LIFE of Jack or Why You Need a Petty-Pet of your Very Own

Here we go, it’s the Life of Jack, who, if you don’t know, is the youngest of our two Kitties.  I finally decided his story needed to be a permanent part of the blog ~ I’m posting it here first, and later you’ll find it up at the top of the blog under “About Me”.  I’m in California right now, far away from home and pets, and thinking about them and thought I’d have fun by writing about how we came to get Jack and what he’s meant to us . . . he’s an excellent example of why, if we can, we should all have a kitty!  And if you’ve never had one and are curious, here’s kitty info from me and Jack to you with love. Con Musica

When the shelter called to tell us that a male tuxedo kitten had come in and asked if Joe and I wanted to come look at him, we said OK.  On the drive to Edgartown we talked about what we would name him if we decided to take him.  I was tired of naming all my kitties the same thing, always “Man Kitty” for a boy and “Girl Kitty” for a girl (my creativity comes to a screaming halt when naming my cats, I’m terrible at it).  In the car Joe suggested we might call him “Jack” ~ we still aren’t sure why he came up with that but it sounded OK to me, better than Man Kitty.  When we arrived and this new kitten was put into my arms, he tipped his head up to look at me and I could see the paper collar he was wearing.  Lo and behold!  They had already named him at the shelter!  And his name, written right on the collar was “Jack!”  Hello?  Pack him up!  He’s ours!  Even though he kind of looked like there was a big black spider on his face, this kitty was meant for us!  There’s Jack (above) with Joe on his first day home, ten weeks old and sweet as pie.

At this point I was just hoping he would grow into his nose . . . but no matter what, I was in love, mad love.

One of the best things about kittens and cats is that they’re great for people who haven’t the patience for the six months-to-a-year (or maybe lifelong) potty training required for a puppy.  You just fill a plastic box with kitty litter before you pick up your kitty, come home, put him in it, scratch his paw there so he can see how delightful it feels and that’s it!  He’s potty trained!  You are done!  He will always go there!  Brilliant!

And of course, having a soft little fuzzy guy like this in the house is just so much fun!  Like a cuddly baby that doesn’t grow up and can almost feed itself and never needs his diaper changed.

He has the roundest eyes that seem to get greener as he gets older!  He makes me run for the camera about eighteen times a day  because everything he does is just so cute.

 The cuddling never ends . . .

After a while we began to notice that Jack has a movie-star quality.  Like Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind or William Powell in The Thin Man→, or even more, like Hercule Poirot, the Agatha Christie detective   ←who’s always getting  himself into trouble, but looks suave while he does it.  Jack had those kinds of superstar qualities.   

We started looking at mustaches with a different view . . .

Sheri and Kellee (whom many of you know from my Studio) felt very connected to Jack from the beginning.  Even tho’ they were in California, 3000 miles away from where Jack lives with us on Martha’s Vineyard, they got into the action.  And in fact, they went out very soon after this and got their own Studio kitties!  Two kittens that live with them at the Studio.  Because what is life without a cat?  Nothing makes me happier when I’m away from home, on a vacation or something, than to go into a store that has a cat in it!  Oh, the fur!  Oh, the contentment!

Me, too, I could no longer bear to have this pillow sitting around as it originally came to me. . . something was missing . . .

I pulled out my black permanent marker and fixed it right up . . . now it’s almost the exact image of Jack!

He taught me what he likes.  The first thing that caught his attention was this furry red ball.  He just LOVED it.  He carried it around in his mouth all the time looking like an adorable greeting card.

Black and white kitties have always been my favorite because they go so well with my furniture.  Artistically pleasing and very graphic.

After a while, I would throw the ball, he would catch it, and, depending where we were, he would bring it back to me to throw again.

Notice that post he’s sitting on?  Joe wrapped a board with an old piece of carpeting and put it in the living room the first day we got him.  Jack loves this post, he knows it’s his and he never scratches the furniture, ever, he just goes to his post.  If you get a kitty, give him a post asap, don’t let him start with any bad habits.  Bad habits are hard to break.

Jack showed off his multi-talented self from the beginning, gathering his toys together in one spot.  Hunter gatherer.

I would find little groups of his toys in piles around the house. One time I picked up the scale in our bedroom, because he was sniffing around it suspiciously, and under it there were seven ponytail bands.  I would throw them to him and never see them again.  He’d been scooting them under the scale.

He’d lost interest in the ball throwing and retrieving, and instead, he wants me to shoot ponytail bands for him . . . so he can catch them in mid air with his two paws, put them in his mouth, and bring them back to me!  You can see him clutching onto one of the bands here.

It’s what he loves to this day . . . we do it every morning and every night and sometimes at lunch!  At times, like this ~ have you seen Simon’s Cats?  Simon has his finger on the pulse of a kitty . . .

Jack’s on a bench in front of the windows on the far side of our bed.  I stand at the bedroom door, shoot the ponytail band across the bed, he catches it in mid-air, brings it to me, and goes back to wait (like a hawk) for me to shoot it again.

A young man and his pony tail band . . . purrrrr.

Our lives are so much more fun since he came into the picture . . . he keeps us laughing  all the time.  Here he is at his first Christmas.  We thought he might climb the tree, or tear the ornaments apart, but he was perfect, and was our Jack in the Box, the best present of them all.

He was curious and in on all the decorating . . .

. . . making the whole room prettier and cozier while he’s at it.  Sometimes I marvel that God gave us these little creatures to live with us inside our homes, purr in our ears, rub against our legs, cuddle with us and our children at night.  They are love and it’s love that makes a house a home.

Even taking a bubble bath is more fun with Jack to help!

Cooking is more fun too . . . he usually watches me from the top of the fridge.

This is my favorite photo ever.  Jack’s eyes on that bug!

No bug is safe in our house.

And Jack LOVES ladders.  Joe was painting the kitchen and Jack was helping.

He was so comfortable . . . I think he wished I would put his food dish up there.

Sleeps like a dream on a narrow ledge even with his leg dangling over the side.

But he knew he had to come down to eat . . . and this is how he did it, just walked down the rungs the same way Joe did. (Except Joe doesn’t do it upside-down!)

For a while I thought we might have to leave a ladder up in the house forever.  No matter where the ladder was, even if it’s leaning against a wall, Jack loves it.

I put the ladder up to bring down baskets from the pantry rafters ~ turn around, and there he is!

I love it when he poses photogenically . . . he is a purrfect kitty model.

I don’t even have to say, “OK Jack, be cute for the camera.”  He just does it.  That’s how talented he is.

When I iron, he tries to help me there too.  SO, I must go get the camera!

If I don’t pay attention for a moment, he stretches out a glossy leg and looks like this in front of me and oops, excuse me while I go get the camera!

He’s wonderful when he poses, but he’s a total nut in motion . . .

I love his lunatic eyes

Especially here, with my girlfriend Elizabeth —  I catch some of his best expressions when he’s moving . . . Look at him look at her!

Then he looks at me with eyes that say, “why are you letting her do this to me?”

(I don’t really know, give me that kitty!)

Jack didn’t come to a catless home, my older kitty (guess what her name is) Girl Kitty, was here.  I thought Jack would put a bit more interest in her life, but Girl is not warming up to Jack.  She sees his existence as pointless, awkward, and even disturbing.  She growls when he tries to come near her.

He would love to play with her … but they’ve been more or less like this from the beginning, Jack wants Girl, but Girl does not wish to have Jack, he’s a bit too much for her.   They don’t fight, they just don’t mingle much despite the yearning in Jack’s eyes.  I have now learned that if you have an older kitty and you want to get a new little one, get two — that way your new kitty has someone equally rambunctious to play with and will not torture the older one.

She can just be her imperious self and there could be two little crazies under the table.  Poor little boy . . . but he is almost three now . . . to introduce a new kitty, would make all new problems.  We’re good, we’ve figured it out.  But next time, I’ll get two.

 Jack has had to accept this as his brother, the ever-vigilent, wide awake, but not that much fun, Petey.

The seasons change and Jack watches everything from the window.  So far I haven’t let him outside.  I heard that if you live where there’s traffic, you should keep them in for at least the first two years, until they have lost that “chase anything that moves” syndrome where they follow a butterfly or a bee right into the street without a thought.  They’re like babies.  Can’t let them go on their own until they’re older.  Maybe next year, after I’ve thoroughly scared the bejeebers out of his relationship to the great outdoors.  I let Girl out, but she never goes more than ten feet from the house.  Just the way I like it.

When a neighbor cat comes into our yard, Jack will follow it, running madly from window to window to keep it in his sight!

And of course, in all seasons, he’s endlessly entertained by this, we have feeders outside our kitchen windows and we are a very popular bird restaurant!

I want him to get used to NOT EATING birds before I ever let him out.  Would like him to see them as “Normal.”

The hardest thing I ever have to do is say goodbye . . . he watches from the window when I drive away, even when I go to the store!

And his joy is obvious upon my return (that’s his head, upside-down, at the bottom of the screen) and I feel just the same way!

Jack has become famous lately — he has fans like “Bentley” reading about him in books~ . . .

And he’s recently been immortalized in felted wool by our friend Suzanne at Strawberry Patches Quilt Store . . .  and yet, despite that,

 . . . he remains humble and still helps me with the laundry. 

Another reason to have a kitty (or a dog, bunny, bird, hamster, parrot, fish) is not just because they need us to protect and love them . . .  it’s a two way street . . . we need them.  They are good for our physical and mental health . . . they build strength in the happy gene and even lower blood pressure, that’s how good they are; owning a cat makes you 37% less apt to have a heart attack!  Any information you would ever need to have about owning an animal is available through Google.  Ask and ye shall receive. ♥  

Some people search all their lives for purpose when anyone can see that God served us purpose on a silver platter.  He gave us the earth and all of its magnificent treasure to care for.  That’s our purpose.  He made us strongest of all, and that comes with responsibility.  We are the stewards of the air, the oceans and waterfalls, flowers, woods, and homegrown tomatoes; He gave us the profound gift and responsibility to care for the critters big and little, lions and elephants, chickens, puppies, chipmunks, snakes, trout, polar bears and kitties, every wonderful living thing that makes up the magical chain of life, including us with each other, the strongest to the weakest amongst us.   If for nothing else, that’s why we’re here, to take care of the beauty that God has given us. When I play with my cats, I look up and inside my head I hear myself whisper, “Thank you, God!”  If you ever see someone being cruel to an animal I encourage you to call your local Humane Society or even 911 and get that person straightened out!

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337 Responses to LIFE of Jack or Why You Need a Petty-Pet of your Very Own

  1. Mona in Riverbank CA says:

    When I was a girl, my cousin (named Jack!) and I wanted to have a cat ranch when we grew up. And now I have ten indoor cats, so it almost feels like a ranch! Technically, 3 belong to my daughter, but they are all our cats. Spike, our oldest at 13, we adopted from a friend when my daughter graduated high school. He’s white with peachy spots and blue, blue eyes. Next are the black cats: Ayeka (the mom who’s 11), and Kenshin, Pete, Berg, Buddy, Keiko, and Millie who are 10, then Sully, gray and white, a total daddy’s boy, and Patrick, a handsome gray British short hair. Both Sully and Patrick were abandoned in our neighborhood, Sully as a kitten and Patrick about 3-5 years old. It’s a full house, but we love them all with all their different personalities and quirks. They are companions in the truest sense of the word.

    Your pictures of Jack are awesome. And Girl Kitty looks so feminine and sweet. It’s nice to be in the company of people who understand how we love these furry friends so much. Thank you again for sharing your boy. We love him, too! =^..^=

  2. Wendy Conger says:

    LOVE love love Jack, and Girl too. You are SO right – everyone should have cat. Our two Maine coons (4 years old and 5 months old) are HUGE joys to us every single day.

  3. Faith rose says:

    Susan what a wonderful post!You are right God hs blessed us so much!I have a cat named Saphira and she had three kitties in May , Sigfried ,Tristen and Tabbaya! My mom named the kitties after a British TV show! And it’s so true that everything they do you want to take a picture of! So I completely understand why you take so many pictures! It was so good to see your wonderful kitties! I have a feeling that there will be a lot of comments on this post so I’d better end this comment so you can get to the rest of them! I just want to say thank you for the joy that you give , it’s an inspiration to us all!

  4. Sandra Muncy says:

    I loved your blog on your kitty. I also have a kitty he is a very large black cat with big green eyes!! I am new to Susan Branch and would like to know the story behind Petey. I have seen him in several blog post. Thanks!

    • sbranch says:

      Petey was a doll that Joe won on board the ship he took to England with his mother when he was twelve ~ in some sort of children’s game they had on board. We took him back to England with us last year as a kind of lucky charm. He has managed to get himself into many photos, is in the book, and now a very good friend of Jack’s.

  5. Diane says:

    Oh, Susan – this post about Jack will be one I’ll go back to time and time again. I’ve already looked at and read it three times. I can’t imagine there being a more perfect mother than you for your two furry kitties, or more perfect kids than these two are for you and Joe.

    I love that you love them so much.

    Diane from North Carolina

  6. Oh Susan, I love all these pictures of Jack (and Kitty Girl)! You and Joe are having a wonderful time but also miss the kitties terribly! It is always fun to travel but most fun to return home!
    Blessings to you on your wonderful journey!
    Tweet Tweet!

  7. Diana says:

    Thanks for sharing about Jack and Girl Kitty. Love the pictures of your cats also. They are so precious. I know you definitely miss them as there is just a bond there that only animal lovers know.
    I have had several cats over the years and is amazing how different they all seem to be. Unlike you I love naming my cats, it takes a few days as I have to think about the names. Right now my cats are Taggy, Calico Kid, Butter, Elfluffo, Peables, and Panda Bear.Along with a poodle named Peppy. I don’t know what it would be like without my cats and dogs as I have always had a dog or cat since the day I was born.
    I know you are having a great time in California so have a safe trip home when you leave.

  8. Christine Aschbacher says:

    Oh I have a similiar story. I had a feral mother cat bring her kittens to my front
    porch in late August. There was one kitty, I named Peaches,because he was orangy in color. He always jumped on top of the house, I put out on the front porch for them. He would look in my living room window saying I want in! Well, I wanted him to come in,but I have always been highly allergic to cats. Well I would open the front door and all the other “wild” kittens would run away, Peachy stayed. I decided to hold him for a few minutes and then I would go inside and wash my hands. Well after weeks of testing my allergies I found I was not allergic to him. Time went on, he would come in the house for awhile when we opened the front door then he would run back out. This continued for while. Finally the day after Christmas (three years ago) my husband said,”I am going to the store do you need anything?” I said,”Yes, a litter pan, litter and a cat bed.” Of course he said you are going to bring that cat in and then you will have an allergic reaction. I said well then I will get shots. Well he came home with all we needed for our new kitty Peaches! He has been a wonderful addition to our family! He does have the urge to go out and I do let him out a few times a week. I wish he would stay in, I worry about him when he is out! I woud keep Jack in and then you know he is safe and sound! I am still trying to keep Peachy in. In winter, he doesn’t hardly go out at all. Spring arrives and he is “wild cat” again!!!!

  9. Kit in Montana says:

    Great post! And oh, the photos, so wonderful. Our neighbors have a black and white kitty which when she showed up, we didn’t know her name so we called her Bessie. She visits each day and we always keep a bowl of water out for her. Our old cat Sam surprised us and actually tolerates her. He is a Russian Blue and never got along with another cat before this. Fun to see them together. Sam is getting old and I have decided that when he is gone, a black and white is what I will look for, but that may not work out, since cats generally find Us…LOL Take care, Kit

  10. Terry B from Oceanside, CA says:

    Another post from you that I will count as a favorite. You speak to my heart and many others. Although I don’t currently share my home with a kitty, I have loved so many over the years. My last, a Tonkinese rescue named Reka, passed away almost 10 years ago, and I still think of him frequently. He was a “people cat”, always wanting to ride on your shoulder, greeting visitors at the door, commenting on everything. And he was a gorgeous blue-gray they call mink (yes, he was that soft) with intensely expressive eyes! Even my friends and family agree that he was one very special, very extraordinary cat.
    Currently I am honored to have a beautiful dog, also a rescue, a Weimaraner, share my life. She grieved with us at the loss of Reka. They were best buddies. Star is almost 14 y/o now and has some health issues. Yes, I am soon to face the part of life that is most difficult, but I am steadfast that all our remaining days will be “up-tail” days. For us that means happy, fun, content. Good tail-wagging. No pain, no worries, and tons of love.
    Thank you for sharing your love of Jack and Miss Kitty. It means a lot.

  11. sondra fox says:

    Oh my, just when I’ve made up my mind that it wouldn’t be fair (for the kitty) for me to get a kitten, you talk me into it Susan. I’m going to ask my younger friend who loves animals if she’d take two kittens of mine, if I pass away. I know she’ll say yes. I think my Wired Haired Terrior, Jack, would also love two kittens. The cat that Jack loved, Bootsie, just passed away a month ago. I miss that sweet cat so much. He was an adorable cat, who looked just like your Jack. I hope I’m doing the right thing by bringing two cats into our environment. Loved your blog about your cats. Yes, cats have got to be the most charming of pets. I sat here laughing at your Jack, who is the funniest of cat comedians I’ve ever seen. Those eyes of his tell exactly what he’s thinking. No need for him to use words.
    And, I love the recipes you put into the previous blog about Halloween. If the workmen would only finish my kitchen so that I could cook, I’d fix a dinner party for special friends who’ve been so kind & thoughtful to me while I’ve been in mourning. They make sure I know I’m loved. I don’t know what I did to deserve them, but I’m so thankful to have them surrounding me with friendship, love & understanding. If I don’t wish to do something that they’ve asked me to do, they understand that I’m not up to par for that day. They don’t push me, just put interesting things in my path, to partake in, “if” I’m up to it that day.
    Thanks for the darling pictures of your Jack, which is now my favorite blog. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      I can’t tell you how happy this makes me Sondra. It’s going to add so much joy to your life! xoxo

    • Lila says:

      No matter what age, never stop living.:) You will get so much happiness and joy from your new additons. And think of the wonderful home you will be giving them. Congrats!! Please give us an update when you get them, I would love to hear about it!

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Just like I said, Sandy, step out in faith! If any one needs a new kitty or two, it’s you….and there are kitties that need you out there. You go girl, and rescue some kitties!

  12. Anita Page says:

    You’re so sweet! and wise! and full of love! I love my kitties so much too. I think that God really gave us a wonderful gift when he gave us our kitties and all other little pets. To me it shows in some small part just how much he loves us. And I just know our little pets will be with us in heaven because why would God give us such wonderful little gifts here on earth and then not give us the same or even better gifts in heaven? (Maybe we will be able to communicate with them even better than we can now – talking pets?) We also had our little Cinnamon dog. She was an angel dog living on earth. She got sick and had to go to heaven a few years ago, and my heart still aches to see her again. I know I’m just voicing what other pet lovers think, but I really feel it and understand it since I’ve had my kitties and Cinnamon. They have (and had) little personalities. But I don’t have to tell you, because you know. Have a great day and say a little prayer for all the little pets in the world! Anita

  13. Angela W in Oklahoma says:

    You had me at “Meow”!!!…I had been missing news about Jack and was just tickled to see a whole blog dedicated to him…I know you must miss him terribly. We who love kitties seem to adore every fiber of their being…don’t we? I want to kiss those precious toes and squeeze the stuffing out of them…although my two girls rarely let this occur!! I wish you could write and illustrate a children’s book about…”The Adventures of Jack the Cat”…sign me up to preorder that one!!! >^..^<

  14. Robin Heim says:

    Look at this!
    Once you read it, I think you’ll want to spearhead a movement to get one on your island {if there’s not one already!}.
    Cheers & Blessings!

    • sbranch says:

      When I went to the Algonquin Hotel in New York, they had two kitties in the downstairs bar/restaurant. I loved that. I don’t know if they still do, but there’s just a sense of ambience when a kitty is around. I loved that in England they could bring their dogs to pubs. The Queen Mary 2 could use a boat kitty or two!

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        I saw a feature on one of the Sunday news programs about this – Matilda, the Algonquin cat. Apparently, she just wandered in one day and “took up residence.” :>)

  15. Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

    Jack, Jack, Jack! He is one handsome man. I have two kitties, Princess (22 years old) and Max (8 years old). I love them to pieces and totally relate to how much you love Jack and Girl Kitty. They are such wonderful companions and so much fun. Nothing like a fur person in the house to make it even more of a home. Thank you for this fun post I enjoyed every single word and picture. ♥

  16. Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

    Oh that Jack! He enters our (Facebook friends) lives at just the right time. Often when we least expect it and find joy in his antics! Thanks for sharing and I know how much you miss him (& Girl Kitty). Was it warm enough for you yesterday? Give me some more Fall weather, PLEASE! Sending hugs……Pat

  17. Toni from Sylvania OH says:

    Susan…I just LOVE this post and the beautiful pictures of Jack. We have had many kitties in our lives…beginning with the gift to my siblings and my Mom saying they couldn’t keep him. Well…We can keep him…so we did…for some years and that’s when my cat allergies reared their ugly heads!! I persisted for a long time, because I love them so..but I began to have Asthma attacks which nearly did me in….SSSOOOO….I had to give in and our last kitty( a beautiful calico named Abigail Adams) went to kitty heaven about 10 yrs. ago:-((( Since we just HAVE to have a four-legged beauty, we are on our third buff colored Golden, our adopted WONDERFUL girl, our 11 y.o. Molly. (BTW…I STILL have allergy problems and use inhalers and take meds every day…what you won’t do for LOVE) She and our grandchildren keep us young:-)))

  18. Karen says:

    I loved your blog post about Jack. I don’t even know him and I love him. He is so darling. Thank you for sharing the pics and story. I love reading your blog and I always know there is a picture of Jack………

  19. MaryO1230 says:

    What a sweet post! I just LOVE Jack the kittycat! We too have a tux kitty, Buster – we call him “Buster Brown Clown Man About Town”, although he’s never been outside – both my kitties are indoor kitkats. Buster uses the same moves as your dear Jack. Hilarious! Tux cats seem to share a “silly” gene! Buster is also the “alpha” kitty with Yoda coming up second.

    I also sing and make up nonsense songs about all my cats and have done so since I was a kid. Buster (and Yoda) were both rescue kittys (thru PetFinders) and we couldn’t be happier.

    I also love reading about everyone elses darling kitties! Too wonderful!!!!!
    Thanks for the WONDERFUL post, pics and narration. luv.m.

  20. Pony says:

    BEST. POST. EVER. !!!!

  21. judy says:

    If you haven’t already done so, you MUST read Dee Hardie’s books: VIEWS FROM THORNHILL & HOLLYHOCKS, LAMBS, ETC. You remind me so much of her! Your love of home, animals, etc. Thanks, Judy

  22. Sandy Richmond says:

    Hi Susan and girlfriends, I wanted to thank all of you for the wonderful comments and thoughts you posted for me. I have read them over and over, Thank you to the anonymous friend that sent me the package. I am wearing the charm every day! Rhonda D, I would like to hear more from you, so I will send my email to Susan’s office, and they can give it to you?…knowing everyone is praying helps me so much. I did want to share some good news. My brain cancer is not a good one to get, but my doctor called me last week, and said they found a “favorable marker” in my tumor. I am now part of a study at Mass Gen. The favorable marker is a mutation. They have been following people with the mutation for five years now, and it seems their tumors are not as aggressive, even though it is a grade four tumor, and they are finding that people with the mutation are living longer! I am holding on to those words real tight! I started treatment this week.. I also went back to work this week – I am surrounded by love and support , and yet there are moments I feel weepy.. Jack, I loved your comments too,, it means a lot to me, since my mom and dad are not here anymore..
    I found out last week my grand baby is a girl! So exciting,
    My kittens (brother and sister tuxedos) are just over a year old now, and seem to be settling down a little bit! I put out a basket of fake gourds and pumpkins, and they have left them alone.. Although they have been “tasting” all of the flowers and plants I have received.. LOL
    I am walking every day on my break at work, and get to see the colorful leaves, bittersweet, berries, a little stream, and busy squirrels on my walk..
    THANKS again to all of you for the wonderful support and prayers I have received from all of you!
    With love from Sandy in Attleboro, MA

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Sandy ~ I love all the positive high notes in your comment … I’m reminded of the sage words of the mom of one of my best friends, “The only way to it is through it.” You are going TO it, and along the way, you are smelling the flowers. I’m so happy you have Mass General behind you. It can’t get much better than that. What an amazing place. I was there once and sent a thank you note afterwards to the nurses who took care of me. Amazing giving people. And now, You are getting a baby Girl. I’m so happy for you. So much to look forward to! Sending love to you and yours, xoxo brave girl. ♥

      • Carilyn Wolski says:

        Hello Sandy Richmond! It was good to hear your “some good news”!!! I wanted to share with you my all-time-favorite words that someday I want to cross-stitch on a pillow or stencil on my wall…………suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope………..Romans 5:3

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        Sandy, a great big DITTO to everything Sue says. Such good news about your Favorable Marker. I think Science is beginning to discover that these markers play a huge role in surviving and overcoming illness. A person’s own outlook [and the support they feel from others] is probably even more important. I know you feel that support here – here’s a big virtual squeeze and smooch winging their way… :>)

      • Deborah Heater (Indiana) says:

        Hello Sandy, I have had you on my mind since talking to Pat and learning that your treatments have started. I am so happy that you wrote so we can hear how positive you are being. I’m going through a “scare” with a family member after having her yearly mammo and getting a negative report. I know that she is scared and after seeing how gracefully you went through your journey I told her that we will go through this together. I’m sending you happy thoughts and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. A baby girl is just so special and the best medicine you can have. Stay positive we are all sending you blessings.

      • Rhonda D. says:

        Sandy, it was so good to hear from you. I have been thinking about you and praying for you everyday. I’ve been quite busy this past little while, yet I was “led” to read this exact page of the blog tonight, and there you were. My goodness, God works in mysterious ways. He wanted me to see this. Please do send your email address to Susan so I can connect with you. I have a book I want to send you asap. Glad to hear that you are going to have a granddaughter to enjoy. Chris Wells is right, that moon will watch over you no matter what stage it is in. Every time you see it just know that He has His eye on you. All the prayers, love and support from the girlfriends will strengthen you and then strengthen you some more. They’re an amazing group these girlfriends. Stay strong Sandy. Set your mind on survival and don’t change it for one second. Sending much love and many hugs. xoxo

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Dear Sandy,
      You have the best attitude for success and all of our loving prayers. I am so excited about your grand baby, a girl. I have two granddaughters, one 2 and one 16. Both of them a delight! You will have so much fun with her.
      Wrapping you in prayer and sending healing energy….look at the full moon tomorrow night, it’s watching over you dear friend.

    • Martha Ellen of VA says:

      Sandy, it is so good to hear news from you! It sounds like you are taking it one day at a time. So happy to hear you are in a study. Love and prayers are lifted up daily for you girlfriend. xoxo ♥

    • Marsha MacLean says:

      Love and prayers coming your way, dear Sandy… There’s so much good news in the realm of cancer treatment. I know the right treatment is out there for you.
      Blessings from California, Marsha

    • Dear Sandy, There are some wonderful resources on YouTube to give you encouragement whenever you feel your courage flagging as can happen in the wakeful moments at night. Here is one: Discouragement is your greatest enemy right now, not your disease.

    • Anne Branco says:

      Prayers and hugs to you Sandy. Susan is absolutely right. Having Mass. General on your side is definitely a huge positive. And a baby girl to look forward to. Congratulations! (I’m originally a Massachusetts girl and grew up near Attleboro.)

      • Carol Maurer, formally Eureka, Ca.... now Kennewick, WA says:

        You are so in my prayers!! Great news of the ‘marker’ and being able to be in that study! You are such an encouragement to others going through rough times right now. I have a friend that has had liver cancer for over a year now and to watch him grow in his faith weekly is amazing! Keep thinking positive thoughts! We are all behind you.

        Carol M

    • June from Southern California says:

      Hi Sandy,

      I would like to join all the girlfriends and tell you that my prayers are with you too! So happy to hear about the marker and that you are participating in the study and have started treatment.

      A number of years ago when doctors were questioning whether prayers had any effect on medical outcomes, there was a study done involving hospital patients and a church. A group of hospital patients with similar medical conditions was divided into three groups … the patients in the first group were being prayed for and were told of the prayers, the patients in the second group were being prayed for but were NOT told of the prayers, and the patients in the third group did not receive prayers. After a time, doctors treating these patients found noticeable differences in conditions of the patients in the three groups. The patients in the first group were doing significantly better in almost every way than the patients in the third group which could possibly be attributed to mental attitude (after all, the first group knew they had a whole church praying for them!) but what was surprising was that the patients in the second group had results very similar to the patients in the first group. The only difference was prayer!

      With much love and best wishes, June

    • Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

      Sandy and Rhonda ~
      Just sending you love and praying that God will shower you with blessings as you take one step at a time toward healing. xoxo

  23. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    I am having the best time reading all these wonderful stories.

    • sbranch says:

      I know exactly how you feel! It took me forever to get them all up because I need to read them all! 🙂

  24. Kathy Phenix says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post! Jack is such a darling “fur-son”. I love his antics and beautiful expressions. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Anne Branco says:

    Susan, I so enjoyed reading about Jack. ( Love, love, love his moustache!) We adopted a tawny colored kitten last year, our Bodie. Bodie padded his way right into our hearts and as we say, he allows US to live with him. We are at his beck and call and can’t even remember what life was like before he came into our lives. He has brought so much joy into our home. There is NOTHING like cuddling with a kitty. Pure joy!

  26. Sharon in So. Calif. says:

    Hi Susan, Thank you for sharing Jack’s “Baby book” with us, he is such a gooooood boy!! P.S. I also love Girl (she is so pretty and elegant), maybe not such a nice sister to Jack though, lol xoxoxoxoxo’s to you and Joe and your kitties.

  27. Christine says:

    OH Jack is so cute ! And I would like to say girl kitty is beautiful and the look on her face in some of those pictures is priceless! Lol I love what you did with the stuffed cat of course he had to look like Jack .I love you ending paragraph I also think that
    Way perhaps if more people did we wold have less problems with the environment and habitat loss ect. Well maybe if all of us who believe take care of our little corner of the world things will change!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s true, and if we all talk about it, not from a political point of view, but just from common good sense.

  28. Carol Maurer, formally Eureka, Ca.... now Kennewick, WA says:

    Good morning to you, Susan and to all the girlfriends out there ~~~ I just loved reading all about Jack. Of course, I’ve followed all his antics ever since you got him, but to read it all once again was priceless. I’ve never known a cat like him before…. are you sure there isn’t a small part dog in him? LOL All that fetching and bringing whatever back to you each time? That’s one of the things that make Jack so special in my opinion. I have to also give credit to Girl Kitty…. I mean she could be so mean to Jack, but she isn’t. Just puts up with his antics. Good thing she has that quiet and patient personality 🙂
    It won’t be long now before you and Joe are back home with your kitties.

    Carol M

    • sbranch says:

      I agree, I’ve never known such a fetcher! Even my dogs never did quite as good as Jack! Girl is exactly that, patient. The only time she really puts her foot down is if Jack wants to get our bed with her. That is out as far as she’s concerned.

  29. Alice in Wisconsin-land says:

    I’m writing to BEG you to never let Jack outside. After all the things you’ve written about his happy, happy life, I can’t understand how you think the RISK of him going outside could make him any happier. YOU are responsible for his safety. FOR SURE if he was killed, even injured outside, you would never forgive yourself. I would challenge you to find one animal “expert” who would recommend letting a cat go outside. My heart just drops, imagining a future blog where you might tell us of something bad that happened to him outside. Please reconsider.

    • sbranch says:

      Don’t worry, nothing is going to happen to Jack! I would never leave him alone outside, but I love nature so much it’s hard for me to keep my animals from having a moment in the sun. Don’t worry please. I probably will never let him go. But I’ve had many kitties, they’ve all gone outside and been just fine and lived to be twenty, nineteen and eighteen (my last three).

      • Karen Saunders says:

        Alice….have you ever wondered why cats sit in windows and stare longingly outside??? Even cats in New York survive outside. I wish all of you would lay-off Susan. She’s a good responsible mother. I know some cats are afraid to go outside because they have been raised inside. I do agree you should bring your cats inside at night…when things hunt. I bring mine in every night…but in the day, she’s free to enjoy the extreme pleasures of being a cat. Climbing trees, chasing leaves, catching a mouse once in awhile. Your cats aren’t idiots…they’re very savy….they’re animals that have lived a long time on this earth… How awful to be rescued from the Animal Shelter and being confined to go to a home and into the same restricted enviornment.

        • sbranch says:

          There really are different circumstances for everyone, it’s all up to the cat mommy! We all know that love and loss is a part of life, but believe me, that little Jack, he is my treasure! When I am careful with him, it’s my own heart I’m guarding.

        • Karen…..still, it’s a risk to let a cat outside even in your own yard without supervision. My dear sweet cat was attacked by a neighbor’s cat while she was a few feet from our front door. We live on 2.5 acres of land. Another risk is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) which can be transmitted this through a bite. You can have your cat vaccinated for this disease, but it has its own risks. We screened in our front porch just so our cat could have her bit of outdoors, such as it is. She lies in the sun in our front room in the afternoons. She has our dog to chase about and her toys, and of course ME. 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            That’s great too Cathy!

          • Karen Saunders says:

            I don’t ever want anything to happen to any of my animals. Unfortunately I can’t have my cat in the house because most of my kids and my husband is allergic. The cat came with the house, (my son left it with us and the people before him left it with the house.) If I kept her in she would be confined to the laundry room….with one small window. I just can’t do that to her. It’s not that I love her any less than you all do with yours…. and she has gotten in a couple fights and survived. The cat door was not a good idea because the raccoons use it too. (that was fun..) I guess like Susan say’s….it’s just not an issue that is cut and dry…

          • sbranch says:

            The thing about all of us that I truly believe is that we do our best. Like Thomas Edison said, “There ain’t no rules around here” and that’s how I feel about almost everything.

        • Karen, this is in response to your comment made at 3:27 on Sunday…..Your situation is obviously different. Once a cat has been given it’s freedom it won’t be content to stay indoors and since you “inherited” your cat there’s little you can do except what you are already doing. I’m well aware of the conflicting feelings of wanting to let a cat climb trees, etc. and keeping them indoors. My present cat–the first for me to keep indoors–I got through the Animal Rescue League. I signed a paper saying I’d keep her indoors. They found her in a shelter with a broken front leg and broken tooth when she was about 9 months old. They took her and fixed her up (in a cast for awhile at a cost of $1,000!) and put her up for adoption. That’s how I got her. I arranged furniture in my laundry room so she could reach the basement windows–all three–so she has her “treetops”. I do find her, however, hanging around the door sometimes when I let my dog out into the fenced yard. I can see her thinking about it….but she’s never made a mad dash, thankfully. I wonder if she’s thinking of the car that hit her when she was younger and decides not to risk it.

          • Janet in Rochester says:

            Cahy, I think you’re right about your kitty who hesitates about going out, thinking of the “outside” car that hit her. Years ago, my mother rescued a 6-month old kitty in March. We think the poor little thing spent that previous Winter in an old stone barn across the street. Tess is now 14 years old, lives with my sister and her Golden Retriever “brother” and in all this time has shown NO interest in going outside. We think she’s remembering all those months spent freezing in the barn. She knows a good thing when she’s found it.

  30. Just Cats says:

    Hi Susan – This is such a cute post. I JUST LOVE JACK.

  31. Susan (in VA) says:

    Thank you, Susan. I recently found myself kitty-less for the first time in about 33 years and it’s been tough. I get such an enormous amount of vicarious joy reading about Girl Kitty and Jack. >^.^<

  32. OH, how very lovely! thank you, Susan, for starting my day with a big dose of love and fur. Cackie

  33. Anita in Colorado says:

    Just enjoyed the blog about your Jack while having my breakfast! I have been in job hunting mode after our department being closed totally in late August, and am spending HOURS playing “hunt and seek” on the internet job sites. Sometimes, it just gets to be a bit too much, and then I’ll think. . . “I wonder if Susan might have a new post,” so I go to my favorites and here, this morning, was the history and story of your kitty, Jack! Personally, we have two Boston Terriers (but alas, they are BLACK and WHITE tuxedos also!) but reading your post could make anyone a convert!!! Anyway, just wanted you to know that your beautiful writing, sentiments, photos are helping me through a rather difficult and not-so-pleasant time. How I wish I had your talents! My dream is to have a job I LOVE, one that doesn’t seem like work but play the majority of the time. It’s a shame to be this old and still, so clueless! Thanks for the inspiration, Susan!

  34. Donna Babbitt says:

    A cautionary “tail” for the older girlfriends, I am 78; too many precious pets end up in the pound when their people get sick, die, go to a home or whatever. Please, please, always secure a backup stepmom for your petty pets “just in case.”
    We lost our beloved Ernie cat after 20 yrs. and I figured my pet days were nearly over our doggie is ten and I couldn’t see a pet through it’s life should I pop off. BUT, I had too much love to give so found a darling older cat ( please consider them) in a sanctuary and they require stepmoms for all adopters. A son and niece volunteered, I signed them up and Chloe lives in splendor, mostly on my lap. We have bonded just as well as if I had had her from kittenhood, we are thrilled with each other. She is the smartest, cuddliest kitty ever!!!
    There are so many out there needing the time and love that we older girlfriends can give them. Purring in Ca. Donna

    • sbranch says:

      Good girl Donna! Lucky Chloe and lucky you and perfect advice. xoxo

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        I think older people-older animals are such a good match, so this “stepmom required” is a great idea. Maybe for younger adopters as well, especially when so many apartment complexes and landlords are not “pet-friendly.” I read stories all the time on the Humane Society e-mail newsletter about adoptable animals who have to be surrendered because the owners have been prevented by “The Man.”

      • Deborah Heater (Indiana) says:

        Hello Donna, first off reading your post gave me a chuckle when you said “pop off” which is very proactive of you to have a backup for your pets. I had to smile because we are the proud grandparents of 3 pets (2 kitties and a water turtle) that my lovely daughter collected during her college years. We are so attached to them so they are truly our pets. I wished you could have seen the look on my husbands face when he asked Angela how long the pets would live. The cats since they are indoors can live up to 25 years, and the water turtle for 40 years!!! Bless Jim’s heart he pondered and then said to me “Deb, we will have to put them in our Will”….:) I have our backup [ANGELA], they always say what goes around comes around. Enjoy Chloe =^.,.^=

  35. Dena says:

    hi just want to let you know this story, i went to crusin on the coast last week, went in a few antique store, and guess who i saw !!!!! A doll just like petey !!!! i was so excited!!!!!! , i told the story of petey , to the lady at the store and told her of your blog ,and she had to read it, i so wanted to buy him , but bought the cutest vintage chair , that swivels and is so perfect for my craft studio, and had just enough money for it, (AS i was headin to my car at the end of the day) and thought it was your special relationship with petey , and felt it wasn’t right to buy him . Hard to explain but it was Like i would be copying a friend. Will have to try some of your new recipes. love them all. thanks!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I hear of Petey sightings so often . . . there was a really old one in a display case on the Queen Mary in Long Beach too.

  36. Donna Babbitt says:

    P.S. Apparently we need to start a FOJ fan club with the motto being………………

    TAILS UP!!!!

  37. Stephanie T says:

    Hello Susan–Please tell me if those are your words around your drawing of the earth. I would love to frame them and give credit where credit is due. They say everything I feel. Oh, and I too thank God daily for our precious little pup who brings so much joy to our family. What blessings are our pets.

  38. Mary S. says:

    What a wonderful blog, Susan!! I never get tired of hearing about Jack and seeing his adorable face, which always makes me laugh out loud! And Girl Kitty – I love you, too!!
    “Sometimes I marvel that God gave us these little creatures to live with us inside our homes, purr in our ears, rub against our legs, cuddle with us and our children at night.” – I totally agree!!!!

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  39. Debs OBrien says:

    Such a purr~fect tribute to your special little Jack Kitty~~and I know the heartache of having to leave a small family member behind all to well, for I had to leave my beloved English Springer Spaniel with my parents for four whole years! Heart~wrenching isn’t the word for it. For many months my kitchen floor was littered with pieces of vegetables when I was cooking because I was so used to throwing a piece of carrot, apple, or such, to her while she followed me around the kitchen. It was a habit that took months to break and I sobbed each time I had to clean up the floor, which was daily!

    Love my Girlfriends charm :), and wasn’t unhappy that I had to pay VAT to Customs on it (as I had expected that), but the excessive ‘Handling Fee’ they imposed really took the edge off all the fun, as the handling fee was 1/3 the cost of everything! Guess HMR&C has a ‘flat rate handling fee’ regardless of the amount collected. 🙁

    Waving from Across The Pond where the weather is getting ready to kick off again! 😀 Autumn is definitely here! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Oh that’s terrible Debs. I know, because my girlfriend Ray and I send parcels back and forth and have to go through that Customs thing every time. I’m so sorry. Waving back your way, waves are freeee, happy fall!

  40. Maureen MacKenzie says:

    Hi Susan,

    What a great post. I miss my cat so much. She was all black and petite – and when the Christmas tree was up I could always find her sleeping under it. We just got back from The Red Lion Inn where we met Simon the cat. What a great place! I read about it on your blog a while ago…maybe even a few years ago. My husband, Bruce, and I went the first weekend in October for our anniversary and they left a bottle of wine in our room for us. The fireplace was going at night in the main lobby…lucky because it was still too hot on Long Island where we live (we did, however, have a fire at home last weekend-yeah). It was beautiful up there….thanks for the recommendation!


  41. Heather L. says:

    Hi Susan! We are back from our amazing six week trip to Scotland and the Lake District! What a dream! We all loved it and all the study we did beforehand paid off!! I wanted to write you a letter about our trip. Do you have a post office box or some form of postal address?

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Heather . . . I wrote you to the email account that’s included with your comment Hope you get it!

  42. Candace says:

    It has been almost a year since we lost our beloved Roy. Not having a cat in the house has been difficult. I am trying to write “Roy’s story” as he was a very unique cat. Your post inspired me to start again on this project.

  43. Janet in Rochester says:

    Dear Girlfriends – thanks everyone for sharing your wonderful, funny, touching, heartwarming and heartbreaking stories of your pets – thoroughly enjoyed every one of them! :>)

  44. Anna, Camano Island,WA says:

    I just got home from a wonderful week on the oregon coast with my daughter and her family, beautiful october weather , sunny and dry all week. – After a 7 and a half hour drive home, I was greeted by my two faithful kitties, Tigger (a girl) who is 18 years old and Muffy a grey haired, green eyed beauty. Both are little rascals, but I love them and its so nice to be welcomed home by little kitty faces in the window. After unpacking I made some yummy bengal spice tea with a little milk (I am cutting back on cream for a while) and sat down to check for a new post and wha-la, there it was, so cute. I thank God for my furry friends also and the beauty of this earth we live on, the Oregon coast is so pretty, it just makes my heart sing whenever I go and like you I look up and whisper thankyou to the maker of so much beauty. – Also , so happy to hear of Sandy’s good news update, and yes prayer certainly does change things for the good. Just believe!

  45. Karen says:

    He is a sweetheart for sure . . . I guess people do request a certain look of dogs and cats i.e. ‘tuxedo’. What I would have missed had I done that with my gang of dogs and cats . . . . I take them as they come:)

  46. Hi Susan, I just received Yankee magazine and the article featuring you as the Queen of Cozy was a delight to read! Congratulations on having such a lovely article written about you! It mentions an forthcoming breakfast book “Pancakes”. When will we be able to purchase it? I also want to thank you for the breast cancer awareness illustration and remind all the girlfriends to get their mammograms! I had mine a couple of weeks ago which required a core biopsy that showed the earliest stage of cancer and I am having a lumpectomy done this Friday to be followed in a month by radiation but my breast surgeon assures me we caught it very early in its most treatable stage. I am maintaining the positive attitude that got me through Ovarian cancer last year and send prayers to girlfriend Sandy who is going through a rough spell herself and ask her to stay strong. Again, girlfriends get checked and tell your mothers and sisters and dear friends to get the test. It’s a painless test, honest! I’d never lie to a girlfriend

    • sbranch says:

      Pancakes was about half done when Joe and I got the brilliant idea to go to England! 🙂 You can see what happened there, Deb! I loved your comment, so helpful and positive and right. Thank you, every word a pearl. xoxo

    • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

      Deb, we are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. So glad that you caught it early and are already on your way to good health! Stay positive and strong by doing the things that bring you joy! Just wondering if our paths might have crossed in September at Susan’s book signing or tea party? It was such fun to gather with so many Girlfriends! ♡♡ Dawn

    • Carol C says:

      Hi Deb, I have been through the exact same thing—had ovarian cancer then 4 yrs. later found the breast cancer and a recurrence of the ovarian. That was 2 yrs. ago. I agree that a positive attitude and praying friends are the best medicine. There is a blessing in having something like that in that you appreciate each day as a gift. It sounds like Sandy has already got that part down. My prayers will be going up for you, Sandy and Rhonda! PS My doctor says that they can tell those that have the best chance of survival by their reaction to the news and attitude toward treatment. There is a song” Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There” and He is there to carry you through the fire again.

  47. Pat Bates says:

    Hi Susan-
    What are the chances that you might be able to become a supplier of
    the Ring Dish, which you purchased at Charleston? See page 115 of A Fine Romance.

    Please give Petey and that Good Looking Man in Your Life, a Hug for me!

    Pat Bates

    • sbranch says:

      Not as good as we would wish as this was a little “piece of art” and as far as I know, there was only one exactly like this one. But when I get home, I’ll look on the back and see what info I can get.

  48. Yes! The Thin Man! Hahaha. I love the recap and new bits of Jack’s story. I can’t imagine my life or home without cats. Magical pictures! I feel like a little bit of Jack belongs to all of us.

  49. Julie says:

    Our furry family, all rescues, have brought us years of joy, laughs and love. Local shelters and rescue groups are brimming, I hope Jack’s story encourages readers to consider adoption and experience for themselves the unconditional love of a pet.

  50. Marcia A. Sherman says:

    Susan – one of your best blogs yet – yes, everyone should have a pet. On another note I received my Yankee Mag in the mail yesterday! Great pix – only wish there were more of them. It will enjoy a place of honour in my living room as part of the holiday decor.
    Best of everything to you – oh wait! it appears you may already have that….
    Marcia from Sewell, NJ

    • sbranch says:

      That’s a good idea Marcia, I took tons of photos when YANKEE was at the house — I’ll do a post of it. My pictures are bigger than theirs! 🙂

  51. N. Jean says:

    I am surely missing a new blog post from you. Hope you are enjoying your time in California.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m on my way . . . 🙂 we have been SO busy, getting ready for the new books to arrive (any moment now), YANKEE came in and all the new Christmas stuff, and the new glass charms came yesterday, and new holiday tea, it’s been a bit crazy, but I’m on my way.

      • N. Jean says:

        Busy, busy, busy…I know you will bring us all up to date as soon as you can. We all love your posts.

        • sbranch says:

          There is so much going on, I almost don’t know where to start! There are too many cute things coming in and I get excited for show and tell. There’s the Yankee magazine shoot and all the photos I’ve been saving to show when the magazine came out. But there’s Halloween, and fall, and sunsets, and foggy California mornings too, so where do I go first???

          • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

            Hi Susan! It’s so exciting to have so many wonderful things to share with all of us! Maybe you can share the Yankee magazine pictures and video first! Next week, we can all celebrate Halloween together. It would also be great to see your California home and friends while you are there. You must be counting your blessings every day, dear friend!
            P.S. We will have snow flurries in Chicagoland today!

      • Jan says:

        Saw the new Christmas teas just after I placed my order, so that will go on my Christmas wish list (along with a few other things in your store). Have decided you will need to come out with a Christmas tea tin to put our Christmas tea in! Ha!

  52. Carrie says:

    Dear Susie Q, We Do Love You, Our Susie Q, (I think that hails from a song, right? but it sure is fitting in addressing our Goddess of all things Good),

    What a sweet post. Jack is quite a wonder – his face is out of this world. It very nearly has me going out to get another putty cat; didn’t think I could do it after losing my feline pal a few months ago and my dog of x14 years before that BUT, you have me doing a bit of a re-think. Thanks!

    Colors are exquisite up here in northern CA. I was at Apple Hill up Hwy 50 last weekend and it was just beautiful. Found a necklace made from apple seeds – fun! There were three of us and we laughed until literally our faces and jaw muscles were hurting.

    My friend had me overnight and I was treated like I was a guest in a B&B. Slept in this princess and the pea type bed – heaven (my beds have all been purchased from friends so I’m thinking it’s time to buy my first brand new bed at age 52). She made three different kinds of homemade soup, to die for, particularly for this microwavin’ maven – my tastebuds didn’t know what hit them. We are both earlier risers so we were in her Jacuzzi at o’dark thirty, just us, the birdies and her pooches, the wonders that are Bella and Boris.

    Toying with the idea of driving to San Luis Obispo for your Nov 10th signing. Sounds like a lot of people coming to see you that day.

    Greetings to all of your elves in the studio, they are tres fabulous as are you, Carrie

    • sbranch says:

      “Re-thinking” is how it begins, I like to hear that 🙂 — Thank you Carrie! xoxo Much love to you.

  53. Sherry Winchester says:

    This has to be one of your very best blogs ever! As a kitty “mama”, too, for multiple felines, this all was so close to my heart. Thank you for sharing, Susan!

  54. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    Love this little quote from the famous “Anonymous” on my desk calendar today: “The woods are full of fairies, the sea is full of fish; the trees are full of golden leaves, let’s make an autumn wish.” My wish for autumn, and all the seasons, is peace, vibrant health and happiness to everyone and their petty-pets too! Also, just read your “I Love England” Jane Austen posting, and it was perfectly wonderful. I am browsing your webstore almost daily and have already stashed a few little Christmas things to make that season jollier. Thank you for giving me a head start, my Imaginary Friend.;) (My son’s “observation” has stayed with me!)

  55. Rosemary says:

    Susan, today I received the Yankee Magazine with the article about your Christmas house. It was a wonderful piece with lots of photos. I enjoyed it.
    Thank You for Sharing !!

  56. nanette from alabama says:

    Absolutely ADORABLE blog! (How could it be anything else when Jack is involved, I ask you! )

    Please, Please, Please………blog more often! We are missing you terribly while you are traveling! You are simply the best! Forgive us for being greedy!

    • sbranch says:

      I try, but my house is IN my studio, so every day Kellee and Sheri and Alfredo come here! That’s number one. Kellee has me designing new things! The second thing is, the BOOKS arrive, I think, tomorrow — so we’ve been around with shippers and talking about things like fork lifts! THEN of course, my oldest friends live here. Gotta go play too. Plus three more Book events are looming . . . we leave on Saturday for one of them. So, I feel bad I’m not doing it enough, but I will try to do more. I keep promising myself to make them shorter, and do more. But it never happens. Once I start, you may have noticed, I can’t stop until the entire story is told!

  57. Anna from Herefordshire says:

    Hi Susan,
    What a nice post. Life would certainly be dull without our kitty friends. Shortly after we moved into our house the village cat Poppy decided to move in too.

  58. Karen Lawson says:

    What a precious post.

  59. Marsha MacLean says:

    Dear Susan,
    Oh, I know what you mean by enjoying the foggy California mornings along the coast and fall and Halloween!! The same friend who is visiting Remnants with me in a few weeks traveled with me last weekend up to the Cambria scarecrow festival… and even though it was a short trip, what fun! What beauty! Then upon my return, Yankee magazine in my mailbox! I’m almost (almost!) on beauty overload! Thanks for the darling post. We will all wait patiently for the next post… and I am looking forward to Remnants!

  60. Michele Clark says:

    They are adorable Susan. We have two tuxedos…Oreo Cookie and Stormy…and well, we were avid dog people until these two…lol!!! How do you get around the scratching thing??? Our sofa is in shreds and farmhouse table legs in ribbons…:(
    I do not have the heart to declaw them…never would…so what is your secret? You have such beautiful things?

    • sbranch says:

      Many of them are clawed too, because Girl Kitty was never given a scratching post when she was a baby. But Jack was, and he never scratches the furniture. Live and learn! I don’t mind the scratches because I love Girl too much, but would rather NOT have them!

  61. Vickie McCubbin says:

    We now have three cats and I love all of them dearly. I have always been a “cat” person…..just love those furry things. I love reading about Jack. Thanks for sharing your happiness.

  62. Rosie herdman says:

    Oct. 25, 2013

    Few months ago I signed uo to receive the newsletter, have yet to receive it. Only way i can pull it up is to hit bottom of old blog. We visited Mossup.Ct back in may and plan on going back this weekend to see the countryside and turkeys.

    So love your blog, your home is so lived in, and well it should. we had a cat almost identical to your jack, her name was Missy, my husdband had her for 12 years but she got very weak and sick and it was best to let her go, she had a look on her face that said:if u love me, see how difficult , i can;t walk anymore. it was sad but the vet. clinic made us both so comfortable, I know what it is like to lose a pet as a child, but as Roy and i sat with our little girl, my husband commented, hon, i have never seen her so at peace. They burried her for us. it was so very special, was a year ago Sept. 13, interesting my daughter lost her little girl of 16 years the same day year before.

    Have a super day, Here in Ct. it is trully Indian summer. We were up in the Catskill Mts. last weekend, just georgeous.

    Rosie in Ct.

  63. Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    Good afternoon Susan and to all girlfriends everywhere ~~~ I didn’t have the time yesterday to leave a comment and here I could have been first in line perhaps. No other comments were there. Oh well 🙂

    I loved the post telling all of us about the Yankee Magazine, all the pictures and all the behind the scenes. I really am looking forward to seeing it in living color! Talk about putting us into the mood for Christmas already .. LOL

    Speaking of Christmas, I had ordered the angel chimes and candles. Also ordered 3 Christmas Joy books. I’m keeping one for myself and giving the other 2 away as gifts. They came in the mail today. Also, my calendar that I ordered.

    Have a great weekend and enjoy the good weather for as long as it stays with us.

    Carol M

  64. Carol Maurer~~~~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    Would you believe that I wrote this reply in the wrong blog? I wrote it before I read any of the girlfriend’s comments. Was wondering why nobody said anything about the magazine, etc. This won’t make any sense to them. LOL

  65. Debra Hoy says:

    Hi Susan,
    I loved reading about your love and affection for your cats. I have four of my own – Abby (21 yrs. old this spring), Ollie & Michael (brothers) & Frankie. All are rescues. I fenced in a part of my back yard and they go out through a pet door from the (enclosed) breezeway. It’s the best of both worlds – they get all the benefits of being outside without me worrying about cars and other dangers. They watch birds, lay under the bushes, drink from the pond and generally have a grand time. They spend the night inside. Can’t imagine life without kitties!

  66. Val Wheater says:

    Hello Susan, I was on holiday with my mom down in Florence, Oregon in September (we’re from Vancouver, Canada eh) and saw your book A Fine Romance in a sweet little bookstore. I knew I had to have it and just finished reading it. It was absolutely delightful! Mom is originally from London, England and she has been to a lot of the National Trust homes that you visited…I know she will enjoy your book as much as I did.

    • sbranch says:

      So nice to hear! I’m glad you found it Val. The second printing came in just yesterday, finally! I woke up this morning feeling like Christmas morning knowing it was going out to everyone who’s been ordering and waiting. Please say Hello to your mom for me!

  67. Carol Capron-Roby says:

    I love your blog. Was happy to receive my new Yankee Magazine in the mail today and saw your article and because I love all things MV, I had to check out your blog. How inspirational and heartwarming. Thank you!

  68. Leslie says:

    If you love your Jack, let him be an indoor cat. He will be perfectly happy and will live so much longer. I’ve lost 2 of my dear hearts to coyotes or foxes and I can’t tell the sorrow and remorse I feel, even 5 years later. Now all my cats stay in from kitten hood and they are perfectly content. I did get 2 sisters and they give each other plenty of exercise.
    Thank you for all the beauty you create. I’ve collected your books from way back when!

  69. joan spears says:

    S.O.S. I love my kitties, but am having trouble w/them getting in to everything they shouldn’t! Everything is a toy to them. I haven’t been able to put out holiday decorations for a couple of years now due to the fact they think all decorations are fair game! What to do?!

    • sbranch says:

      All of them are so different. Girl doesn’t really like any toys and Jack is not interested in the decorations as toys, he chooses his own and chooses pony tail bands! I’m sure you already do give them toys of their own? And play with that feather on the stick until they are all tuckered out? If they can be made to go for their own toys, of course that would be better. But one thing for sure, they slow down and get less playful as they get older, so perhaps it’s just a matter of time. Hopefully someone else has a better answer for you than me!

  70. Mary says:

    LOVED the Yankee article Susan! Martha’s Vineyard is my favorite place in the world! We honeymooned in a sweet little yellow cottage on Spring Street in Vineyard Haven back in Oct 2005. Will never forget such a wonderful romantic autumn honeymoon. Married 8 years now, we too have a tuxedo cat. He showed up at our back door a year ago. We had to keep him! With that sweet face looking up at me, begging for a home, food and love, how could I say no to such a sweet, lost and homeless kitten. He quickly took over our home and our hearts. We named him Bosco, after St. John Bosco, patron of lost and homeless boys. He’s filled our home with love and laughter ever since. He too loves to fetch ponytail bands. Thank you for sharing your story of Jack with us. I can see why you fell in love with him so fast!

  71. Helen says:

    We got our aging Golden Retriever a little black cat for company (because Bailey is not a dog person)! Barnum has added years to Bailey’s life and great joy to ours, in spite of the fact that she loves to hide behind doors and run out and trip us!

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