’ll be continuing through face-time or zoom or whatever works. That’s why my middle name is INTENTION: because I was reminded, you can’t do it unless you DO it! Judy is going to be helping me on Instagram and other social media … I’ll still post there like I always do, but she has so many ideas for connecting with people ~ it sounds wonderful to us! She’s already updating my Pinterest page at dearsusanbranch!👏 Every Monday, Judy will be adding my long requested MUSICA playlists to Instagram! (If you belong to Spotify, here’s 30 minutes of my favorite MUSICA right now!)💃🏼 How about that?! Did you ever imagine? She has plans for other days of the week too … like What’s Cooking Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, & Best Books Friday! Yup! Branching Out! She has access to my art and photos, so it will be fun to see what she does on Tuesdays! (Might already be Willard Tuesday!) I’m loving Instagram, everyone is so nice … so many inspiring things to see there, funny too, I seriously laugh till I cry! Joe too! You can
follow me there at susanbranchauthor … and Judy at remnants_of_the_past , and Sheri at HoneycuttFamilyFarm. And you know where to find Kellee!👏
Plus, Kellee has a new thing you’ll see for the first time here today called Susan’s Picks which she’ll put at the end of each of my Willards. It’ll show what’s new without me getting into too much of a conversation about it!💖Some of you probably remember Judy from her Remnants of the Past and the huge vintage shows and Pop-ups she did in California! Here we are at one of her shows at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo where I was doing a book signing. She also helped Kellee and me with my store when I had it in the village of Arroyo Grande … We have been friends for a long time! Her energy is an inspiration, and between her and Kellee, I came home raring to go! Intentions galore, and getting a lot done!🎨💃🏼

I’ve noticed over on Instagram that lots of people are starting to know who Gladys Taber is and talk about her books!!👏 So I thought I’d remind everyone again where they can get the very special “Friends of Gladys Taber” Quarterly Journal (FOGT). I just got mine in the mail yesterday ~ another welcome home! It’s like a little book ~ it always has Gladys Taber writings and quotes, but so much more, stories about Stillmeadow, and where to get her luv-lee books. You can read about Gladys HERE! Scroll down and you’ll find a link where you can sign up to receive the Journal.💖

So I said goodbye to this. . . (at least I tried … it’s all ready to go, but I STILL haven’t signed the papers to put it on the market … my California Studio, creek, and eight glorious green acres, it is not my INTENTION to do that, yet.🤣 It made me too sad, so I am sleeping on it some more!😴) One of our girlfriends, Patti, called this kind of decision “heavy goodness” in her comment… and that is perfect!💖

And after all that California green, we are home with the reality of, dare I say it, winter. Despite the date, it’s brown and cold and there are no stinkin’ leaves on the trees. Look at the poor wisteria! Naked as a jaybird. So these daffodils were a thrill and another lovely welcome home!

Winter might be long, but it is not completely dead. A blush of robins gathered at our bird bath. I love how social they are, always yakking while hanging out together! (See that pile of brown dead leaves there at the bottom of the fence? In it are two inches of all kinds of spring bulbs popping up … after I finish here, I intend to put on my gloves and go clean out those stinking leaves, carefully, not to disturb the new growth!)🌸

Rob-Rob-Robins are Bob-bob-bobbing along . . .

I cleaned out our hair brushes and threw all our tousles into the garden. It’s nest making time, and it’s my intention to help!

I took this picture on the way home to the ferry through Cape Cod. It was my intention to use it at the end of my first Willard home. But now I see it should really say “The Beginning,” because that’s what each new day is, each new Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday is … which can happen at any time, being more a state of the intentional mind! Like a breath of fresh air! Like Spring!🌸 

With that, it’s out to the garden I go! I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with happy intention!💖 Happy Easter!



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