Critters, Springtime and YOU!

Critters, Springtime, a Recipe, A Fine RomanceMusica and YOU. 

I have to say, I am madly in love with my computer.  It’s such a miracle, that’s James Taylor singing right now!  Computers are a magical link to the whole world and the internet just keeps getting better!  From my studio, where I need to be to finish my book, I can go anywhere I want.  I can dream while watching gondolas gliding live in Venice, Italy, or I can go see what Phoebe the hummingbird is up to.  I can get a good laugh along with a taste of ranch life with The Pioneer Woman, or I can go get a little smarter with Brain Pickings. I can watch someone amazing paint a portrait, or I can push a button and there’s Miss Austen Regrets playing in the background while I paint, mood music of a sort.  So great!  All we used to have was Calgon to take us away — we’re finally out of the bathtub!  Big time!

Speaking of the computer, another thing I adore is iPhoto on my Mac.  How I ever lived without it, I do not know!  I file my photos by subject — they’ve made it so easy —  I can click on “Little Vases” and there is every little vase-full-of-flowers I’ve ever taken, or “Family” and all my family photos come up — I have Parties, Friends, Summer Garden, the Train, Beatrix Potter’s House, Old Letters/Books, California, The Walk, Tea, Food, Decorating, just to name a few . . .

Yesterday, I put on my jacket went out back to get a few more photos for my “Spring” file.  I laid right on the cold ground to take this … the smell was intoxicating … wet new green spring dirt mixed with ocean!  Ahhhhh.  They should bottle it!

Up close and personal with the snowdrops, I got muddy knees, but it was worth it . . .  the cold air was wonderful.  It was so good to be outside — Joe loved it so much he stayed out there for half the day, picking up fallen bits of tree limbs, cleaning up.

I’m being good to limit myself to four of these snowdrop photos, I could easily give you the other fifteen! I will need a new computer soon just to hold my photos!  But I do have to say, my very favorite section of my photo collection is called “Critters” . . .

 Which is, of course, filled with 90% This.

And This . . .

and This . . .

And This too; some of you might remember my Man Kitty who went missing a few years ago in coyote-infested California.  I’m still waiting for him. 

 But there’s a whole lot more in my Critter Collection than kitties . . .

There’s these guys; they live in the linden tree right outside our upstairs bathroom window — which is where I went to take this picture — they are a riot to watch. Don’t they look healthy?  That’s because they eat like royalty!

This baby bird fell out of his nest, in the garden next to the porch of our California house . . .  Joe has him in his hand.  I think he looks very confident for such a little critter.  We put him back in the nest and the momma acted like she never knew!

And one of my favorite photos ever, of this little worried kitty we saw at the animal shelter.  It was already spoken for, or it would be MINE right now!  Those little eyes!  Poor baby!

Speaking of eyes, this beauty is in a meadow at the parent’s house of my friend Rachel in Jolly Old England.  I was taking pictures of bluebells and he came running over to see me, right up next to the fence.  Adorable.  Más Musica.

There’s a pet supply business in a barn on Martha’s Vineyard called Little Leona’s (I’d give you a link, but it looks like they don’t have a website).  It’s in Vineyard Haven, you should go there if you come here — my favorite part of it is that they have critters, you can get up close to; this little pony is one of them.

As you know already, my Critters File is full of  photos like this female Cardinal — birds in all seasons taken from our kitchen window.

But you never saw this before!  We think he’s a baby hawk peregrine falcon (thanks girls!). He came to our California house one spring day, sat up on this roof long enough for me to race in for the camera — he just posed and posed, I’m this close to him, no special lens at all … he’s banded too.

Pretty wonderful.

This is wonderful too — it’s Sugahpus, my girlfriend Annie’s adorable cat with the two tiny white teeth I love, she’s in my Critter section too.

Along with these friendly girls who live next door to my house in California.  Every time I go out for a walk they rush up to the fence hoping I will bring them a treat.  You can tell I’m pretty dependable that way.  They aren’t as bright as they look, and they are capable of a very nasty type of spitting, but if you know them and they trust you, they have a sweet streak a mile long.

Even photos like this are in my Critter file.  Just in case you never got one, if you need an Owl Bookmark — here you go! 

Three bunnies at Little Leona’s.   Want.

Back to Rachel’s parent’s house we go . . . their sweet and I mean SWEET, loveable, and very friendly sheep!

And this little chirper, on the back deck of my California house — had to go get the camera when I saw this cutie!

England was filled with these gorgeous wood pigeons cooing all day long everywhere we went.

Iris, or I-I as we call her . . . she is our neighbor’s dog, whenever she gets loose she hightails it to our house.  Me casa es su casa, perrito. 

Where else would you keep this photo of a wonderful page from a vintage children’s book besides “Critters.”

This is an osprey. He’s not at his happiest at this moment, if looks could kill.  He’s being very gently but firmly held by an osprey handler named Rob we met on the island in a meadow next to the dirt road where we walk — we just happened to run into him when he and his partner were banding this guy with a GPS chip so they can keep track of him.  How lucky I had my camera with me that day!  Now I get a regular letter from Rob telling me where they are, how far they’ve flown — so interesting.

I adore goats.  Love them so much.  Even with their scary rectangular pupils, they are the most wonderful critters.

My sister Shelly is a short-dog lover.  Four of these dogs are hers, the dachshunds and the Snoopie dog — the two Jack Russells belong to my brother Brad.   The little boy is one half of my sister’s precious twin set and possibly part dachshund (waiting for his treat like the others 🙂 ).  It’s a wonderful butterball type of pandemonium at her house.

I always love to contribute a very delicious recipe on my blog when I can . . .  I do not have first hand taste experience with these, but I know for a fact they are very popular in some circles.  And healthy too.

So that’s our little stroll through my Critter File for today … hope you enjoyed it!  I am still in the throes of book writing, but the light looms large at the end of the tunnel.

We have A Fine Romance book mockup!  This is how fat it will be!  Do you know how excited I am?  It’s almost twice the thickness of any book I’ve ever done!  Yesterday I designed the pages that go just inside the cover — they’re called “end papers” — It’s really difficult not to show you — it would be so easy on the computer!  But I want to keep it a surprise — which, for me, takes massive determination!  I’m afraid that if I show you too much when you finally get it, possible yawning could take place.  I want you to go “OH WOW” . . . so you have to trust me, you will like them!  And back to book writing I go …. marching to the end.  Happy doing it.  Wishing you the same.   Remember to hug a critter today! XOXO

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680 Responses to Critters, Springtime and YOU!

  1. Jack says:

    So glad you followed up and found that turkey was ok –I just could not understand the mechanics of that bird being beheaded as a result of a goat strolling under a stretch of barb wire — the goat would have to be doing about 40MPH for any damage like that to happen!and at that speed the turkey would have been long gone

    • sbranch says:

      A goat at 40 MPH! LOL!

    • Rooster dear Jack not a big turkey and the poor thing had to have one of the barbs either puncture his eye or caught him in the neck?? All I know is it was on the ground still moving so like I said earlier I’m going for dazed vs killed?? A friend of ours (PAT) brought up the word “beheaded” UGH and you are so right about speed being involved to accomplish that brutal result.

  2. sondra fox says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’ve been really worried about you & yours. I’ve tried for two days to get your site & nothing would go through. We saw the weather report & thought you might be flooded. Thank heavens I was able to get through to your site today. Praying that you’re OK. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      Hmmm. I didn’t realize that, although I did try yesterday and couldn’t get on, but later I did, so I thought it was just a blip. Sorry Sondra, glad to see you’re here now!

  3. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    We haven’t had a blog from you in almost a WHOLE week, and we were worrying about you!

    • sbranch says:

      Just working to get the book finished, I’ll be here soon! I know, I’m juggling because guess what, calendars for 2014, they want them! Yikes!

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        Wow!!! I thought I planned ahead!
        Notice I said “we”? Hunny is home. He thought it was funny too that we didn’t have a blog from you. He said, “She would blog even when she was on vacation.” See…you even have our men following you!!! LOL
        I’ll tell him that you have been working VERY hard.

  4. ♥Happy Mothering Sunday♥Everyone♥

    Today is Mothering Sunday in Great Britain. I’d like to share this link to help explain the difference for anyone who is interested between the British Mothering Sunday and the American (and other nationalities too) Mother’s Day


  5. I want to share something that I am going to today and I’m skeptical and a little amazed that I even agreed to attend a ROLLER DERBY?? what was I thinking. My dear sweet husband who goes anywhere/everywhere with me whether shopping/going to greenhouses/antiques/it doesn’t matter he just is so supportive of MY HOBBIES. So, he sees this advertisement for the Indianapolis Roller Gals having a double header today and says “I think that would be a hoot and someday would like to go to one”….I’m probably on here chatting and trying to ignore that statement?? and finally had to say sure dear that seems interesting….well, that was probably to supportive and he is calling other family he thinks would like watching a group of “beefy gals with black fishnet stockings ripped and….” all of a sudden there are tickets in the house!!! EEK So, now it is my turn to be supportive and we are headed to the Arena after Church to watch this event!!! Now, in my mind I’m thinking probably 10 times around the course/track whatever they call it I will be fine; but, a DOUBLE HEADER….I keep telling myself it will be fine and afterall flower season is coming which means trips to every business that has plants/flowers for my gardens. Now, don’t get me wrong I love sports and watch them until I have had my fill, heck we even joined a Fantasy Football League last season and WON…..??still a mystery how we managed that feat. So, I will take one for all women out there that have had to endure “men things” and pray one of those “strong gals” doesn’t come off the track and land in my lap!!!! or Jim’s come to think of it? hmmm will update just in case anyone else finds themselves at the track!! Sigh.

    • sbranch says:

      EEK! LOL! It will be fine (take food, knitting, blankie to sit on, possibly phone with Words with Friends, prepare for worst, expect the best). And then it will be over! Then you can decide if you want to go again. What will be interesting is to see if you run away to join the roller derby!

      • I’m back….3 LONG hours….Susan, me joining the roller derby…NEVER I’m not young enough or strong enough I would probably break a hip if I did what those gals did!!! Now, here is my honest report on this adventure…it definitely wasn’t “The Arts” by any stretch of the imagination, I can’t tell you that it was a “cultural experience” and the only positive that I came away with was I had a “snowcone” bought by a dear friend it wasn’t something I had planned on eating and I haven’t had one since I was a child when we made our own with the plastic white machine (do any of you remember those??). Jim said to me half way through the double header “I will probably never go to another one; but, now I can mark it off my bucket list”….I didn’t know he had a bucket list!…what’s next??!! So, I went, I watched, I endured, and I supported my husband. I did notice they are having auditions for recruits?? hmmm too bad my skates are rusty……not to mention I would enjoy entering my “golden years” one day free of broken bones!! I heard there is a garden/home show in town do you think it is to soon to call in a “now you can go with me” favor?? Yeah, me too maybe save that for a trip to the garden shop…phew what a day hope I can sleep tonight with all the visual stimulation I’ve had I’m hoping for some peace and quiet.

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      Susan, I told her when we get together I obviously need to teach her to knit! Just think of all she could have gotten done sitting there, in her own little knitting world at peace, surrounded by the screaming crowds!!! 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        I know, you have all the power! 🙂

        • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

          My turn for “duh…”–What does that mean? 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            Just that when you have your knitting or your book, you are not at the mercy of anyone or anything around you, you have something you like to do!

      • Now Pat if I would have been sitting there in my own little knitting world and I heard the screaming crowds…you know it would have been all about ME and the cheers would have been for the lovely work I was doing??? HA

  6. mary spring says:

    oh where, oh where, can dear Susan be ?!?..sounds like a lyric to me…lol !!.. you are either tying up loose ends to your newest accomplishment or getting lost (or found) in dear spring time…at any rate, I have been enjoying the little cardinal family that keeps hangin’ around..this morning in the apple tree outback in the rain…the other day, the little one that I care for and I saw the daddy kiss the mommy (or feeding her)..must be “twitterpating” it !!..well, they made me think how you call them nature’s valentine..for sure they are !!.. <3
    <3 is supposed to be a big, fat pink heart!!….happy (springtime) Sunday !!

    • sbranch says:

      I am painting and handwriting our last few pages. Going full bore, hardly sleeping, I’m so excited. (Not really, I do sleep! 🙂 ) I”m on page 247! I have three or four more pages to do. Then the contents, Index, and pages like that. I’ll be back soon! Happy Springtime Sunday to you too — it’s GORGEOUS here today! 50 degrees and sunshine. Smells like heaven outside.

  7. Carrie says:

    Happy Cursive Day!

    • sbranch says:

      You couldn’t have said that to someone more involved in it as me right now!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Yay, my grandgirl’s school is still teaching cursive, I told her it made me happy, she smiled (& I’m sure was wondering what in the world?)!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Oh, this reminds me of a question I’ve wanted to ask ever since I first bought “Heart of the Home” way back when. I do calligraphy so I have some idea of what’s involved when errors are made in hand-produced text and have always wondered if you’ve ever been tempted to skip handwriting any book – in favor of having the text typeset? Or have your publishers ever pushed for it? The savings in time alone would have to be significant and these days it seems everyone thinks everything faster is better… can you tell I don’t count myself in that group? Thanks. :>)

        • sbranch says:

          I think I may have hand written my last book. I will always have hand written things in a book, but writing it by hand takes a long long time. But since I’ve never done it, I’m not sure I will know how!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Good… that’s good to hear. You deserve a break. The time needed to hand-letter must be staggering – especially with something like “A Fine Romance” that must have quite a bit more text than many of your other books. I’ve done weddings with 100s of place cards and menu cards, and some fairly-long poetry and other text that’s been framed… but I CANNOT conceive of hand-lettering an entire book. Not even a children’s book with mostly illustrations and short, simple text. Go with a typeface next time. Why, with your experience and your artist’s eye, you wouldn’t even need a designer’s help to pick out a really lovely “handwritten” typeface that coordinates perfectly with your subject and all your darling art. I bet there’s one out there right now “with your name on it” – maybe even similar to your handwriting. Personally I love it when you hand-letter in manuscript – so clear and easy to read. Just because you’ve always hand-lettered doesn’t mean you have to do it that way forever. If that was true, we Girlfriends would still be churning butter every morning! :>)

          • sbranch says:

            Very good point Janet!

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      Is there really such a thing? Was it really yesterday??

  8. Pam G says:

    just reading this as I have been away-did the storm hit you-I have been worried.

  9. mary spring says:

    YAY,Susan…more than ever before, you need this : You Go, Girl !!…we’re with you all the way…with love and take care !!…yes, spring is springing !!…gotta take joy !!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you! I know you’re all there for me! And that really feels so good! I’m in the homestretch!

  10. Marcia in Brazil says:

    Saudades (meaning, I miss you, in Portuguese)!

  11. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    Hi Susan! “ThankYoU” for the new fun and interesting links in this posting! And, yes…..Phoebe vs GODZILLA! My family worried about me….”why is mom staring at a bird nest?”…will never forget that afternoon! I have been thinking of you, finishing up, the finishing touches, to a Fine Romance! It seems like just yesterday…I had my nose pressed up to the computer screen watching for You and Joe aboard the Queen Mary…..and once again, my family worried about me….”why is mom watching a boat that is not even moving?” They don’t worry about me anymore…..”mom talking to Susan Branch again?” And now!!!! Happily sending You and Joe some champagne (via sparrow mail) to toast the send off of “A Fine Romance!” And…may I say, with my glass held high… “Cheers to (you) Susan and to (you) Joe!” “They began with a fine romance … sailed across the ocean….. meandered through fields, hills, and dales…..taught us; that, the wrong side can be the right side….and kept us full of scones, peah cida, and what was that one thing called?? We laughed, we cried (happy tears), and we saw dreams come true! Even though, all the while, a couple thousand of US traveled along …neither one of you ever complained ….and even returned back home to America…..still in a fine romance!!!! And now dear Susan… your heart, your soul, your magic is forever sprinkled on each and every page of “A Fine Romance!!! We admire your hard work and have loved cheering for you all the while…..because, well….. we just lovelovelove to lovelovelove YoU! We will always be here cheering for YoU…..and may we now say….’You did Good!!!’ Yay! 🙂
    clink, clink, hug…clink, clink, sip, sip….hug….hug,hug, sip,sip, ooops! xoxoxoxox”

    • sbranch says:

      I do feel like I got “double the trip” writing the book, and now, when it comes out, you will get double the trip too! 🙂 Thank you Dawn!

      • judi says:

        Way, double agree with all Dawn said! Keep at your finishing tasks, a little sentence here on the comments from you is enough for now.

        Oh, yes, if I go to my search bar and type in dearsusanbranch twitter I can again “see” your twitter. Thanks for the clue:) Don’t know why clicking on your sidebar under twitter stopped working.

        • sbranch says:

          Oh good, I just checked, you’re right, something happened to that link, I’ll get it fixed today, thank you!

  12. Julia says:

    Thanks Jack for letting us know about the turkey !
    Now I can get that image out of my head !
    Now I’m picturing the goat at 40 MPH !
    Too much imagination ! But I’m having a good laugh !

  13. Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

    Dear Janet [in Rochester] ~

    I was hoping you’d post next week’s Special Days….don’t ask me why…it’s just kinda fun!

  14. Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

    Dear Janet [in Rochester] ~

    I was hoping you’d post next week’s Special Days. Don’t ask me why…but I found myself going back to your comment every day to see. Fun!

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      Oh, happy to do it Deb! If we have Sue’s kind permission, of course. I think it’s fun too. That calendar was the perfect gift for me [a hopeless foodie]. Coming up this week:

      Sun Mar 10 – plain old Daylight Savings – no foodie notation.
      Mon Mar 11 – again no notation on calendar – but according to – it IS Johnny Appleseed Day – so that’s close.
      Tues 3-12 – Nat’l Baked Scallops Day.
      Wed Mar 13 – Nat’l Coconut Torte Day.
      Thurs Mar 14 – Nat’l Potato Chip Day. Oh boy!
      Fri Mar 15 – Nat’l Pears Helene Day. ???
      Sat Mar 16 – Nat’l Artichoke Hearts Day.

  15. Marsha MacLean says:

    Hi Susan,
    Just watching some reruns of Downton Abbey, and working on plans for a “supper club supper” to be held in a month. (I’m part of a group that meets monthly.)
    We’re marking the century mark for a local car dealership by hosting our April meeting in their newly remodeled showroom. The showroom is rather Art Deco in style… Lots of black and white and grey and chrome…
    So we are going to call this ” the black and white evening” and ask the lady members to dress accordingly… Feathers in your hair will be encouraged (!) though not required. 😉 Maybe we will be lucky and the gentlemen will buy in, too!
    We have pulled old sheet music and books and planned black tablecloths with white napkins, mirrors on the table and white flowers everywhere! There’s even a vintage automobile in the showroom. It’s so cute!
    We wish we had Mrs. Padmore (from Downton) but meanwhile we’ve decided on a Wellington dish and a black and white dessert. So fun!
    Meanwhile Spring! And Easter! We have a three year old in the extended family who is going to have a great deal of fun egg-hunting this year.
    After a week of miserable weather, we are being treated to lovely weather in Redlands this week! I had to run out to the nursery and buy pansies! The wisteria is beginning to bud and will be in bloom soon… It’s really heavenly!
    We are ALL so relieved to hear you are OK despite the storm!
    Take care,
    I almost forgot!! There was a tiny notice in the paper today (LA Times) about how the QEII will be coming in to Long Beach Tuesday evening and she and the Queen Mary will be addressing each other and there will be fireworks! It’s a bit of a drive for me, but it might just be worth it!

    • sbranch says:

      It actually would be, I have to say, I’ve seen them together, and, along with the fireworks, it’s just wonderful. You can even take a picnic and watch from the beach! Or get a reservation on the Queen Mary! (Hotel)

  16. Becky from Lockport, Illinois says:

    Good Morning! The end papers are very important…well at least to me and my first graders…whenever I read a book aloud we vote on the end papers by showing thumbs up and thumbs we read the author’s dedication and if there is an author’s note we are just beside ourselves…we love it when author’s speak to us!

    • sbranch says:

      I like that too! How cute of your kids…how smart you are to get them into those details!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        VERY smart, Becky! Just want you to know I’m stealing your wonderful idea for use with my kindergartners…. Thank you so much!! :>)

  17. Julia says:

    What are “special days?”

  18. Oh,Sugahpus looks just like my old Boris, right down to the tiny teeth. LOVE that photo.

  19. Lisa @ My Ordinary Country Life says:

    Aren’t critters the best?! I love your photos……all you are missing are chickens….:)))) They are “eggsalent” critters….lol….have a great day!

  20. Michelle says:

    Had the worst day yesterday and then I read your blog this morning and YAY I feel so much better …your art reminds me that are always pretty things to turn your head towards when it seems like everything is gray and overcast. Thanks for doing your thing!

  21. Cheryl Danley says:

    LOL! Ok, so out of all those great pictures of the animals you posted, what I got out of your blog on this day was THE SNOWDROPS!!!! How cute are they???!!!! So, I just so happen to be at our local country western store here in town and there they were! Little green pots of Snowdrops! Susan, I thought of you and the pics you posted of them here on your blog so I bought a pot, brought them home and have planted them under a tree in our frontyard. I hope they won’t die as we live in a high desert environment. I’ll do my best. I loved seeing yours so much! Thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      This is my brother Brad … and if any of you girls DO have mold . . . he has amazing stuff to get rid of it! xoxo Bradley.

  22. Kathi Churchman says:

    Your blog has a way of lifting my spirits. Especially on days like today when I am sick of these Michigan winters. Think Spring. 🙂 Also thanks for the link to Brain Pickings, love it.

  23. Lauren Eichler says:

    Hi Susan,
    I am 10 years old and my mom and I really look forward to your blog updates. I am always super excited to look them over. You’re soooo lucky to go on your many great adventures!
    I don’t have many adventures come my way because I live in flat plain old Kansas

    • sbranch says:

      You won’t always live there Lauren, I am predicting. And until you’re grown up, you have the internet that will bring the world to you. Love to see you here xoxo

  24. Rita Bomberry says:

    Can hardly wait for the book to come out!! I would never yawn at that. It will most undoubtedly be a treasure to me for years to come!

  25. Ginger says:

    Please consider being a vetegarian….if you love animals it’s a wonderful thing not to eat them. It benefits them, you and the environment. Thanks for a beautiful website and for your wonderful books. ♥

  26. Ginger says:


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