There is beauty in everything . . .  MUSICA

What a week!

(Jack says hello too . . .)

 Hurricane Sandy has sort of taken over Halloween for me.  Knowing lives were lost, hearts are broken, homes were swept away, dreams of a lifetime burned, there are millions of people with no electricity, much less all the other problems this storm has caused, makes it sad.  I know we will celebrate tonight, because life goes on, and it’s the right thing to do, I sent my disaster money to the Red Cross, and now, we do have children coming!  Something must be done!

No matter what, to me, every bit of Mother Nature is beautiful; something as small as these dewy webs on the wire fence of our place in California for example, maybe not be beautiful or special to everyone, but to me, with the fog coming through the trees across the fields, I think it’s beautiful, and perfect for the season . . .

Another image I love is this spider, with the green swirls on his back; he’s only a decoration on the door of a shop . . . I couldn’t help but take this picture… the rough paint and the old door knob and key hole are pretty too.

Look at these wonderful little white squashes we saw in a farm stand on our trip around New England. Like little ghosts.  They said Nature’s Halloween to me too . . .

And this little guy . . . on our door step …. pretty little thing, almost like a drawing, his fingers all splayed.

Which is exactly what we will be doing tonight.  We have lots of children coming to the door, expecting candy, candles, and pumpkins, and good adults that make things nice for them, that’s our job.

Our ghost is in the window and ready . . .

Our pumpkins are all carved . . . this little mouse will have to wait until after Halloween for his pumpkin pie.

They say the cream rises to the top, and of course it is true, and the cream is rising from this disaster; brave, everyday heroes are coming forward, neighbors comfort neighbors, faraway neighbors in California and Montana are helping neighbors in New Jersey, we are all in this together, money is flowing in, because this is a wonderful country full of wonderful people.  And as horrible as this was, when you think of other Nature disasters around the world the last few years, it could have actually been even worse.  Especially here on the island.

I almost feel guilty, we are so lucky; for some reason, this hurricane hooked around Cape Cod and let this tiny speck of an island in the Atlantic go by.  This photo was taken out on the walk Joe and I have gone on almost every day since 1990 . . . so very beautiful and special out there, it would break my heart if it disappeared, but of course it could . . .  I call this view “Ireland,” and always say that our walks there are the best part of my day; to me, it’s Mother Nature in perfection.

But so, in a way, is this . . . the same view about five hours before the first high tide came rolling in, over the water, to the trees in all their autumn colors.

Just in case we ever begin to think we are in charge, something like “Sandy” reminds us that  we are no match for Mother Nature.  I still have no idea how they could ever evacuate Martha’s Vineyard if it somehow became necessary.  Would we have to leave our pets and farm animals behind?  No one would go.  The ferry would have to be like Noah’s Ark.

This is the sandy road we walk every day; it’s on a very narrow strip of land . . . I’ve never seen it under water before . . . on the left is the pond, and about 100 feet to the right, is the sound.  We went out to take pictures early on, but we were safe inside when the brunt of the storm came through.

Here’s the sound, and the beach we usually walk on…. before the surge . . .

I was surprised to see so many little boats left to ride out the storm, usually when a hurricane is on the way, all the boats are taken off the water.  This is a view from the Steamship dock in Vineyard Haven.  The strongest image I have of the whole thing is the noise the wind made, howling over the water, and through the trees.

We went to bed that night, feeling small, tattered leaves flying off the trees, flicking at the windows like a ticker tape parade, kitties close, candles near by just in case.  We woke in the morning, going to every window at first light, peeking out to see what happened; relieved to see the trees still standing, that everything was still here.  But, we worried, how was the rest of the coast . . .

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.  ♥ John Muir

Yesterday afternoon, I was making Chili for the neighborhood Halloween Party we’re having tonight, and went out to take a picture of this view from our porch; blue skies were smiling on me; the whole island had been washed clean.  And this morning, now that the water has receded, as soon as it gets light, we are going out on our walk, to see how it looks out there.

During the storm, our wreath blew off the front door and went tumbling down the street; Jack and I happened to see it go from my studio window . . . Jack’s ears perked up like little soldiers and I ran outside, got blown down the street myself, but I grabbed it and brought it in to dry.  Tonight we’ll put the wreath back on the door, light the pumpkins, and be grateful that we can, and think of our dear neighbors in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York; how tired they must be. We’ll hand out the candy for them; and send prayers from over the water for the rebuilding of their dreams, and in case anyone is reading this,  just so you know,  our hearts are with you. 

Despite everything, this is a beautiful world; a gift from God, this little speck floating out alone in space, our world to protect as best we can and love.  xoxo Take care Girlfriends, Have a happy, healthy, and safe Halloween!

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  1. Alicia says:

    Susan, you captured so eloquently what I have been feeling in my heart for my friends & family in NJ. Thank you for your beautiful words. And so glad you & your friends, family & lovely island are safe & sound.

  2. Pat C. says:

    Thank you, Susan, for your very heartwarming blog on Halloween and the storm. It devastated parts of CT and NYC and Long Island and whipped through NJ. Seeing the pictures on TV and seeing your photos, too, makes us all realize we have no power over nature and rely on God to keep us safe. My heart goes out to those people who were killed in this terrible storm and their families and to all the people who have to deal with the aftermath in their homes, on their streets, and in their towns.

  3. Carol Maurer from Eureka, CA says:

    I’m so happy that you, Joe, Jack and Kitty Girl are safe and sound. I’ve thought and prayed all would be well on Martha’s Vineyard. Thank you for the lovely blog today. My sentiments exactly!!

    Happy Halloween and have a great party tonight. It’s 4:42 pm now here on the west coast so I’m thinking that you are in the mists of party time now.

    Carol M

  4. Joan S. says:

    Your “happy gene” kicked in just at the right time. Devastating damage for many but Mother Nature is in charge. Thanks.

  5. Brenda Caldwell says:

    So glad you and your island are safe, Susan! My prayers are with everyone affected by the storm…

  6. carmel says:

    Susan, your heart always has a way with dealing with the realities in life yet recognizing the hope and beauty in it as well. We were fortunate in the northern Virginia area – it didn’t hit us hard this time. My prayers go up with the others for all those suffering through this tragedy. I received a very touching and comforting e-mail from the Vermont Country Store which went out to many of their customers. Last summer during my trip around New England, I saw some of the remnants of the devastation of the previous year in Vermont. I also saw rebuilding and healing. Sending light to all.

  7. Frances Fowler says:

    My prayers are that people who are living through such utter devastation and heartbreak will see God’s grace in the midst of it all. So glad you and yours made it through safe, though Jack still looks a little shocked about the whole ordeal.

  8. My heart goes out to all the victims of the storm. It would be hard to imagine where to begin with the restoration. Every donation will help, no matter how small, but no matter how hard we work or how much we donate, their lives will remain in crisis for some time to come. My prayers are with them all.

  9. Debbie in So,Ca. says:

    As everyone has said…we are so grateful that you and your’s are ok. I was very concerned also, watching the map on the news so carefully looking for MV.

    My dear sweet friend in New Jersey has not been heard from.. her name is Dawn and I am asking all of our FOSB to keep her in their prayers also. She is a blessing to everyone and truely an angel among us.

    Susan I know that our girlfriends who are experiencing this first hand will be comforted by this post and all of the comment’s left here. We are very thankful for you and your gift’s.
    Love and prayers to all of you.

    • Marianne in Hidden Meadows, SoCal says:

      Oh, Debbie I can’t imagine how anxious you must be for your friend’s well-being — I just sent up a prayer that Dawn is safe and sound and has just been riding out the storm in a shelter or other safe haven. I hope and pray you’ll hear from her soon!


    • Dawn from Minnesota says:

      Debbie! I saw a lady named Dawn and her son interviewed on the CBS morning news before work today ……they were in a shelter…..maybe it’s her?! Maybe they would know her last name….or can you see that interview on their website? Good Luck!

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        Is this her? Dawn Russell and her 12 year old son Malachi?
        They went to a Red Cross Shelter 4 days ago…..;mostPopular
        I hope this is your friend!

  10. Stacey says:

    Susan, I am so glad you all are ok. I was trying to tell my husband all about you and where you live – like we’ve met before. I was worried about ya!

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Felt the same way, Stacey! And please let me just add that I think we – all of us Girlfriends and Sue – really HAVE met. In every way that’s important at least. I feel I know and care for everyone here SO MUCH MORE than many of those I encounter day after day in “Physical Space.” Does this make sense?

      Also let me add my thoughts and prayers for everyone experiencing trouble OF ANY KIND due to Hurricane Sandy. Sue, this post was a beautiful letter of support & hope & Looking Forward to Better Days. Like you I feel incredibly lucky – and not a little guilty. In western New York State, we experienced a lot of rain and wind and a few trees, big and small, down here and there. Some mostly minor and short-lived flooding, a few power outages and a day off from school. All in all that was about the size of it. Needless to say, very very VERY lucky. Of course I grumble loudly whenever it happens – but all we ever REALLY have to contend with here, weather-wise, is varying amounts of snow for 4-5 months a year [at most] and the [very] occasional Crippling Snowstorm. Irritating to be sure – but something that rarely sweeps homes – not to mention whole neighborhoods – away. Like I said, very very lucky. I hope all Girlfriends in the path of the worst part of Sandy will check in and update us all as soon as they’re able to. Just sharing what you’ve lost, are going through, are putting up with… will help. God bless all! :>)

  11. Gail Halper says:

    Susan…You have such a wonderful way with words. I love reading your blogs. They are always something I look forward to each week. So glad you are safe and sound.

  12. Gill says:

    So pleased to know that you & all on the island are safe. Thoughts & prayers are with those who have suffered as a result of this hurricane.

  13. So glad to hear you are ok! I was thinking of you and praying for your safety. Thanks for posting so soon ! You are right tho out of the ashes comes the opportunity to reach out and help one another and show love. After all that is what truly remains .

  14. Happy Halloween, Susan
    So glad you, Joe and Jack, and your house are okay,after the Sandy diastorous storm.
    Thanks for your blog today, for October 31 .
    We here, in Montana, have all the people, affected by the storm, in our thoughts and hearts.
    Again Susan, thanks for your time, pictures and words. You have the best blog!

  15. Chris Wells from West Texas says:

    Dear Susan, So glad you and Joe and Kitties are safe. And we still hold those in the heart of the storm in our prayers. As so many of the girlfriends have said, when everyone can get back on line, they will know how much we kept them in our thoughts and prayers. And thanks for the reminder to send whatever money we can.
    The gourds and pumpkins with sayings on them….how did they do that? My favorite picture besides Jack, of course, was the pumpkin and the mouse. Love mice! My least favorite, the spider by the door knob. Kinda freaked me out. Looked too much like a Black Widow…which this year we have had way too many of! (ending a sentence in a preposition! Don’t care:>) ) Take care all. Happy Halloween from West Texas

  16. barbara miller says:

    having grown up in ri ,i remember waiting for the storm to hit and then seeing the uprooted tress and houses. i even sailed to hawaii and was caught in a hurricane. [a 42′ boat is very small in the wild ocean]. this time i sat here safe and prayed for my daughter in d.c. ,sister and family in conn. and brother ,sister and friends in ri. i was harder than being in the storms!
    susan, i know your blogging is a big job but i hate to she you stop. a few suggestions…doing it once a week. taking breaks you could use a past post or a page from willard. hangeth thou in there. b

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, hangeth thou in there; willeth do xo

      • Jack says:

        Thee doth excell

        • sbranch says:

          Do you girls know that my father sometimes calls me grasshopper? When he gives me words of wisdom.

          • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

            There must be a story behind this…..

          • sbranch says:

            Yes, there was a TV show called Kung Fu in the early 1970’s — “the Master,” who knows all, calls his young student, played by David Carradine, “Grasshopper” which he says with an accent, which makes it even more interesting when my dad says it. On TV the Master would say, “Choose wisely Grasshopper,” and basically that is the message of my dad.

          • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

            I don’t remember the show but I just asked George about it and he remembers it vividly. I think that is so endearing to have that with your Dad all these years!

          • sbranch says:

            The first time he said, “Ah yes Grasshoppa” using “the accent” in response to a question I’d asked him — I laughed until I cried!

  17. Happy Halloween!
    My power is finally back on after two days, and it has made me SO grateful for heat and internet service. I can hardly believe that a hurricane reached all the way to Cleveland, Ohio! Trick or Treating has been postponed until Saturday so that all the downed wires and trees can be cleaned up and that all is safe for the little ones. Thanks for the link to the Red Cross. Just made my donation, and urge everyone else to do the same. xoxo Debbie

  18. Clairellen says:

    Thank you, Sue, for posting as quickly as you did. All of us GFs were thinking about you during the storm, imagining your small island in the ocean being battered and blown…how did it not happen? God protected you, no other reason. Sometimes I think He is trying to tell us “Be still and know that I am God” as the Bible says. Thanks for your post. And no, none of us would ever leave without our animals. I’d stay if necessary and have someone else rescue them first.

  19. i was looking at the song, fill my cup lord and came across this, i have to say he knows how to fill a cup . praise, love to share this hidden script, Praise God, he is good all the time, thank you, God bless you mansfield,ohio.

  20. I am so very happy you and your little island came through OK. God is so very good. Give Jack a big hug from me. He is so very cute. Reminds me a bit of my Mr. Buttons.

  21. Julie (Omaha) says:

    So glad you’re safe and sound! Xoxo

  22. Heather says:

    WE came through here in our corner of central Connecticut with much to be thankful for. We did not even lose our power. The snow storm that hit last Halloween did a lot more damage – we were without power for 9 days.
    I am sorry to here of Sandy’s devastating effect elsewhere. I pray that through this time people will experience God’s reality and everyday presence like never before.
    Susan, I wonder if you and your husband passed through our area on your New England drive ?

  23. Susan (Grayslake, IL) says:

    Thank for letting us, your BFFs, know that all is okay with you, Joe, and the “kids”. It is so overwhelming to see the results of “Sandy” … hard to wrap our minds around the devastation and heartbreak. My prayers go out to those impacted … and I have also contributed to the Red Cross.

  24. Miriam says:

    So thankful to get your blog today and know that you are safe. Was thinking that with your lanterns etc. you could get alot done on your book since you couldn’t go out!!!! 😉 Such a beautiful blog…thank you for all your pictures and thoughtful words. And I just LOVE Jack!!!!! He is just too cute, in every picture!!!! Hugs to you!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve gotten lots done, six more pages, and loving every moment, excited to wake up and go do more! 🙂

      • Linda from Lancaster, Co PA says:

        yay! You go girl!! You’re on a roll now! We’re all behind you! Have fun, as I know you are; and when the book finally comes out, it will be SO worth the wait–I just know it!!

        • sbranch says:

          If it means anything, I can’t wait to get up in the morning to continue the adventure! 🙂

          • Linda from Lancaster, Co PA says:

            It does! Knowing that you look forward to working on this book makes me sooo excited! I just know it’s going to be charming, fascinating, pleasing, attractive….. (everything on that sign of yours!) Heck, you had me when you told us that you were going to include an English dictionary in your Journal. How….irresistible!!

          • sbranch says:

            It really does feel like we’re all in it together!

  25. Ronda says:

    So glad you & your little piece of this precious world made it out okay. Hope you have a happy Halloween!

  26. tiina says:

    glad you guys are safe. l was worried about you all on the island and my thoughts and prayers are with you all on the east coast. take care and stay dry

  27. Marion Rose says:

    Good evening Susan, Thank you for the pictures! I can’t imagine having your house wash away to the ocean. I feel so bad for the people that have lost everthing. Our country is so good, people helping, sending money and all the prayers that are being said. And, Life will go on.
    It was a quiet Halloween, only a few little ones at my door. I look forward to this night, love seeing the children.

  28. Merci says:

    You are definitely a ray of hope and inspiration! Thank you for being you!

  29. Sue says:

    So glad to hear that you, Joe and the kitties are all O.K. I’ve been thinking about you — even did a search on MV and hurricane damage — I was very concerned. Thanks for letting us hear from you so quickly.

  30. Broook from Sunny SoCal says:

    So glad to hear you are OK.

  31. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    So very happy to hear that you, Joe, kitties, and your home are safe. I was so worried about you.
    Hopefully all our prayers and concern will help those people who lost their homes.
    We are very blessed. I hope you enjoyed your Halloween.

  32. Richele says:

    Thank God you and yours and your beautiful island are safe and well ! I couldn’t imagine that Sandy missed you looking at a map, BUT I AM SO VERY THANKFUL THAT IT DID! God is great and good!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s just how we felt, how could be have gotten out of that? It was when it hooked to the left, and suddenly, our winds abated, and we could feel it loosen its grip. SO VERY THANKFUL!♥ Thank you Richele!

      • Rhonda D. says:

        Susan, God has blessed you with an amazing heart and talent that you in turn use to bless others (in fact, you may not even know just how much you really bless all of us). You, your work and your island are bathed in prayer and thankfulness constantly. I am not a bit surprised that “suddenly” this fierce storm loosened its grip. We all are so thankful that God took such very good care of you. Sometimes, the work you do and the heart you have is one of the few bright spots some people have to hang on to, and you inspire them and their hearts to keep pressing forward. May God continue to bless you as you bless us! Sending love from all of us. xo

        • sbranch says:

          I was thinking that myself, why did this storm “suddenly” curve away from us . . . thought, hmmmm, maybe the girlfriends are working overtime for us. We are so very powerful, I would not doubt it for a moment. THANK YOU!!! ♥♥♥

          • Rhonda D. says:

            “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I will be with them.” (Matthew 18:19,20); and we are many. God has blessed you and your island, and in turn has blessed us. He is so good and deserves the thanks. I am sooo smiling right now, and so is God. I bet He loves this blog too! He sees all the good that is done here. Sending love. xo

          • sbranch says:

            What a nice thought!!♥

  33. Karen Z, Victoria, Australia says:

    Dear Sue and all Girlfriends, relieved to hear you are okay, but wanted to let you know that here in Australia we are all thinking of what “sandy” has done to your communities. We know it will have long lasting effects and my prayers are with you all. OXO Karen

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe it will bring on more talk about climate change Karen, something that might be good for everyone. That would be the blessing. Thank you for your kind thoughts!

  34. Mary S. says:

    Thank you for this beautiful blog, kind of a tribute to the storm and the people who were affected by it. Made me cry…
    So happy that you, Joe, Girl and Jack are all safe!!!

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  35. Mary S. says:

    Another great organization to which people can contribute is They are doing wonderful things for the victims of Sandy!!

  36. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh Susan I am so happy to hear you and your island are safe! My heart and prayers also go out to all those affected by this tragic storm. It certainly does show that we are not in charge! I hope your evening was wonderful and you were able to enjoy the little “spooks and goblins” before your friends arrived for dinner!

    Stay safe!


    • sbranch says:

      Oh Gert! The kids were so darling last night . . . never cuter!

      • Gert~Iowa says:

        Oh by the way we just made a donation to the Red Cross!

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you Gert!!! I think the whole world is doing this, makes me so happy. I feel bad for the people without electricity who can’t see TV or radio and don’t know the Calvary is Coming and that we are all thinking of them every single day!

  37. Judy from Maine says:

    Morning Susan,
    Are you using a new format or is my iPadjust doing something funky? With a picture behind all type I could only read type that was on the light part of the photo. Please say this was just my iPad, because I love your blogs too much to loose half of them to not being able to see the type.

  38. Sharon says:

    I was so worried about you and Joe and the kitties out there on the island and thinking the worst would happen, watching the weather. But thank God, he spared that little island and so glad you are all ok. But as you said, so many people suffering so much loss right now and I pray for them each day. Thanks Susan for your beautiful words and pictures that lift our spirit in this troubled time. Sharon in Florida xxx

    • sbranch says:

      The great thing, because of the internet, no one’s really alone anymore. We are all in it together in a way; with prayers and good thoughts. It’s a beautiful thing.

      • Jeannine Holmes, SC says:

        Well said. Now that Sandy is calming her winds, we can reflect on how fragile this life is, but together there is hope.

  39. Jackie Walton says:

    Your Jack is such a handsome boy!
    I’m glad you were all spared there.

  40. Joan Ramseyer says:

    Susan….So glad to hear that things are well on the island. Thank you for the reminder to donate to the Red Cross which I did from your site. I have been touched by the music you have included on your blog plus Willard. The Ashokan Farewell is so hauntingly beautiful that I have it on my favorites and when I play it, it reminds me of both the despair and hope of life. The Cat Stevens song which I had never heard before brought me to tears this morning. The video of the old man playing checkers with the young girl was so like an old German neighbor we had who would spend every Sunday afternoon with us after his wife died and he would play checkers with our children. I can still visualize it after many years. In the song there is the element that we will not last forever and the advice we give to our children can stick or not stick. We have three grandchildren who live just a hop, skip and jump through the meadow from us. They love stories of when we were children. We are blessed and like the old man in the song, we are happy. I know these thoughts are all far flung from your post, but I wanted you to know how wide is the path you create when you share what is meaningful to you. I send to you what it says on some note cards I just bought “Thank you for being.” (Native American Greeting) Joan from Michigan

    • sbranch says:

      “We are blessed, and like the old man in the song, we are happy.” So very beautiful Joan, thank you!

  41. Elly says:

    So glad all is well on your little island in the Atlantic!
    Our hearts and prayers go out to those who are and have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy; either by water, sand and water!
    Also praying for safety for the relief workers as they go about the business of cleaning up! It will be a dangerous job in some places.
    Wishing you a blessed day today! <3

  42. Kathy Oliberos says:

    I was up early today the morning after Halloween and decided to go on the computer since no one was around. After reading thru the comments on your blog I feel so blessed to be apart of each persons life thru their comments. We truly are Americans that love our families, neighbors, nation and God. Our hearts cry out as we watch the images on tv of the destruction that Sandy has brought. Hopefully just knowing we care and are praying will help those who are suffering right now. And so thankful to those people who physically are able to go help at this time!

    Thank you Susan for your blog each day. It is a blessing!

  43. Patricia from Philly says:

    Hiya Susan And Girlfriends!
    Could not wait to see this post; I knew there’d be one, but I could not get to it without power! I was so missing it! I live in NJ, I’m about an hour from the destruction, but we were soo lucky, we lost a weeping cherry tree that was just so gorgeous, but that’s all. We were planning to go away this weekend, to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, and go leaf-peeping with our pup.
    It was not to be. Seeing all the shore communities destroyed, NY without power, really gets one thinking of just how small we are in the scheme of things. But when I needed a lift, it was granted with the news report of the evacuation of the NY hospitals. Seeing those dedicated health professionals taking care of their patients (teeny-tiny!) was heart-stopping.
    So, instead of a mini-break, my husband and I pulled the Autumn book off our shelf, and made spiced apple cider and mmmm….. gingerbread cake! Watched Practical Magic, and hunkered down for the weekend!
    I am sending blessings to all of those affected; our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

  44. Carrie says:

    Thoughts and prayers c,ontinue for all those affected by “Sandy”. So very sorry for all the devastation and loss.

    Susan, my primitive calcuations have you nearly turning 100 pages on “A Fine Romance” 🙂 and I believe you had said you were expecting to birth about 250 pgs, is that about right?

    Thank you for your words of hope and encouragement!

    • sbranch says:

      Very close, only you are moving me forward a little quicker, I am on page 90 right now!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Sue, I’ve always wondered… Do you have a book all “blocked out” or organized ahead of the actual lettering and painting? For example, do you know what you want to do with page 121 right now? Or do you just plot out a section or so of pages and ‘go with the [creative] flow’ as you work? Thanks!

        • sbranch says:

          I wrote it all in England, so that part is done, and I’m blocking this book out in chunks of time that go together….like our time on the ship, our time in the first town we stayed in, etc. I can guess what will be on page 121, but I would probably be off a few pages one way or another.

  45. Barb from Ohio says:

    Hi Susan,
    I have been reading some of the comments on here and am struck by all the warmth and love flowing from this blog. So sorry to read that some of you have friends and loved ones not heard from yet after the storm, hope you get good news today. I was surprised how many here in Ohio in northern counties by the lake are still without power, and many have flooding issues. Some pine trees up the street are toppled, I saw one tree on a house, but nothing compared to New Jersey or New York. Yesterday I followed the link and donated to the Red Cross, so easy to do, and makes you feel like you’ve done something to help. If the girlfriends on here who are not in distress themselves could find a way to give just a few bucks what a difference it could make. Thanks Susan for the encouraging words of this blog and sending love out to those girlfriends who most need it now.

  46. Elaine in Toronto says:

    Hi Susan, so glad you and yours are safe. May God’s grace shine on all the people helping one another after tje storm just as your grace shines down on us through your uplifting blogs. Thank you.

  47. Susan of NE Atlanta GA says:

    Thank you for your island report. Susan, you have such a tender heart and such a gift of eloquent sharing.

  48. Mardell Lamb says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’m so relieved that you are ok. I kept checking your blog to see if you posted anything new! Happy news!

    Hope your party was fun.

  49. Robin Heim says:

    I’ve been purchasing your products, receiving your Willard letters, and reading your blog for years now; however, I just had to stop by and say that THIS particular post is THE best of all. So, so endearing in so, so many ways. And, FYI, while listening to NPR this morning on my way to work, mention was made of Hollywood being affected by Sandy as well. Apparently, a boat was in construction on LBI for a movie –> the title? NOAH. The boat? Noah’s ARK.

    Take care. Good to hear that you and the other islanders came through it all okay.

    Love, Peace, & Bobby Sherman ~

  50. Sue says:

    I’m so glad you all are alright. I was very worried about you all and Martha’s Vineyard and afraid of what the storm might do to your little island. I also wondered how they would evacuate. So glad you didn’t have to. Living the last 26 years in Florida we know well what hurricanes can do. Thankfully we have never had to evacuate, but it they tell you to go you should listen because we see all too often what happens when people don’t. Things can always be replaced but not people. I was very glad to see your email in my in-box this morning as you were in my prayers as are all the other people who were not so lucky.

    Sue in FL.

  51. Margi Duffy says:

    I am grateful that you and yours are well. My old bear and I were out to dinner last night, and we were talking about Sandy….and I was trying to put into words exacly what I was feeling. And you captured it so well here. I was feeling somewhat guilty. And at the same time so thankful.
    But life does go on and you reminded me of so many little reasons why it does.
    I hope the party was wonderful, I could almost smell your chili……
    Blessings ~ Margi

  52. Sheryl from Chico says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thanks again for another inspiring message. You have a way of making us all feel better whether it’s a sunny day or a day of disaster. After having watched non-stop TV coverage of Sandy I have felt helpless, but with your prompt of the Red Cross and then donating I actually feel like I did help. I know others will also be inspired to donate after seeing it in your blog.

  53. Patty says:

    Rabbit rabbit…

  54. Barbara (WA) says:

    Hi Susan,
    One thing the girlfriends might not know is that they can click on your twitter link and read your updates without having twitter themselves. That’s what I did during the storm so I knew you were okay! I also appreciate the comments about thinking of relief workers, etc. My nephew is headed back there to do property appraising and my firefighter son happens to be scheduled for classes in Maryland next week regarding national disasters! He’s hoping they put everyone to work. I try not to worry but sometimes it’s tough being the mom of a firefighter. So far so good! Hugs, Barb

    • sbranch says:

      It must be scary for you Barbara, but what a job he is taking on. I’m sure you cover him with love, but heap on a little gratitude from me too! Yes, thank you also for reminding me about the Twitter link, it’s true, people don’t have to join or tweet themselves, they can just read or look at my photos. The link is in the right hand column on the blog!

      • Sharon Calvert says:

        Thanks for this reminder, as I too check your tweets altho’ I don’t tweet myself. I enjoy your snapshots we usually don’t otherwise get to see.

        Also, I’ve wondered why you don’t personally post a brief note on the F.O.S.B site occasionally?

        Sharon in Alabama

        • sbranch says:

          I actually don’t belong to FOSB; as per Kellee and Judy who wouldn’t let me, because they knew I would be on there all the time. So I can’t post . . . I can read, but not post, which I have to admit, does drive me crazy. It’s been suggested I get another Facebook account with an alias, so I can at least have a personal one. But then I’m told that Facebook is so smart, that it would figure out who I am by the people I friend, and then I would be ON and feel I had to answer all questions, and would never get another book written! Kellee and Judy are so smart, so they take care of it, along with our wonderful Peg. Whenever they ask me for a comment, like with the storm, I give it, but they have to put it up. I hope this makes sense to you Sharon!

          • Sharon Calvert says:

            Thanks! It does make perfect sense, and I appreciate ‘the girlfriends’ watching out for you. Based on some of the comments I’ve seen directed to you, I feel certain that most of us were not aware that you are able to view the site but are unable to post to it. Good to know .. 🙂

            Sharon in Alabama

          • sbranch says:

            Oh yes, I can see it, I check it out every day, and love it very much! I give Kellee recipes and things to give away, like bookmarks and things . . . Someday, if I ever retire, I will get on there, and then everyone will be sorry! 🙂

    • Jack says:

      Barb ….My Dad was a fireman for 30 some odd years …he was gassed by carbon monoxide once but came through it …today’s improved safety equipment and communications do provide a much better chance for these daily activities …..
      And with the intense training routines ….your son will undoubtibly be safe as he
      goes about doing this dangerous work. jack

  55. Deanna says:

    I’m so glad you and yours were safe from the storm. You bless my life in so many ways. My prayers are with those who have lost so much. Such a huge problem in such a heavily populated area. Things are just things. But our family and those we love are what’s important. People helping people will make it all come back to a new normal. Thank you for posting. So thankful you and your home were OK. Loved your post!

  56. pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

    good morning susan, good morning everyone. well Halloween has come and gone, we lots of little visitors last night, despite the rain and wind, it was wet last night and then the wind picked up a bit. this morning was busy, had to pack up all the headstones and bones scattered about the front “graveyard” and take down the decorations from the front porch. i now have my Thanksgiving decorations up and my fall and Thanksgiving cookie cutters hanging in the kitchen window. i wish you all could have been at our house last night, it was fun, but our little Tabitha made it so cute and funny, she was curled up on one of the pumpkins near the sliding glass door on the front porch, we put a glowstick in it so she couldn’t rock the candle over and cause a problem. but she sat on that pumpkin all night long with her tail curled up around her, and when the kids came up on the porch and knocked on the door…..1. 2. 3. “POOF” she was all bristled up on top of the pumpkin. people actually thought we had taught her to do that, but she did it on her own and added to the Halloween fun, it was soooooo cute. just had to share, hope you all had a fun night last night and got lots of lil visitors, we having the kids come around for trick or treat. off to get one laod of laundry out of the dryer and iron and fold it, and another load in and go check on the birds…. have a wonderful day today everyone. Happy Fall…i love this time of the year. hugs….. 🙂

    • Linda from Lancaster, Co PA says:

      thanks for the happy news, Pat. I loved the part about your cute kitty!

    • Kathy from Heafed to the Fell, Brevard, NC says:

      I love the story of Tabitha, Pat. Just amazing! What fun for everyone.
      xoxo, Kathy

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Hey, Pat! So cute about your Tabitha… and with a name like that, what else could she do? She’s a self-respecting, card-carrying, upright feline! :>)

  57. Diane from Poulsbo, WA says:

    Susan….so HAPPY to hear that you and Joe and GK and Jack …and Martha’s Vineyard…are all well and safe! I also appreciate your cheery blog! In some ways, it makes us feel truly connected and safer and like all is still well in the world .You and your words, pictures, and drawings….and your little family….are a light of friendship in what can sometimes be a dark and stormy world out there! I love it that you ran after your wreath! lol. I probably would have done the same.
    Last night when children came to our door, there was one child who stuck out ….he was very excited and loud for a 5 yr old, and yelled “Trick or Treat!” in a booming voice. My husband was handing out candy and he turned on an extra light right before he answered the door and the little boy yelled out, “you scared me!”, so my husband said “I didnt mean to, but here, let me give you some extra candy since I scared you” and the other children in this group looked at my husband and he asked them, “were all of you scared too?” and they nodded, so he told them he was going to give them all extra. They ran off to their parents (who waited at the end of our driveway) yelling and happy! It was so fun! I hope you and Joe had fun handing out the treats last night too! I guess Jack was already in his Hercule Poirot costume? lol.

  58. Celtic Heart says:

    My heart and prayers go out to the millions across the Carribean and North America who have suffered once more at the hands of nature. I have seen such distressing images, especially of Haiti, for I understand they are still not anywhere near recovered from the devastating earthquake of nearly two years ago. They seem to be the forgotten ones, it is not easy to find any news on Haiti, and now this catastrophy on top of it all.

    Thankfully, my dear family and friends, spread out from Florida to Rhode Island and to Indiana and Ohio are all spared.

    Nature is, indeed, both terrible and beautiful at the same time . . the ying and yang, the black and white, the good and the bad . .

    Living, as I do, at the bottom of a muddy lane, we do not see trick or treaters. Nevertheless, I decorated some days ago, but I do it for me, not for anyone else, for few pass down my muddy lane . .

    I will leave you, and those who pass by this way later, wishes for Calan Gaeaf Hapus. In Wales, traditionally, November 1 is the first day of winter. Hallowe’en is Nos Gaeaf Galan. I have noticed, with grateful thanks to friends everywhere and the WorldWideWeb, that October 31st and November 1st have many names, some depend on where you live, others depend upon your faith, and some on ancient traditions . . what a wonderful world it is in which we live, and whatever the powers that be throw at us we bob along like little corks (or apples in a tub) in the flotsam and jetsam, to arrive on whatever shores we find, there to survive, root, and grow . .


  59. Lynn Cooper says:

    So glad you are safe and have no damage to your home and property.

  60. amy says:

    Dear Susan~what a beautiful tribute you have written. In these stormy election days when our country has seemed so divided…it is a relief to hear of these stories of graceful giving ……the pulling together of our country to work together for the common good of those who have lost so much. So glad to know you guys are safe and sound:) Blessings from Kentucky.

  61. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, I’m quite happy that your island was spared from the devastation that we saw all over NY and NJ on TV. Since I’m a native New Yorker, I felt saddened beyond words! Watching your video reminded me that although the water can give a calming effect in summer when the sun is shining – it can also be deadly and stronger than anything one can imagine. My prayers this day go with all those who have lost their homes and loved ones. May God help them all. Gail Buss, Bev. Hills, Fl

  62. Pam K says:

    Hi Miss Susan, your post was beautiful and calming, and your thoughts so very positive. I thought about you several times during the storm and am happy you, Joe, Girl Kitty and Jack were safe there. I can’t imagine what so many people are living through right now. God bless them.
    Happy Halloween.
    Pam K. from Dallas, TX

  63. Nancy says:

    Beautiful post….heartfelt thoughts and prayers for the east coast. Great picture of Jack! and the pumpkin and mouse! Happy November! 😉

  64. Terri J says:

    I am so thankful to know you and your little island are alright. My heart, like yours’ and so many others — goes out to all those affected. Praying for those in need…Disaster does have a way of bringing out the best in people…sure wish we could find that goodness without going through the disaster part, though – but then maybe that’s all part of the bigger plan…You’re right, we are so small, though it’s easy to forget that in everyday life, with all our skyscrapers and whatnot. Your photos are beautiful – just like Mother Nature, in all her phases. Stay warm and take care.

  65. Georgette says:

    Hello Susan,
    Thank you for your ever-inspirational blog. I am in New Jersey without power, but at least we have water. The State government was closed for 3 days. Today we came back to work. It feels good to have heat and be able to access the outside world through the internet. We have many downed trees and power lines, and Maplewood looks like a war zone. Our family home in Belmar (2 blocks from the beach) was spared any major damage and we are so thankful. The boardwalk in Belmar was totally swept away. Thank you for everything you do for us. Thanks to everyone for their prayers and supportive words.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Georgette, please let people around you know that the whole country, and really the whole world, is hurting for you, praying for you. It looks to me that everyone is doing everything humanly possible to get through this terrible, monumental disaster. I’m so happy you could go to work and be connected again. Please keep us updated. Wishing you all the very best!

    • Tawni urrutia says:

      Georgette, my heart goes out to you and all of your brave neighbors. I’m so glad you were able to get to work and have a small sliver of “normal” for a minute. I hope that in all the chaos and break down in your everyday routine (big and small), you know there are so many of us sending our thoughts and prayers your way. And we are watching you all with pride and amazment as we see your strength and courage on display for the whole world.
      Much love,
      Tawni Urrutia in Lodi Ca

  66. Davett L. McClain says:

    Susan so glad you guys are alright…we were worried about you..I was hoping u were able to get off the island early……I live in Central Pa..{Middletown} home of TMI…….we were very Blessed….the eye was too go straight over Harrisburg our capital…and it’s only 10 to 15 minutes away..instead it stayed a little south of us York n lancaster…..we had high winds…at only 52,54 MPH…nothing like jersey, N.Y recieved..on three neighbors were without electric here..we were fortunate…..we had bags and important papaers packed just in case…..prayers were sent up above….ferverishly….we weren’t sure what mother nature had instore…….Glad to beable to read ur Blog tonight..GOD BLESS YOU!!! and GOD BLESS the East Coast..and alll the families!!!!!!

  67. Cadie says:

    So glad you’re safe and sound! Your photos and descriptions are beautiful as always! And Jack’s little face is priceless!

  68. Mary-Agnes from Long Island, NY says:

    Hi Susan,

    I was so glad to hear that the Martha’s Vineyard and the Cape were spared the effects of the storm. I feel so lucky and guilty at the same time that we escaped with only a few broken tree limbs, probably because we’re near the geographic center of Long Island. It was the people along the north and south shores, and those out on the forks that got the worst of it. And most heartbreaking of all, all the people who lost their homes in the fires at Breezy Point in Queens and all the people who lost their homes along the Jersey Shore. And miracle of miracles, even though we warned to expect electric outages of 7-10 days, and 85 percent of those on the Island lost their power, we were only out 27 hours, most likely we’re located so close to a hospital (which was running on generators), which along with nursing homes were LIPA’s (Long Island Power Authority) first priorities to restore.

    The state and local authorities and our local newspaper have done a great job of keeping people informed, which helps to allay lots of fears and tension. I found out that two of the local shelters accepted pets as well! (Nice to know because we have three cats.) I think they learned from previous disasters that some people wouldn’t evacuate without their pets.

    I work in downtown Manhattan, so I couldn’t get to work: my building was in evacuation zone A and had no power; and the commuter railroad and subways weren’t running; today they’re partially restored, which considering all the flooding and debris littering the tracks, is nothing short of miraculous. Once my power was restored I was able to work from home, so I’ve only missed one day of work.

    Yesterday we had a wonderful touch of normalcy return. Despite my husband’s warning not to expect too many trick-or-treaters, I knew my neighborhood better and prepared my candy bags by lantern light on Tuesday evening anyway, and we were rewarded with what must have been at least 150 of them. It was great to see them running up and down the streets, laughing and excited.

    If anyone wants to donate to a worthy charity, please consider the American Red Cross. I heard just a little while ago that Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and others are going to perform a benefit concert with donations going to the Red Cross, so that would be a great time to donate.

    There were so many heartbreaking stories, but along with them stories of inspiration and hope, generosity, and bravery. The local police and firefighters and EMTs again proved why they deserve to be called heroes, and the utility and transit workers along with those from other states have been working ceaselessly to try to get things back to normal as soon as possible. People often criticize the govt. (and with good reason in some cases), but in this instance they seem to have done everything possible to prepare as best as they could and to swiftly act to repair the damage, the extent of which no one could have ever accurately predicted.

    I thought about your post this morning when I looked one of my kitchen windows up the block to my park and saw a big beautiful old tree uprooted, waiting to be chopped up and carted away. And then I looked out in my backyard and saw my fragile little morning glories twined around a wooden fence post, opened up to face the sun in full bloom. And that made me feel a little bit better.

    • sbranch says:

      And your words, you should know, made me feel better. It’s a sad time, but when you said “along with the heartbreaking stories, there were stories of inspiration and hope, generosity and bravery” I felt the triumph of the human spirit shining through all the sadness. Thank you.

    • “And then I looked out in my backyard and saw my fragile little morning glories twined around a wooden fence post, opened up to face the sun in full bloom.” Mary-Agnes, your beautiful words are a reminder that we need only open our hearts and minds to see the beauty all around us–in nature and in humans–and in doing so we unlock the beauty that is in us ready to be shared.

    • Chris Wells from West Texas says:

      “Finding beauty in the way things are!” Thank you Mary-Agnes for your story. I hope many more will offer their stories when they can. With Susan’s blog, I am learning to “find beauty in the way things are”. Learning to look on the grateful side of life. You have just been through a major test of spirit. I am also sending my virtual hug! I am so glad we are all here…together.

    • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

      I hope you can feel all the love and support being sent your way, Mary-Agnes. We can learn so much from Nature, can’t we? …and most especially from the Morning Glory, the way the vines reach out and grab ahold of each other, becoming stronger as they wind together. And did you know that each individual flower only blooms for one day, opening up completely and bringing joy to anyone who comes in contact with it?
      I have a stepping stone in my garden that says “An hour in the garden puts life’s problems in perspective.” Each day is a gift to be lived in all its glory.
      Hoping this day will be filled with blessings for you and yours.

  69. Nettie says:

    I flipped the calendar this morning and knew all over again that this is the time to focus on gratitude. We are blessed with the storm having just left us with rain and not disaster like other areas. We all have a piece of our hearts with those who have lost love ones, their homes and things, although things, that were dear to them. Let us all remember what is really important as we are pushed ahead to the holiday season. I for one will concentrate on the present of the present.

  70. Beverly Brewer says:

    Thank you for your heartfelt post that lightened our hearts. I thought the dewy spider webs were dainty, lacy works of art and they remind me of delicate snowflakes—each so different from one another. What a difference between those light-as-air creations and the collective strength of the hurricane. “Snowflakes are one of Nature’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together.” I hope all the disrupted lives are back to normal as soon as possible so families can rebuild and have joy in their hearts again. Thank you, Susan, for keeping us in touch with one another in such sweet and inspiring ways.

  71. Susan (in VA) says:

    Such terrible losses. My heart goes out to those affected. We were very fortunate here in VA with mostly minimal damage. I’m glad that you/Martha’s Vineyard came through it OK, too.

  72. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Susan~your healing words have warmed my heart. We “dodged the bullet” here in Williamsburg, Virginia, but family and friends in NY & NJ were not spared. All are well, with minimal damage, but still without the comfort of electricity. My nieces’ friends had to evacuate their home along with their 3 month old baby. They are safe! That little pumpkin will have some photos of her 1st Halloween.

    To our Girlfriends in the North…we’re praying for you.

    Marie xo

  73. I cried watching the news tonight and story after story was shared, most of them about children who died in the storm.

    My daughter and her family prepared for the storm in Mass., they lost their power for part of a day but they also came through it fine. Very different than when the hurricane went through last year.

    I can’t believe how huge it was, we live a few hours out of Chicago and our winds were between 30 mph and 40 mph for a couple days. Lake Michigan had gale force winds and the waves that comes with them. All from the same storm!

  74. Gwen Barath says:

    Our prayers go out for all who have suffered such loss with Hurricane Sandy!
    On another note I never realized this before but the picture of Jack looks like he has a little mouse climbing up his face across his nose with the little legs of the mouse and a hint of a tail on Jacks lips. Has anyone else pictured this in their mind? Jack is so adorable!!!

  75. Janie Thompson says:

    I’ve been so worried about you! I checked facebook and the blog several times the last couple of days… so relieved that you are safe and sound. Many prayers went up for you!

  76. Karen says:

    Hi Susan- I was looking for a “search” line on your sidebar or an archives with the past posts listed by the year and month? I was wondering if I’m just not seeing it or you don’t have one? I wanted to go back to last December or the one before to find if you listed the paint color of your livingroom- that beautiful green color. Any help would be so appreciated. Thanks, and I love your blog! Happy Fall! Karen

  77. Gail says:

    Susan, you have a knack for saying exactly the right thing at the right time. So glad to hear you are all safe. I have a special place in my heart for Girl, partly because she’s the “senior member” of your household and partly because she looks so much like my own girl, Cassie. But of course I love Jack too — he’s such a charmer! Thank you for expressing what so many of us are feeling. You are a blessing to so many — glad to be a part of this community of wonderful girlfriends.

    Well, I’m going to get back to “Heart of the Home” which I’m re-reading cover to cover, getting reacquainted from the beginning…

    Hugs to you all and prayers for all those affected by Sandy.


  78. Katy Rollins says:

    I’m so glad to here from you Susan. I’m in Milwaukee. Tuesday the lakefront was lined with people watching the waves on Lake Michigan. We were also sending our love and concern to our neighbors who lost so much to Sandy

    • sbranch says:

      On TV, I saw kids surfing twenty foot waves on one of the lakes, that must really have been something!

  79. Jack says:

    A particularly impressive blog that put a finger on the Ying and the Yang of everyone’s existence on this fickle planet. So many stories of near-misses and small incidents of damage, compared to the devastation in New York and New Jersey, all thankful for God’s grace in sparing their lives from Nature’s tragedy! And you guys on the Island — directly in harm’s way, when SHAZAM, like a gift from heaven, that terrible force of the main storm made a turn to avoid engulfing Martha’s Vineyard Island, like a peanut in a meat grinder. You know this was a unique and unnatural move for a hurricane such as this, to make such an abrupt directional change. It had to be a Power even more powerful than Sandy the Hurricane. Those prayers from your hundreds of girlfriends provided for your safety, I do believe, and I do thank them one and all! Dad

    • sbranch says:

      “Like a peanut in a meat grinder” is exactly what I was worried about! But hard to accept that that storm had to go SOMEWHERE.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Sue – do you know anyone still on the Island who was there for the Hurricane of ’38? The “Long Island Express” I think it was dubbed? Out of the blue apparently – out of an absolutely stunning Indian Summer September day. Back before hurricanes had names, back before the professionals were able to give us a week’s or even a few day’s warning? Two excellent books that were featured on CSPAN’s Book TV a few years ago & after watching it I had to get them. A tremendous storm – I think it would be a category 4 or 5 today – hit Long Island & most all of New England – flattened everything. Awful stories of loss. Trivia – Katharine Hepburn’s summer home on the Connecticut shore [her family home] just swept out to sea! Luckily I think all the Hepburns were safe…

        • sbranch says:

          Not anymore, but two wonderful people, who lived into their 90’s, whose home we pass on our walk every day, were our friends.They told us the story about how they got into a boat just before that hurricane to go on their honeymoon, and lived to tell the story. And in 1938, there was NO warning. It just started getting windy!!! Can you imagine?

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Their honeymoon! OMG! What a miracle they survived! Their stories would be enough to curl anyone’s hair, I’m sure. And yes, no warning! That’s one of the themes that you start to pick up from the books – that at that time, forecasting was just beginning to develop as a science and was often more “prediction” than solid forecast. Often meteorologists got it wrong, people didn’t tend to trust what was being said, pooh-poohed warnings etc.

            In case anyone’s interested, the two books are “Sudden Sea” by RA Scott and “The Great Hurricane of 1938” by Cherie Burns. Highly recommend both.

      • Cindy in South Carolina says:

        Oh, your dad made me cry – he is such a good writer.

    • zinnia patch says:

      Beautiful comment!

  80. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    My heart swells just reading about all the chaos/destruction, lost children, and darling tricksters. Thank GOD for the little children that make our hearts so glad during this very sad time.

  81. Marion Rose says:

    Hi Susan, Just heard on the news, the ship ” Kennedy” from Mass. Maritime, in Bourne is leaving for New York for the relief workers to stay in. It makes me so proud of the crew. The students that live on the ship are moving out and will stay at a nearby hotel. My son is a graduate from the Academy, a wonderful school.
    My calendars and Christmas Joy arrived today, HAPPY DAY!!!!!!!!!!!Couldn’t wait to open them and take a look. They are beautiful to look at, will take my time reading them so I won’t miss anything. Love the artwork!!! The next thing I need to do is write in all the Birthdays and Anniversaries. Thank you my friend

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you back Marion! Yes, our tax money is finally being spent the way it’s intended, on US. 🙂 I love the tankers coming into the harbor now, to help with the gas shortage. I am so sad for those people who don’t have access to TV or news and don’t realize how everything we have is in motion and on its way to them!

  82. Nancy B says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for this inspiring post. I’m glad you were safe during the storm. I tried last week to post a comment letting you know that my dream of visiting New England came true. (I was keeping up with your blog on my Kindle Fire, but couldn’t seem to finish commenting before it disappeared.) And who knew we would get the last flight out of Boston on Monday before they closed Logan Airport? We enjoyed a cruise to Canada and a short visit with our daughter at Harvard. She was quite concerned about the storm, and whether we would be stranded. Being from California, she has weathered earthquakes and fires, and can now add hurricane to her list! We are so grateful for our safe return home. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered and lost so much due to the storm.
    Warmest wishes,
    Nancy (from Bakersfield)

    • sbranch says:

      I hope you enjoyed your trip and weren’t too worried about the impending storm! Glad you made it out in time, although Boston, like us, suffered very little in comparison to NY, CT and NJ, which is a good thing for your daughter! The Canadian Cruise must have been wonderful with all the colorful leaves.

      • Nancy B says:

        Yes, we did enjoy our “leaf peeping” trip and the Canadian experience. I even enjoyed the colder weather at Prince Edward Island and in Quebec. It was in the 90’s when we left home! And would you believe the 80’s this week? It’s November, for crying-out-loud!! Also, I think your dad nailed it. His comment about the prayers of all the girlfriends. God is faithful.

  83. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Good Morning Susan *

    “Finding Beauty In The Way Things Are…” You’re back with a new post!

    I sent you a little reply on your previous post, on 10/29, before the storm
    and my prayers and thoughts were with you and all those in the path of this “super-storm”.

    As soon as I saw your Hello Everyone…the Welcome Pumpkin…and Jack’s wide-eyed adorable face…I knew all was fine with you and Joe and your kitties. You “weathered the storm” and I’m so happy, so very happy, to hear you are all safe there in your beautiful home.

    I love your link to the Red Cross. I’ll be joining you and the girlfriends with a donation, and in some small way, perhaps, we can help all those devasted by the storm. They have a long road ahead of them to gather their lives back together and it won’t be easy. But it will be done.

    Oh Susan…The “Minutia” Blog was a delight. Charming.
    May I follow-up a bit on that post?

    I see you were using your handy “Powerglide 2” for your vintage linens and such a lovely collection of linens too! Each and everyone of them.

    Your visiting girlfriends are so cute, smiling at the breakfast table. Well, no wonder! Look at who their B&B hostess is – You! I loved your quote about your busy weekend with your girlfriends, “I had so much fun on either side of Saturday”. I think I might use your quote someday too! So cute!

    Please tell Joe I noticed (from your attached photos)…his excellent work on the re-built back porch. Wow! It’s beautiful.

    Now re: October Willard…it’s perfect for Autumn! You set the tone of the gorgeous fall season and went on to describe it perfectly. I almost felt the chilly breezes, heard the low whistling sounds of the wind outside my window and even wanted to put on one of my warm sweaters as I read your “wind tale”.

    Willard is truly one of the highlights of my day…thank you. Oh, by the way, that was quite a busy “Must Do List” that you gave to us.
    I am still working on # 2, 3, 8, 10, 14 and 15.

    Must dash now…bedtime…it’s almost 2AM here. I loved visiting with you.
    Take care and once again, I’m so happy you are all O.K. there in MV.
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington *

  84. Sheila Mainous says:

    After seeing all the damage and devastation, I can’t believe you say “no one would leave.” If you are told to leave, YOU LEAVE. You decide what photos to take, etc. You get cash, you gas up your car, you take clothes you think you will need, you take personal items and medicine, you take food and water for yourselves and your pets (enough for at least three days), you take lanterns or flashlights. Many of these things you can purchase throughout the year so you already have it on hand. Don’t ever say you wouldn’t leave. That kind of thinking is what is causing much of the desperation–and the death– that we see now.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s that we live on an island and can’t get into a car — we would all have to walk onto a boat, then walk off on the other side, which is a little sliver of land called Cape Cod and not a whole lot safer than the island, and now we would be 15,000 people outside in the wind next to the water with animals. Logistics on this one are a little different. I meant, without a car to take the animals, clothes, blankets, flashlights in… see what I mean? It’s a mess. I hope we never have to face it.

      • Kathy from Heafed to the Fell, Brevard, NC says:

        Oh dear! Well, probably best to keep in mind a spur-of-the-moment trip to some delightful little spot much farther inland so you can get the h%#@ out of MV in your vehicle with all your valuables including Girl and Jack at the first glimmer of trouble. At least that’s what I would plan on doing. Just in case God was only planning to answer our prayers if you fully cooperated as well. 😉 xoxo Kathy

        • sbranch says:

          So hard, but we do think about it. Just up and going on vacation, and so many times, it would be for nothing. It’s not easy to get Joe to come into the house, much less get him to run away from “possibilities.” If they told us to go, we would figure out a way to do it, believe me!!!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        I think your comment was totally understandable. Maybe if someone has never been on an island, they wouldn’t understand…The logistics of getting that many people off the island just wouldn’t work. Besides that,personally after seeing the pictures of people getting on buses, putting their dogs and cats down next to the bus because they were not allowed on, when evacuations were happening when Katrina occurred, Norm and I said we would NEVER leave our dogs behind. NEVER! We’d rather take our chances and maybe die with them than leave them to their certain death alone. I realize that is a personal opinion/value and I don’t expect anyone to have to agree, but that is the way we feel…

        • sbranch says:

          A girl after my own heart. You will like this story. My sister and I were flying home from Colorado and my sister had gotten a teeny tiny puppy. A baby, six weeks old. So we had it in a little container with us. We were in the very back two seats of the entire plane on the right side. Just two seats there. The little thing was shaking so hard we felt sorry, so we brought him out to sleep on my lap, he wasn’t making a move, just sleeping there, tiny, and quiet. But the stewardess came back to say we could not do that. Now, you see, this is my independent streak. I looked up and listened to her tell me about the rules, but then I said, looking around, at the NOTHING part of the plane we were sitting in, disturbing no one, and I said, “No.” And she said, “What?” And I said, “No, I’m not going to put this tiny thing into a box all alone.” She sputtered, You! Rules! #$%&*! and things like that, and ran away. And that was the last time we saw her. We felt so powerful! Win one for the puppy! 🙂 Nowadays, after 9-ll, they would probably pull the plane out of the sky and evict me. But sometimes, common sense should just win, and this time, it did!

          • This is what the world needs more of (including ending sentences with a preposition!). People with common sense. Rules are merely meant to set a baseline for what to do when we don’t know what else to do. But if you have a thinking mind coupled with a caring heart, rules aren’t necessary. The Law of Love takes over!

          • Carrie says:

            Until I have either been in such apocalyptic circumstances or very near to it such as Susan, I would not be able to offer any absolutes on the type of action to be taken. The right to self-determination and autonomy seems the very fulcrum of which this beautiful and democratic land was found. For some, life without their pet(s) would be intolerable (i.e., Nancy Luce), they know this viscerally and instinctively. I would not want to be responsible for telling someone they must leave their pet behind and then have their future days be without that which gave them the very love and succor that sustained them each and every day. We can’t possibly know what is best for each and every individual and as long as the choices made do no harm to others it is the inalienable right of all to exercise this, the highest level of self-actualization. Peace and love to all.

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            I loved the story! I don’t know how old you were when that happened but I will tell you, somehow as I’ve gotten a little older, I’ve gotten a little more “assertive” and decided I will stick by my principles–no matter what others think. I would have done the same thing! It is along the same lines as letting kitties up on tables and countertops and deciding “there are no germs present”. They are your kitties in your house and if it bothers anyone, they don’t have to be there. Our dogs sleep on our bed with us–most of the time not “in” the bed with us–and I know some people don’t think that is a good idea but it is a case of “there are no germs present”. Those people aren’t there (thankfully) in bed with us so who cares what they think! LOL! 🙂 And that little puppy was not screaming or making a fuss and bothering anyone on that plane (like some people’s kids do) so why did that stewardess have to open her mouth instead of using her brain. Good for you for saying NO!!!

          • sbranch says:

            I felt rather proud, I was nervous, that NO had a little shake in it, but then, I felt like it was right!!!

        • I have to believe that anyone who would enforce the rule of no pets could not have a pet of their own. I agree with you Pat. Life is Life–whether animal or human–and we will get into trouble as a society if we make a distinction. I know there will be some who carry this to extreme, in my opinion, and will not eat animals….but eating an animal raised for that purpose and letting a poor animal die under terrible circumstances are worlds apart.

          • Tawni urrutia says:

            Mu husband and I were just talking about having to evacuate and leave your pets. WHAT?!? No way. We have a little french bulldog, and I’m sorry, there is just no way I could leave her face something so awful alone. That may sound foolish, it maybe is foolish. Pets are part of your family. They’re not an antique piece of furniture or an awesome piece of art work. They are living, breathing, loving, trusting memebers of your family.

          • sbranch says:

            Yes, you take the pet and the photo albums. Then maybe, your kids. 🙂

          • Karen Saunders says:

            What people that don’t have pets don’t understand, is they are family members… don’t leave family members behind. Those pets rely on you to keep them safe and fed. That’s what being an American is all about…..we take care of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. (including our pets and other people’s pets.) Do I hear an AMEN?

          • sbranch says:


  85. Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

    Good morning Sue ~

    My thoughts and prayers are with all who are in need in the wake of Sandy.

    I’ve reread this post over and over…reacting first with tears of sadness. You were able to put into words what was filling my heart. However, each time I read your words and let them settle, I come away with a new perspective.

    Yesterday, a comment you made about the innocence of children resonated so much with me. It helped me to realize what motivates me to continue to care for children every day in my home after almost 30 years: I love their innocence and their ability to be present in the moment. More times than I can count, the resilience of children and the observation of their coping mechanisms has inspired and helped me to handle tough situations in my own life.

    This morning, as I reread your post, it reminded me of something else I had read recently in “Simple Abundance”. You talked about the cream rising to the top. So often we rise to the occasion, sometimes many times a day; adjusting and reacting to unexpected situations. I think it was Longfellow who believed that the bad things that happen are not sent to us to try our souls but instead to enlarge them, like dough rising in a bowl before it becomes bread. The dough rises more than we think possible when we handle tough situations with grace and humor and a childlike spirit.

    As you can see, Sue, your blog has sent me to a very reflective place. Thank you so much! ….now I’m off to build with Legos 🙂


  86. Lori Edmonds says:

    So glad Martha’s Vineyard was spared and so many prayers for those who were not…may God bless you : )

  87. Susan Dillon says:

    Your comments were lovely and heartfelt. You have such a way with words! 🙂
    I grew up in New Jersey; the shore being my playground ever since I was a little child. I look at the pictures now and it feels like a part of my life is gone for good. However I feel, like you, I am more concerned for those who lost loved ones and homes and livelihoods. I am living in Texas at the moment but I still have many friends and family living in the tri-state area and give thanks that all are safe.
    God Bless!

  88. melissa quarles says:

    Susan, I have to admit that I felt a tiny bit like a stalker when my husband brought me to Martha for our anniversary weekend…..Oct.13-14-15…looked up your address and took a picture outside your lovely home…my husband teased me and told me you were waving in the window…nearly dropped my camera! Your island is so beautiful….I fell in love instantly. Thank you for your sharing and caring! You make the world a brighter place, for that and so many things I am so thankful!

  89. Jenny says:

    Lovely, comforting words Susan. Life is messy, and sad, and windy, but it IS a gift and a joyous, wondrous gift, at that. Glad you, Joe, the kitties and all your trees weathered the storm unscathed.


  90. Laura Benthien says:

    I am thankful for your safety and that at least one beautiful island was spared!
    I have a question about your pumpkins and gourds. How are the words made and applied to them? I love that look and they would last for a long time that way! So cute 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I wrote the How-to for them in these comments . . . if you don’t mind scrolling back a bit to look for them? Perhaps I should do a post for the directions?

  91. Collette T. says:

    So glad you came through the storm unscathed. Once again, your words are the calm in a storm. Thank you for sharing your photos.

  92. Kathy Thompson (in Rialto, CA) says:

    Dear Susan, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for something very dear to my heart. I just read your latest Willard, and I clicked on the Musica link. Much to my surprise, I was greeted with Doc and the Lady, playing Ashokan Farewell. That was my mother’s favorite song, and I have not heard it since the day I said goodbye to her in May 1982. She was from Kentucky, and a country girl through and throught. She used to play it for me on the harmonica, and I would try to play along with her on a comb wrapped in wax paper. My brother would click along on the spoons. Remember, I said she was country through and through. I cannot tell you how hauntingly beautiful it was to hear that lovely melody this morning. It was, simply, 5 minutes and 32 seconds with my mom again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh how much I love this. That song goes directly to my heart, I just love it. So happy it was there just for you!

  93. Georgie says:

    Susan! I’m so glad your precious MV, and you and Joe and Girl Kitty and Jack are all okay!

    Tears began to form in my eyes as I continued to read your joy in carrying on and counting your blessings. Thank you for passing candy out for those of us in New Jersey who did’t get to celebrate this year 🙂 XOXO

    Our home looked bare as we took down all of our decorations to prepare for Sandy. We are still cleaning up. My folks still are without power, but we have them snug in our home. Huge old trees are strewn about on the ground like the winds were playing a game of pick up sticks 🙂 Thankfully they missed our houses.

    How grateful I am that our homes and family were spared. Our inconviences, damages and future clean-up, pale in comparison to the devastation of those who lost their dwellings! I can’t fathom being separated from the “nest” I’ve created.

    This is the first chance I’ve had to sit and take a peek at your blog. It always lifts my spirits.

    Yardville, NJ

    P.S. Love those Pumpkins!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Take care Georgie, so happy you are safe.

    • Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

      Hi, Georgie ~
      I’ve been looking for a comment from you…I remembered you’re from NJ. So glad to hear you’re ok!

      • Georgie says:

        Thank-You Debbie!!! Your comments mean so much! It’s been quite a new journery. I’m hoping you are okay too??? Isn’t it something to travel through the unknown and still have life to hold onto 🙂

        Happy Day to you!
        Georgie (your neighbor 🙂

    • Kathy from Heafed to the Fell, Brevard, NC says:

      I’m glad to hear that you are safe too, Georgie—and that you have your folks with you too!

      • Georgie says:

        Good Morning Kathy! Yes! Thankfully Mom and Dad are with us. They can’t do the stairs so they are on the sofa and a recliner.. It’s been comfy cozy. There are sooo many without power and many without homes. We are indeed counting our blessings. (My sister used to live in NC… what a beautiful state!!!)

        Hope you have a wonderful day! Thanks again.

  94. michelle free says:

    GREAT THOUGHTS! How do you make those pumpkins that are in your pictures and blog. They are so pretty.

    • sbranch says:

      I wrote about it on earlier comments … I’ll try and add the information to a blog post! Very easy, but you do have to grow the pumpkins yourself !

  95. Fabienne says:

    Susan – I did think of your gorgeous island during the storm. So happy to hear NI made it through with little damage. Thank you for the inspirational words and positive chi. I live in CA but my thoughts have been with the east coast all week.
    Also loved the pumpkins with the words – is that twine letters? So adorable.
    I made chili Halloween night too – for the almost 2 year old grandson & parents!
    I will send the east some of our warm fall weather. Stay well and dry.

  96. Beth says:

    Darling Susan, You surely know the way to live…the secret so many try to find…finding “beauty in the way things are”. Your simple statement at the top of your blog post and your subsequent pictures brought so much comfort and needed perspective. Thank you! I, too, was hoping that Martha’s Vineyard (and you, Joe, Girl Kitty and Jack) would be protected and safe during this terrible time. My heart goes out to the many, many people suffering through so much. It helps to be able to see the beauty even in difficulty and I have no doubt that your post has done that for many. Thank you! <3 ~Beth

  97. Mary Ann W says:

    I have a question that has nothing to do with this entry on your blog. I want to make the ice cream roll from your “Sweets to the Sweet” book. In the recipe it says “fold 1/3 of egg white mixture into the beaten yolks.” It never says what to do with the rest of the egg white mixture. Do I use it at all? Thanks for your help.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, so sorry, a goof. You fold it all in by thirds. xoxo

      • Mary Ann W says:

        Thank you, Susan. I will make a note of that in my book so I don’t forget. Definitely can’t wait to make it. My mom made ice cream rolls every year for Christmas, but after she died we could never find her recipe. It broke our hearts. I hope your recipe will taste just like hers. 🙂

  98. Karen C says:

    Thank you for your blog, glad MV was spared, and you and yours are all okay. Sending my prayers out to everyone in NJ, NY, CT, PA, W VA and everyone affected by the storm. It was truly the storm of our lifetime. Been overwhelmed with emotion after seeing the pictures and videos of the destruction. Your positive outlook is so dearly needed and appreciated! Makes all of our hearts lighten a little. Take care and don’t forget to set your clock back on Sat night. We all get to sleep an extra hour!!! 🙂 Hugs KarenC in NC

    • sbranch says:

      OK, and thank you for the reminder. This morning I saw lights coming back on in Lower Manhattan (on TV), and people applauding!!! From all the windows, it was WONDERFUL. Small steps in a huge mess, but every little bit helps!!

  99. Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

    Good Morning Susan & Girlfriends,
    Six days with no electric will bring out the pioneer spirit in one. One learns much in times of trouble. Here are just a few things I learned. Our choices we have made in the past now effects our furture.
    I am so thankful for my days of camping. That is what we have been doing for six days in our home. I realize the modern ways and the modern conviences make us weak. My faith makes me strong. I also learned the computer takes away way to much of my time and time is something we never can get back. It can be any thing that we are involved with that doesn’t let us fully become all we can be. To much T.V. to much music, to much time with friends and not enough time alone where we can hear our own thoughts. There is way to much in our modern world that steals “US” the us we were made to become. Be careful
    and really think things through, for many have suffered because of choices made many years ago and also right before the strom and the choises they made have hurt them far more then would have had to suffer through. Count your many blessings name them one by one. Count your Blessing every day and be thankful for everyday. Make it a wonderful day and pass on LOVE to each and every person you meet. Just holding the door for some one, smile at everyone say something nice. The Pennsylvania Dutch have a saying I will leave you with. To soon old, to late smart.

    • sbranch says:

      I have a Chaucer (born circa 1343) quote that says essentially the same thing “The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.” 🙂 They are trying to tell us something. xoxo Betty Marie, hang in there, it’s inspiring to see you finding benefit in this difficult situation.

    • I have “studied” the Amish and gleaned from their lifestyle much of my philosophy on life. I also would have loved to lived in an earlier time period before the industrial revolution. Having said that I also have come to grips with what’s wrong with our day and age and have learned to pick and choose what is good. What this does is allow me to have the “best of both worlds”! I prefer to look for natural remedies when I am ill rather than go with “modern medicine”, but I get anesthesia when I go to the dentist. I hang my clothes on the line on nice days, but use the dryer when it’s raining or too cold. We don’t HAVE to buy into what’s not working for us just because others are.

    • Pat Mofjeld says:

      BettyMae, when my grandfather died (my grandmother had died some years before him) and my aunt was cleaning out the house in preparation to sell it, she found a small piece of paper in one of his shoes in the bottom of the closet. That is what was written on the paper, “Too soon old, too late ‘schmart'”. (He was of Dutch descent)

  100. Minette says:

    Susan-Your post meant so much to me and as someone else noted, your eloquent way with words captured the emotions and concerns of so many of us. I have so many friends and colleagues from work in CT, NY and NJ who were severely affected by the storm, but miraculously, all are safe. For this I am truly grateful. Thank goodnes that you, Joe and the kitties are okay. This event has caused me to be more reflective over what is really important to us all, and somehow some of the petty worries that have been wasting my energy and “thinking” time have just disappeared. In one of my most favorite movies, “The Bishp’s Wife,” Cary Grant tells Loretta Young that there are soome special people in this world who are able to create a bit of heaven on earth. I think of you as one of those special people and a tremedous inspiration for so many of us. Thank you again.

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