March 28, 2011

ello All! Was just thinking, if you’ve never seen one of my WILLARD Newsletters, I thought you might like to see the one I sent out for March — it has all the information about one of my writing heroes Glady’s Taber and her lovely fan club. April is coming soon, and a brand new WILLARD along with it — Don’t be left out of the fun, you can sign up here, and it will show up in your email box….free, and

Rabbit Rabbit, happy first of March! By the time you get this, Joe and I will have arrived in California after our cross-country train trip. But really, as of this moment, we haven’t even packed! We go in 3 days. Saying we haven’t started packing sends a shiver through me. That’s what I’m doing next…but knowing I was going, I just wanted to make sure you have a WILLARD to keep you warm while I’m away, which most of you will very likely need!

We had a couple of unseasonably warm days here on the island this week, which has lured us into a bad belief system with yearning and fresh hope for the powers of Punxsutawney Phil, who did not see his shadow on Ground Hog Day — which means an early spring! From Phil’s eyeballs, to God’s ears please. Now many of us are experiencing spring fever WAY too early, because, for New England anyway, March is definitely not springtime, no matter what it says on the calendar. We have to tell ourselves to settle down and enjoy this slow unfolding. If you had a chance to visit my web site lately you can see the PHOTOS I took of the icy road out to our favorite beach walk on a truly beautiful day!

We're lucky, because we're about to choo-choo outta winter and into the California sunshine. I hope I will be seeing lots of you out there for the TALKS I'll be giving this month. We're coming out to smell the flowers! Yippeee.

We’re so excited about a couple of brand-new-to-the-market products that came in to the studio this week. I designed these things last year, so it’s always a thrill when they finally show up. The first is a NOTE CARD TIN — a set of forty note cards with envelopes and other goodies tucked inside this large tin box. I think I would get it just for the box…can’t wait to fill it with cookies, or LUNCH.

The second is a KITCHEN SET, which, although this is March, looks like Christmas to me — but I think it would be a beautiful gift in any season. I just have a thing for red and pink lately (in case you haven’t noticed!). Would you like another color? What color would you like? You can tell me…just click HERE. I’d love to hear what you think; just please, no mustard.

And, just in the time for the garden dreaming that I know is going on out there, another shipment of these wonderful BEE SKEPS has arrived. They’re not easy to keep in stock, not for us, or for the manufacturer; we often run out…but they’re back for any of you who’ve been patiently waiting. I don’t like too many decorative things in my garden unless they’re natural … and a bee skep is the perfect thing to add old-fashioned, English-kitchen-garden charm. I put a photo of the one in my California picket-fence garden on the home page of my web site (Feb. 21), so check it out!

SO! Now, someone I’ve been wanting to share with you for a long time. One of my favorite authors. She was definitely someone I was thinking about when I wrote this:

Lots of you have noticed that some of the most wonderful quotes I put in my books and calendars are attributed to Gladys Taber. I’ve been asked many times who she is and how to find out more about her. I think I learned everything I needed to know about her when I read this:

Gladys Taber was born in 1899 and spent her life writing about the every-day simple things in life for her wonderful Stillmeadow and Still Cove books. She loved everything I love, which is why I love her! Through her eyes, we experience the passing seasons from her 1690 Connecticut farmhouse; share in her passion for animals, gardening, cooking, and homemaking. Her books are filled with practical advice and her common sense view of the way things are. She also wrote the Diary of Domesticity column for the Lady’s Home Journal in the late 1930’s, and Butternut Wisdom for Family Circle through the 1960’s.

Many people inherit their fondness for the writings of Gladys Taber from their mothers or grandmothers. Others “discover” her by accident. I found her waiting for me on a shelf of old books left behind by the previous owner of the first little house I bought on Martha’s Vineyard. The book was Best of Stillmeadow, where I read the words “April in New England is like first love.” and fell in first-love myself, with Gladys. I feel like I just missed her, she died on Cape Cod at 81 years old, the year before I moved to the island

I began collecting her books; finding them almost lit up, like little torches in dark and dusty used bookstores. As soon as I found out about it, I joined the Friends of Gladys Taber Fan Club. For years I have received their wonderful snail mail newsletter that still thrills my heart every time I see it in my mailbox. It’s real mail, the kind you save and read with a cup of tea. Afterward, you feel the way you do when you open all the doors and windows on the first spring day after a long cold winter!

I‘ve also corresponded with some of Glady’s other “Friends” and without really “knowing” them, it’s easy to feel an instant connection between kindred spirits because of our mutual admiration for Gladys Taber, which extends right out to each other.

On a beautiful June day in 1999 the beloved “Editor-in-Chief Emeritus” of the Friends of Gladys Taber Fan Club, Gilbertine “Gilly” Moore, stopped by my house on Martha’s Vineyard to say hello. We’d been pen pals for years, but this was our first in-person meeting. We visited in the backyard, under the rose arbor; she was like a link to the past for me. She gave me the black and white photos you see at the top of this page… she took them when she visited Gladys in 1955. Gilly and I wrote to each other until her death in 2008.

Gilly is gone, but her spirit and heart continue to inspire The Friends of Gladys Taber Newsletter. They have what they call a “minimal” web site (due to everything being volunteer, having no funds particularly, just a lot of heart), but you can go there to request membership information — they would love more people to know about Gladys Taber. So if this seems like your cup of tea, it’s only $20 a year for four “sturdy” issues of about 40 pages each, sent out in March, June, September, and December; a mere pittance for the wonderful job they do of carrying on the true tradition of what Gladys Taber was about.

I f you’d like to read what Gladys meant to others

If you want to know more about Gladys, here is her page at Wikipedia.

Here’s what Gladys Taber says about March at her beloved Stillmeadow: “Now great winds roar down the canyons of the sky. Branches crash, brooks race, snow scuds along greystone walls. The world is incredibly clean as the strong vibrant energy of March pounds in the pulses and invades the chilled lungs of winter.” Can’t you just feel it? Beautiful!

Never mind all that thunderous crashing wind and ice…it’s almost time, once again, spring is truly nigh, Punxsutawney Phil says so, go outside, see if you can find one of those “racing brooks;” smell the “incredibly clean air” and dream about APPLE BLOSSOM TIME (click on words if you need a little help)…let’s go with that.

Happy March Girlfriends!


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7 Responses to March 28, 2011

  1. Glenda says:


    I know I am late in commenting but decided to anyway. I started researching Gladys Taber and her books. Wow! What a fan I have become. I have been able to locate a dozen books so far and have read them all twice. Many of the pages are earmarked too. I joined her fan club too. It would have been so nice to meet her. What a fun lady! Thank you so much for “introducing” me to Gladys Taber. You have open the door to so many fun things for me….over the many years since I first discovered your first book!

  2. Glenda says:


    Just one more note. I love your Willard! I received it when you first started mailing it out. I was like a little kid when I would get it in the mail. Loved the special gift those stickers too. You always “write” as if we have been friends for a long time. I like that. I send out letters, cards etc and save most of all that I get. We are talking about almost forty plus years of saving…I have saved my beloved’s notes and letters since I first met him some fifty years ago. Also have the letters father in law saved that his Dad, who was killed in WW II, had written to her and his family before he was killed.etc..I have’t figured out a way to do this with emails, you know like with a ribbon etc. 🙂 Too sentimental I guess. I would be interested to see you do something about letter writing on your blog one of these days. It would be fun to learn how many hand written notes and letters you still send etc. I worry that with all the changes in technology we will lose our letter writing and even more with some schools trying to eliminate cursive. Don’t get me wrong, I really like your blog, which I read daily and my emails. Cheers up my day! Thanks so much for “Willard”, regardless of how it is send. I really enjoy getting it along with your beautiful illustrations.

    like your blog and emails too. Just think sometimes it is so fun to get “good mail” the old fashioned way.

    • sbranch says:

      I would still be sending out Willard by snail mail if it didn’t begin to cost so much! By time email started, the Willards were over $25,000 a year, stamps, stickers, printing and all that! So email came along really in the nick of time, for the big crowd sort of letter writing. I still write snail mail, but definitely not as much as I used to. I agree, losing that is “progress?” No cursive? I can’t imagine. But maybe our foremothers couldn’t imagine the loss of high-top button shoes or something! I know Mark Twain does a lot of complaining about “this modern world” in his autobiography. 1874-ish! And already complaining! He ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

      • Glenda says:

        You are so right!I had no idea how expensive your snail mail was costing you. Yips! I am trying to keep up with “things that are a changing” and after reading my comment above and how disjointed my message was, I would say, hope your Dad isn’t as frustrated with his iPad as I am with mine……:) Thanks again and I look forward to your next Willard.

  3. Deborah says:

    Thank you for sharing Glayds Taber. I am always searching for new to me books to read. I will also check out the website and fan club as well as the FOSB Facebook page. I signed up for Willard but haven’t received it yet.

    • sbranch says:

      The next WILLARD will go out in about a month . . . if you didn’t get the one last week, please try signing up again, and check your spam folder. If you don’t get the next one (I’ll announce that it’s coming on the blog, FOSB, and Twitter), let me know, and we’ll see what we can do. Almost everyone finds it hidden in some folder on their computer . . . fyi. Thanks Deborah!

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