My Girlfriends

I’ve been wanting to tell you about my girlfriends for a long time . . . I haven’t because I was afraid of invading their privacy; not everyone is as blog-crazy as I am!  But, over time, they seem to have gotten used to me with the camera, and, I think they are sort of saying that it’s OK now . . . we will see . . . After last night, I just couldn’t stand it one more minute without mentioning them!

There is a definite “How we met story” that I have to tell you, because it’s really an interesting story, but it’s long and, you know, I have to go try on clothes to pack for England!!!  The clock is ticking!  I can’t do the story justice right now, so I’m saving it . . . but, as a mere hint of the creativity and heart of these girlfriends . . .  here are the ocean liner ice cubes Jaime made for the birthday party she gave me last night.  It’s the tip of the iceberg.  Not even that, it’s a little puff of fog that rises above the iceberg.

Here’s what she gave us last night . . . the dinner table!!  Jaime has four sons and this is the house she brought them up in. She was a single mom for most of that time, with triplet boys she got the old-fashioned way; and then, two years after the triplets were born, guess what?  She had another boy!  If she did not do one single other thing in life, this was, to me, amazing, the way she handled it, like buttah.  She is a wonderful cook, and started her own catering business here on the island. She is one of the six or seven most romantic people I have ever met.  Roses should be her middle name. You should see her garden.  All the tulips, growing around her front door, are ruffled.

Here was the first course, Jaime’s soup; I don’t remember the name of it, but I think I figured out, it’s corn, lime, lemon grass, cayenne, chicken stock, sour cream . . . a thin gorgeous soup served with a grilled, buttered crouton with crab salad on it (you can barely see on the left)!!  Oh yes!  Dinner was fresh salmon, mashed potatoes, thin little spears of asparagus; she passed a sauce boat filled with buerre blanc!!  Simple, elegant and delicious!

See the rings under those candles on my Chocolate Birthday Cake (When my honey asks for chocolate, he gets chocolate!)?  My girlfriends have a tradition; when it’s one of our birthdays, we all get to make a wish.  We put our rings over the candles and when the birthday girl makes her wish, we all do . . . it blesses the cake!  It’s been like a bond between us, all these wishes, made together, all these years.  I would like to quit my job and just make soup and bread for them every day! That’s how much I love them.

To me, this photo is the essence of Jaime; this is her at my house for her birthday party last fall; we’d given her a photo scrapbook of memories from all of us . . . and she hadn’t even opened the box, this reaction was for the card!  What you see right here is what you get. 

That’s Lowely, third from the right, bending, with the blond hair and glasses; and you can’t really see her face, but that’s Martha on the left in the red.  Margot is next to Jaime in the black-flowered dress.  Margot is the one who gives the amazing workshops at Kripalu and wrote the book “A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids” (Margot’s the one who saved my life when she became my friend and introduced me to the rest of these girls, many years ago). I know I’ve mentioned them in other posts, so I thought I would show them to you. (You can get a peek at Jaime’s Memory Book, because Enikö, the dark haired girlfriend on the far right, made this gorgeous book for Jaime, and has posted it on her Scrapbooking Blog, Enikö’s Playhouse.)

What my girlfriends have in common: they all work in their own businesses (Martha’s Vineyard is like that; there’s no thriving manufacturing community; no McDonnell-Douglas or Apple here; no large employers of any kind; people sort of have to make their own way).  They are caterers, decorators, authors, cake-makers, real estate sales women, speakers, artists (all of them are artists, like you, who make something from

nothing every day — here are Lowely and Martha making crepes at our yard sale!  For no reason, just a pretty day and we were hungry and they are brilliant), and teachers, and they’re all amazing cooks. They’re believers in life, love, and dreams coming true.  They are also wall-paperers, house painters, scrapbookers,  knitters, gardeners, home-makers, drape-makers, animal-lovers, cute-dressers, smart shoppers, tea loving, life adventuring, music loving, book readers; all the regular things!  Six are moms; two, three counting me, aren’t.   Some are in relationships, some are between gigs (we like to say it that way).  They are, as Oprah would say, every woman.  The thing they do, which I think is a hallmark of almost every woman I’ve ever known, is GIVE • GIVE • GIVE.  Everything they have, time, energy, support, truth, laughter; they know what it means to sacrifice for love; they have all done it.  They are wonderful girlfriends; they are all citizens of their island, and citizens of the world with a concern for making it a better place.  Just, may I say, like YOU!  Celebrating them is just one more way of celebrating the good and honorable, because there is so much of it around us. 

Important to say right here: before I found Martha’s Vineyard, there was California, and that’s home to a whole other set of inspiring wonderful girlfriends that I will love forever, like a mom, equally, because I couldn’t live without a single one of them.  Or you. ♥ 

Gotta go, girlfriends . . . For one thing, Joe and I need to go on our walk and work off some of that birthday cake … plus, it’s my turn on “Words with Friends” (Smart Phone Scrabble; fun!!), Lowely made her move!  Have a wonderful day!  Start looking for Willard on Tuesday! 

Margot and me last night (yes, every once in a while Joe manages to wrestle the camera out of my hands). My birthday was wonderful, and I can’t thank you all enough for the wonderful wishes bestowed upon me by YOU, girlfriends of the heart.  Thank you!  P.S. A disclaimer, because my dad is going to read this; men are really good too.  🙂

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301 Responses to My Girlfriends

  1. NANCY JO says:

    All I can say is that you are truly blessed and you know it. Its a sad thing when you don’t know it.
    Nancy Jo

  2. {oc cottage} says:

    well, missy! you are just the luckiest duck, ev-uh!
    {and by lucky, i mean blessed beyond measure!;}
    now i know what my birthday wish will be this
    year…to have such a fabulous group of girlfriends!
    {and also, to be as dang cute as you are when
    i am your age! ;}

    m ^..^

  3. Laura Croyle says:

    How Wonderful for you to have so many wonderful girlfriends! I bet it’s a riot when you are all together!! Was Joe the only man in attendance for your birthday party?? (just curious! If so, he’s a brave man!!)

    • sbranch says:

      Oh no, we had other great guys in attendance . . . one of them wrote me a little poem and read it to the table, another gave me a gift certificate from his dog (Iris, who I love) . . . it was very co-ed.♥

      • Janet says:

        Oh, I have just LOVED that Iris every since I saw the little video of her waiting for you on your kitchen porch. Her tail was vibrating her body so much as it wagged it reminded me of that phrase “the tail wagged the dog…” She looks like the world’s bestest-buddy dog ever! If she was my neighbor’s dog I’d have to keep a food bowl and snacks and treats up on the porch all the time to tempt her into visiting.

        PS – what a nice nice NICE party your friends gave you – just like the many parties you’ve had for them I’m sure… What goes around comes around. And Joe wanted the chocolate cake! That would have been my vote too. What can I say? The fellow has impeccable taste – in many things I might add – not the least of which being Who he likes to hang around with… :>)

        • sbranch says:

          Iris gave me a present!!! She gave me a dinner at a nice French restaurant! Now that’s what I call doggie love! We do keep biscuits for her, she also gets to lay on the white couch. Because she’s just adorable! And a little old and crunchy.

          • Janet says:

            Oh,it’s so nice to hear about Iris – I just love her! She’s like a little ancillary character in this whole wonderful Susan world we read about each day. She loves you & Joe and gave you a terrific present – and she gets to come inside and have treats and lay on the white couch… so you are loving her right back. I bet she likes Jack and Girl too…

          • sbranch says:

            She does, and they are fine with her. She’s a wise little old dog.

  4. Rae Ann says:

    OH MY!!!…tears of joy after reading that blog…how blessed we all are to be one of your girlfriends and to enjoy all of your adventures…especially such an intimate day like your birthday…thank you, Susan, for sharing your lovely birthday with us…and your absolutely fantastic life…

  5. Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

    Susan –
    What an amazingly talented and loving group of woman! How wonderful that you have all “found” one another! Eniko’s scrapbook is a work of art that Jaime and her family will treasure forever! Thank you for sharing the identities of your friends with us – your virtual circle of friends! Loved viewing their blogs too.
    Have a wonderful week ahead!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Kerry . . . so sweet!

    • Enikö says:

      Kerry, thank you for taking a peak at the scrapbook I made for Jaime. It was a labor of love that all the girlfriends contributed to. I love that Sue has brought us all together, across the miles and cyberspace, in love and friendship!
      Hugs, Enikö

  6. Rosanne, Keizer, Oregon says:

    Oh wow – love your tribute to girlfriends!! I adore my husband and son, my Dad was my hero, but my girlfriends have sustained me through fun times and challenging times and everything in between. Here’s to the ladies!

  7. marie bailey says:

    Looks like you have a good bunch of friends who are all good for each other. Enjoy your trip to England its a beautiful place. Marie-England

  8. Jacquelyn Wirthlin ... Las Vegas, NV says:

    What a wonderful party complete with wonderful girlfriends! A beautiful table with such gorgeous flowers. Sure makes a birthday even more fun. The chocolate cake looked amazing … yumm. Your girlfriends really do sound like small town America. When you do something you love, it is never work. Have a lovely day, Sue, and thanks for sharing with us.

  9. Philippa says:

    Happy Birthday .Enjoy England.I am going too ……but to the north.

  10. Tracy Jones (Charlton, MA) says:

    I wept with joy when I read this. I was lucky enough to meet Margot at your book signing in Plymouth MA, and be graced with her…well, I don’t really know what to call it…specialness? She listened to my story about a lost friendish and told me that my life would ‘come around again’. And it did. And now, years later, I too, have a group of friends that once I let my guard down and opened my heart, they became my “HEART FRIENDS”, as I call them.

    Thank you for opening this part of your life to me, and to all of us. I wonder if you understand the depth to which you truly have touched so many people’s hearts over these years. Especially mine. It has not just been your art, although back in 1989, for me, that was my beginning of a long journey to self-awareness. Thank you for inspiring me to have hope, to be myself, to be true to who I am and not someone I thought would measure up to someone else’s standards and for believing in love again.


  11. Karen Saunders says:

    I don’t think I have ever heard you say you had a ‘bad day’. You are so positive and up-beat. ‘Friends’ are the foundation of women. We don’t survive without them…..I believe women are the ‘heart-beat’ of this world. And I celebrate with you your caring, wonderful, nurturing friendships. It’s like a secret club that binds us all together without ever a word said. AMEN GIRLFRIENDS!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Amen, and maybe a few more words. If the world knew how much we like each other! Has to be a power for good.

  12. What a lovely tribute to your Girlfriends, but in order to have a good..make that several great..Girlfriends you need to be one back and it’s evident they all adore you too. This post warmed my heart this morning.

  13. Kristen says:

    What a wonderful birthday for you, I’m so glad it was a great one AND that you have such wonderful people to share it with. Friends and birthdays are definitely blessings! 🙂

  14. Country Gal says:

    They all look like a lovely bunch . It is important to have good friends . Lovely photos and post ! Have a great day !

  15. Martha Ellen says:

    Goosebumps–what lovely friends you have dear Susan! Sisterhood love! ♥

  16. Barbara T, Wolverine Lake MI says:

    Where would we be without girlfriends??? I have a paperweight (gift from a girlfriend and it says: Friends are the family we create for ourselves. so true! You have a circle of friends who inspire you to be better! Wonderful. I do also! so blessed in all directions 🙂

  17. Nina from Maryland says:

    Happy birthday have a great trip looking forward to exciting pictures and stories you are truly blessed because you see beauty in every day ordinary things and you re surrounded by wondeful friends in that picture from the side …. You like like Diane Keaton have fun

  18. mari1017 says:

    You remind me to hold my friends close, and my girlfriends closer ♥ I, for one, get so caught up with all the activities of life that I don’t tell them enough how special they are ~ or spend enough time with them. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for sharing your special MV friends with us 🙂

    • Charlene H. from So. Calif. (S.F.Valley) says:

      Mari…thank you for sharing your sincere thoughts with all of us. I find that your words echo my own sentiments…I just get too, too busy with my garden, my art, my reading, etc. I will endeavor to “…hold my friends close, and my girlfriends closer…tell them how special they are, and spend more time with them.” Who says that resolutions are limited to the new year date?!? How’s that for a Spring-time resolution?! 😀
      Susan…love the photos of you and your gal-pals! Thank you, again, for opening our eyes to the true riches of this life! ♥♥♥

  19. I KNEW we were in for a wonderful story just from seeing the picture of that ice cube 🙂 Love and happiness just pour out of this post!! Thanks for sharing xoxo Debbie

  20. audrey Bell, LaBarque Creek, Missouri says:

    We are fortunate to share in wonderful groups of amazing, intelligent, beautiful, creative women who are happy to share, care, give, live, and LOVE.
    We have shared so many tears, jeers and so much laughter over so many and varied lunch and dinner tables through the years.
    What a blessed life we have with our girlfriends. Thank you to your group for being willing to share with all of us in blogland.

  21. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Thanks for sharing your birthday dinner photos and letting us “meet” your “local girlfriends”. It is like the old song says, “Make new friends but keep the old ones, some are silver and some are gold”. Whatever would we do without our girlfriends? 🙂

    • Doreen Strain - Florida says:

      Hi Pat, we used to sing that song in rounds at our Girl Scouts meetings. Thanks for mentioning it. Brought back some really nice memories that I could really use right now. Missing all my girlfriends from Upstate NY. Miles apart and we are still close at heart. ” Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold”. Life would be empty without friends.
      FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  22. Lynn McCormack says:


  23. Debbie says:

    What is more wonderful that to celebrate with girlfriends? Your post reminds me to cherish every moment spent with friends & family. Have a wonderful trip to England!

  24. Dawn says:

    This made my heart sing!! And that last photo, of you and Margot… look so beautiful, Susan. So happy and content and with an loving gleam in your eye.

    Such friendships as these are TRUE riches!!!!


  25. Treese says:

    Reading your blog made me miss my girlfriends. Most have had children and when you have teenagers I am told they take up your time (and patience). I don’t have children except my babies-dogs, horses and barnyard critters. I live in a remote area and even though I love my ranch I miss dashing off to have a meal-going to a movie or just catching up with my buddies. Unfortunately, none of my friends live in Colorado. We are scattered to the winds now. I mostly chat with them on the phone.
    Susan you are blessed with cherished friends.

    • sbranch says:

      I think you need a book club or a quilt club!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Or a knitting group! 🙂 But I know what you mean–so many of my friends with kids sort of acted like I had nothing in common with them as my “kids” were 4-legged and their’s were 2-legged. (little did they know I could out-talk and out-brag about my kids anytime!) 🙂 But, y’know, their kids grow up and move on to their own lives and those same people later figure out that you DO have a lot in common and become more open… 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          Oh there were lots of dinner parties where mostly what they talked about was the Martha’s Vineyard school system! 🙂 But that was just part of it!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            Guess I wasn’t talking about conversations. To clarify,what I meant was this: I think it is easier to make friends when you have like interests (thus the book group, quilt group, knitting group, etc.). Women CAN be clicky and need to be aware of it. We’ve moved a lot and, ironically, sometimes I have found that it is hardest to make friends at church as that is where it seems to matter whether you have kids or not and sometimes women are “clicky”, having had friendships for years and raising their children together–that is where I have gotten this “You don’t have much in common with us because you don’t have kids” feeling, and was actually told that out loud once! Also I distinctly remember one of our moves which was to a small town and as we met people, this is what they said: 1. Are you married? 2. Do you have children? 3. What does your husband do? I was shocked as I was used to hearing “What do YOU do?” when I met new people. (Of course, it probably didn’t help that I answered, joking, “We have a miniature schnauzer as our surrogate child.”) Norm laughed and said they probably didn’t know what “surrogate” meant and perhaps I shouldn’t say that…LOL! 🙂 So making friends seems to be a lot easier if one checks out groups with like interests…

  26. Happy Birthday Susan!

    Isn’t it wonderful to have such wonderful “girlfriends” Even though some of my friends live thousand of miles away, we are constantly in touch. It always seems like they are down the block. I feel so blessed everyday to think that all these woman care about me and what I do, just like you and your girlfriends.
    It is a very magical thing. Have a wonderful time in England, I wish I was going.

    • sbranch says:

      You are! With me!

    • Diane from Washington state says:

      Elizabeth…some of my closest girlfriends are also far away but we keep in touch daily too! I couldnt live without them…and the ones nearby and now the ones on here! you too! 🙂

  27. Cyndi in NC says:

    What a lovely table, the roses are beautiful! Yes you are very lucky to have the friends you have. It makes a difference when you have people you can count on for the good times and the bad. We all need people we can count on to laugh and cry with. Take care all. *S*

  28. Kim from Canada says:

    Dear Susan: Where would we be without our girlfriends? Looks like you have a great bunch! What a beautiful way to spend your birthday. So blessed you are and so blessed are we to have as our blog girlfriend. Take care of yourself and can’t wait until we get to go to England with you. Blessings to you! Kim

  29. They say you must Be a friend to Have a friend. You must Be the Best Friend in the world to have such a close group of wonderful lady friends! Please thank them for letting you share them with us. 🙂

  30. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan..what a sweet heartfelt post today…just made me tingle out of happiness…i know what you mean about treasured friends that are making a difference in our lives as well as the world…. these people come to the recue, celebrate our thrills, and stick by each other no matter what… a wonderful tribute to your girlfriends….we are all for the better for this blog and you Susan, as you have inspired us all to reach out, reconnect and remember our beloved girlfriends…this is one of the happiest places I know!!!….so..thank you Susan…… love, the packing is going well..i am FOREVER taking many more things than I really need!!! xo

  31. Deborah Winter says:

    Happy Birthday Susan–post B-Day Greetings, I hope you don’t mind!!! Thank you for giving us a glimpse into what we imagine your life to be based on your books. I believe there are no mistakes in life; you obviously made some good karma in past lives because you have a wonderful husband and very obviously exceptional girlfriends because YOU DESERVE IT! Many happy returns for a wonderful year and all the love and joy your heart can hold!!!

  32. Ann Y. (Adamstown, PA) says:

    Thanks for sharing your friends…you are so blessed to have each other. There is such JOY in having friends you can count on, enjoy, cry, create, and go through life with. You girls know how to CELEBRATE ! Rock on ! (PS…have to borrow the rings on the candles idea !!!)

  33. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh Susan…what a lovely…fun birthday party you had! And to be surrounded by those who love you! Thank you so much for including us into your fold….we all love you like our very own special girlfriend! smile…. How blessed you are to have found these wonderful friends….isn’t life grand??

    Love this blog posting…such happiness…..and for you to share it with all of us!!


  34. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Afternoon~
    I too am blessed with many wonderful friends~ Yours remind me so much of mine!
    Just curious about those ice cubes~ too darn cute! How did she do it?
    Enjoy the rest of the day~

    • sbranch says:

      She found little ice cube trays with ships!

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        How special is that? She must have put an awful lot of thought ( and love) into your party! I am always on the lookout for fun things like that~who would have thought they even made them? Such a smart friend!

  35. Susan Martin from Orwigsburg, PA says:

    Happy belated Birthday, Susan! It sounds like it was wonderful. Have fun on the cruise – can’t wait to experience it through you and Joe. (Did I tell you that my hubby is Joe as well? He’s a love, just like your Joe.) Enjoy your day!

  36. Brenda says:

    How wonderful! What a great group of friends. I have a group of 4 friends that celebrate together as often as possible. Birthdays and anything else we can come up with to get together. And as much as we celebrate we also feel it when one of us are having the worst day or week or year ever as I am sure is true for your group of friends. Are you sleeping? If I was getting ready for such a wonderful trip I would not sleep for the full month before I left.

  37. Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

    Would you say you have a Ya,Ya, sisterhood?
    There is nothing more for me to say, it has all been said.

  38. Pamela Jewett says:

    Seeing you with your friends and watching the companionship of your circle tells me that the love we have for friends is universal. It is a blessing to behold!
    Thank you for sharing your Birthday evening. Lovely, lovely.
    xoxo Pam

  39. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    Dear Susan – as well you know, you are truely blessed with your friends. I came late in life to having specials friends like this and feel so honored and sometimes a bit surprised that they are in life. What did I ever do to deserve such wonderful women??!!! Have a wonderful Sunday, Girls!!

  40. Betsy Brunette (and guess what....I am blonde!) says:

    Dear Birthday Girl….the tears of joy fell from my eyes upon reading about your birthday dinner and all of your special girlfriends. I thought I was a little odd to shed tears but in reading some of the other comments, I guess I am not odd at all. Today’s sermon at church was one that coaxed tears out of my eyes too….and I was only one of many who experienced it. Even some of the men were wiping their eyes! So maybe the moon is in the right spot and the flowers are blooming just right to make for the combination of honest emotions. Thanks for putting into words what we needed for today.

    As I picture you preparing for the trip to England, I can’t help but also think of the passengers of the Titanic. They were excited just like you are and they had stories to tell just like you do. Life’s twists and turns are forever presenting themselves and I love reading your outlook as well as all of the ideas shared by your “fans”. It really is a privilege to know you. Now I am tearful again….bon voyage!!

    Betsy, in Indianapolis, IN

    • sbranch says:

      Love all those good feelings Betsy, thank you!

      • Laura says:

        You’re not supposed to mention the “T” word! Happy Birthday sweet birthday girl! Xo

        • sbranch says:

          Hahaha, the T word. I’ve been careful not to watch everything that’s been on TV this week! Just a quick look at the clothes of the passengers, then change the channel. I would be the Unsinkable Molly Brown. I already made that decision, and I will count the lifeboats too.

  41. How blessed you all are to share these friendships and to be making these special memories. (Coincidentally, I posted this morning on my blog about some of my dearest BFFs, only mine was an hour or two before yours, so I wasn’t “copy-catting” you.) Lovely photos!

  42. Susan Edwards says:

    Susan … thank you for sharing your life and art with us. You have opened you life with Joe; your world on both coasts; your kitties; and now your special friends. The story of you birthday celebration touched my heart 🙂
    Again, best wishes 🙂

  43. Kimi says:


    Friends are irreplaceable!!! And so are you! XOXOXO

  44. Esther says:

    Thank you, Susan, for sharing your Martha’s Vineyard (MV) girlfriends with us. I belong to a group of four in Napa Valley (NV). My husband calls us the four amigas and we each have our own talents – recognized as being unique, original, courageous and powerful. We have created traditions over the years and will enjoy your cake blessing with the next birthday. One gal wears several rings so we may need to include a few more candles. From NV to MV (and beyond) – here’s to Girlfriends everywhere!

  45. Carol C says:

    Happy belated birthday!! Loved the girlfriend tribute. You have to be a pretty good friend yourself to have these wonderful friends. It takes one to have one in other words! I know I’ve said before how my girlfriends have gotten me through my chemos and radiations, etc. Husbands and boyfriends can be wonderful but where the rubber meets the road, it’s the girls!

    Yesterday we lost one of our beloved 14 yr. old girls–Hattie. She was a beautiful white german shepherd with a perfect heart-shaped cowlick on her chest. We got both girls from the animal shelter on the same day and they have been such blessings to us. Sad day!!

    • sbranch says:

      I am so sorry Carol, yes, a very sad day. I forgot to say that when I got to Jaime’s last night, the first thing we did was go upstairs to look at the two kittens that had been born to Jaime’s mama cat just the day before. May the circle be unbroken. xoxo

  46. Nel E from Michigan says:

    What are you and Margo drinking?? Looks delicious!!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Jaime made these amazing cocktails, frozen limeade concentrate mixed with water, pomegranate juice, and vodka. Yummy!

  47. Terri from Swansboro, NC says:

    Oh, to have wonderful friends like you! I know people and have acquantances but only a couple of good friends and those live in different States. Does that mean I am jealous or envious, heck NO, I am so happy for you and that you share your girlfriends with me, so I too have girlfriends like yours! LOL!! because they are yours! What a beautiful blog today, thanks! I needed some girlfriend mojo my way today! Smiles! And hug those wonderful women for me too okay?? Love ya! Oh and hug Joe too! and the kids! SMILES! PS: went strawberry picking on Saturday and have made two batches of jam already! You were in my thoughts as I was picking strawberries! LOL!!

  48. Joann says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post….it’s romantic; it’s fun; it’s so filled with LOVE!! What wonderful friends you have….and all so creative and full of life!!

    Yes, on MV, one DOES have to get creative in how to make a living and what to do with one’s life….I visited the catering company website; how grand!!!

    I commend her on raising her sons on her own….I pretty much did the same with my daughters and it was wonderful. I can’t say it wasn’t tough, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love the rings idea; you’ve spoken of it before, but I loved seeing it in pictures….what a tradition!! I know you just had an incredible birthday and I am so happy for you!!!

    Now you have so much to do yet before your big trip we’re all going on!! (yes, of course we are!)
    Thank you for sharing….may you be blessed beyond belief!!


  49. I love to see such happiness . . thank ♥ you . . I think you have some pretty darn wonderful friends there! Thank you for sharing them . . I’m sure they don’t mind at all.

    You are blessed; they are blessed; and we are blessed . . because we all have ‘you’ in common!

    p.s. Please say thank you to Margot from me for saving you!

  50. It looks like you had a wonderful birthday, Sue! Spending good times with friends and eating chocolate cake can’t be beat 🙂

    I still have close girlfriends from my high school days, and although we are scattered all over the country we try to get together for a girls weekend at least once a year. This year my daughter is getting married so they are all coming to NYC for the wedding. I can’t wait to see them all again!

    Hope your packing is coming along well! How’s the weather in England this time of the year?


    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure, but I feel like the bluebells are still holding on for us, that’s what I most hope!

      • Judy Young says:

        As a child growing up in England I remember a special spot I called the Bluebell Woods. Traditional woods with a complete carpet of bluebells, the color was so delicious and romantic! Bluebells remain one of my favorite flowers and I will never forget that sight, the bluebells seemed to go on forever.

        • sbranch says:

          That’s what I remember too, the prettiest most amazing sight. Who doesn’t want wildflowers as far as the eye can see?

  51. Marilyn says:

    Susan, such a beautifully written,wonderful, heartfelt love letter to your girlfriends. I read your post several times and got that same warm feeling each time. That drinking- hot cocoa -with -marshmallows- sitting- in -front- of- a -roaring- fire- on- a -winter day. It warms your soul!

    You are an extraordinary group of women. I hope you know that! 🙂

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  52. Francine says:

    You are truly a lucky lady!!!!

  53. deezie says:

    Oh Susan, your post today made me cry. But in a good way. What wonderful, fabulous, beautiful friends you have been blessed with. I love that you enjoy every one of them. Loved all the pictures and I loved being able to see your precious friends.
    Happy day Susan

  54. Melissa G says:

    You and your friends sound wonderful. You have a wonderful thing happening. It is nice to knowthat people can still have friendship circles like that in this day and age.

  55. Tasha says:

    What a wonderful birthday party and wonderful friends to share it with. Enjoy your trip to England – you’re coming at my favourite time of year. It’s always beautiful but even more so in the spring.

  56. Mary Ann - Central Highlands of Mexico says:

    Girlfriends are the best, and you have the creme of the crop!

  57. Marcia in Brazil says:

    Wow! I can’t stop sighing and saying Wow! Your birthday party was absolutely lovely, Susan! You are blessed with amazing friends. I could sense the love in every picture and in every word you wrote. Now, I want to hug my girlfriends and tell them how much they mean to me. The world without girlfriends would be so very bleak! Thanks for being a wonderful girlfriend to friends from all over the world.

  58. Pat says:

    I have also been blessed with girlfriends as I found out this past fall when I had to have cancer surgery. They sat with me when I was having a bad night in ICU and came whenever I called. Girlfriends are the greatest!!!!

    I loved how the table was set at your party. The flowers were beautiful and the menu sounded fantastic. I am sure a good time was had by all.

  59. Andi M says:

    I wanted to climb through my computer screen right into your party. I could smell the candles burning and the salmon and soup. Believe it or not, I could even hear the laughter. Thank you for sharing something that great. Happy late birthday. I am on the edge of my seat anxiously awaiting the trip with you.
    Have fun.

  60. Linda in Texas says:

    All the tulips, growing around her front door, are ruffled.

    This sentence says a world of wonderful things about your friend Jaime.

    So glad you have wonderful friends to celebrate your birthday and every day with you in wonderful ways. I am looking so forward to traveling to England with you, too.

    The ice cubes were “brilliant” to borrow a word from our British friends. By the way, I have a glass ship that I’ve had since I was about 5 that looks like those ice cubes. 🙂

  61. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    *Sigh* Oh Susan….your life is like watching a wonderful Nora Ephron movie….
    complete with really good music!!! “Thank You” for sharing your Blessings!

    “Long Lasting Friendships Flower for a lifetime…
    True Blue…LOYAL…Supportive…Smart…COMMUNICATIVE…Funny…
    Cultivate Your Garden with LOVE!” Susan Branch

    Your Life will always be filled with the most beautiful flowers! XOXDawn

  62. Go, Joe! The photographer is rarely photographed; so nice to see Susan and Margot enjoying a quiet moment.

  63. Diane from Washington state says:

    I found a tear in my eye when I saw the picture of Jaime holding the card and that expression on her face! It made me so happy for you that you have such warm and caring friends to share your life with …wherever you live! There isnt anything like being able to give gifts and have parties and decorate for each other ….and just talk about everything with them. That is a huge part of what makes lives “worth living”! LOVED the table setting and candles and the beauty of the meal you all shared….thank you for sharing it with us! I do hope they dont mind that you take pics because we certainly love the feelings of being right there with you! 🙂 I have half decided to move to the island just to join in on the fun, but I cant leave behind the great things I have here! lol. Oh…one more thing….not only was that meal so elegant and beautiful, but the ice cubes were absolutely the cutest I have ever seen! How totally fun!!! I am so happy for you and for your friendships….and for “our” friendships! Life is wonderfully sweet when we have girlfriends! Hugs to you!

  64. Barbara (WA) says:

    I scrolled all the way down in hopes of seeing a comment from Jack! He is sort of all of our dads, you know. And he makes me laugh. Such a wonderful treasure you have in your MV girlfriends, and they in you.

    • Jack says:

      I’m right here Barbara from Washington . . . reveling in the glory of the close friendships and caring girlfriends Sue has found not only on the Vineyard but as far and wide as this Internet can reach. I have only personally met that one special one, Margot, but as we can see from only looking at these still shots of how they inter-relate, they are all special … and that is the same feeling I get in reading these replies from the extended network of girlfriends responding not only to Sue, but also to each other, both in a physical sense and as the condition involves, to foster emotional support for each other — even though they have never met and most likely never will. A powerful and far reaching movement of support and love! Good for you gals and good for you too Sue!

      • sbranch says:

        My dad writes me amazing supportive emails, I print them out, I now have half a file cabinet with sweet things like this!

        • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

          The point I make in my comment below is proven here, isn’t it? What a wonderful father you must be to all your children! I just lost my Dad in Feb. and, of course, I can’t hear from him now, but it sure is nice to hear from you this morning!

      • Barbara (WA) says:

        Just got back to the comments and so happy to hear from you, Jack aka our dad! Sue is lucky to have you and she to have you. Your daughter is a doll – you did good 🙂

  65. Denni from New Hope,MN says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan!! How wonderful of you sharing your friends and party with us! The bond is so heartfelt by every photo we see. It’s a delight for me every time I read your blog!! I’m so excited about your trip to England and look forward to hearing about all the places you and Joe will be seeing. It’s getting closer!! Anticipation…..!!

  66. Jack says:

    Guys , guy’, I know some of you no doubt read that little tribute — at the END of all the
    girls commentary — all of a sudden I’m starting to realize why I had four boys in a row
    after Susan was born — something to do with keeping nature in balance ……and I just want to mention that sometimes I do open a jar , or reach a heavy plate down from a high shelf ……….

    • sbranch says:

      What would we do without you!! Handy guy! Big kiss!

    • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

      Dear Jack,

      I think that any father who doesn’t mind his teenage daughter calling him at the office begging to borrow the car so she and her girlfriend can go meet the Beatles on what you surely must have believed was a brushoff invitation, must truly understand and love women and value and respect them and their relationships with their girlfriends. I think it’s lovely that you’re here and I, for one, think it would be enlivening to hear your views on the topics of the day.

      Most sincerely,


      • sbranch says:

        Oh my goodness, now you’ve done it! 🙂

      • Jack says:

        Today’s topics are so interspersed with controversy, I couldn’t consider polluting this beautiful exchange
        between Girlfriends. Actually, sometimes topics of the day change so fast, I lose track of which side I’m on . . . :~)

        • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

          I’m sorry, Jack…..I don’t think I communicated what I meant very well!!! I meant by topics of the day, “our darling Susan’s topics of the day”, which you enliven by your sense of humor and grace.

          Oh my gosh, I must take more time to think through what I am trying to say before I post it. I hope I haven’t opened the floodgates!!! Please feel free to edit or decide not to post anything that strikes you as “not right” Sue.

    • Diane from Washington state says:

      I guess girls can get a bit overwhelming with each other….but I do have THREE brothers and the most amazing husband who just today was outside doing my bidding. I pointed and he did all of the other work! Guys are also THE very best and so much fun too!

      • sbranch says:

        My dad will love this, every word a pearl!

        • Pat Mofjeld says:

          Well, Jack–I love reading your comments as they remind me of things my dad would say–he was so kind, supportive, witty, and wise…I miss him so much. Susan offered once to share you with me and I kind of smile every time I read something you’ve written…I also know that that saying about girls marrying men similar to their fathers must be true as my husband is a lot like my dad was… 🙂

  67. Carol Maurer says:

    As always, you have inspired me in all sorts of ways!! Thank you thank you for letting us share insight to your life and your wonderful friendships that you have on Martha’s Vineyard!!
    Carol M

  68. carmel says:

    Susan, please thank your Martha’s Vineyard girlfriends for letting you share them with us. What a precious group. Since I am from California and my friends from CA and even in my new home area (Washington, DC metro area) have scattered even more around the country, I miss being geographically close to my friends so much. However, we still sink (more like treading) or swim together, no matter what and keep in touch for all the important reasons, including for fun. Still, I wish we could get together for the birthdays and girls night out. Thanks for sharing your friendships with us. I guess what really matters isn’t the distance in my case, but the continuing friendships that grace my life in so many ways. Enjoy the fun anticipation of your trip!

  69. Rhonda Dunn says:

    Susan, you are so wonderfully blessed in every area of your life. No wonder it is so easy for your heart to shine through in all that you do. I believe when we are in the right place in life to start with, then the “magic” can begin. You are so inspiring!

  70. Laurie Walt-Illinois says:

    What a gift you are!

  71. LindaH says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thank your girlfriends for letting you share them with us! It was yet another delightful blog post to read. Even though you don’t have all of the amenities of bigger city life, it must be so gratifying and enriching to live in a community such as yours, with all of the talent and warm friendship, not to mention the scenery.

  72. Wonderful post Susan! So lovely to see all those great pics of those amazing friends of yours, and you, sharing that special time. Girlfriends really do make the world go around, don’t they? :*

  73. Wendy Louise says:

    Oh how wonderful of you to share your beautiful friends, everyone of you are just so loving, you can see it in the pictures. Best Bossom friends, Anne of Green Gables would say and you are blessed to have so many. Thank you for all the inspiration, loving thoughtfulness. As much as my dear husband is my BFFL, you need best girlfriends too ! I thank God for you and all my girlfriends that lift us up everyday. Keep spreading the great kindness and love ! OOXX P.S. You do it everyday !

  74. jeanne hedin says:

    Touching, inspiring, joyful . . . What a wonderful post to share! I especially love that you are aware and appreciative of your friends, your life and your blessings. You are a good example for all of us. I know I’m repeating myself, but “happy for you, happy for us”. 🙂

  75. Paula B. says:

    Tears from me, also. What a tribute to womanhood and to friendship. The best part of my birthday (this weekend) was not only thinking that these late fifties are still a magical time but that I have new and old friends that I am blessed to share my life with. I never expected that friends would have such meaning in my life but as the years go on they are what keeps me going. Thank you for such a wonderful post.

  76. Sylvia Faye says:

    Susan can I be your great-gran-girlfriend as I am a great-grandmother and truly wish to be among your girlfriends you call special.

    Happy belated April 13th birthday. My dear late Mother-in-love always said Friday the 13th was her ‘lucky day’ and from your post today I am assured it was truly that for you as well.

    Loved also the movie Cranford and Return to Cranford. How wonderful that you received the book from your ‘dear one’ and also that you have been blessed by actually visiting the real Cranford.

    May your trip be in every way a memorable one for the two of you and as girlfriends we feel so blessed to be able to share it with you through your wonderful blog.

    Looking forward to Willard…….always love it and the reason you named it Willard.

    ~Sylvia Faye

  77. Terry says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan!!!! I am so happy for you that your girlfriends gave you such a wonderful party. You deserve to be spoiled!

  78. Lisa R (northern Arizona) says:

    Beautiful post Susan!! I love that we are so blessed with our Ya Ya’s, bosom buddies, sisters at heart, kindred spirits, etc……. 5 special girlfriends have blessed my life for many, many years, we call ourselves “Joyful girls”. Thank you for sharing the joy of your beautiful friendships with us today. Precious treasures that make life more glorious!

  79. Oh Susan, what a beautiful birthday dinner! Your cake looks delish, and what a super idea with the rings! How blessed you are, and how blessed they and we are to have you in our lives! Ruffled tulips, how awesome!

  80. Patricia H. says:

    Really lovely lovely post. I have one best friend- she lives 3000 miles (give or take a few….) from me and we see each other once a year…..we’ll see each other in June! I feel lucky to have 1- to be blessed with 8+….very wonderful! xx
    ps- those ice cubes are fabulous!!!!!!

  81. Pam G. says:

    How wonderful to have so many fabulous girlfriends-I have two although one of them passed on unexpectedly a month ago so now she is my angel. I like to think of her watching over me. My other girlfriend and I were roommates freshman yr. in college-1968 and have been besties ever since. How we laugh and carry on when we are together. I am blessed and you are surely blessed with such an abundance of riches-happy Birthday!

    • sbranch says:

      So sorry Pam for the loss of your friend. That seems like it would be very very hard! xoxo

    • dottie says:

      I, too, am still best friends with my college roomie — over four decades and still going strong. And I know the feeling of loss of a special long-time girlfriend as well — my first ever best friend passed away at far too young an age and I mourn her still.

  82. Just Cats says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan. Yes, girlfriends are the best. Hugs, Deb

  83. Rachel says:

    They seem to be lovely ladies 🙂 And those ice-cubes are really cool!
    As for words with friends- I’m hooked too LOL

  84. Miss holly says:

    Happy Happy Happy Birthday!!!!! A teeny bit late…in our family we have the birthday gala week!! So this still falls in the week!
    So so so excited about your trip….one of the BEST trips of my life was to the Lake is over the moon beautiful….and Miss potters house….so so so will love it…

  85. Cynthia Krynock says:


    Friendships are the best….and to have had that all these years…awesome! Nurturing one another, laughing and crying together…discussing the machinations of life and solving all the problems of the world…together….that is the word that stood out to me from the incredibly lovely album (I used to have a scrapbook store, and this is one of the best that I’ve ever seen….you can just feel the love coming our from the pages!), and the fact that you all seem to really enjoy being together….thanks so much for sharing the bonds of sisterhood….may we all find what you have!


    • sbranch says:

      XOXO Thank you Cynthia!

    • Enikö says:

      Cynthia…I am so touched by your lovely comment about the Memory Book I put together for Jaime (from the contributions of the arsenal of girlfriends) …you are right about the love pouring from the pages…I wept plenty as I put it together and we all wept collectively as we gave it to Jaime on her birthday & relived all those special moments with her. I must say I am a tad jealous of your scrapbook store…I wish this little 30-mile island could sustain one…I would open one in a heartbeat.

      Hugs, Enikö

      • sbranch says:

        I was there and it’s so true, we all had tears in our eyes. If you guys ever need to have someone do a special scrapbook for you, Enikö’s the one to do it!!

  86. Joanie B from San Diego says:

    Celebrating with sisters and girlfriends is absolutely wonderful! I would wish special times and living close by girlfriends for every woman who reads this blog. Ladies, if you don’t have a group of friends go and find some!! There are lonely women everywhere and we need each other.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s the real reason knitting and quilting were invented, so we’d be able to do the two things we like best: be together and get something done! Kindred spirits can be found in those kinds of groups, and it makes all all all the difference! And if not knitting and quilting, there are garden clubs, financial clubs, or volunteering at church or hospitals. Working side by side with someone on a mutual interest is a great way to solidify a friendship. Thanks Joanie, you are just so right!

  87. Happy belated birthday…

    What a lovely tribute to your friends. I enjoyed reading about them.

  88. Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

    What a beautiful post…Happy happy birthday Susan! Love the rings…and you and Margot look adorable…thank you for sharing your precious evening!

  89. Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

    What a lovely posting, and how kind of your best MV friends to let us become a little bit acquainted with them. It is easy to see how precious your friendships are to each other! Martha’s Vineyard and you were certainly made for each other!

  90. Mary says:

    Happy Birthday Susan, there’s nothing like wonderful girlfriends!

  91. DENA from New Orleans says:

    Just recently discovered your blog , been reading pass postings , I am so excited and have so much to say i don’t know to start ! Best way to put it is , I’d say and agree with all the comments said above. After i got caught up on reading i clicked on each area under your name, And saw all the books you’ve written. Wow impressive. Than went on line and ordered just about everyone of your books from amazon , can’t wait from them to come in ! Looking forward and know i will enjoy reading everyone of them. So of course i subscribed to email notices so i can read each time you post something, Happy Birthday , Looking forward to reading about your trip, Hope you have a wonderful time!!

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Dena! How fun to get to know you . . . thank you for your nice words …. and have a wonderful day!

  92. Jenny L. says:

    You are a lucky girl! Your girlfriends are awesome. I especially like their lovely unusual names. I love the picture of you with Margot. You look so pretty.

  93. Diane S. says:

    Happy Belated Birthday! Thank you for sharing your GF’s and the party. How wonderful that you are surrounded by all these talented women. I have a group of friends that mean so much to me, don’t know what people do that don’t have that. Love your posts, always get excited when I get that email, saying you posted. Looking forward to Willard & hear all about the trip to England. Enjoy it!

  94. Happy Belated Birthday. Totally get it. This year has been rough very similar to an ugly divorce. What is different is that I have a wonderful husband and a circle of warrior girlfriends surrounding me. The girlfriend birthday cake “rings” tradition is so precious it touched my soul. Thank you for sharing the moments of your life.

  95. Lynn M. says:

    What an amazing group of girlfriends! You are truly blessed. Wishing you a very happy belated birthday– life has kept me away so I’m catching up on all of your news! Thank you for including us in your circle of friendship!

  96. Nancy B says:

    Such a lovely post, Susan. That is the cutest photo of you with Margot. I had a most delightful b-day yesterday, as my DIL and two granddaughters along with my daughter took me to a special place called Sweet Surrender for coffee and cake. Then today my son and his family took my husband and me to lunch after church. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am for their thoughtfulness. My girl friends are taking me to lunch next week to celebrate. I think I may share your beautiful post with them. Thanks for sharing your party with us. Have fun with your preparations for your trip. Can’t wait ’til you board!

  97. Gayle Garvie says:

    Susan, I loved your letter about girlfriends. And I love your new hairstyle!
    I haven’t seen you since 1990 at Sharon L’s in Cambria, but your are still inspiring all us “chicks, sisters, BFF’s, and girlfriends”. If you are ever up in Washington, I’d love to have you & Joe over and I will give you the Royal Tour of the Washington Wine Country. Happy belated Birthday!
    Have a great trip,
    (yes we moved from Colorado)

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Gayle! What a nice offer, thank you so much! Your blog looks like you have found your girlfriends in your new home!

  98. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Good Morning, Susan * It quite late here on the west coast, but a bright and I hope sunny morning is waiting to wake you up soon! Well, Birthday girl…are you still in your birthday party mode?

    I was absolutely “tickled pink” ( wonder what that really means?) reading your delightful, most recent posts: “My Birthday” and “My Girlfriends”.

    How cute is that birthday kitchen towel that you opened your post with. So cute! Your new Birthday Fabric is amazing; it’s everything-you-said-it-would be. Love the designs: party hats, colorful balloons, cake and the presents!

    Joe’s gift to you is such a loving gift, a vintage copy of the Cranford Book.
    And how sweet…you said you “hugged the book” and you know what? you really showed him how happy and excited you were to receive it. I thought it was adorable for you to do that! So you!

    Now, onto your Sunday, April 15th “My Girlfriends” blog. That was a treasure unto itself. A treasure for you to remember your special Birthday Party, a treasure for your Martha’s Vineyard girlfriends to know how much their friendship means to you and a treasure for all of us “Girlfriends”, when you share your wonderful Blog stories, adventures and welcome us into your world!

    Once again, as I said in my previous post… * Happy Birthday Susan *

    P.S. I think you are getting to know me, by my Postscripts, aren’t you?
    I love to add a P.S. Loved your choice of music today, Rod Stewart.
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

    • sbranch says:

      I’m getting to know you by your thoughtful comments! Thank you Dorothy Ann, say hello to Cougar Mountain for me!

  99. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Helloooooooooo way across the miles…*
    To: Lori from Maine * Monday, 4/16.

    I read your reply to me dated April 12th. How nice to connect with you again since our Easter posts. I hope you find this little note to you.

    I was happy to hear you and your husband had such an exciting time at the Bruce S. concert. I want to hear more about it in your first e-mail to me.

    Lori, aren’t you the clever one…re: how to exchange our mail and e-mail addresses. You just simply added your last name to your posting, with your zip code and…
    Yes indeed…With pen in hand, and the info you gave me, you will hear from me very soon. I’ll include my mail address and of course, e-mail address in my note card to you. Then you can e-mail a reply to me and I’ll know you received my notecard.

    Love what you wrote about your small town…Southwest Harbor…sounds so picturesque. How wonderful…no street address is really needed on a mailing to you. You probably even know your mailman or ms. mailman (mailwoman?) by their first names!

    I am so happy to have met you and connected with you via Susan’s lovely blog and very soon through our e-mails. You wrote in one of your first postings to me via Susan’s page, that her blog is the only blog you follow…me too. It’s the only blog I follow. It’s the best!
    Talk to you soon.
    P.S. Have a wonderful day today!
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  100. Gunjan says:

    Dearest Susan,

    You know that I am your biggest fan on this side of the planet:) wot you may not know is how much joy your books and site bring to me…you are a remarkable and a wonderfully gifted woman, who deserves every bit of happiness!! Loved your girlfriends post…u r so blessed to have them!


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