We’re Home!

We’re home!!!  With an unexpected and dramatic end to our trip, that was more exciting than we deserved, wanted or imagined, but fun, now that it’s over and we lived to tell about it.  The train trip from California to Massachusetts, in our room with a view, was sensational as usual, with the almost-full moon following us the whole way home.

The topography changes as we cross the country, from desert to farmlands, to cities, then deep woods; but no matter where we were, it was the same moon shining in on us.  Here it is coming up over New Mexico.

We had a delicious dinner during our layover on Thursday in Chicago (at Big Bowl, delicious Pad Thai, with coconut ice cream for dessert); slept like babies while winding past the Great Lakes; all day Friday we had gorgeous views of leaves, rivers, lakes, and red barns while speeding through upstate New York and the Berkshires.

Hello man out there.  The room with a view lives up to its name.  The train is late, but we don’t care.

Because we’re watching the beautiful world go by.

And then the drama begins: we know now, we’re going to miss the last ferry boat to the island.  It was always going to be close.  We were supposed to get off the train in Worcester (pronounced Woosta, by the way) at about 7 pm; we’d hired a car to come collect us (for the two hour drive from the train station to the ferry) and maybe, we hoped, we’d just make the last boat home to the island.  But the train is two and a half hours late; there’s no chance we’ll make it.  We have to get a motel for the night and take the first morning boat.  No kitty.  Whimpering noises could be heard.  I petted Joe and told him not to cry. 

It was raining when we got off the train; the driver was waiting for us — with our first surprise of the evening; their regular car was out on another job, so they sent a long, really long, embarrassing actually, like prom night, stretch limo to pick us up!  That was fun!  The driver also knew we were too late to make the last boat; we started to tell him what motel to take us to.  That’s when we got the second surprise; he told us he had called and found out that if we wanted, for the same price as a motel room, “Captain Jim” was willing to take us over to the island tonight (even though it was going to be near midnight) in one of the Patriot boats (a 24 hour shuttle service to the island which we never heard of before).  OH BOY!!!  We are ecstatic.  What a surprise!  Yes!!!  Sign us up!  Girl Kitty here we come!!!

I’m bound for the island.  The tide is with me.  And it feels like I’ve never, ever been gone.   Carly Simon

I know just how she feels!  As we drove across Massachusetts, the storm began to clear, the clouds were blowing by at top speed, and the moon peeked into the car window (that’s what that is in the photo above!).  We felt so lucky.  We were sorry we didn’t have champagne because there was a row of champagne glasses, lit up with pink light in the limo.  Things were slightly surreal.

We drove through the rainy night, us in the back, sitting in pure luxury (about six blocks from the driver), across the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod, and then into Falmouth at almost midnight, down to the dock to where the Patriot Boat was tied.  The car backed right up to the boat, where we start unloading our bags, while I, for the first time, as the wind about blew me off the dock, got a look at the boat that is supposedly going to take us across the deep, deep, really cold and choppy water to the island.  Hmmm, I said to myself.  Wouldja look at that.

At first I don’t even think it’s a boat.  It takes a moment for grasping the situation.  It’s bobbing up and down, nudging the dock, the storm has just passed so the wind that blew it away, is now UP, the water around the boat is black and choppy with white caps, and I am questioning everyone’s sanity. It’s way past my bedtime, my thinking-thing is messed up; I’m giddy with the idea of going home, prudence and caution has left the building.  Joe is saying, “It’s OK.”  Captain Jim looks normal.  He is very experienced.  He does this every day at 4 am, for starters, to deliver the newspapers to the island … including all winter long.  And of course, Girl Kitty is waiting.

The suitcases are loaded, and we are supposed to go into that little door, down the stairs, to the little row of wooden benches, and experience the trip in a dark room, at sea level, or below — right now, in port the waves lapped at the windows.  Fifteen minutes ago we were in the lap of luxury, now we were bobbing up and down in the dark briny night; with clanging noises, scudding clouds, blustery waves, and sea spray. The good news is, the big ferry takes 45 minutes for this trip; on this boat, it will be only 20 minutes. I can do almost anything for 20 minutes.

Goodbye cruel world I say to myself.  The engines start, and for the first minute and a half, we stay outside to take pictures as we pull away from the dock, but then we realize how stupid this is because we can’t stand upright, no one has offered life jackets, so we get ourselves inside.

OK girls, try not to get seasick while looking at these next photos, I held still as I could, but we are rising to the top of each wave, and then slamming down to the bottom, not the best conditions for photography (or anything else), but you will get the gist of the thing.

It was nice to see the moon.  But it was very dark out there.  We didn’t stay in the below-sea-water unlit room, we went up front with Captain Jim, so we had the view out the front windows.  I kept my eyes, like a lasor, on the tiny lights of the island twinkling in front of us . . .  we plowed through the waves, going up, down, slam! Up, sideways, down, slam!  And so it went, salt spray blowing over the boat, metal parts echoing and clanking, floor shuddering, me holding on for dear life.

See how dark it is? See how far away the lights are?  The guys are so calm, talking about how the patriot boats started; I didn’t say a word, my job was to keep the white light flowing around us, will us toward the lights, take photos, and not throw up. Up, down, slam!

We are not in Kansas anymore.

Look how close!  Giddiness is beginning to return to my heart.  Home!  I could almost swim this if necessary!

Our hero, Captain Jim Scudder, getting us to shore.

Docking the boat in the safe harbor of Oak Bluffs . . .

And a civilized cab to take us home . . .

Joe helps cast off, and Captain Jim heads back out to sea, with a ton of gratitude to take home with him to his own bed . . .  And us?

We go home too . . .

And Girl Kitty helps us unpack. 

We spent all day yesterday in Domesticity City, putting things away, looking at the mail, making chicken stock, cutting parsley and marigolds from the garden, filling the bird feeders, saying hello to the house, walking out to the pond, all the things people do when they’ve been gone a long time and are grateful for home sweet home.

Little things, a fire in the fireplace and a lap kitty, tea in my favorite cup, a big bed to stretch toes way down to the end; shower pressure!!! I love our shower.

 Thank you for coming on the trip with us!  Hope you had fun!

With pomp, power and glory, the world beckons vainly; in chase of such vanities, why should I roam?  While peace and content bless my little thatched cottage, and warm my own hearth with the treasures of home.    Beatrix Potter 

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367 Responses to We’re Home!

  1. Cheryl Egan says:

    This post about the Patriot just might be the best one. I write this as my husband is about to board the 7:15 Patriot on his way over to the bank with some of the island construction workers. He says sometimes they drink beer for breakfast! Actually, I have taken that same trip over to the island more times than I would like. It is especially terrible in the middle of the winter when it is blowing “like stink” and is near zero degrees. There is NO heat on that rig!
    Anyway, I loved reading about your adventures all along the way. Now what? What project are you starting?
    Glad you are back!

    • sbranch says:

      I definitely get the beer thing! Although 7 am, not so much! 🙂 I was just glad they were there . . . didn’t realize they did “people” — thought all they did was newspapers! Lots of projects on the burners…mostly writing right now!

      • Kathy Steensrud says:

        I am not sure that I am doing this correctly, I wanted to respond to your blog challenge of giving my favorite housekeeping tip (10/25/11) but I am so computer illiterate I couldn’t figure out how to respond in the blog itself so I’m trying this! My favorite house keeping tip is to start in one corner and work yourself around (when you are doing an overall house clean-up)! I can get really overwhelmed when I start thinking about needing to pick up after my family, clean the bathrooms, do the dusting, change the bedding etc… so when I get a little freaked out, I get a good book on CD from the library, crank it loud enough to hear through the whole house, then literally pick a corner and get started! I know this sounds simple but I have ADD and can just get lost in my own house some times! On my days off, I always seemed to get a little bit of each project done, but nothing really completed. Now that I have a starting spot, it just keeps me on track! Hope this gets to you, I have to say Susan, I do just love your entire body of work. Through life’s trials and tribulations it’s easy to loose touch with the things that make me happy, but in several different spots all over my house I have little bits of you! Some times it’s a book or a notepad or my jammies or a mug or… They always seem to remind me of all the things I like about life, they remind me to love the artist in me, and remind me to thank God that I get to smell the roses along the way—Thank you Susan, you are a gift! Kathy

        • sbranch says:

          Lovely Kathy, thank you so much! I love your household tip, it’s easy to lose track and go off staring out the windows or taking pictures of birds, I know the feeling!

  2. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Wow! Capt. Jim & Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (Disneyland revisited)! Thank you so much, I loved joining you (you sweetheart) & Joe (what a great guy) on your trip, criss-crossing this beautiful country on a twain wide was wunnerful! It is also wonderful that in the middle of the night, when plans run amuck, there are people (now Your People) to willingly come to your rescue! I must say though Matey, glad to know you were workin’ hard on the white lights because that briny sea looked scary! Capt. Jim, your hero! I’m thankful all “our” trips don’t end this way, but, with your clever words, pictures, & wittiness, it was so much fun (well, sometimes not so much fun, but I closed my eyes in the scary part)! And, your sweet Girl Kitty was there with open arms. Welcome home! xo

    • sbranch says:

      I closed my eyes at the scary part too — it sure helps to have “something to do” — like taking pictures! I was more worried about holding the camera still than whether we were on our way to drowning!!!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Honey, you are a true journalist, the show must go on (or is that some other career you say that), anyways in rain, sleet or snow, you’re there for us (oh wait, I think that’s the post office). Whatever, you done good! Hope that camera has a strap to hang ’round your neck, for perilous situations! And, you are a super multi-tasker, women are good that way! I’m quilting with friends today, hope your day is just as much fun! 🙂

  3. Mary Lou says:

    You are living a “real life” Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie. Thank you for sharing a daring girl’s adventures with us.

  4. Jean Mark says:

    Thank you so much for taking me on your trip with you!! I loved, loved, loved it!!

  5. Karen D says:

    Doesn’t it seem like that part of the adventure always comes when you are the most tired and least prepared for it? I am glad your tummy was o.k., too – mine would have had trouble. Makes you even happier to be home!
    Girl Kitty looked so happy to see you! What a lovely greeting!
    Thanks for taking us along on your trip. I have never traveled by train before and it was fun to live it through your blogs. I look forward to reading them. Most of the time, I read them right away when I turn on my computer. But other times, I like to save them for when I am less busy so I can savor them – Deliciously fun!

  6. What a suitable ending to your perfect trip across the country? haha The Lord does have a sense of humor doesn’t HE…..just look at the memories you will have over that journey to get to your Girl Kitty!! Thank you for taking us along with you and your amazing coverage and pictures were so professional and much appreciated! Take some time to relax and enjoy the rest of October!! Welcome Home..(doesn’t look like Girl Kitty was too upset with your absence..maybe she knew what you had just gone through)???

  7. Kirsten Wichert says:

    Wow! Excitement right down to the end! I felt a sigh of relief when I finally saw Girl Kitty on the luggage. I think I was sea-sick for a few minutes. O.K. I’m good now. That trip was fun……..when can we go again?

  8. Joan B says:

    Welcome home, Susan and Joe!! Glad to have you back, and so grateful for taking us on your amazing trip. What fun!

  9. Caro says:

    Thanks for sharing your travels. It was very interesting as I’ve never traveled by train in the US.

  10. Kelly says:

    I’m a new reader to your blog – and have become a huge fan… but THIS post was just wonderful. Thank you so much!

  11. Suzanne says:

    Welcome home Susan, there is no place like home.

  12. Jane Hulslander Goff says:

    Susan, what a great homecoming! I love adventures like that with my husband and family. We talk about them forever and laugh and remember each detail. Our family is really into sailing and boating so I can relate. The old saying ” either sink or swim,” really separates the landlubbers from the sailors on those dark night boat rides. I could feel that ” thud ” of the front of the boat hitting the water as you described that motion. I am so very happy that you and Joe are at home safe and sound, Girl Kitty purring about in your life and the pleasures of comfort of home to be enjoyed. Thank you, Thank you for a wonderful sharing of your travels. I have enjoyed it immensely, so has my husband! Always uplifting and the next best thing to being there, out on the road, as Charles Kuralt used to say. God bless you both, you bring much happiness to so many people. Jane

  13. Wendy says:

    Oh Susan! I love your blog so much. I was holding my breath the whole time you were on the water! haha! (I also cannot go to “water” movies like Perfect Storm without holding my breath!) Thanks for taking us along on your trip…we loved it all!

  14. Ann says:

    Your life is certainly an adventure! Having ridden the ferry to Nantucket many times, I felt I was right there with you on the Patriot boat. Wonder if they go to Nantucket, too? Loved going on the trip with you.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s two and half hours in the ferry from Woods Hole to Nantucket. That would be very long in the Patriot (in my opinion!) even if it was shorter! But maybe they do! So happy to have you along!

  15. Susan says:

    This was a fun read. I loved the ending segment of the trip as it shows what metal people are made of. Glad you’re safe and sound at home and can enjoy fire and hearth once more. I felt like I was along for the trip, like a tiny mouse tucked in your pocket, able to enjoy the best of the best!

  16. Dina Kamyk says:

    That was exciting ! Fun to read. Glad you’re back and settling in. It’s always nice to be back home.

  17. Kimberly says:

    Hello Susan 🙂

    Thank you again for taking me away into your lovely life! I was wondering if you go to or have any shows like the one you were just at in California here in the New England? It looked just so beautiful and I would love to be able to meet you and have my books signed! Hope you are having a beautiful day!

    • sbranch says:

      There is nothing planned right at this moment Kimberly, but I’ll put my mind to it and see if I can’t work something out! Thank you for asking — hope to see you one day!

  18. Victoria Miller says:

    What a wonderful adventure, and thank you so much, again, for sharing. You take the most wonderful pictures, even when terrified on a cold and rocky midnight small boat ride! I particularly love the photo you take as you are leaving the dock. There are little ‘s’ shapes of light which remind me of snore marks in cartoons, so it looks as though you are leaving the shore, with people sleeping with little neon snooze lights. In Agatha Christie’s autobiography, which I highly recommend, she talks about train adventures and then her first airplane trip. She decries air travel as the ruin of the wonderful joy of the travel experience you get when you travel by train, when the trip is a whole experience and not simply getting from here to there. I’m sure somewhere, Agatha Christie is reading your blog, smiling and nodding! A very welcome home, and thanks again!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I agree, she probably is, we’re definitely on the same page! I was looking at those little Z’s in that photo and thinking the same thing, everyone asleep but us! Thank you Victoria!

  19. Patricia says:

    Welcome Back, Sue!
    While at a Fall Festival over the weekend, there was an pet adoption area set up, featuring the most beautiful kitties… and there she was, your new kitten, all black and white spots!
    Oh, how I wished I could just somehow click my heels together (like Dorothy Gale) or wiggle my nose (like Samantha Stevens), or do a double blink (like Jeannie), and just have that little moo-cow kitty land on your doorstep!
    Maybe soon you will find one just like her for you and Joe…
    Thanks so much for taking us on your cross-country trip! And best of all: no laundry for us to do when we got home!

    • sbranch says:

      Ohhh, I want it! I decided that I have to make Girl Kitty know she’s queen for a while before I go get a kitty, maybe in November. Loved having you along too Patricia!

  20. Pam says:

    Thanks, Susan, for all your wonderful blogging about your cross-country trip. I have gotten into situations every now and then where I wondered if it was the right thing to do… and then it all turned out wonderful!!! God looking out for us! Thank you also for all your blogs – I have had your books for years and just love to hear about what you are doing. It inspires me so much and I’m trying to help my little trailer be a bit more lovely and welcoming because of your inspiration. Thanks again for taking us along and looking forward to seeing your next adventure!!!! Pam Woods in Colorado

  21. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    Welcome home, darling girl!! Thanks for taking us along and sharing so much. It was a wonderful trip. You know, sometimes I think I enjoy the homecoming as much as the entire vacation, especially if it’s been a long one. I think it has to do with loving where you live. It’s a gorgeous fall Monday afternoon here in Ohio and I’m heading home. Talk to you all later, girls!!

  22. Carilyn Wolski says:

    So glad Captain Jim safely delivered you both home. What a wild ride you experienced, and in the dark. You are very brave! Thank you for sharing the video, it surely kept me on the edge of my chair. How exciting your adventure was from beginning to end. I’m glad it ended “happily ever after”!!!!

  23. Tricia B. says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip. Thank you for all the great pictures. I always feel like I am right there with you whenever you travel or walk or cook or whatever. Fabulous!! I love it. You are such a great friend. I just adore you!! I bet Girl Kitty was so happy to see you and Joe!! Yay!! I do have a question? In the picture where you are making Chicken Stock, can you tell me the name of your delightful dishes? They are absolutely precious and I just love the color. Thank you Susan for yet another fantastic blog. You are the best!! GOD Bless! Love and many Hugs, Tricia B.

    • sbranch says:

      The cup doesn’t have a name on it or any markings, but the plates are Johnson Brothers Windsor Ware in purple. Hope this helps! Thank you Tricia!

  24. pat addison says:

    welcome home Susan, good to see that girl kitty was happy to have her people home again.

  25. Paulie says:

    I am another new fan. Just loving your site, your blog, your artwork, your stories, your recipes and all of your books – I just received The Girl Friends book and so far that is perhaps my number one (actually they all are) but anywho, just read your adventure back across the ocean to Ma. and I have to tell you I do not know where you get your courage. Had I seen that boat and the door to the lower level, I would have been still sitting on the dock until the next morning. Girl, you got COURAGE! Thanks for sharing the trip. How advernturous! Welcome back to good old New England from another New Englander Neighbor!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you! I’m so happy to be back. I think there’s a fine line between courage and not all that smart, and that’s where I seem to live!

  26. Anita says:

    Whee, what a ride!!! Thanks for taking us along on your fun cross-country trip and back. We’re all nearly as glad as girl kitty to have you home again. ((hugs))
    Anita in W.Michigan

  27. Andrea says:

    Saints above and Poseidon be praised, Sue and Joe are home! So glad you made it! (Although I must admit, when I saw the boat taking you to your Enchanted Island, I heard Celine singing the bridge to “My heart will go on….” in the background. *Brrrrr….*) Thank you again for taking us all on your adventure. I love traveling with you and Joe. So sweet of you to include all of us.

    Can’t wait for your next installment… something about wooden spoons and cutting boards? (Pretty please!) Give love to Girl Cat from all of us…

    So glad my favorite pink diamond is back in her velvet-lined home.

    Shine on, girlfriend. : )

  28. Margot says:

    Welcome home!!! I like cozy.
    I have to tell you that I love your drawing of the girl looking out at the ocean and the sailboat going by. I used it as my screen saver for a long time. I was that girl (and I had that outfit she wears in the sixties). Now I have my own Captain Arnie (farmboy turned Navy sailor turned merchant marine) complete with a Westsail 32 (like the one in the Perfect Storm). I have many sailboat things in my home, and Arnie said I was just waiting for him. “A dream is a wish your heart makes.”

  29. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Welcome Home! As I always say, “It is fun to go, but more fun to come home!” Glad you made it home safe and that Girl Kitty welcomed you. We had “sulking schnauzers” when we returned from one trip they didn’t accompany us on and it was no fun! 🙂

  30. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Hi again–forgot when I commented earlier–wanted to ask you, now that you are home: What brand of Earl Grey with Lavender tea? Thanks. 🙂

  31. Amy says:

    Dear Susan-
    I want to thank-you for all of your beautiful work, your spirit and of late the mantra “I can do almost anything for 20 minutes!”
    It got me thru my “crown” at the dentist this morning!!!

  32. Debbie N. says:

    Glad you’re home safe and sound.

  33. Sharon from Maine says:

    Susan I think I would have kissed the ground when I got off that boat and I bet you almost did! To make that trip in the daytime would have been scary for me, let alone in the middle of a dark cold night. I am so glad you and Joe are home safe and sound and can relax now and enjoy Girl Kitty and the fabulous fall— I almost cried when I saw her on your suitcase! Our trip with you was fantastic and I am so grateful you shared it with us! xxxooo Sharon

  34. Janet Rowland says:

    Reading your blog is like cuddling in a warm blanket with a cup of tea. I finally started a bucket list and a train trip was first on the list! Can I come live with you? I’m a good worker! ( not kidding, but alas, I can dream)

  35. Pam says:

    Wow, what an adventure. I’ve enjoyed reading all about your trip and glad you arrived home safe and sound.

  36. Renee Richter says:

    All I could think of was Lottie and Rose from Enchanted April landing in Italy in the storm and having strange men pick them up in a carriage. “I think we’re in God’s hands now Lottie!” Adventures are always so fun when unexpected!

  37. Tam says:

    What an adventure! Don’t think I’d be all that keen on staying below either. I’d probably ask for a life jacket. LOL
    Is his last name really Scudder? That’s a great name for a boat captain!

  38. Tricia B. says:

    Oh thanks Susan for letting me know about your precious dishes!! It is chilly and raining here in Indiana so some chicken soup sounds delicious!! Slurp Slurp!! 🙂 ..tee hee!! Thank you again, Tricia B. GOD Bless!!! XOXO

  39. Vickie T. says:

    What an adventure! I am happy to hear that you and Joe made it home safe and sound. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us! I love reading your blog and look forward to every post. I can’t wait for your new book to come out 🙂

  40. Amy Price says:

    So happy to have been invited on your cross country journey. I hope you will be able to put your palm in your Dad’s hand for many years to come, that you will enjoy the company of true friends forever, that you will keep attending and sharing your gifts with the rest of us for a long, long time, and that you keep sharing pictures of your loved ones. Soooooo happy to see adorable Girl Kitty. I hope you will get a new kitten for all those wonderful reasons you wrote about. Susan Branch thank you for enhancing my life by allowing me visits into yours and thank you for being my long distance girlfriend!

  41. Jennie says:

    Susan- so glad you and Joe made it home safe and sound- with adventure to boot! I love the pictures that show Girl Kitty helping you unpack. When we are gone for a while, one of our cats just showers us with passionate kitty kisses, while the other punishes us for a day or two before we are allowed to love on him. Eventually he lowers himself to our level and even emits a purr or two, reminding us that HE never leaves us!

  42. Oh! Life on the Ocean Wave! I was just thinking, “why doesn’t anyone send a stretch limo for me when my train is late?” then we got to the Patriot Boat journey . . hey ho! You know, people pay good money for rides like that at theme parks? Still, pleased to know you are now safe and sound and there’s no place like home!

  43. Joan in TX says:

    Hi Susan,
    That story was hysterical. I’m still giggling as I’m writing. I completely lost it over the stretch limo and the driver who is six blocks ahead of you. Too funny.
    You sure are brave!! Three cheers for Capt. Jim. Glad you made it home okay.
    We had fun going with ya!
    btw. we had a high of 88 degrees here yesterday and today a high of 68. Supposed to be 43 degrees in the a.m. Fall weather blew into N TX last night. We are in heaven!

  44. Oooh, reunited with your kitty! Yay!!! I’m always SO happy to see my two fuzzbutts after a trip.
    That was quite an adventurous homecoming. Glad you’re safe and sound and getting back into the flow of things at home!

  45. Theresa says:

    hey susan…do you have your own recipe for peppermint bark to share with this lady in nh .The weather promises to be cold and nasty on wednesday, my day off…so i want to stay in my kitchen all day

    • sbranch says:

      No, sorry Theresa, I haven’t made that yet, I get too hung up on chocolate almond brittle and never get much further!!!

  46. Doreen Strain says:

    Hey Sue, between the rocking & rollin of the train and the up & down of the boat…you must have had to strap yourself to the bed for a few nights just to make sure you didn’t roll out! LOL ! Hope you’re enjoying the creature comforts of your home! FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  47. SuzK says:

    Wow! once I picked my mouth up off the floor….OMG! I think, even sleep-deprived, if I took a look at that boat I would have been right back in the limo! At first, when I saw the photo, I thought it was a joke. You are one brave woman! :0)
    Thank your for sharing your trip with us – I am even more intrigued about a train trip now.
    Thank you also for explaining how to properly pronounce Worcester. Now if we can get people to say Gloucester and Scituate correctly! Here in NH we have a problem with people prouncing Berlin correctly (accent on first syllable, not last, like the Germans).
    Enjoy your lovely cozy home. Look forward to your next entry.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what I thought, “that can’t be the boat!” Blink blink. But it was still there when I quit blinking! Took me forever to learn Worcester . . . but now I’m loud and proud!

  48. Debby Edwards says:

    Susan, had you in my thoughts this weekend as we went on a train excursion for our birthday gifts (my husband’s and my birthdays are 6 days apart). We went on a round trip ride that began and ended in Huntington, West Virginia. They used restored passenger cars. The rest room we used was in a small “room with a view” and so while waiting to get into the tiny restroom, I sat down in the room and watched the country pass by and thought of you and your train travels! I believe that I would really enjoy a much longer trip! Thanks for letting us into your life with your writings and pictures!

  49. Debby Edwards says:

    Susan, had you in my thoughts this weekend as we went on a one-day train excursion that started and ended in Huntington, West Virginia. We traveled along the New River and through a gorge to Hinton, WV where they had a festival. The excursion used restored passenger and dining cars and it was wonderful. We were served breakfast and dinner on the train with lunch on your own in Hinton. The restroom we used on our car was in a sleeping room much like what you write about. While I was waiting to use the tiny restroom, I sat down next to the window and watched the world pass by and thought about you and your train rides! Thank you for sharing your life with us through your writings and pictures, you warm our hearts, take us on adventures, and let us become part of your life as an artist and author and I for one just love reading your blog! Welcome home and have a great day!

  50. Bonnie Crawford says:

    Oh Sue….what an adventure! I think it was meant to happen so your arrival home would be unforgettable, not only to you and Joe, but to all of us! I am so happy you made it home at last!~~ And I bet Girl Kitty was the happiest of all! Aren’t you glad you took pictures? And that limo was hilarious! I bet you felt like a Queen!~~~
    Welcome Home!! 🙂

  51. Bonnie Crawford says:

    By the way…I forgot to say this….. I am a Scudder descendant, so I wonder if your boat driver is a long, lost relative? They all came from Connecticut, LOL! 😉

  52. bobbie fey says:

    Wow, you’re home! Travel is so much fun and it seems we experience situations that would never occur in our familiar surroundings. I love the train because, like you, we have experienced time delays and have found ourselves in magical places and doings with interesting people. Your words and discriptions are a delight, loved and laughed through every word. You are a gift!

  53. Siobhan says:

    Home. deep happy sigh for you. how you have the presence of mind to document this through the brain tired-thingy is beyond me. As was written above, you are a true journalist!

    sighing. Glad you’re back, but The Golden State misses you!

  54. Judy Quinn says:

    I am not sure that my welcome home went thru so here I go again..
    Welcome home To you both. What a wonderful journey you had and I really felt that I tagged along with you both. Your pictures were great and actually made me feel that I was there. Your little corner of the world really missed knowing you were not in your wee island home along with the kitty so we are all glad you are home safe and sound. Now the holidays can begin. Love you, JQ

  55. Deb says:

    YEEPS!!! YOU are a Brave Woman, Susan Branch!!! Are you sure that boat wasn’t called the Black Barnacle? (the Sea Hags boat from Popeye cartoons)
    I only went on a boat that size once in my whole life… on a fishing boat in San Simeon…the sea was so rough the swells were like huge mountains of dark mean water in front of us..needless to say..after a few minutes of that..my pole was rolling around on the deck and i was laying flat out on the bait box…green as pea soup!
    I so admire your stalwart bravery!!! (Kudos to the Captain and Joe as well!)
    hugs and dramamine

  56. Harriet Flick says:

    Just when I think you have found the cutest thing ever…you find something else!
    I have never seen a banana dish. How cute!
    I have gotten the love of wooden recipe boxes from you and have started a collection. I love them all! My favorite is one my best friend gave me that belonged to her mom, her name was Violet, and I think of them both when I see it on my shelf! I started putting little cocktail napkins in one that I prop open by my coffepot and change them out with the seasons. It is so fun!
    I hope I win the banana dish! I think it will look great on my shelf in th sun!

  57. Melody Cahill says:

    Thank you for sharing your delightful history of loving glass. My collection is much smaller, but ever so dear, as it began with a yellow Madrid depression-glass cookie jar, which belonged to my maternal Grandmother. My Mother gave it to me when I ‘set up house’ in 1992 as a young bride. Ever since, we’ve slowly added other Madrid pieces as happy companions to the cookie jar. Sorbet dishes, salad plates – and even venturing into other complimentary pieces such as pink Cabbage-Rose glass, pretty transfer-ware, and tea-cups and saucers! Such fun to share my eclectic and adorable collection with my girlfriends when we have gatherings.

    Thanks again Susan-dear for sharing. Reading your Blog and Willard makes me feel I’m visiting with a friend!

    Warm regards, Melody

  58. Brenda says:

    I love reading all your correspondences. I wrap up with you in the chair, walk with you and Joe to the pond etc. etc. Glad to read that you are back home safe and sound. Now for a GREAT jello recipe:

    1–3 oz. box of orange jello
    2–3 oz. boxes of tapioca pudding
    3 cups of water
    1–8 oz. carton of cool whip
    crushed pineapple, drained
    mandarin oranges, drained

    Mix orange jello, tapioca pudding and water in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling–about 10 minutes. Pour into bowl and refrigerate until cool. Add the cool whip, crushed pineapple, and mandarin oranges. Enjoy!!

    I’m sorry I don’t have a name for the salad. An elderly lady gave the recipe
    to me off the top of her head. I didn’t think I was going to be able to make
    it because she told me to put it on the back porch to cool–I don’t have a
    back porch!!! As far as the pineapple and oranges I just put in as much as I
    like (a lot!!). Also, the only way I remember it is as the 1-2-3 salad. One jello,
    two puddings and three cups of water, then the other three items, pineapple,
    oranges and cool whip—-1-2-3!!!

  59. I love the holiday season – it begins with Halloween, in my mind. So I’m already thinking of what decorations and lights to put up. Presents are being made – I still have to think of what I will do for this year’s card. Thank you for sharing what you’re up to! Always inspires me. And the all those lovely little glasses – yes!
    Mary Jo

  60. Patty says:

    But who took care of your kitty while you were away?

  61. Dian Robinson says:

    Housework? I try to avoid it if I can, so try to not to “mess” the house if possible. I sure love reading about your travels and thoughts, they are a similar but much more artistic form of my brain!
    Thanks for always making the corners of my mouth turn UP!

  62. Linda Kline says:

    Our Christmas tradition started when my second son was born on 12/29. The next year, trying to make Christmas, Christmas and birthday, birthday, we started the tradition of decorating for Christmas the Friday after Thanksgiving. Lights, trees, decorations – all up and ready to go. Then we enjoy them for a month. On Christmas night before the Turkey sandwiches come out we take everything down. There’s usually family here with us and so it becomes a party in and of itself. We get it all packed up and ready to go to storage. Then – sandwiches and a second round of dessert. For me, the best part is waking up on the 26th and it’s all done and nothing to dread. For my son, when he was young, it meant that for 3 days we could focus on his birthday coming up and it’s specialness.

    • sbranch says:

      Wow. That’s impressive. I take mine down Jan. 1, or really Dec. 31 ish, because I like to start the new year, all fresh. But I like to get it all up early too!

  63. Sheila M. says:

    Susan I know that feeling. It’s fun to travel and see lots of other cities and places but oh how nice is is to unlock our front door and step inside. We’re home ! Such a feeling of safe and warmth once again. Thanks for your wonderful newsletter.

  64. Carol Gazzetta says:

    Hi Susan I wrote you a long lovely note…it never posted …is there a delay? I’m so sad I had so much I wrote…..Love your style, love your art, you must be an AWSOME person!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Look again and see if it’s there! We had a gremlin invasion yesterday . . . My replies are missing on some of the comments too! I’m thinking everything is straightening out here today?

  65. Lisa Minton says:

    I too collect glass dishes….although i must say i haven’t been out scouting for them in a long, long time! If i have ever seen a banana dish i certainly didn’t realize what it was for.
    My housekeeping tip….just try to keep up with keeping the clutter under control!!!!

  66. Mindy says:

    Hi Susan,
    Your “banana boat” story gave me the biggest laugh this morning. I had forgotten how bewildered my mom and I were one Christmas morning years ago when she opened up this folded-shaped glassware from my high falutin aunt. We didn’t know what in the heck it was!!! Over the next few months we tried to figure out a variety of uses for it… a taco holder? a rolled napkin holder? Or was it just a cake plate gone bad? Finally we went to Cape Cod to visit my aunt the following summer. As it was our first antiquing excursion, we ran to the corner of a store when we spied a similar shaped plate. The tag read: A banana holder!!!! We burst out laughing. Who knew antiquing could be so much fun? We haven’t stopped since… Thanks again!

  67. Mindy says:

    I would love to find a recipe for a jell-o concotion my aunt made every Thanksgiving. This is what I can remember: strawberry jell-o, frozen strawberries, bananas, pineapple?, a layer of sour cream in the middle…
    It would be fun to make it for this Thanksgiving if anyone has a recipe.

  68. Janine says:

    Pick me, pick me……………….I want a banana dish !!!!!!!!! P.S. My kitty was looking for the “bird” she heard when I opened up your blog !!! So Cute !!!

  69. lynn maust says:

    Sure would love to take a train ride like you do, but would never do that alone…I have no one to go with me…boo hooo..your pics are a real delight and I felt the thrills and chills of your dead of night boat trip….just going with you via your pics did a lot for my mood tonight….thank you so much for sharing so much, Susan. I once had a dear cousin by the same name.

    • sbranch says:

      I did it alone for many years, I have to say, mostly because I had to, and it’s very very cozy to have that room to yourself, with your books and diary! So glad to hear from you Lynn. Arm chair travel is a very good thing!

  70. sondra fox says:

    Hi Susan, I wrote you a long note, but I don’t see it posted. Was it offensive, or just too long for you to put it on your blog?

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure it wasn’t offensive 🙂 because I remember your name as an old friend has the same name! I know I answered it, but we have had a gremlin problem, I think things are finally showing up, but they are taking their own sweet time! So sorry, but I’m sure it’s “there” somewhere!

  71. Kathy Andrews says:

    I think that dish would also serve well to hold a taco!
    My goal in life is to have a set of dishes for every day of the week, and having a random set would be wonderful. Now to find the perfect cabinet to keep them all in!!

  72. Judy Parkman says:

    I would love the beautiful old banana dish just like everyone else! I cannot say I collect glass, but I do have several very special pieces that were my mom’s, and I love getting them out to use……..I don’t wait for just special moments, though. Why do people do that when they should be using & enjoying these things every day?!! I think my housekeeping tip is just to keep things picked up; you can fool a lot of people who just stop by into thinking your house is always in order!! 🙂 We have had snow here in Western NY today, but I am still hoping for some beautiful Fall days to enjoy. <3!!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s cold here on the island too…but no snow, at least I don’t think so, it’s still dark! Thanks for coming by Judy!

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