Have you ever experienced the Cone of Uncertainty?  It is a scary thing, the uncertain unknown . . .  MUSICA

the garden

That’s our garden this morning, from the upstairs bedroom window, it looks nice and peaceful.


And here’s Jack, in front of the window, patiently waiting for me to put down the camera and pay attention to him.  The only thing he’s afraid of is that I might leave the room before I shoot his rubber band across the bed so he can catch it in mid-air with his two paws, put it in his mouth and bring it to me and show me what a very good boy he is.  He should never worry about that. I am his slave.


But things around here weren’t all that good a couple of days ago.  The Police Departments canceled everything on the island for the Fourth of July, shut down the ferry’s to and from the island ~ the parade and the fireworks were rescheduled for the fifth, which was nice because it gave everyone something to look forward to.  But first we needed to deal with a small problem.  A hurricane was coming.  Pouring rain was forecast but nobody birdknew what other damage Hurricane Arthur might do.  There were some grim predictions. The news media was saying Martha’s Vineyard was inside the “cone of uncertainty.” (If you can say that with an echo in your voice, you will probably understand how it sounds to people inside the cone.) Uncertainty is such a scary thing.  All we knew for sure, before the hurricane came, is that it was HOT.  Hot, Humid and Miserable.

hot weather


We closed the house up, turned on the air conditioners and hunkered down to wait out the storm.  I can’t imagine what the tourists did; the island was packed for the holiday weekend. They couldn’t very well go to the beach.  I’m sure the weather my diaryreports put them in a little bit of a panic.  We were lucky because we live here so we had a perfectly lovely day.  I climbed into my time machine and wrote on my book for a while, and went through old photo albums sorting photos to be scanned for the book including the one I took of the tree that fell on my house in the hurricane of 1985.  I marked sections from my diaries that I hope to include.  I took pictures for this post while Joe tinkered at his workbench in the barn — later he went across the street to visit his sister and keep her company so I took advantage of the moment and mooshed into the sofa with the cats and watched Miss Potter for at least the 37th time (that’s what Joe would say) while the wind blew and the rain washed over us.  It was coming down harder than ever when we went to bed.  I hoped we’d still be here in the morning. That cone of uncertainty hung heavy in our dreams . . .


Early the next day, the minute it got light, I took my camera outside to survey the damage.  The storm was just rolling out and the clouds were moving fast . . . it had stopped raining, but the winds were still gusting, and best of all, it was so chilly I had to put on two sweaters.  The storm had blown away all the heat and humidity; cool, dry air had come in and it was glorious.  It felt like late September.  It made me fall in love with Hurricane Arthur.  

U n t i l   I   s a w   t h e   d a m a g e . . .

linden blossoms on car

Oh yeah, it was a wreck… disgusting linden-tree blossoms were all over my Volvo . . .

storm damageThere were leaves in the bird bath!!!!! I have no words for this.

yikes!Shockingly, the backs of the lawn furniture had been caught up in the deluge and had been blown forward.  BOOM!  Must have been a real racket when that happened.

leaf litter destruction 2014

I don’t know if you could see it in the last photo, or even this one, but close-up, the leaf litter situation is dire.  Tatters all over the lawn.  A real mess.  And then there was this:

our new hibiscusOur new hibiscus. Dead in the driveway.  (Well, maybe not dead.)  I was almost afraid to go upstairs and check out the rooms in the house to see what had gone on there.  But as homeowner, it was my job to know.  I steeled myself — for good reason — as I found out, the worst was yet to come.

Jane Austen

Wait, don’t you want to see the worst?  Squinch your eyes together and allow yourself to get used to this painful sight slowly.

more damage

I’m not kidding. This happened. We forgot to close the window.  Wind took ‘er right down. So sad. Must go fill out the insurance papers.

the barn and garden after the storm

But the most amazing thing is how quickly Mother Earth can heal herself.  Twenty-four hours later, even after something like that, she is green and beautiful again.


garden in repair

much betterThe island is coming back to life.  🙂  I hope all our hurricanes can be this wonderful.  And all the hurricanes in all the places in the world.

Edgartown FireworksThe next evening, on July 5th, the Fourth of July for those living inside the Cone of Uncertainty, we went with friends to the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club to have dinner next to the water and watch, from far far away, the Edgartown fireworks.  


This has royally messed with our Cone heads because now we don’t know what the date is anymore.  We are in utter confusion.  But we took it like men and quit fretting ~ what difference does it make?  Just let the soft breezes and salt air brush over us and watch the boats come in, and soon, it was like 1934 and we were beyond the reach of mundane modern-day concerns like what day it is.



Fireworks going off behind the ferry has got to be a quintessential Vineyard view wouldn’t ferryyou think? I imagine the people on board feel like they just stepped into a movie.  What if this was your first time ever to arrive on the island?  Wouldn’t that be unforgettable?  This is the work of the Vineyard elves I told you about in one of my first books.  Running ahead, putting visions like this out for anyone and everyone to see.  I might have been homesick when I first moved to the island, missing my friends and family in California, but once you know about the elves, it’s very hard to leave.


Sometimes there are nights that are so beautiful you actually forget to take pictures, and this was one of them.  We got these few, and this one of a yacht coming in . . .



But, sadly, we forgot all about pictures of the dinner and the dancing. It was actually a dinner dance at the yacht club, and I shell candlecan’t tell you how much I wish I’d gotten a photo of so many things, including the HUGE bowl of fresh strawberries, the other HUGE bowl of whipped cream and the platters filled with shortcakes they put out for the dessert buffet.  

It was an old-fashioned island dance, women wore summer dresses, men had on ironed pink shirts.  Like a country dance being held in a garden, only this was the shore. The music was heavenly,  the air was cool, we walked out on the pier and looked at all the blinking lights around the harbor and heard the water lapping on shore, it was a lovely evening, and it didn’t matter one iota that no one knew what day it was.


“I bought a dress, a romantic dress, a purely summer party dress: white, splashed with large pink dots, a floppy full skirt and bared shoulders.  A dress for a summer tan, a summer dance.”   Alice Adams


my frog is green now

Then yesterday, for a change of pace, I painted my Prince Charming porch frog green.  I always wished he was green, because I thought green would make a better contrast (from the beige he was before) to our white porch rail.  So there he is, green as can be.  Still all heart, sweetness and light.

new blotter

There are lots of COMING ATTRACTIONS in my future I thought I would share with you.  This is one of them, coming soon . . . this is our new Blotter Calendar.  I just got the first one, hot off the press ~ I have to tell you, it turned really nice. Look how much bigger they are than they used to be.  I put that paper clip there for size, can you see how big this is?



Here’s a better way to show it . . . this is my new wall-calendar on top ~ Kellee told everyone on Facebook they arrived last week, but just in case you missed it,


 They came in last week!) ~ you can compare the two sizes here.  I have a better idea . . .

old and new blotters

I just realized I could use one of the old blotters for comparison.  This really tells you.  The new one is 22″ x 17″ to be exact.  The Wall-Calendar, Two-Year Purse Calendar, Mini and Magnet are already in . . . and the Blotter is coming soon.

contract for Chinese Rights

And I’m celebrating because today I send in the signed contracts for the Chinese Publishing Rights to A Fine Romance.  This is the first time any of my books will be translated into another language and I’m very excited about it.  They are going to copy the entire book using a “Chinese Handwriting Font”  — I can’t wait to see it.  It’s probably going to take months to do it, but watch this space because someday I’ll show you (and me) what our book looks like in Chinese! If I get an extra copy, I’ll sign it and we’ll make it a give-away.


On our way to Ellen Terry's

More coming attractions start with “Yesterday,” when I had the very difficult assignment of going through our old Trip-to-England photos ~ I’m being reminded in this photo of the serendipity of deciding whether or not to go on and follow that path and see what’s at the end, or turning back.  Of course we went on! Look at that place! How could we not?

photos for PBS

The reason I was doing this is because I was asked by PBS Rhode Island Television to cohost a “Brit Com” Night next September 9th from 7:30 to 10:30 pm with Kathryn Larsen.

The Queen

How fun!  They are a PBS station that shows lots of wonderful English TV, such as Doc Martin, and (dare I say it out loud) Downton Abbey.  I hope they stream our show so everyone can see it. I don’t know if they do yet.

Dove Cottage

They want us to talk about where we went and how I wrote A FINE ROMANCE and to give away lots of signed copies of it and also the new Ten Year Anniversary Edition of AUTUMN and Calendars too!  The give-aways will be for people who send in pledges to the station, and they’re going to show lots of photos of the trip too ~ my only trouble was choosing which ones to send! My hope is that everyone watching will end up . . .

Falling in Love

J U S T    L I K E    U S  !

ellen terry's garden

I don’t see how they could help it.  It should be a lot of fun, I’ve also never been on PBS before, so of course I am instantly on a diet. We’ll talk about that later. 🙂  

And one last thing:

Library Days

I get to go back to the public library!  My favorite summer thing to do!  On July 14th (just around the corner I think …. if I knew what day it was I’d know for sure) at 4:30 in the Stanleyafternoon, I’ll be speaking, signing A Fine Romance and answering questions at the West Falmouth Library on Cape Cod ~  You can read more about it HERE. Just in case some of you are in the neighborhood, I’d love to see you.  I promise we’ll try not to have any hurricanes.

There are even more coming attractions, but I will save them for next time! Hope you are having a wonderful day everyone, Byeeee for now, XOXO



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  1. Karen says:

    Holy Hurricane is right, batwoman! Such a funny post……I could sum it up with LOL, but for so many years I thought that meant “lots of love” and still use it that way sometimes. So LOL from me to you!

    • sbranch says:

      I really tried not to use LOL for many years? or months? But finally I gave up because what works better than that, either way!

    • Gert~Iowa says:

      Lol…I always thought it was “lots of love” too, not “laughing out loud”! My granddaughter laughed when I told her, but I liked the first one better too.

  2. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh Susan I was so worried about you when I was watching the weather channel…sure looked like it was bad! Soooo glad you guys are safe! Your yard and garden are so beautiful! Now, for the exciting news…I’m so excited for you (and us!) being on PBS! I pray we’ll be able to see it and donate. Your book has really opened doors for you! And you worked so hard on it! God is… Continue to stay safe…. Hugs to your kitties for me!

  3. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Took me a while to catch on that you were Having US ON! 🙂 So glad that white quilt rack survived. I sooo covet it. Nothing like a big wind to stir things up. We have them here sometimes but never (at least rarely) to the hurricane intensity. Love the new green froggy color! Oh how I wish I knew how to convince our local PBS channel to get a hold of your Rhode Island PBS appearance . . . I started re reading A Fine Romance a couple nights ago for some reason . . . Maybe because I knew the big wind was blowing on your island. Anyhow good to know you are alright and about the upcoming events.

    I have strong sense memories of library visits with a girlfriend in about 8th grade. We would ride the bus to a red brick Carnegie library in “Columbia City” – now a historical area of Seattle. She was a real brainy girl and took books out by the shopping bag full. I credit her with starting my own life-long love of reading. Very grateful to her. I’m excited about the Chinese edition of A Fine Romance. I’d like to give it to my doctor and his wife who could read it.

  4. Jeanie Bragin says:

    Thanks for the photos of the belated July 4th fireworks display. I fondly remember a July 4th fireworks display in Oak Bluffs many ears ago on a foggy night with hundreds of people watching from Ocean Park. The fog seemed to make the bursts of light even more magical to me. Of course, Ilumination Night in August was a fabulous experience also.
    I am thrilled that your 2015 calendar will be in the desk size format this year! I’ll get my order in for all the sizes right away.
    Thanks for making us happy with your many treasures of stories, art work, recipes and photos especially of Joe. Jack and Girl Kitty.

  5. CarolK says:

    Your story reminded me of my childhood library, which I loved dearly. It was in a big, old Victorian house just a few blocks from my house. It had wonderful old pine floors and little nooks and crannies to sit and read. And little tables and chairs just the right size for us kids. It was quiet and reserved. By the time I was a teenager someone had decided we needed a bigger library in our town. (Were we all getting too big for that lively Victorian?) Any way, they built a huge, square, five story, gray cube right across the street from the lovely Victorian and stuck all the books in there on the first level. It didn’t feel like book heaven any more. Aaaaaa memories………

  6. Carol D. in Sierra Madre, CA says:

    Hi Susan, So happy that Hurricane Arthur turned out to be harmless for you. I thought about you when I saw that it was headed your way. I was going to write you to tell you to take care but then I got sick with the flu over the holiday! Better now, but it sure threw me for a loop, probably more destruction than your hurricane! I wanted to tell you, I love your desk calendar so much that this year I simply changed the days of the week at the top from Sunday through Saturday to Monday through Sunday and I’ve used the calendar all year. As they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention”! Will be happy for the new larger version for next year! Sounds like you had a great “4th-5th”!

    • Carol D. in Sierra Madre, CA says:

      By the way, it was last year’s calendar and I tore off each month and saved them underneath as the months progressed. (Just in case it didn’t make sense.)

  7. Jeanne in New Zealand says:

    Well, I had the best 4th of July of all, I think!

    After flying for a whole day I arrived in Kentucky from New Zealand, the plane crossing over thousands of fireworks on my final stretch. To see all those beautiful blooms of light far, far below, popping up everywhere, was just gorgeous. And then to meet my dear friends picking me up at the airport, I just felt SO embraced!

    I am blessed.

  8. Belinda Riffenburg, FL says:

    Be still my heart! You told us to request the desk calendar from the publishing company, I did! GREAT things come to those who ask and patiently wait!! Woo Hoo! It is soooo big and soooooo pretty!! OH MY GOODNESS!!!! Thank you Publishing Company, thank you Susan Branch! I cannot wait until these come in to order them for myself and my co-worker!! Also ordered one of each of the others……that should satisfy me until the desk calendar arrives….;0)

  9. Judy in OR says:

    So glad you were not hit too hard by the storm. I spoke to my son who was staying across from Martha’s Vineyard on the Cape and he said it sounded horrible most of the night so that set me to wondering how you fared on your island. It is definitely nice to have a cozy, comfy house on a night like that.

  10. Carrie says:

    Manna from heaven, the DESK BLOTTERS!

    Each and every day my current utilitarian desk blotter lies there, all black and white and made of anemic thinly veiled paper with edges that curl, mocking me as if to say, “Ha, you’ve got me all year despite how you are loathe to use me. Go ahead, write on me, touch me and feel nothing; refer to me throughout the day and I’ll give you nada in return, just a vacant stare.” It makes me want to gauge my eyes out! The manufacturer of said desk blotter should be required to sit 8 hrs per day looking at the urban blight they contributed to the cubicle landscape.

    But again you save me from the mundane. I may just have a blotter bonfire for 2014!

  11. Janet in Rochester says:

    Haha! Your storm report was funny. Leaves strewn in yard and on car, two lawn loungers, a quilt rack and a hibiscus tipped over. What a good thing you have those photos for your insurance! LOL! Well, one thing’s for certain. It’s far better to be prepared for something awful and then be so-pleasantly surprised when things turn out to be better than expected. Love that story you wrote in “The Summer Book” about going to the library on hot Summer days. You described my own feelings about the library [any library] perfectly. I’ll never forget how excited I’d be when my mother would take us. The smell of a library is like nothing else on earth And even better were all those books, just for kids, arranged on low shelves where we could get at them easily. I spent many a happy hour in one of the window seats in the Children’s Room looking at all the books I saw on ‘Captain Kangaroo.’ That was SUCH a treat for me. I know my love of books and reading was due in no small part to the Captain, bless his heart. We had a lovely Fourth. My brother got up at 5 am to put two huge & gorgeous briskets on his outdoor grill after marinating them overight. Twelve hours later, they were like buttah! Along with homemade baked beans, homemade coleslaw, homemade pasta salad [orzo and grape tomatoes] and rolls. Followed up by coffee and Pat Addison’s watermelon sherbet during the fireworks portion of the evening! Yummo. Oh and your frog looks just perfect in his new green! He must be loving it!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s not even 6 am right now and I’m starving, thank you so much Janet! 🙂

      • Jack says:

        Don’t say “starving ” say , I’m preparing for PBS ……….

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        the sherbet is so easy to make and so refreshing on a hot night!!! glad the family enjoyed it so much Janet.

        • Pat Mofjeld from Minnesota says:

          where can we find the recipe for it?

          • Tawni urrutia says:

            I’d like that recipe too!❤

          • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

            I put the recipe down below for everyone to copy, enjoy. I hope you all like it. I also have a summer drink with juice from the watermelon, a spoonful of sugar and either 7up or mineral water. fill glass with watermelon juice and add sugar, stir til sugar dissolves, add ice cubes and top off with the 7up or mineral water. refreshing on a hot day.

          • sbranch says:


  12. Susan, it was such a relief to read all of your GOOD news!! I just love the view of your picket fence garden from above! Wish there was a way to view my garden from above. There are only one story homes surrounding us. I’d love to peek down from a second story window! Hmmmm… Maybe if I put a tall ladder on the deck, I could take a picture from above. Anything for a picture!
    Sunny summer wishes!

  13. Terry says:

    You do have the Midas touch Susan…that fallen pot plant got me giggling away! My husband and I are so busy thanks to you..a growing book collection and picket fenced vege garden bed lol!

  14. Kirsten Anne Wichert says:

    I’m excited that my calendars were shipped out today! I also ordered that cute laptop case for my new Windows 8.1 model. So cute that it looks like an old typewriter.

    You really made me laugh today. Oh my! Especially at the “dead hibiscus” and the knocked down quilt rack! Oh dear! You are too funny.

    PBS! Very impressive. But I’m not surprised!

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t that darling? You get to combine the new with the old. I have one too — I also have the “purse” that looks like a radio ~ I get so many compliments on it!

  15. Alison in RI says:

    Hi Susan! Wasn’t that hurricane just terrible?? lol! I was out watching the Bristol Parade (which in its 229 years has NEVER been cancelled) and the people marched on in the rain! <3 Have you ever been to Bristol, RI? It is right up your alley, you would LOVE it!! It's filled with antique shops, every house is an old house, and it has the oldest 4th of July parade in the country!

    Congratulations on RIPBS!! Wow!! This Rhode Island Girl will be watching! 😀

    — Alison in "Little Rhody"

    • sbranch says:

      I have been there Alison, so cute there!

    • mary spring says:

      …I will be in Rhode Island too at that time visiting my eldest daughter, who lives there so close to the beach…so we will be watching too !!..’can’t wait !!.. thanks Susan, again, for such a whimsical post…you know how to keep us with a song in our heart and a smile on our faces…

  16. Barbara Weaver in Hampton says:

    Hello, Susan! I heard Arthur was heading towards you after he passed our home. So glad it was a nonevent for you. Arthur scooted by us in VA in the same way, and I’m so glad. Our destruction was, gasp(!), pine needles all over the lawn! But your quilt rack incident trumps what happened to us. Old Art was my kind of hurricane! Fingers crossed that the next one will be the same! PS Happy Belated Fourth!

    • Barbara Weaver in Hampton says:

      Forgot to mention your library story. It really started some great memories for me! I loved the library in my hometown, too. And read through the Mary Poppins books, the Bobbsey Twins, fairy tales, mythology, you name it. I started riding the bus “downtown” with a friend when I was a 3rd grader…it was a small town and very safe. I remember my dad taking me there to get my first library card. The 50’s were a wonderful decade for growing up!

  17. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Gosh, I can so identify with living in the cone of uncertainty! Here in Florida, we have many such periods between June 1 and November 30 each year. It is unnerving to see the skies turn grey and bands of wind and rain arrive. Will it be a bad one? Will it stay more out at sea this time? Will we lose power again for 4-7 days? Honestly, I dread hurricane season and having to watch the Tropics report every day to see what else is brewing in the Gulf or Atlantic warm bath like waters. So glad that Arthur did minimal damage and life went on as planned for the island and everyone. You just never know about a hurricane!

    On a better note, I LOVE that you are being interviewed about your book and trip on a PBS station with the possibility that we can see the interview too! Recently, I re-read your book and poured over the photos and details. I love being absorbed in the journey complete with stops for tea and walks among the grazing sheep. It is brilliant! And what a lovely compliment to be associated with the station that shows Doc Martin and Downton Abby( two of our home TV watching favorites!) Enjoy your upcoming library talk and book signing event.

    I love that the new calendars are here and your blotter is very cool! It is going to be hard to choose this year what will be best.

  18. Mary of Pa. says:

    WOW, what a weekend.

  19. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    I nearly snorted coffee out my nose while reading this early this morning! I was chuckling at the pics and your descriptions of (oh, the horror) linden blossoms on the Volvo, leaves in the birdbath, folded over lawn chairs and blown over hibiscus. It was when I got to the picture of the open window and tipped over quilt rack that I really cracked up! Hubby looked up from his newspaper and said “You’re reading Susan, aren’t you.” What a delight your blogs are! Oh, how I hope the Rhode Island PBS streams the Brit Com show. Keep us informed, please! Hugs

  20. AngieTink says:

    ✫*¨*.¸¸. Good~Morning Sweet Sue… What A Wild 4th of July Weekend You Had! I Had A Feeling Arthur Was Headed Your Way So I Said A Little Prayer To Keep You Safe! (It Worked!) 😉 ✫ I Love Mr. Froggie Green…. Much Better He Seems Content Being Green! 🙂 Sounds Like You Had The Perfect July 5th! I Love Summer Dances & Sundresses & All That Magic! 🙂 Congratz on PBS! & You Look Adorable Not To Worry About “Diets” 🙂 Also I Did Not Know Joe Had A Sister Living on The Island….& Across The Street…..Delightful! 🙂 Have Fun At The Book~Signing at The Library! I Too Love Going to The Library Sitting in The Cool Quietness….Reading……. Nice! Wishing You & Joe & The Kitties A Lovely Summer’s Day! Yay! xoxo Poof! ✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*. 🙂

  21. Laura Ann in Vermont says:

    Ah! Reading in summer. That’s all I’ve been doing lately. On the couch, on the porch, on a blanket on the grass at my daughter’s riding lesson, in bed in the morning. Around 6:30, my daughters start to ask if we’re going to be having dinner, so I jump up with a start and throw together scrambled eggs or grilled cheese sandwiches. I love summer!!

    Also, love your musica! The other thing I love to do in summer is play the piano, especially oldies from my collection of Reader’s Digest Songbooks. I just discovered “Cow Cow Boogie.” I don’t know how I got to be 50 without ever hearing this little gem of a song!

  22. Vivian in Tennessee says:

    My thoughts were with you when I saw that Arthur was heading toward the Cape. So glad it didn’t get really bad, and everything turned out ok.

    The night at the Yacht Club sounds wonderful…..a night to remember, for sure.

    I think the frog looks better green, he seems happier.

    Loved this post, got my cup of tea, and slowly and quietly enjoyed it.

  23. Ericka says:

    There’s nothing quite like a library, is there? Like you, it holds a special place in my heart…so much so, that I switched careers and became a librarian! Enjoy your summer reading. 🙂

  24. Mary from Ipswich MA says:

    I live on the North Shore of Massachusetts and we were calling the storm Hurricane Arthur Fiedler because of the timing. The Pops concert at the Esplanade was moved to July 3rd and it just wasn’t the same especially since the ix-nayed the 1812 Overture. Boo! As for the kitties, Greta was not amused with the rain and Molly was happy to have some extra cuddle time. (So was I!!)
    Prince Charming Frog looks great in green and look forward to seeing a sample of A Fine Romance in Chinese. So happy for you, Susan.
    And seriously, PBS? You will be FAB-U-LOUS! I hope we can see it here in the States. BTW, I LOVE Doc Martin.
    As always, thank you for the beautiful pictures. They make me happy.

  25. Peggy Cooper says:

    I was delighted to see you mention Doc Martin, and that some of the girlfriends are familiar with it also. We’ve been watching it again on Thursday nights on our PBS station here in Southern Colorado. So glad they’re going to make another season.

    I woke up this morning to clouds and cool, and now it’s raining. So delightful since we just had 3 straight days of 100 plus. Rain here in Pueblo is such a rare sight that it makes me giddy to see it.

  26. Hi Susan,
    I saw that Arthur was heading your way and said a prayer that you and everyone in its path would be OK. Way back in the 90’s We went through Hurricane Gloria when we lived in Massachusetts, (south shore). It was very scary, my neighbors came over and helped me tape up my windows as my husband was out of the country. I’ve been through earthquakes, (Loma Prieta in the Bay Area in 1989), tornado’s growing up in Ohio…it’s amazing I’m still here!!!
    I loved your blog, I go to the library all the time. The other day I was at work and brought in one of the books I picked up in case we had some down time. I mentioned to my co-workers that I had picked up the book at the library and one of the youngsters I work with said “the library???????”. I said yessssss…the library and he said. “have you ever heard of KINDLE?” Well some of the others my age pounced all over this young know it all shaming him for not knowing what a library was!!! Of course he just laughed at us…little poop! I’m a huge mystery fan and just read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn…one of the best books with twist and turns that made my jaw drop! Anyhow, have a great week and get that mess cleared up in your yard!!! ha ha ha…

  27. Denise S says:

    Oh dear! I am afraid that I am one of the people who posted my worries about the storm heading to MV! In my defense, I have lived through many hurricanes, and they can be devastating. BUT, your point is hilariously well taken that the media — particularly the Weather Channel–whip people into a frenzy. The subject of Weather Hysteria is one of gentle sparring in my family. My husband thinks I am too susceptible. Probably right. But I am at least an honest freaker-outer. I read him your blog aloud yesterday and he LOVED IT! He is now a fan! The dreaded linden fallout on the Volvo–it doesn’t get better than this!

    • sbranch says:

      Hindsight comes in so handy when it comes to a storm! Joe also thinks I’m too susceptible, and I am very careful, but this was after, and all is well, so it’s easy to make fun with it!

      • Pat Mofjeld from Minnesota says:

        We get the same “weather hysteria” with winter blizzards here. I go into what my husband calls “Storm Mode” which means a trip to the grocery store for extra water and food–and usually make beef soup/stew and bake bread and cookies immediately. I get hot water into a thermos for making tea in case the power goes off. This is all done in not a panic, rather a “nesting” mode… 🙂

  28. Hello Susan,
    This is my first time replying to one of your posts although I have been a follower, and reader of your books, for quite awhile. Just wanted to say that last week, the seacoast of New Hampshire was on a tornado alert. After having been in a tornado in Enid, Oklahoma, I watched our weatherman go nearly apoplectic about the coming dirge. So, I looked out of my window. Then, I went and made myself some strawberry shortcake!

  29. Janice McEwen says:

    Hurricane Arthur blew past Virginia Beach too. I was worried about the sunflowers my granddaughter planted for me. They had just reached six feet tall and were about to bloom. I went to the store and bought stakes to brace them hoping against hope that the hurricane wouldn’t damage them. I managed to actually sleep through the hurricane and the sunflowers made it intact. Our fireworks display was also rescheduled for Saturday, July 5th.

  30. N Jean says:

    I love this post. We were following the hurricane and are glad all is well. We recently had tornadoes here in mnorthern Indiana. There was a lot of tree damage. But nobody was hurt. Glad you got to see the parade and fireworks.

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

    hello girlfriends, hello Susan. so glad you came through the hurricane okay, how badly damaged where the quilts, were they soaked??? my grandma would hang them on the rack and out into the sunshine they would go for drying, then she would be making her inspection for repairs and get her sewing basket out. and your poor hibiscus plant, I hope it survived. its hot here, so the chickens have their sprinklers on during the day to keep things cool, the babies have their baby pool out in the playpen to swim in and splash around in, wow just a few short weeks ago they were just hatched and now all 6 baby duckling are swimming and one is starting to quack. we have a tarp covering part of the play pen to provide shade for them, but that pool keeps them happy and cool. the baby turkeys are doing fine and yes we have a boy in the batch, maybe even 2, boy when I ask for a busy barnyard, I don’t fool around. now we are looking at the possibility of us moving to Coos Bay, OR around the coast now, my husband put in his application for head tech at the Coos Bay bus shop since the guy there just retired and if he gets it, we are moving. I have no idea what we will do with the barnyard crowd, if we will bring them with us or give them away, I hope we take them with us, because giving them away will break my heart. our baby rooster won first place in the junior division for the the rooster crowing contest, but the 2 adults fudged on us, at home they can’t stay quiet, but put them up on a stage and tell them to crow and guess what they do…shut up. oh well there is always next year I hope. off to go check on the babies and water the gardens here.. its been hot and its getting hotter, by next week we expect to see triple digits…. send rain we can use it. have a good day everyone, hugs…. 🙂

    • Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Oh no! What would we do without a barn yard report. And what about the tractor parade? If you move…you must take them with you. Sending you rain prayers! 🙂


  32. Jackie Bienemann says:

    Haha, I loved your damage report! So glad it wasn’t worse. That weather channel gets a little carried away. I love your posts, they make me happy! So glad PBS is having you, hope we get to see it and can’t wait for Downton Abbey! I love your frog and of course Jack and your garden looks great. Thanks again for a great post! Take care Susan!

  33. Lynne neal says:

    I am so glad you did not sustain any real damage. Oh I can imagine how lovely the dance must have been. Then your pictures of England made me so homesick , loved all the pictures .Thank youn

  34. lisa says:

    Hello Susan! I have just finished reading your “Fine Romance”. I have always dreamed of spending 6-8 weeks in the United Kingdom, and spend my time devouring “The English Home”, British Edition “Country Living” and my new obsession “Daphne’s Diary” – the last two I have to drive 200+ miles roundtrip to the nearest big city that has a bookstore to get the issues. At any rate, I noticed that you stated in the book that if you had known you would have stayed at a different place once or twice. So I bought a blank sketchbook, covered it in my SSB fabric “Flowers – to plant a seed is a hopeful deed”, and divided it into tabs – maps, sections of the country, and to look up – and am now going to start filling in each tab so that when the dream finally does come true, I will be prepared. My point in telling you this is that without reading your book I would never have done this and probably would have always just dreamed about going. You have inspired me to take a step to make it reality. Thank you!!

    • sbranch says:

      That is just the best news — its the only way to make it happen — and you’re doing it! I hope your dream comes true Lisa!

  35. Belinda R says:

    So happy that the publisher is bringing back the desk pad calendar!!!!! Cannot wait to be able to order it and take it to work! It is so big and so pretty! I always have the hardest time writing on any of your calendars!! Feel as though I am messing up a piece of art!! Will make my workplace such a Happier brighter place. Thank you!! So glad to hear Arthur was kind to you and so many others. I sure hope PBS airs the special here for us to see. Please keep us updated and advised.

  36. Ann Jane Koerber says:

    I worried about you during the “storm”, but knew you’d be okay. The weather was a little blown out of proportion, but better safe than sorry! Your home looks pretty sturdy and is built to endure any weather event. I so enjoy your blog and love, love, love when your Dad comments…….Your get your talent from him….and you are blessed to have him in your life! xoxo

  37. Jules says:

    I love the photo in your post looking out of the window at a church. I can see the rain pelting the window. It all looks so peaceful.

    When I do watch any television it is usually PBS. I love Masterpiece Mystery. The Brits do murder in such an intriguing way! I hope your PBS spot airs here in Indianapolis.

  38. Jennie says:

    Susan- you are TOO MUCH FUN (as if such a thing could be . . .) 😉

    My sincere condolences on all your loss due to the hurricane. Pity. Truly a pity. That car covered in blossoms really knocked me out. And how brave of you to just pick up and keep going . . . to a summer dance of all things! Such an amazing woman!

    But seriously I am so excited for you with all the neat things you have coming up! So wonderful . . . I’m sure that has helped you get over the horror of the hurricane 😉

  39. Mary S. says:

    Susan, you are soooo hilarious!! And this: “so of course I am instantly on a diet”, is too funny!
    I was the same way you were about the library! Mine was too far to walk, so I would ride my bike. I will never forget the ecstasy I felt as I walked thru the doors and knew I could check out any books I wanted!! I would load up my basket and ride home to have the great fun of choosing which one to read first. I, also, LOVED all the Fairy Tale books, (Red, Yellow, Blue, etc.). And I read GONE WITH THE WIND in three days when I was in Jr. Hi. I would hide it behind my school books during class, and read it as soon as I got home until late at night. When I finished, I went into the room where my mother was, threw the book on her bed and said, “I HATE Gone With the Wind”!!! Then I went into the bathroom, ran myself a bath and cried and cried!!
    Much love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

    • Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

      Mary S. from Fresno – your “Gone With the Wind” story was a classic!! Thanks for sharing – if you read “Pat Johnson from Paso Robles” you will see that I also had a “GWTW” experience while in Junior High! How lucky could we be???!!! XXOO

  40. Frances Fowler says:

    I got so tickled at the hibiscus victim in the driveway, looking for all the world as if it needed a chalk outline. Hurricane aside, even if y’all got off lightly (but sorry about the window!), I think celebrating Independence Day on a New England island in Massachusetts must be awesome, to say the least. We didn’t get hit by Arthur, but those of us in North Georgia experienced a warm, breezy, low humidity Fourth, which is certainly not like us at all. Heck no, it’s usually hot and humid, but it felt like a late September day, with a downright cool evening for various fireworks in the surrounding area (well, I stay in the house with my terrified pitbull, whose prescribed Xanax for such occasions barely takes the edge off). And, boy, I’ll be ready for those late August or September evenings towards the end of the month for sure, ready to make some Iowa cornbread because I won’t mind turning on the oven! And congrats on going to PBS to host! We grew up watching Atlanta’s PBS station, and Saturday night Britcoms are a tradition, regardless of having the dvds. I hope you have loads of fun 🙂 Thanks for a peek at your holiday, plans, and kitty Jack. So enjoy your posts!

  41. Jack says:

    Blawah! I bought corn-on-the-cob from Hauser farms in Camp Verde ….supposed to be very good , but when I started to use it I found this black moldy looking stuff in the silk next to the cob on the end — looked like black mold to me so I took it back … They would not return my money.. They said I bought it so it’s my own fault ….even though they have posted signs telling you ” do not open ears to inspect “

    • sbranch says:

      Well, we won’t be going back to that place!

    • Jack, I so agree with you. But I vaguely remembered something positive about black mold on corn, so I googled it. It’s called Huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on ears of corn and is considered a delicacy in Mexico. Evidently, it’s high in protein. Here is a link:
      I still say, “Yuck!”
      And those farmers did themselves no favors by being so unsympathetic. It will cost them much more than if they had satisfied their customer.

      • Jack says:

        Yes , Huitlacoche is Corn Smut ….it is shaped like a big glob on the corn ear and is more grey and white colored . It is valued more than perfect ears in Mexico and I have heard you can buy just the Smut here in the U.S. , but I have never seen it on sale .

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          ~Good Afternoon~
          I was happy to see you survived ” The Impending Doom”! ~ Don’t you love it when they put the fear of God in you?! ~ around here that’s mainly reserved for the winter storm season~ but seriously I guess they would rather be safe than sorry~ I love PBS ~ I’ve started watching Mr. Selfridge ~ as well as my other favorites ~ I do love Hyacinth on ” Keeping up Appearances” she is too funny!~ I found a book at an estate sale last weekend which explains/ translates The Queens English ~ very fun and I’m learning a lot~ Have a great week! ~ixe~ixe ! Chinese for thank you!

        • Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

          YUK! The domino effect will prevail. They will wish they treated their customer(you)and others differently. The customer is #1. They will pay a heavy price treating a customer in such a manor. For sure they do this all the time. They should have let you pick out the same amount of corn and let you part the husk. Shame on them.

        • sondra fox says:

          WOW Jack, a place of business that won’t make the customer happy! They’ll soon be out of business, that’s for certain. The places I shop at don’t even ask for a receipt anymore. They just take my word for whatever I’m returning. How about that for good old fashioned trust? I’d find another corn stand if I were you, as I’m sure you’ve already done. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  42. Ruthie P says:

    Sooo glad you,Joe and kitties are well and safe.Only you can make a hurricane as sweet as a Spring rain.I just got your new calendar for 2015 (really? Crazy fast time) On the March page,is that really a kitty paw print? I hope so,it is too precious.Which kitty ( I’m thinking Jack;) XOXO Ruthie

    • sbranch says:

      It is a paw print, made on another page I was doing for a book by one of my Man Kitties who is no longer with us. I thought it would be perfect in that spot on the calendar to show how perfect an imperfection can really be!

  43. Diana from Ohio says:

    Wow you bring back my memories of the year I was 15 or 16, I read all the Lousia May Alcott books I could get my hands on. Under the Lilacs, Old-fashioned girl, Little Men, Jo’s Boy’s, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom and of course Little Women. I loved her books and was also like a time machine as at that time I was in love with Civil War stories. I read Gone with the Wind in English class with the book under my desk! It was a little embarrassing at times when the teacher called on me. I could not put the book down! Books have always been my passion also.

    • sbranch says:

      I understand!

    • Carol from PA says:

      Just the other day I was “sorting and throwing” and came across a book that had been my grandmother’s. It was dated “December 18, 1905” (December 18 was her birthday). The name of the book is “Spinning Wheel Stories” written by Louisa M Alcott. Finding it literally took my breath away when I realized the treasure I was holding in my hands. I remember her reading to me “Little Women” and “Little Men” and making sure I had my own copies of both classics. I still have both books she gave to me.

  44. Julie says:

    I am still laughing! My goodness, what a funny post – it just tickled my funny bone. I was alone this evening, reading your post, and laughing, a full-on total belly laugh. It felt good.

    I needed that. The fallen down plant. OMG! I roared.

    Thank you Susan.

    : )

    I absolutely adore your humor.

  45. Texas Leigh says:

    What a relief. Being from Houston I can honestly say you had the BEST kind of hurricane. Thank goodness all things were minor. Your tale of “woe” was a hoot.
    As to putting things in books, my mother has a bookshelf wall of books precious to her. Any time she comes across something related to one of her books, a newspaper clipping on the subject, a magazine article on the author, or a review on the book, into that book it goes. Open her tree identification book and I guarantee a pressed leaf or two will flutter out. Her books stay alive this way. I found an article where Barbara Bush told an interviewer that her favorite books growing up were the My Book House volumes. Mmy mom grew up with those same books, she still has them, and now that article is tucked into volume 1. I love that she so loves her books. Maybe that’s why some of my work has involved book publishing for a couple of decades. Maybe that’s why I love reading your blog. Thanks, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      I love stories like yours Leigh . . . you can’t tell a book by its cover is just the beginning of what they mean to us . . .

  46. Rhonda D. says:

    So glad to hear that Hurricane Arthur didn’t cause much havoc on Martha’s Vineyard. I guess thoughts of Hurricane Sandy still haunt me, so it was a tad bit worrisome. You are right, hurricanes are not something you can fool around with. I think New Brunswick got the brunt of this storm. The top of a tree came down on the wires coming into our house and pulled the electrical entrance right off the side of the house. We got our power back on Sunday and our internet service today. It made landfall as a tropical storm and it was wild. I was amazed at the tremendous amount of damage north of here, and rainfall amounts in numbers that I’ve never seen before in this area. And the wind. I love the kind of storm where you’re snuggled in your cozy house while the storm rages outside, but doesn’t cause any damage. Just glad that life is getting back to normal. You must be so thankful that your house has good bones to weather these storms. Love your frog painted green. Now he stands out and makes a statement…”I am frog…gentle, but frog.”

    • sbranch says:

      “Gentle, but frog” — very sweet. I’m sorry you had so much damage where you are Rhonda . . . and glad that you’re getting back to normal. We were lucky this time, but you just never know with these crazy storms.

  47. Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

    Oh I so needed to hear from you! I closed my eyes, when I heard about the hurricane on the news, and wished you well, over and over again. I felt like “Dorothy” in the Wizard of Oz! Thank heavens all is good! And as I scrolled down, I saw the pic of Joe holding the map and I knew exactly where we were! Brought back such happy memories of a special time together – “Do we go on – or do we turn back?” As though there was a choice!! And then the part about your library visits and reading as you were growing up. A few things came to my mind: (1) I would TRY to take my book to the dinner table – well, Mom stopped that immediately! (2) I read “Gone With The Wind” while we were on family vacation in Jackson Hole, WY – at the cabin – & at 70 years young I remember, as though it were yesterday, reading the last page – closing the book – sighing a huge sigh and realizing little tears rolling down my face! Then I said, “This is my most favorite book ever!!” In my later years, as an adult, I had the joy of serving on the Paso Robles Library Board and, as the town grew, I approached the City Council with the idea of building a brand new library for our town. Many years later, & yes I was still there and on the band wagon, I walked through that library with our guest speaker, Ray Bradbury and my grandson, Nic! I was so blessed! Thank you for being YOU! XXXXOOOO

  48. Jennifer Waltzer says:

    I remember the hurricane of 1985! We were living in Cambridge, MA. I taped up the windows (we had big picture windows in the living room of a tiny apartment) and watched as a young tree out front on the sidewalk went from vertical to almost completely horizontal. After the hurricane was over the tree was still horizontal, and later was removed. That night we wandered into Harvard Square looking for dinner, as we had no power, and amazingly found a restaurant that was open and serving!

  49. Linda says:

    Library Days really brought back wonderful memories as I am sure it did for many girlfriends. Try going barefoot nowadays to a library and see how quickly you will be escorted out!!! In high school the public library was the great place to do homework with all your friends…….sometimes not much got done!!
    In 1989 I checked out a wonderful book on Diners at the library in Anchorage where I lived. Years later, in the lower 48 I wanted to find the book to buy but couldn’t remember the title. I emailed the library in Alaska and described the book and less than 24 hours later they emailed me the title! Aren’t librarians the kindest of people!!!
    Linda from Idaho where it is in the high nineties and low humidity and very comfortable. (PS> I finally got up the courage to untie the ribbon off the fat quarters I won and the tea party collection is absolutely adorable…….thanks again.!)

    • sbranch says:

      When you love books, there is no one better than a librarian to talk to, these are people who are there for a reason, they love them too! You are so welcome Linda, I hope you can find a good use for them, and have a wonderful day up there in beautiful Idaho.

      • Sylvia in Seattle says:

        I love all these library stories and memories especially from the Prize Winner in Idaho – practically a next door neighbor.

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

    okay for all those who want the watermelon sherbet recipe here it is: 8 cups seeded watermelon; 1 1/2 cups sugar; 1/2 cup lemon juice; 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (knox) ; 1/2 cup cold water; 2 cups whole milk. in a large bowl combine watermelon, sugar and lemon juice, chill for 30 minutes. place half in a blender and blend until smooth, pour into large bowl, repeat with the other half. set aside. in a sauce pan cook and stir unflavored gelatin and water over low heat until gelatin dissolves. add to watermelon mixture, mix well. stir in milk until well blended. freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. serve immediately or freeze and allow to thaw 20 minutes before serving. yields 1/2 gallon. my dad got this recipe from a watermelon farmer, so you figure this guy knew about melons. enjoy everyone.

  51. Carol from PA says:

    Gosh I like you, Susan! You are too funny! Thanks for making me laugh and laugh! You really had me at the leaves in the bird bath. Imagine! How rude! Love the Jane Austen quote! Will start thinking from now on when I am hot, panting, sweating and just plain miserable that I’m only in a “state of inelegance”! We had quite the storm here last night. Lost power for the majority of the night. Call me crazy but I found the time without almost magical. Everything was so quiet and softer. Oh for simple moments. And lighting candles! Thanks again for the giggles!

  52. sondra fox says:

    Hurrican Burr-a-cane…..holy moly, I’d go into a closet somewhere with my Jack (Wired Hair Fox Terrior) & my Sheba cat. We’d hunker down like you did. Don’t you think tornados are worse? I’m a weather coward. Really, I’m not very brave when it comes to unknown things going bump in the night. So glad the storm turned out to be a slight one. To me, the sound of all the fireworks would be worse than the storm. We were in Lake Tahoe, with millions of people. Not my idea to be in Lake Tahoe at that time, however, my daughter is a professional photographer & was showing her beautiful wares at a street fare. That’s a great time to sell wares, when there’s lots of people around! When the fireworks went off close to where we were, I stayed with my Jack, reading a book, while holding his ears together. He still was nervous, but not as much as if I had gone to the fireworks & left him to suffer on his own. We came home to Los Angeles, to a beautiful Husky dog in our front yard. Our neighbors had been feeding the dog in our front yard, while we were in Tahoe. The dog won’t come near me. I have to build a trust with him before I can take him to the vet to see if there’s an ID chip in him. He’s a beauty. I know someone is sad that he left his home. I’ll let you all know the outcome of what becomes of the dog. Don’t worry, I’ll do my very best to get him to his rightful owner, or to find him another good home. Poor guy. I wish pet owners would think how fireworks affect their animals. It’s just a given that there will be many scared animals around the day after fireworks, or even leading up to the holiday. I hope all of you GF’s have your animals, safe & sound, as well as around. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      I love how you held your dogs ears.

      • sondra fox says:

        For all of you who read about the lost Husky & wanted to know what happened to her. She became frightened when the rescue team was trying to catch her. She ran down our street, over to an olive grove, then into the street with many people in cars concerned about her, stopping their cars & giving chase along with members of the rescue team. She’s a runner. Runs fast. No one could keep up with her. She headed up to the mountains, where she was last seen. Since I’m a person who couldn’t watch “Lassie Come Home” up until a few years ago, & then turning it off through parts too sad for me to comprehend, I’m very sad for the dog. I keep calling the rescue people asking about the dog. They’re still trying to help her, although they haven’t sighted her for a few days. My fear is that she continued up the mountain path, where she was last seen. Coyotes all through those mountains. Sad, sad, sad. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

        • sbranch says:

          Maybe she ran to someone else’s house, and so between the two choices of what to believe, you know which one to go to. xoxo

  53. Hi Susan,
    Couldn’t help but think of you and others on the Island as Arthur stormed up the coast – and glad you survived being inside the so-called “Cone of Uncertainty.” Where do they get those phrases? It seemed weird here in coastal Maine spending July 4 at the movies instead of on the beach. And I couldn’t adjust to the fact that the Boston Pops played their concert on July 3 – but it would have been a wash-out on the 4th.
    So at least summer has returned and so glad it’s back to normal on the Island and here, too.
    Wish you would give a reading or visit a library or bookstore up here sometime. A new one called The Book Burrow has opened in Kennebunk, right next to Wells. And you would love all the adorable Beatrix Potter figurines that I keep seeing on shelves in the antiques and thrift shops along Rt. 1. I vowed to stay uncluttered after downsizing and moving a year ago, but these keep calling to me and I am finding it hard to resist.
    Take care, stay well and keep posting. You always brighten my day!
    Nancye Tuttle

    • sbranch says:

      If nothing else, just the BP figurines. One, next to the bed and one in the kitchen, Or, perhaps 3 in the kitchen and one in the bedroom?

      • Sounds like a plan…they would look adorable, too, on the mantel with my collection of teapots and English bone china flowers…just ordered my 2015 desk blotter and wall calendar from “Let’s Go Shopping,” since I was too late last year and missed out..can’t wait to see them and have your work brightening and inspiring me at my writing desk..take care, Susan!

  54. Kathryn says:

    This made me laugh til I cried! Thank you for that and glad you survived!

  55. Ellen Eastman says:

    Loved the Jane Austen quote! A “continual state of inelegance” – that is exactly how I feel with the hot (and sometimes muggy) weather we have been having here in southern Oregon.

  56. christina says:

    Oh how funny. Also, had me until the potted plant on its side !! Oh how I wish you were visiting Long Island someday!

  57. yvonne b from long beach,ca says:

    what a great wayto end my day after work at library reading your post :). glad you made it thru the chaos OMG! My first summer job was working at the local library very good experience. I still use my local public library all the girls are so nice. glad u had a good 5th of July one to remember. love the green frog 🙂

  58. Juli says:

    This is for Judy Swanson Mapston (posted 7-9-14) from F.O.S.B. Friends of Susan Branch who is looking for the apron pattern 🙂 I knew I had seen and it took me a while but I finally found it. Maybe someone on Facebook who sees this can reply to her with this 🙂 thank you and hugs in advance if someone does!!


  59. Ah, Arthur brought you a magical day to follow your bliss with nothing to try to tear you away for outside tasks! Sometimes these are the best times. So glad you took some time off this past week to absorb some of the delight you experienced visiting Gladys’ home. You will be ready now to take on the interview and all that’s coming up in your near future. You share so much with us girlfriends–you need to keep a little bit for yourself,Joe, and the kitties.

  60. Patricia says:

    SUSAN, oh Susan – you’re going to like this. Go to this blog and scroll down the latest entry, July 9th, to the last couple of photos and notes…. you are really going to enjoy this!

  61. Teresa G., Lafayette, CA. says:

    The Cone of Uncertainty??!! Gah! Isn’t that what we call those lampshade things animals wear after surgery?! I love your posts…’s like having a long conversation on the phone with a girlfriend and then you hang up feeling all up-to-date, but with you, we get pictures! Love it! By the way, I was reading the “LOL” comments (I still avoid it and insist on the “Hahahas” in my own little weird world) but one reason is because my mom grew up in New York and is still a faithful reader of The New Yorker and LOL meant “little old lady!” Oh, the times they are a changin’!

  62. Joanne Wood says:

    Hi Susan. I had always hoped to make it to Cape Cod and Boston and Concord and all because that’s how “my people” got into this country. So now since my daughters and I finally visited the area, I strangely take news from the east personally and like to check it out. I especially love your blog and all your lovely photos and stories. Glad you weathered the cone of uncertainty with only a few “horrible” yard disasters. I just had to comment on your library and book memories. Summer to me was always visiting the library – which was a huge old Victorian house – and coming home with piles of books. And reading in a favorite tree?? Of course!! My girls did the piles of books thing, and even now hit the local July 4th big book sale to stock up for the summer. I have not gone these past two summers because I find I need to first REMOVE books so I can continue to live here. But I just hope that reading real books will not be completely taken over by computers. Just not the same. sigh

  63. Cora says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’m so glad that you “dodged the hurricane bullet.” Living on the Texas Gulf Coast makes us very “hyper” when we hear the word hurricane!
    On to your great news about your upcoming PBS appearance, so cool! Here’s some FYI about the PBS network. You can download the PBS app which enables you to watch many of the various programs on your iPad or iPhone. Please try to get the app because the Houston,TX PBS channel KUHT produces a wonderful show called Manor of Speaking which airs after each episode of Downton Abbey. It is hosted by Ernie Manouse(a really neat guy with a great sense of humor). The show discusses the episode just aired . It is so much fun because it is filled with humor , a bit of history about the time, and wonderful guests that are very knowledgable about the subjects covered in the episode. I am a devoted fan of DA. Could it be because. my name is Cora and my husband’s name is Robert, plus I have a brother named
    Julian (like Mr. Fellows)!
    When your PBS appearance airs, I will check to see if we can watch by using the PBS app.
    Also, after almost 20 years of trying to grow HOLLYHOCK, by seeds or plants, I finally had success this year! One beautiful tall plant with pink flowers- oh pure joy.
    A year of firsts for me–bluebirds in the spring and hollyhock in the summer. Natures gifts-
    Thanks for your joyful blogs.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve heard about Manor of Speaking, how great you can get it on an app. Congratulations on that Hollyhock!! I saw my first bluebirds in California just a few years ago. Such darling birds. I hear there is an eastern version, but I’ve never seen one in person.

  64. Susan P. says:


    Have been very busy going thru the 1000 plus books of my Aunt Agatha (still with us but is in a home now) I am not making this number up! She was an English teacher…. novels, atlas, garden and flower books and several books on Quotes from the famous and not so famous. (Thought of you) She also collected COOK books and read them like we would read a good novel. I have dusted and flipped through each book (this has been going on for 2 to 3 months) and just a moment ago I came across a small purple flower that she put in one of her books…..I KNOW IT WAS MEANT FOR ME TO FIND!!! What a treasure I have…My Aunt Agatha and now her little flower. Going through all the books I kept thinking I will find them..I will find them….But NO not one book of Gladys Taber. But she had two sisters in Texas… I am sure they borrowed them and just did not return them..hahaha. Just had to share with you and the girlfriends about the flower and the BOOKS AND BOOKS. All these books can only make my soap box much higher!! Love, Susan P.

    • sbranch says:

      Sometimes I pity the poor person who is still around after I am gone . . . and this house, and the dishes and books!

      • Susan P. says:

        Susan, Who ever it is after you are gone….that finds your treasures…will truly be BLESSED….for ever!!! As for me, that is why I keep dusting and cleaning…for when they find my treasures.. at least they can say…”Old Grandma was clean at least” I will have to past after one of my “spring” or “fall” super house cleanings!! And that is a big HAHAHA Love you, Susan P.

  65. Judy says:

    I love your frog in green! I once had a really cute Prince Charming that I put on a wall at work. Unfortunately someone from the night cleaning crew got a bit too close and my frog smashed to the ground. The outdoor ones hold up so much better!

  66. deborah t. norling says:

    Can’t wait for the new blotter’s h u g e and of course I always must have the pocket/purse size calendar’s that or nothing ! I enjoyed all the photos in this entry.. …I hate to ask but I have to wonder..if young Mr.Jack might have been responsible for the injured ear on poor little Cottontail..of the Flopsy..Mopsy and Cottontail trio on your window ledge ??

    • sbranch says:

      No it wasn’t him, it happened a long time ago, it was me, and I stood there watching the ear go down the drain before I could move. Otherwise there would be a glued ear!

  67. Lynda Des Moines,IA says:

    Woooohoooo the blotter , the blotter ! I am taking no chances this year and I just ordered mine : ) missed it last year. Thanks for the larger size too, love it.
    I found a copy of Stillmeadow Calendar A Countrywoman’s Journal by Gladys Taber and see what you have been talking about! Lovely , just lovely. I am only allowing myself to read the month we are actually in , so , so far I have only gotten to read June and July . My copy is a wonderful , well-loved one removed from a library in Spokane, Washington. And it still smells like a library copy : ) How it journeyed to Iowa is a wonder . Love the “sun calendar” illustration in the front , and all the illustrations by Sidonie Coryn Now , I am on the hunt to find one for my sister , who needs her OWN copy. Sisters…….

  68. Betty Marie, Pennsylvania says:

    I just hate to hear all they say that is going to happen when a tropical storm is forth coming. I think they say the worst to cover their reporting. Thought about you when I heard Arthur was heading your way. We didn’t get the rain but high winds that caused a huge limb from one of our pine trees to come crashing down, taking out our computer line. Just a day with out our link to the world wide web. Here too the temps have gone down from oh my, more Texas weather, to this feels so good, whish I was at the shore. Hope you can salvage your quilts. Maybe the dry cleaners can get out all the rain water so there are no stains. Good Luck!

  69. Tina Mandeville says:

    Hi, Susan!
    Been so busy enjoying our days on Cape! Aside from Arthur’s visit on the 4th, the weather has been glorious! That was quite a storm – such torrential rains and high winds. But we also had a wonderful 5th to make up for it all! Glad to see you fared well. I so love this month of July and being steeped in life here…..and when the most important decision is what flavor icecream you will have, well, life is good!
    Fun checking in with you….looking forward to all the wonderful things you have in store for us!

  70. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! So happy you are so safe from that “Big Bad Wolf of a Hurricane”!!! Congratulations on the PBS spot! No worries Susan, you will look great!!!! I’m in readers heaven, as two days ago I finally received my first Gladys Tabor book (from the wonderful system offered by our Dearborn Public Library that sends you books from other libraries within the state of Michigan). I have started a journal to record which books I read of her’s, and the city where the book is being loaned from… will be interesting to see how far from my home that they travel! I’ve also marked with a highlighter pen on an old Michigan map the city, so then I can see at a glance all of the locations!!! Maybe someday I can be worthy of belonging to the Friends of Gladys Tabor group…..once I’ve completed more of her books. I am soothed by her style of writing, and her book ANOTHER PATH couldn’t have come on a better week of the 28th year Anniversary of my mother’s passing. Divine intervention? Anyways, thank you Susan for introducing me to my new favorite author!!! (Oh, we have a new friend in our yard. It’s a young bunny rabbit who arrives more or less around 8pm for the past three days…..I’ve nicknamed him Peter…….and we get a kick out of him hopping about, then hiding in my huge lavender plant near our patio! So cute and entertaining to watch! Hope he stays around this summer. So special, especially with the birds bathing in the birdbath, and the little chipmunks running through the yards! Summertime, sweet summertime!!!)

  71. Fan in California says:

    Hi, Susan,

    If you have too much time on your hands (:D) would it be possible to compile an index of the recipes of all your books? Sorry, but I can’t always remember EVERY SINGLE RECIPE in your wonderful cookbooks so if there was an index it would be much easier to search for inspirations when cooing dinner, baking, etc.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog — heh heh!!! — and all your great photos.

  72. Sue says:

    Hi Susan!

    As another Houstonian, well-familiar with hurricanes, I’m glad you fared so well. The weather-folks LOVE to terrify people, painting worst case scenarios, but the vast majority of the time (thankfully), the story ends happily, as did yours. Yippeeeeeee!

    I loved your library musings. I’ve loved to read from the moment I learned how, and books overrun my home; I can’t imagine a home without them (it would merely be a “house”). GWTW is a favorite of long-standing that I’ve read at least 20 times over the years and it all started in eighth grade when a nun who taught English at my school forbade us buying the book at a Scholastic Book Fair. To this day I wonder if her motive was that she actually disapproved of the “racy” nature of the book for our age group, or if by forbidding it, she knew we’d go and immediately seek it out (which one of my best friends and I promptly did). I still have my original paperback copy, a hardback, an anniversary hardback, and the hardback copy that belonged to that long ago co-conspirator, Mary, who died of cancer. Her husband sent me her copy and I cherish it. We used to drive people crazy reciting the opening paragraphs from memory… Mary’s mom became head librarian in our town, and our friend Gerrie’s mom also worked as a librarian — two wonderful “adopted moms” who have since passed away, but will always be remembered with much love.

    To quote Bob Hope…”Thanks for the memories…”

  73. Rosanne Murphy (Oregon) says:

    Was watching an old episode of Midsomer Murders on PBS last night. I watch it as much for the charming village scenes and fab gardens as for the murder most foul. Checked on Wiki to see where it’s filmed, searching for a village name from AFR but didn’t recognize any of the darling Brit names. Wiki did say it’s a running joke among the British public that there is such a high crime rate in the imaginary English village. SB on PBS! Perfect!

    • Tawni urrutia says:

      We love DI Barnaby! You’re so right, the villages are so charming…always brimming with flowers!

  74. Marliese Gause says:

    Dear Susan,
    Your comments about libraries reminded me of a wonderful celebration of libraries written by Eva Ibbotson, one of my favourite authors. She wrote it to support British libraries. I have pasted it in below – even though it is a bit long, hoping you and your many, many fans read it with a hanky in your hands. Eva died just a few years ago….a big loss to the world.

    I was eight years old when I came to Britain as a refugee – and was not particularly grateful. Mostly this was because after years and years of being a sheep coming to the manger, or a grazing cow, I had at last landed the part of the Virgin Mary in the nativity play at my convent school in Vienna.
    And then … Hitler.
    We came to London in 1934, a bedraggled party consisting of my fey, poetic mother, my irascible grandmother and confused aunt, and rented rooms in a dilapidated house in Belsize Park which, in those days, was a seedy, run-down part of the city. The house was full of suddenly impoverished refugees facing exile. On every floor were lonely and muddled professors, doctors and lawyers, mostly from German-speaking countries. I had no friends, no school yet, nowhere to play.
    Then, one day, waking up the hill towards Hampstead to do some shopping for my grandmother, I came across a building with an open door. I went inside. The room was very quiet and full of books. At a desk sat a woman with fair hair and I waited for her to tell me to go away. But she only smiled at me. Then she said: ‘Would you like to join the library?’
    My English was still poor but I understood her. In particular, I understood the word ‘join’ which seemed to me to be a word of unsurpassed beauty. I told her that I had no money and she (her name was Miss Pole ) said: ‘It is free.’
    I joined the library. I did not only join it, I lived in it. I don’t really remember when I began to read English as easily as German, but it did not take long. After a few weeks, I got to know the regulars – the tramp with holes in his shoes who came to keep warm and read the Racing News, the woman whose mother-in-law was driving her insane … and my special friend, Herr Doktor Heller, who was a refugee like I was, only from Berlin, not from Vienna.
    Dr Heller came very early in the morning and did not leave until the library closed. He came with a pile of medical books – The Diseases of the Knee, The Malfunctions of the Lymphatic system.The books were in English because this eminent specialist, who had been head of the department of obstetrics in Berlin’s most famous maternity hospital, was not allowed to practise medicine in Great Britain without resitting every one of his medical exams in English.
    He must have been in his thirties, not able to wander from one language to the other as I could, being a child. Sometimes, I heard him sigh – once I even saw him wipe his eyes as he thought of the hopelessness of his task – and then Miss Pole and I exchanged glances. She was very concerned for him, fetching down the German-English dictionary as soon as he came in. Sometimes, she shut up the library a little later so as to give him more time; he lived in a single, poky room which he could not afford to heat.
    There were other crosses for him to bear. His wife, an Aryan, had stayed behind in Germany and decided not to join him. Yet he went on patiently, uncomplainingly, learning again, and in an alien tongue, what he had learnt and forgotten 15 years earlier.
    Then, unexpectedly, I was offered a place at a Quaker boarding school in the country. I left London and so did my family. The library was closed and merged with a bigger one in a grander part of Hampstead. Then came the war. Miss Pole, who must have been younger than I had realised, joined the Wrens and the British government in its wisdom interned its ‘enemy aliens’; those men and women who had come to them for shelter.
    But for me, things went well. I left school, went to university and, in my last year, met and married a Burma veteran just discharged from the army. A year later, I was admitted to Queen Alice’s Maternity Hospital for the birth of my baby. It was a stroke of luck – Queen Alice’s was the most famous hospital in London with a formidable reputation.
    The morning after my daughter’s birth, there was a certain stirring in the ward, an air of expectation. The nurses stood up straighter, checked the bedclothes, patted the patients into tidiness. Matron rose from the chair behind her desk. And the procession entered. It was the specialist, the Great Man himself, come to do his morning round. No one will believe me when I describe what went on in those days when the specialist came into the ward. Spotless in his white coat, he was flanked by his registrar, his houseman and at least two students eager for his every word.
    The great man moved slowly between the beds. I had determined not to speak to him – it would have been like addressing God – but when he came up to my bed, I couldn’t help looking at him very hard, hoping and hoping that he would recognise me. And he did. For a moment, he seemed puzzled and then he smiled. ‘My little friend from the library!’ he said. And he turned to his retinue and said that I had helped him. That I had encouraged him and given him hope. I had done that!
    But there’s one more thing to tell. After I was discharged, I took my daughter to visit him and there, behind the teapot in his elegant drawing room, I found a woman who I knew. ‘Reader, he’d married her!’ He had done this most excellent thing and married Miss Pole.

    • sbranch says:

      Sweet and evocative. Thank you Marliese.

    • Susan P. says:

      Dear Marliese,

      Oh my goodness….I have tears in my eyes…okay I am, really crying. This all came about from a chance visit to a Library!!! This could become a movie. You have moved me. I was just checking a recipe on the blog when I saw your story…I stopped to read it even knowing I had to get going…(busy day today.) You captured me from the start…I am Austrian…my grandparents escaped from Austria. Because of them I am second generation here in America. I to, like allot of us girlfriends here, have a great love of libraries. My summers were spent there. But your story brings us an unbelievable romance. That time of your life was very hard and even terrible….but it brought you to a “special place” and you were meant to be there. You gave him HOPE…as Miss Pole gave you kindness… and you gave each other Love…all because one door was opened to you. OOOHHHHH this is wonderful and thanks for sharing your story. You have made my day. I am going to copy this story down and when it becomes A BOOK OR MOVIE hahahaha (dreams can come true) I can say I saw it here first. Thanks for sharing with us. Love, Susan P.

      • Sylvia in Seattle says:

        Thanks for sharing the wonderful library story Marliese. I had an Austrian grandmother that died before I could know her and grew up in her house. I agree that this would be a great British movie of TV series. I’ll look up that author for sure.

      • Susan P. says:

        Susan, I am laughing so hard right now I can hardly see the keys from the tears rolling down my face. I just got home from a long day and was so excited to share this story with my husband. Well he read it and then your comment and then MINE. I am embarrassed, but it won’t be the last time I goof…so happy I can laugh at myself. Lesson here make sure you read the first paragraph….My husband who takes on line classes said, “This is how professors know whether or not an assignment has been thoroughly read.” He said I just got an F. BUT NO MATTER WHAT IT MOVED ME. Love, Susan P.

  75. Joan S says:

    Oh my, what a dreadful mess. What did the Insurance folks say????

  76. Kathy Miller says:

    I’m curious Sweet Susan, What’s that black and white sign say as you enter your garden? I LOVE reading your blog, it’s like a little shopping trip every time I do since you are so kind as to include links for sweet things you have that the GF love too!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      If you’d have a mind at peace
      A heart that cannot harden
      Go find a door that opens wide
      Upon a lovely garden.

      Isn’t that just wonderful? I found it years and years ago in a garden shop, the only one. I was so afraid they wouldn’t sell it to me, or after they did, they would chase me down to get it back. I hugged it and RAN out of that store and got in the car so no one could take it away from me. I would LOVE to find these for the GF, but you know that’s easier said than done.

  77. Pam says:

    Hi Susan,
    As always, loved your blog post. Our Fourth of July wasn’t as eventful as yours! We spent it at our cottage a few hours north of us with my parents and my brother and sister in law. Nice time away.
    I must tell you again how much I enjoyed reading A Fine Romance. Love, love , love that book! I will be having some down time soon, (knee replacement next week), so I plan on reading this lovely book again. Thank you for sharing your life and talent with us!
    Happy weekend! xo

  78. Therese says:

    Dear Susan,
    I loved the tongue-in-cheek storm damage report, but the thing that really caught my eye was that blue daisy at the end of this entry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a prettier one. I’m sitting here asking myself what makes it is so fetching! Thank you, as always.

  79. heidi shorts says:

    OMG…i LOVED your hurricane post…you are sooo stinkin funny:) we have teased about our rain here in central coast california (you know the place) in similar fashion…that is, when we get it…we talk about the inconveniences as if they were monumental and we were such whiney wimps…I mean, really?
    anyway, love reading your posts and enjoying life with you!

  80. Vicki says:

    I was researching some of your books online and happened on to these tiny books/mini books which are described as being hand-painted; for sale…from what I could see…only in the secondhand marketplace(?) and for some whopping prices; I think there were a handful on sale at Amazon which totaled $700 from one seller (one on tea, one on drinks, one on Christmas, etc.). If you’ve spoken of these before (I’m late to the program!), could you do a refresher and tell me about these little treasures, sanctioned by you or not? Thanks, I’m a fan and from your neck ‘o the woods back in SoCal (you wouldn’t want to be here right now as we are choking in dusty, dry, brown, ugly, parched DROUGHT!)

    • sbranch says:

      If they’re the ones I think they are, they came out maybe twelve years ago or more, I designed about a dozen of them for a publisher called Cedco. Crazy prices! But they have long been out of print. Praying for rain Vicki!

  81. Donna in Alabama says:

    Thanks for the reminder that so many beautiful things are around us. Free things, not to be missed are out there for us all. You have a gift of keeping your eyes open and then reminding us of the direction we could turn to participate in the same wonderful opportunity so we don’t miss it. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  82. Terri says:

    What a lovely little anonymous tradition to start. I have done that to my books, but not with a look to the future owner of the book. I put in articles about Harry Potter from the news into my books. I leave a bookmark in each of the Louis LeMoore books I read (helps me to remember which ones)… they were the ones my Dad read, and really the only thing I have from him. I love your idea, and I’m going to copy it.

  83. D'Anne Paratore says:

    read your post on “cone of uncertainty”, upstate NY was hit hard – 5 tornados confirmed – touched down – Gov. Cuomo claims it’s the new norm for NY – yes, I was in the middle as one skirted around me – if I may ask all girlfriends, especially from NY, can nod our head in prayer for the loss of 4 victims, incld the young Mom and her infant daughter and aunt – 3 generation lost
    Stop – smell the roses girls – it is in the moments that are so precious
    thank you for letting me post, Ms. Branch

  84. Sonya Hewes says:

    Just ordered my collection of Willards. Can’t wait to sit back with a cup of tea and start reading them. Thank you for always providing the warm and fuzzies in your writing. Martha’s Vineyard has always been on my bucket list – one of these days for sure! 🙂

  85. JoAnn in SoCal says:

    Oh my, my, my….I have been away from home for one month and have not been able to keep up with my email….What a WONDERFUL surprise to have a handfull of Susan’s blogs to read. I must say I had tears in my eyes seeing the gorgeous photos of Gladys Taber’s Stillmeadow. I’ve been a fan for a loooooooong time!
    Thank you so very much Susan for making this Gladys Taber fan one happy kiddo!

  86. Hi Susan,
    I adore your fabrics! Just wanted to show you a dress I made from fabric bought years ago, It was finally made into a dress for my grandaughter Paloma. I buy fabric (I am not alone) I love even when I don’t know what it will be made into! Paloma is only 3 but really wants to learn to sew, so sewing we will! Your fabrics are so sweet!
    Keep doing fabrics!
    Hope you can “click” below (desktopJPG)to see photo./Users/juliecoleman/Desktop/DSC_4224.JPG/Users/juliecoleman/Desktop/DSC_4245.JPG
    Warmly, Julie Ann/Users/juliecoleman/Desktop/DSC_4220.JPG

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