clockHi Everyone! MUSICA? Oui!  Well, that ol’ clock’s been a-tickin’ and suddenly, almost momentarily, we are going to climb aboard the Queen Mary 2 and sail out (following a hurricane, but oh, who cares, oh yeah, me😜) into the deep and churning North Atlantic, wearing our anti-sea sickness bracelets, eating (hopefully), tea-drinking, dancing, sleeping, knitting, diary-writing across the ocean until we get to the port of Southhampton in Jolly Olde England. We go on Thursday . . . this Thursday, ready or not . . .


asaLOOK 👀at this place! Are you ready for this? A friend of ours sent this wonderful photo from his recent trip to Scotland ~ I thought you’d like to see where we’re going.  Not just Joe and me, but you too, virtual travelers, thru the backroads of the English Countryside, all the way up to Scotland . . .👏 We’ll take photos and post them as we go so you can enjoy this true-life adventure along with us. We are SO excited!!!!! I mean really! That tiny white spot halfway up this mountain is a house! And the white dots in the “foreground” are lambs. Yes, it’s vast. Probably makes you cry from being overwhelmed with joy when you see it (and smell it, and breathe it) in person.  I can’t wait. enchantmentcruis-boat-artSailing, sailing, over the ocean blue . . . I made the BEST playlist for the trip, I can’t wait to get in the car and let Vera Lynn give us a Calgon kind of day . . .BarrieQuoteFairiesIMG_2813

So we’ve been readying everything . . . planning for the people to come put the storm windows on in another month or so, drying out the basement from the exploding hot water heater debacle (better now than later) . . . making sure the garden is put to bed as best we can . . . it’s still going strong . . .
pink-perfectionIMG_2815a garden


Joe’s finishing up the job that our dear friend Paul started when he was here with Rachel helping us celebrate Joe’s Birthday! A miracle, that this bannister is repaired before we go. It’s only been broken and a health hazard for about three years! Paul, if you see this, thank you. Aphrodisiac City, men at work.💞 It took a village.


Here’s my guy now . . .

We’re supposed to be having a hurricane or a tropical storm (no one can decide) today, or maybe more like it, tonight. But we took our walk this morning as we always do . . . and it was just gorgeous, with lots of wind and a fallish chill in the air.  I’ll miss this walk ~ it’s my spot. Although something tells me we’ll be able to find plenty of other wonderful places where we’re going!  The photo above looks in one direction, then I turned around and . . .


And this is it in the other direction.  At the end of this road is the water. Heaven?

We stopped and visited our “Creek Friends,” Bruce and Gayle, who live down there . . . and this was the view from their amazing porch . . .IMG_3832

Bruce took our picture. Yes, we are happy!

Here we are starting our walk into the woods and back home . . . this is the part of the walk I call “Ireland.” Because this is what I imagine Ireland looks like. I’m probably wrong, but there you go!


And you know soon I have to leave the little love of my life, Jack Sprat who eats no fat . . .
ButGadSirbutterflies in loveIMG_2769

The one who has more curiosity is his right paw than the rest of the world has in all four of theirs! 🐾🐾


See that rubber band on the book.  Jack does!


Then I added a ball . . . he thinks I’m going to grab him, so he’s trying to get it without forgetting that he doesn’t want me to do that.


Bo-bo Baby . . . pure personality.

Jack the cat

We’ve loved him since the very first day we brought him home. He is the hardest thing about leaving. (Did I tell you we will be celebrating Thanksgiving on board the ship the last evening on our return trip? It’s a long time from now, 2½ months!) Jack is so smart, he can get bored, and I don’t want him to wander around aimlessly when Barbara (who’s staying here with him) is at work, he needs a lot of attention.  So far, besides Barbara, I’ve enlisted two other girlfriends to “come visit” and play with Jack.  He has already gotten used to me being home. I adore this cat.  I would take him if I could.

Jack puts his toys all in one place

He gathers his toys. He is a hunter-gatherer.  That’s like human.

Girl Kitty

And, there’s another problem I’m sorry to have to tell you. That our darling Girl Kitty has gone to heaven. After 15 wonderful years of bringing us love, purrs, laughter, and furry sweetness, our little green-eyed Girl became more and more ill, and crossed the rainbow bridge to kitty heaven.

Girl Kitty

It was a very bad day, the day we had to say goodbye into her trusting eyes. Poor little thing. Such an elegant little person. I know she feels so much better now, and that’s what makes it bearable. I don’t know what’s worse, losing someone who has loved you, or losing someone you love.😥

girl kitty gets ready to change the tablecloth

Adorable Girl. She made life more fun. She is missed already. We buried her in a pillowcase in the kitty graveyard in our garden, and marked her burying mound with flowers and a heart-shaped rock.heartsThe children this morning

Despite the fact that Girl and Jack couldn’t really be called best friends, or even passing acquaintances for the most part . . . and I’m sure being an only child more or less makes Jack’s day, still, he must notice that he is alone. So that’s why my girlfriends are coming to play with him while we’re away.

I have faith in the unseen plan. I trust that all works out exactly as it’s supposed to.  Whether I like it or not. My job seems to do the best I can and keep going.


And so, onward and upward, we are packing.  Here are the napkins, complete with ants, and the tablecloth I’m packing for our upcoming BYO Picnic Basket Party in Stourhead, bunnyinthecarrotpatchWiltshire, at High Noon, on Sept. 18, near the grass bridge. I hope our rental house has a basket to put our picnic in, baskets are hard to pack in suitcases! But we’ll get one!  Our picnic is going to be a world thing ~ kindred spirits are coming from everywhere. We’ll be toasting Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday ~ the invitation was extended through the Beatrix Potter Society’s wonderful (free) online newsletter called Pottering About. And if you can’t make it? That’s what I’m for. Pictures will be here waiting for you.❤️

picnicHere’s how our picnic won’t look.

Daisy's picnic

Maybe more like this if I can find a hat like that.

Our English picnicHere’s the last one we had at Stourhead. We are not just whistling Dixie about the fun-ness and the beauty and simplicity of this gorgeous place!!!  But I have to say, I’ve never met a picnic I didn’t like.IMG_2793

Lots of packing going on.  I’m in love with these packing squares. Have you heard of them? They are new to me and I’ve been marveling over them like they are the greatest thing since sliced bread and already both of the people to whom I was waxing poetic knew all about them. So I may be the last on earth to hear of them. But just in case YOU are actually the last on earth . . . these things are WONDERFUL for organizing suitcases. You get four of them in a set, all different sizes.  This is the smallest one . . .


Perfect little, soft, zippered square, and inside are all my scarves folded up.  You know how when you travel your scarves unscramble all over the inside of your suitcase? You fold them a hundred and fifty times but it doesn’t help? That can’t happen with this. It’s like having dresser drawers in your suitcase. This is the scarf drawer! And you can see through the top, so you know what’s inside. Just pull it out by its tote-able handle, and there they all are!


Here’s the next size up . . . the sock drawer!advice from momIMG_2801

All zipped up and organized.  Don’tcha love it?  I still have the T-shirt and jammie drawer and the sweater drawer to go!  But VERY handy. Just pile them in your suitcase and you’re ready to go. You can read more about them HERE:


And these, I got two of the big ones, and one little one, for our bathroom stuff. So we don’t have to hunt!  Pretty neat huh? I got them HERE . . . and everything comes in other colors.


Here’s some of our electrical gear including that heavy boxed transformer. You can’t see the extension cord and the power strip, but there’s the English hairdryer we bought the last time we were there. So anyway, we’re getting organized. I hope you are too . . . you know we plan to smuggle you all aboard and I want you to be ready. Don’t forget your fuzzy slippers and flannel jammies and cozy bankies, your diary, your book, and all the things that make you happy. We’ll provide the tea and the MUSICA!


And if you get ready early, you can spend a little while listening to the radio . . . I was interviewed by the Good Life Guy last week . . . we had so much fun, I thought you might like to hear it. Just go HERE. I love the radio!

IMG_5287My charm bracelet and the first charm Joe ever gave me . . .get-attachment.aspx IMG_3739

here we go!Joe's doll

Here’s a wonderful poem by our Girlfriend Georgie (@farmgirlgeorgie on Twitter) . . . which she wrote after we came home in 2012, before A Fine Romance was published.

  • We watched you sail out, 🚢we watched you come home
  • You told us the tales as through England 🇬🇧 you roamed.
  • There were cups made by Emma, and beautiful sheep.
  • Your journey was endless. My when did you sleep?
  • We laughed 😂 and we cried as we followed your posts.
  • It’s as though we were there, all the time, we would boast . . .
  • “You should see where we’ve been. We’re going here next.”
  • And every day it got better. 🌄 We were never perplexed!
  • And soon we will all take this journey again.
  • You will bring us along with paints, brushes and pens.
  • The memories you’ve lived have been captured in part
  • On paper and bound, 📚 given birth from your heart!💛

Isn’t that good? Didn’t she do a good job?  I wasn’t sure if I’d ever shown you this, but it was too cute not to share. I’ll be keeping a diary again this trip🎨, and we’ll see if it becomes a Scotland Diary or not!  I’ll definitely need to paint us a new map! I packed my art things! Basically, I packed everything! If you need anything, extra socks, a teacup, a pen, laundry soap, or anything, just ask, I’m sure I’ll have it with me.my paintbrush, doing what comes naturally

Since I started writing this post, the wind has gotten stronger, the temperature has candlelightdropped ~ it’s cold! And rain is pattering the windows ~ it’s getting interesting out there, trees are bending and leaves are flying. I’m in sweater and shawl, it’s cozy here and I won’t be a bit surprised if Joe makes us a fire! We might be studying our map of Scotland in candlelight tonight if we lose our electricity!

Okay everyone, I could yak all day, but I gotta go pack those other two squares! Won’t be long now till Bon Voyage, I’ll see you on the ship! You can watch HERE to see us leave the harbor at 5 pm on Thursday. I’ll be the teeny person waving madly from the top deck.  Your Pal, Anna Susanna Dana Branchburger the Third who loves you.💕


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640 Responses to OL’ CLOCK’S A-TICKIN’

  1. Erin Middlebrooks says:

    Susan and Joe. I am so sorry you have lost your exquisitely beautiful Girl Kitty and the man who sounds like the best father ever, Blog Daddy. Your hearts have taken a battering. I hope the trip is a pleasant distraction.

    • sbranch says:

      Still battered, maybe it’s a life long thing . . . it sits beside me as we go forward. There is laughing, and then there are tears. I loved my dad and he loved me so there is nothing more to say. And of course, Girl. 😥 I’ll just put them in my pocket.

  2. Sandra says:

    Such a lovely blog posting again! Have I ever seen an unlovely one? Nope! So sorry about Girl Kitty… it’s so hard when it’s time for pets to leave us. Jack will rule the roost (or wasn’t he already doing that?!) What a boy!
    Have a simply wonderful time on your travels in my country of origin! I’m going there too this month to take a steam-train journey from London to Cornwall!

    • sbranch says:

      Lovely Sandra, that sounds just fabulous! Maybe you’ll be near us in Wiltshire for our BYO Picnic Basket party?

  3. Paula from New Romney, Kent, England. says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I’m absolutely heartbroken to hear our Girl Kitty is no longer with us. Felt like she belonged to us all, as does sweet Jackie Boy. Two years ago my darling Daddy passed away at the wonderful age of 97 and a few months later, I had to say good bye to my beloved Jennie Puss, who was 16. I had to wait a while til it stopped hurting before I went kitty shopping (the best kind of retail therapy) and a little tortoiseshell kitty chose me!!! I named her Daisy and, like your Jack, she is my little shadow, especially when I am at my sewing table where she likes to have all the room so I end up with a small corner to work on (sounds familiar?). I yearn to go to Scotland so will be with you and Joe from the comfort of my armchair. Safe crossing to dear old Blighty and prepare to fall in love with our lovely part of the world all over again. All my love and God Bless you both, Paula X

    • sbranch says:

      Totally familiar, Jack spreads himself out on my art table, I get the bottom left corner to paint in. We are so lucky to have them. It is very hard to say goodbye to Jack right now… I even started calling him John. But this calling we have to go, we have to do it. We’ll be home for Christmas. Watch out poor sweet England, Americans on the roads, you should have orange markings on their cars! xoxo

  4. Lauri Hyde says:

    What a bittersweet time for you both! A beautiful journey awaits you, while your memories of your precious family will go with you no matter where you are. I grieve the loss of your beautiful Girl kitty with you. She reminds me so much of our beloved Kitzer, who was also a tuxedo kitty. She passed away back in late September of 1999 and I still miss her. Enjoy your trip and be safe. Maybe have a gold locket made to hold pictures of your Dad and Girl Kitty to have next to your heart? I wanted to do that for my lost loved ones but I never got to it. I don’t know how to make pictures that tiny? Well, there is an appropriate poem out there, can’t recall the author, but it was something to the effect that God gave us memories that we might have roses in December. Perhaps planting your favorite roses on Girl kitty’s grave might be a nice way to do that? What a lovely memory that would be! Just remember that through it all, time heals all wounds. Take good care and a minute at a time if that is the best you can do, and then take the next step, and the next, and the next. You will get through this.

    • sbranch says:

      I have the locket, but I have the same problem, the time!!! I think you could take your photo to a UPS store, or anywhere like that and have copies made . . . they can get them really tiny. You are so sweet with your kind words… I think about my “people” every day, so close to my heart, forever. xoxo

  5. Karen Burton says:

    Bon Voyage and safe travels dear friends. How utterly exciting! Because of you, I now have a very dear friend living in Hereford named Fran. ( if you see her give her the biggest hug from me, please)! She is originally from Devon. I cannot wait to go over there myself one day.
    I so look forward to all the details you will be sharing! What an exciting fall we will all be having because of you and Joe!
    Kind thoughts, warm wishes, deep condolences for the loss of your Dad and Girl Kitty. I marvel at how you managed all the book signings now knowing your heart was aching at the loss of your Dad.
    Have the time of your life and thanks for sharing!

    • sbranch says:

      Pen Pals . . . how wonderful! It’s been quite a year. Never have I experience quite so many wonderful highs, or ever, so many very sad lows. Life just seems to come at its own pace. You are a sweetheart, thank you Karen. xoxo See you on the boat!

  6. Deb in Wales says:

    Dearest Susan ~~~ So sorry I have not been around for a few months but sometimes things happen which take us away for a while ~~~ I will have some serious catching up to do now that I am better.

    Deeply saddened to hear that Girl Kitty has passed over the Rainbow Bridge. She was such a darling girl and I remember, fondly, commenting on her the very first day I discovered your blog. I am happy for her, and you, that she now rests in your Kitty Graveyard.

    Looking forward to re~visiting Bonnie Scotland on your travels. The Highlands are my favourite part of mainland Scotland, and the food North of the Border is second to none with so much fresh, local produce ~ beautiful raspberries, delicious heather honey, fresh oatcakes, shortbread, proper porridge, venison, real kippers and Finnan haddock, Cullen Skink, wonderful whiskies, and, if you can find it, the best river caught salmon in the world to name but a few ~~~
    hungry now! I’m sure you’ve thoroughly researched the delights that await!

    Wishing you Safe Passage ~~~
    ~~~Waving from Across The Pond~~~Deb in Wales xoxo

  7. Janet from Philly says:

    Dear Susan, I am so sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. My husband and I had to say goodbye to both of our precious kitties within 6 weeks of each other this summer. Sunny was 20 years old and Rusty came to us 2 years ago and decided to stay. We never knew how old he was. We miss them more than we can say so I know how you feel. But you do have that Jack who is totally adorable! On a different note, I am glad to see you using the packing square system. I read about something similar years ago and have done it ever since. Except I use the zippered plastic packaging that comes with new bedspreads, mattress covers, pillows, etc. It makes it so easy – on bag for pants, one for tops, etc.

  8. Janet from Philly says:

    P.S. I don’t know if your travels will take you to the Isle of Skye but if they do I highly recommend two stops – The Trottenish Peninsula Art Gallery run by Bill and Susie Lawrence and The Fairy Glen. We stopped in the Gallery one extremely rainy day and it was like walking into a snug port in the storm. It was bright and warm and the teakettle was on the boil while the rain lashed at the windows looking out on the landscape. Verdi’s “Requiem” (one of my favorites) was playing in the background and wanted to stay the rest of the trip with them! Bill was hard at work at his drawing and Susie was working on some of her photographs. He was extremely cordial and gave us all sorts of tips to visit the ruins of Duntulm Castle just up the road. And the Fairy Glen is just that – a real fairy glen. I can’t describe it, it just has to be seen. Bon Voyage!

  9. Beth Bruno says:

    Dear Susan – So very sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. I know she will be missed. We have a new “Jack-esque” kitten and our girl kitty, Sassy, who is 13, is not so sure about him, either. But, for the most part peace reigns. I know you are so excited about your trip. We can’t wait to go along and I am so glad you have extra socks – I never can seem to take enough of them when I pack! Love to you and Joe and to Jack. Bon Voyage!

  10. winnie Nielsen says:

    Bon Voyage tomorrow , Susan!! I hope your trip over is smooth and a restful start to your big journey! Hurricane Hermine pounded us down here in Florida for a night and gave us a ton of rain and lots of trees debris. The saddest part is seeing huge century old water oaks (short root systems) just toppled over and lost. Such friends didn’t deserver such a bitter ending to their decades of lovely shade and homes for critters.

    Oh my, I am so sorry that our Girl Kitty is gone! That sweet face will be sorely missed on your blog. On some level Jack knows she is missing and to the extent that it disrupts him remains unknown. Hopefully your plan of extra attention will help him. We leave for England on this coming Monday and I am already worried about my Mr.Bump kitty . Like you, I hate to leave him and worry the whole time I am gone. He shows how much he misses us when we return by meowing for hours and hours when we get home calling us from every room. It breaks my heart. We too have enlisted several of his admirers on top of the person who comes daily to care for him to keep him company. They send me love texts and little photos and videos from Bump which help.

    It is going to be a wonderful trip for you and Joe. I wish our schedule allowed for a visit with some of your stops, but we are on a tour and so our time is already planned. I will, however, be checking in while you are away and keeping up with all of the excitement. It is going to be FUN!!

    Safe travels and I’ll be on the other side of the pond in a few days myself. This will be my first time there ever and I am looking forward to seeing this lovely island that gave us beautiful stories like Downton Abby!

  11. susan says:

    So sorry to hear about Girl Kitty…very sad.
    Also have a wonderful and safe trip and have the best time ever. This has really been a year of travel for you both. ENJOY

  12. carol f. says:

    so sorry to hear of the lose of girl kitty. it always upsets me so when I lose a furry friend.

    can’t wait to see and hear about your adventures abroad. write lots and send pictures.

    be safe and enjoy your travels

  13. Rebecca says:

    Hello Susan!
    First, let me say I’m so sorry about Girl Kitty’s passing. It’s so terribly hard to lose our pets as they are basically like children to us! I’d like to think that watching Jack’s antics and spending time with him has been balm to your soul.

    And now let me say Bon Voyage! So excited for you and Joe! Praying that you both will have a wonderful and safe journey “across the pond” and that you will find Great Britain to be just as enchanting as can be! Have a fantastic time and know that we are going about our lives here, pausing occasionally and wondering, “where are they now?” or “what are they up to today?” always wishing that whatever it is, or wherever you are, that you both have an amazing experience!

  14. Marianne from Peoria says:

    Cannot wait to be carried along for the ride! You and Joe will love Scotland just as much as England! I won,t be there for your send off because my husband and I will be on our own adventure, traveling to the Oregon coast and staying in a lighthouse for several days! Bon voyage to you and cannot wait for your posts from across the pond!

  15. Christine Perica says:

    My husband and I are laughing hysterically because I just wrote in my daytimer on Thursday, September 8 (which happens to be our 43rd anniversary) at 3:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) “Watch Susan and Joe leave on the QE II!” Like you are our best friends! We loved Scotland and can only imagine the fun you will have! Can’t wait to travel with you! Love, love, love your New Mexico friend (and Reseda neighbor)

  16. Ann Waddell says:

    Travelling mercies, as Anne Lamotte says! I hope your journey is full of joy and adventure. And maybe a new book !!???!!
    So sorry about Girl Kitty. I loved hearing about her, and know she had a wonderful life with you and Joe. I have a 19 year old girl, Francesca, who is cruising along. She gets sick every once in a while, but bounces back. She is black and elegant, with a graceful gait, and looks like her paws do not even touch the ground. Like she’s wearing long ladies black gloves and belongs on Downton Abbey. And she is the softest kitty I have ever had!
    Be well, and enjoy the journey.
    Love and Peace, Ann

  17. JuLee says:

    So sorry to hear of the loss of Girl Kitty. Hers was a beautiful spirit – just to look in those eyes, even in photos, and it was evident. I know you will be with her again. She is well now and happy in the best place of all. I think of how it must be – to look into the eyes of those you love best and then in a blink, to be looking into the “welcome home eyes” of the one who made us and loves us all more than anything. Surely the goodness and loyalty of animals is well rewarded when they pass on to the next place. I have many waiting for me there and I know you do too. xxx

  18. AnnaMarie Smith says:

    Bon Voyage!!! Can’t wait for all the upcoming adventures!

  19. Debbie Dority says:

    Be safe! I know it will be a wonderful trip. My sweet daddy called the excitement before you actually leave being “journey proud.” And I always say the best time of a vacation is the day it begins because all the possibilities are to come, but this one for y’all has made me rethink that!!! And (((hugs))) for you, Joe and Jack – sweet Girl will now be with you as you sail!

  20. Linda says:

    Oh Susan!!
    I am so sorry about Girl Kitty!!!! Such a sad time for you! It is so hard for us to loose our furry kids! I have lost several cats and I was a basket case each time! Every time I think of them, I giggle! After the last time, I said “No more pets!” and now we have a dog, go figure!
    One blessing is that it didn’t happen while you were on your trip! Jack may need a little brother or sister?!??? Just a thought?!
    Blessings to you and Joe! ENJOY! We will all be waiting for your reports from your travels and for your new book !!!
    HUGS!!!! 😉

  21. Debbie Dority says:

    Oh hey it’s me again – those packing things look great!! I have a packing item I bought at The Container Store that helps you fold absolutely flat your tops, tees, jeans, capris, etc. and it is a miracle to get all these clothes in such a small space! More room for fun stuff! Ok — again be safe, I’m off to pack too see you on the ferry!!! 🎩👑🍷🎉🛳

  22. jeanette says:

    It’s raining here in Eden Prairie, MN and I am crocheting and having tea and watching my kitty Cooper look out the window at the falling leaves and imagining that I am on the ship heading to Scotland as well! 🙂

    So sorry to hear about Girl Kitty, sending hugs and prayers your way. So sad when we had to say goodbye to our sweet kitty Murphy a few years ago. She was 20 years old and had gotten very ill. It was for the best but always so sad. I am keeping you in my thoughts. Have the most magical, wonderful trip ever and I, and all your girlfriends, will be here waiting to see the lovely things you will share with us. We all get to go together in a way! Bon Voyage and safe travels! <3

  23. melindas says:

    Bon Voyage! You are heading for my favorite place in the world, Scotland. I’m looking forward to your posts about it.

  24. christine says:

    Blessings for your grief and for your joy…both bring tears.

  25. Wendy Crittenden says:

    Bon Voyage to you Susan ! Thank you for letting us follow along !

    If you are going as far up as the Isle of Bute please don’t miss Mount Stuart. It is a Downton Abbey type mansion. Watch for enchanting little animals and birds in the carvings throughout the house. Especially in one of the bedrooms upstairs which features the bedposts as a badger and a fox and the wall panels as various animals in little vignettes. In the amazing library, which I did not want to leave, last year they found a First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays from 1782 !

    Enjoy your trip !

  26. AngieTink says:

    Bon~Voyage Sweet~Sue & Joe (& Petey) Sadness About Girl~Kitty Tears Tooo…..Thank~You For Sharing Her With Us….She Is Now An Angel~Kitty In Heaven With Our Blog~Daddy…& They Are Both Watching Over You… I Promise…. Extra~Special~Hugzzz For You Sweet~Sue From Me! My Bags Are Packed…I Am So Ready To Board The Queen~Mary~2 With You! We Shall Twirl Onto The Ship….Jiggity~Jig xoxo Here’s a Little Traveling~Pixie~Dust 😊💖😇💙😉💛🎃💜👻🎶🌟✨🌻🍁 Wishing You A Safe~Journey & I Know It Will Be Beyond Magical!!! Yay!

  27. Andi M says:

    At work on my lunch break, reading your post and fighting back the tears. I thought losing a pet was hard as a child, but I think it is worse as an adult. It hurts now even though I never knew Girl Kitty. So sorry.

  28. Laura says:

    My heart is hurting for you and Joe. I know how the sadness can grip you when you lose a very much loved pet!
    I’m so very excited about “our” up coming trip. I can not wait to start hearing all about it!
    Have safe travels!!!

  29. Donna says:

    I am so very, very sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. I know how heartbroken you feel. I have been there with kitties of my own. She was loved and she loved you.
    Have a safe and wonderful journey to England. Cant wait to follow along!

  30. Bev Brewer says:

    Dearest Susan and Joe—every time I saw a photo of Girl Kitty I saw the love and trust in her beautiful eyes. It is a blessing at this sad time that they hear our soothing voices and feel our gentle touch even though it is heart wrenching for us. So now, it is time to look to the brighter days ahead and enjoy your voyage and your travels and the lovely countryside waiting for you both. I think this trip will be good TLC—Love from Bev

  31. Deb J says:

    So sorry to hear about Girl Kitty, Susan. She was such a sweetie; I always loved hearing about her (and Jack too, of course!) Hope you have everything packed. I hadn’t heard of those little bags either, but they sound wonderful. I’m SO excited! This is probably the only way (at least for a while) I’ll get to go across the pond, and it is quite kind of you to take us all along. Can’t wait til tomorrow, and I bet you two can’t either. Safe travels, and lots of love!!

  32. Phyllis Patton, Lancaster County, PA says:

    Susan, as you are finishing your lists and checking things twice, I am as well. You have a wonderful trip planned. And I would love to be going away for two and a half months especially to England and Scotland, but I’m over the moon for our holiday too! Were are we going? We are leaving tomorrow, the 8th, just like you and Joe are! Heading out for Martha’s Vineyard! I am over the moon! I will try not to lurk too hard at your place. But just like you adored seeing the Beatrix Potter figurines in the window sill at Hilltop, while you were still outside and allowed to take pictures, I hope to see Jack in the window at your place. I also want to take a picture of your garden, but only if I can see it from the sidewalk. We are going to visit with family in RI and going over to Block Island to see the lighthouses on Friday and then on Saturday we catch our ferry to “on island” on Saturday! I have an Apple Cake in the oven, my flea market found table clothes packed in a basket for picnics “on island,” and my three SB
    books along to read again and again. Have a wonderful, relaxing time. I intend to just as soon as I see your five lighthouses and purchase my new HOTH cook book.

  33. Phyllis Patton, Lancaster County, PA says:

    Susan, as you are finishing your lists and checking things twice, I am as well. You have a wonderful trip planned. And I would love to be going away for two and a half months especially to England and Scotland, but I’m over the moon for our holiday too! Were are we going? We are leaving tomorrow, the 8th, just like you and Joe are! Heading out for Martha’s Vineyard! I am over the moon! I will try not to lurk too hard at your place. But just like you adored seeing the Beatrix Potter figurines in the window sill at Hilltop, while you were still outside and allowed to take pictures, I hope to see Jack in the window at your place. I also want to take a picture of your garden, but only if I can see it from the sidewalk. We are going to visit with family in RI and going over to Block Island to see the lighthouses on Friday and then on Saturday we catch our ferry to “on island” on Saturday! I have an Apple Cake in the oven, my flea market found table clothes packed in a basket for picnics “on island,” and my three SB books along to read again and again. Have a wonderful, relaxing time. I intend to just as soon as I see your five lighthouses and purchase my new HOTH cook book.

  34. Mary Jo Franske says:

    Susan, I don’t know if you’ll get this far down on your list of responses and good wishes for a safe and ABUNDANT journey!
    First off, isn’t it aMAZing how much one gets accomplished just before leaving for a trip? Ironing, check. Hanging that painting that has leaned against the wall for 5 months, check. Repairing that dripping faucet, check!
    We are leaving for Ireland next Thursday, and I feel your excitement and angst and joy. I feel like a horse waiting to run the derby!
    So, know that while you are picnicking and exploring and taking in the green, that so many of us will be living through you. You are so fortunate (and gifted) to share all the beauty with others. And we are so fortunate and blessed to be recipients!

  35. Shannon Stevenson says:

    Oh I audibly gasped when I read that Girl Kitty has passed on. Such a graceful calm lady, I’m sure everyone welcomed her with a look of awe as she walked into Heaven.

  36. Nancy Alexander says:

    Dearest Susan,
    My heart weeps for you on the loss of Girl Kitty for they become so much a part of our hearts, don’t they?
    I can’t wait for this next adventure and I’m hoping it evolves into another book. How wonderful that would be!
    Have a wonderful time and thanks for allowing me to come along.

  37. Nancy K. says:

    Dear Susan,

    I am so sorry about your Girl Kitty. She was a beautiful, gentle soul. She is still a beautiful, gentle soul. I’m glad she had a safe and happy life.

  38. Christine Chrovian says:

    I feel my heart literally swell when I read ANYTHING of yours. Since the very first Cookbook in the early 80’s through almost everything published since, and even when the very first Willard’s used to arrive in my mailbox, years ago. You and your amazing “Happy Gene” have made my life a little bit more hopeful, magical and inspiring. If I could have any life I wanted, it would be one where I lived on that quaint Island you call home, in the cutest little cottage (one like Holly Oak) and have you as a bestie. I really got choked up reading about Girl Kitty. I just sent my old girl Zo over that same bridge back in January and it still stings. But I have a new baby girl Lulu who (like Jack) is the light of my life now. She loves (Rubber Bandies) I buy them by the case at the dollar store! (Got the idea from you, and they are the best kitty toys ever)… Nee Nee is my other girl but she is soooo NOT impressed with Lulu. Sometimes personalities just do not mix. Anyway, I can’t wait to journey along with you to places I’ve always only dreamed of going. You are my all time favorite! Thank you so much for sharing your life with all of us! I know I speak for so so many, when I say WE ADORE YOU!!!… Safe travels!

  39. Trisha K in MO says:

    I loved the poem. Farmgirlgeorgie is so talented! Thank you for sharing. And, I’m sorry about Girl Kitty. Our dog is 8, and had surgery this year for a dislocated knee, which it turned out to be cancer. We went ahead and sent him 5 hours away for a month of radiation treatment. It’s so hard to watch those innocent animals suffer. I feel so helpless when they are sick, and I’m so very sorry that you had to go through that. I’m thankful you have had little Jack during this time. Sure you can’t sneak him into your suitcase? I will make room he can sit in my lap, I’ve got the hairbands. I’m so excited about the trip! Scotland is a dream for me, I hope all the girlfriends understand if I’m squealing with delight the entire time we are there. Might wanna bring earplugs, ya’ll.

  40. Carolyn H. says:

    So very sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. She was a beautiful friend. I am so looking forward to following along on your wonderful adventures. Love it!!! Safe travels!

  41. Hi guys! Enjoy your trip! I fell in love with Scotland when I first laid eyes on it. I was not prepared for the vastness nor the other worldliness of the landscape! I loved the highland games and the wooly cattle! I know you will have a fantastic time. Any songs from one of my favorite musicals, Brigadoon, on your play list? Hope Joe buys a kilt!
    Becki Hardman
    PS Good luck with the weather!

    • sbranch says:

      Like this one? HERE . . .❤️

      • Ha! That’s one! I love them all! I can pretend I am Cyd Charisse, up there dancing in the heather!

        BTW; I forgot to mention how truly sorry I was to hear about Girl Kitty. It always breaks my heart to hear about such sweet loyal companions passing on. But now she is doing her own Cyd Charisse thing up in there in kitty heaven rolling and leaping in forever catnip.

  42. SusanA says:

    Do you know where in Scotland that first picture was taken? I am in love with it! If I ever get to visit Scotland, I want to see that place for myself. Can you imagine walking out your front door and being surrounded by such breathtaking majesty? (Well, of course you can. I can imagine it too, but I’d also like to feel it for real!)

  43. Brenda Chambers says:

    Safe travels and I know y’all will have a great time. A friend of mine just returned to the states from a 2 month visit to visit their child and their home in Scotland. Thanks for letting us follow you.

  44. Vicki says:

    You got me to thinking about the Queen Mary 2. (I’m not much into the subject of boats/ships. I didn’t know the QE2 was retired!) So, I read up on it. She is one strong girl, your ship bound for England. I didn’t really ever stop to consider that an ocean liner has been always different from a cruise ship. The ocean liner has to be built with a lot more steel to go at a pretty good clip while going such a long way in deep ocean with unknown weather whereas the cruise ships usually make a loop, coming back to the same place they left from, where weather (and wave) is usually hospitable (hence the ‘cruise’ nomenclature, i.e. vacation/fun kind of thing where the ocean liner is on serious business to get from Point A to Point B [the cruise ship can be lighter weight]). Although they say, lately, because cruise ships are venturing into all kinds of new territory, they are again taking on ‘ocean liner characteristics’ (the early cruise ships were in fact retired ocean liners; I feel like I’m getting tongue tied). I loved reading that in previous years, both Queen Marys saluted each other when the QM2 came into Long Beach (Calif) harbor; I bet that was quite a thing to hear throughout Long Beach/San Pedro, huh!! Your QM2 ship even has pet kennels! In fact, it just got new ‘retrofit’ in June where they added even more kennels and some swankier staterooms although of course you’d probably know all that! I can’t imagine how huge this ship is, with nearly 3,000 passengers, five swimming pools and the largest library of any ship out there (did I read 8,000 volumes?) but, ‘they say’ that the QM2 is currently, really, the only true ‘ocean liner’ out there on the seas so, wow, it sounds like the best of the best of the best. What a treat to be able to experience being on her! Can’t wait to see your photos back here on the blog; thanks for taking us along for the ride! I’m so glad you posted the link for the NY Harbor webcam. How fun! I’ll definitely give it a watch…and, may I say, along with everyone else here, to you and Joe, Bon Voyage! (One of my fave movies from the early ’60s, Disney’s family film called “Bon Voyage” with Fred MacMurray, Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Moochie, Jane Wyman…part of it was indeed filmed on a real-life ocean liner but its crossing was NY to France.)

    • Vicki says:

      By the way, in anticipation of a future train or road trip, I actually did go in to Amazon and buy one of your packing squares and one of those clear totes. I figured, why invent the wheel…if Susan has tried it out and they’re good organizers, give it a go! Thanks for the tips!

    • sbranch says:

      Moochie!!!! Ha ha!

  45. Starr miller says:

    God bless sweet Girl Kitty. I’m so glad you and Joe were with her as she crossed the rainbow bridge. I can’t believe your trip is almost here. So very exciting! I’m so thrilled to be going with you two!!!!
    Bon Voyage 💕💕💕💕

  46. Candy in Monrovia, CA says:

    I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to Scotland, and it has not, as yet happened. SO, I will be following every post carefully. Wishing you a safe (unseasick) journey across the Atlantic and beyond. So sorry about Girl Kitty….. 🙁 I’ll be with you in spirit as you and Joe travel along, singing your song, side by side!

  47. Mona in Riverbank CA says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about sweet Girl Kitty. She was a beautiful lady. These furry companions bring such love into our lives. I lost two kitties this year, so my heart is a little tender, too.

    An amazing thing for me this year – this will be my second trip to Scotland via the internet! My brother-in-law and his wife were there last month and took us along via Facebook. They flew into Edinburgh, and from there visited Skye, Inverness, Aberdeen and Shetlands, and like you, he takes wonderful pictures. Apparently they had rain every day, so I hope you have better weather. I’m so looking forward to this second trip with you and Joe! Thanks for making room for all of us – we may squee a little, but we’ll try to be quiet and well-mannered.

  48. Caroline says:

    Bon Voyage! Susan and Joe! I know you will have a blessed and wonderful time. Thank you for taking us all! I am excited to cyber travel along this time. Tomorrow I am going to start reading A Fine Romance again:) and think of you on your crossing.

    I am thankful for you and Joe; that you were blessed to be there for Girl as she crossed the rainbow bridge. I am a dog person and you, Girl, and Jack are making me want to get a cat:)

    I have a daily walk too and when I am in Maine I land up at the water:) At doggie play time on the beach 6-8am. Puts a smile on my face every time and my dog’s too. Do you and Joe walk past Holly Oak every day?

    My Grandmother always felt so badly for us all flying around all over the place. To her a voyage by boat was (almost) the best part. You are living that out for us. Much Love! Caroline

  49. Susan says:

    Bon Voyage Sweet Sue and Joe! Do have a wonderful time! Wish we were there with you, but we’ll be following your many adventures online. I wish you fair skies, golden sunsets and memories to last a lifetime. So sorry about Girl Kitty. She’ll be watching you from that fluffy Cloud Nine (for kitties) above.
    Susan McKenna

  50. Kimberly says:

    Dearest Susan, so sorry to hear about Girl Kitty! What a year you’ve had! Our kitty, Miss Wittums, tries to pretend she doesn’t care about our dog, but the truth comes out when Ally leaves the house. Then kitty gets frantic and goes looking for her. Cats are funny. I hope Jack doesn’t struggle too much with the loss of his aloof friend.

    I had never heard of those cute mini bags before. I need those! And the clear ones, too! I use Ziplocs which work fine, but aren’t as cute. I see on Amazon that they even have bags for shoes! Packing would be so much more enjoyable if I could make it tidier. Thanks for the tips!

    My hubby will be getting his left knee replaced while you are traveling to England. Not as fun a journey, but a happy ending. He had the other one replaced back in February and has been so pleased with the results. I will be following you on your journey in the midst of taking care of him during his recovery and will SO look forward to every post of your happy adventures!

    Much love!

  51. JUNR says:

    Hi Susan,
    My Spikey went to heaven in June.
    I was very sorry to hear about Girl Kitty.
    My best,

  52. Donna Klein says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. I hope Jack will be so grateful for 100% of the attention that he won’t miss her too much.

    Where has the time gone?! It seems like yesterday that you announce your trip and I can hardly believe it starts tomorrow! I hope you have a wonderful time; I can’t wait to follow along.

    I hope another book will soon follow!


  53. Carisa says:

    Bon Voyage! Enjoy your adventure! It’ll be a joy to see your posts of lovely England and Scotland while we endure the annual Santa Ana winds in SoCal. So sorry to learn about Girl Kitty (with her celadon eyes) and more importantly your fabulous Pop. Walk easy on the Earth. Take time to mourn, time to heal, time to love. Godspeed!

  54. Jeanette St. George says:

    I have read the messages from your adoring girlfriends. I agree with all of them. Pets are family and they are so dearly loved. I am sad for your loss.

  55. Leslie Scutellaro aka Mrs. S. says:

    Bon voyage!

  56. Rosie Price says:

    You must be dashing about Susan and Joe – just wanted to say safe journey, I know you’ll enjoy every exciting moment. I am trekking to see you at Stourhead (only 236 miles) but you have brought me so much happiness and amazing penfriends, I couldn’t bear to miss this opportunity to come and share a picnic by the grass bridge. Praying for good weather that day, September can be, well, a bit on the wet side, but it won’t dampen our enthusiasm and spirits. See you very soon.
    Rosie from Lincolnshire.

  57. Brenda says:

    So very sorry to hear about Girl Kitty.
    I hope you have a very enjoyable and memorable trip and I’m so happy you’ll be taking us along.
    Could you please tell me where you purchased your sea sick bracelet and does it really work?

    • sbranch says:

      I got them at the drug store, and yes, so far in my queasy ocean lifetime, they have always worked (as long as I put them on BEFORE the ocean starts stirring up).

  58. Cheryl Moran says:

    Oh my goodness. You will love Scotland. It was my favorite trip I took with my son. And your photo of what you think Ireland looks like is right on too. My husbands family lives on an island called Clare Island in County Mayo. And that is pretty close to it
    Enjoy your trip. Can’t wait to read about your adventures and see your wonderful photos
    And my heart breaks for you and the loss of your fuzzy baby.

  59. Kathy says:

    Wishing you both a wonderful trip. Can’t wait to see what you have to show us. So sorry about GirlKitty she was a sweetheart.

  60. Megan Hyatt says:

    So dreadfully sorry about Girl Kitty, so very sad.

  61. Pamela Jewett says:

    Hi Susan,
    Whew! Just made it home in time to pack. We’re ready! Oh, btw, my husband decided to come along. Hope that’s ok. We are looking forward to hikes and scones and of course companionship! I know its painful to lose a favorite pet, but don’t worry. Girl kitty is cradled in Mother Earth’s loving arms. God Speed on our journeys.
    xoxo Pam

  62. sylvia in seattle says:

    “Afore ye gang awa” all this talk of Scotland reminded me of me youth and tearing around the basement with my younger brothers on rainy days. We had two old tall crank-up Victrolas there and a collection of really old records, clay not vinyl, among them some Harry Lauder. So I went to YouTube and listened to Loch Lomond, Roamin in the Gloamin and tears started flowing . . . Strange. I don’t know if it was that unique voice from the past, maybe the feelings of innocent days – I just think you and Joe are going to have the best time in what I imagine to be a magical place where people say stuff like this: “brae bricht moonlight nicht” 🙂 And the pipes, the pipes – egad I’m getting into such a mood.

  63. Bertie says:

    Wishing you a safe happy crossing Susan. It’s funny that you are heading my way, as I am visiting Marthas Vineyard in a few weeks time. I have fallen in love with your island through your books and blog, and I can’t wait to see it all first hand. I too am having packing dilemmas, might have to buy some of those squares?Enjoy beautiful Scotland, looking forward to you taking us with you.
    Bertie ( Yorkshire)

    • sbranch says:

      Now that I’m all packed (and in the car on the way to the ship) I say, YES on those squares. I wished I had two more. I had four. Very handy. I know you’ll love the Island Bertie. I adore Yorkshire. xoxo

      • Mary S. says:

        Thanks to your blog, I ordered some of those packing squares for myself, too, for our trip to New England in October. I’m very excited about trying them out! Thanks for the tip! Love from Mary S. In Fresno, California

  64. Charissa says:

    FINALLY AMAZON RELEASED HOTH 30th Anniversary!!! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!! I reviewed it today and was the first one:) I also reviewed it at GoodReads and have been trying for a week at Barnes and Noble with no luck. It let’s me write it, but not chose a rating. I can submit it, but it doesn’t post it. I will keep trying and will write the help desk there. Is there anywhere else I can go to do a review? Makes me feel good to give a little back for ALL that you have done for me over my lifetime. I think the world of you;) xoxo

    PS Forgot to say how fun your radio interview was. You were so darling. I bet anyone that listened ran right out to buy all of your books!!!

  65. Suzanne Erskine says:

    So, so sorry to hear about Girl Kitty! She was such a pretty little thing, she had a noble look about her! Thank you for sharing pictures of her!
    Many blessings on your trip! I was in Scotland many years ago and the scenery is astonishing! You will love it!

  66. Frances Fowler says:

    Susan, I’m so glad you and Joe have this incredible trip to embark upon — tomorrow! It will give you both such joy and happiness during a time that I well know is grievous 🙁 I have Cynthia Rylant’s Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven, both with her beautiful words and folk art paintings that assure me that my precious ones are safe and happy in God’s own special place, waiting patiently until the day when we join them again. God loves His animals! And Girl had the best home any kitty could ever hope for. But you have your bags exceedingly organized with new gear, a marvelous poem by Georgie that echoes our sentiments, and a picnic awaiting! (And btw, I secretly think that Daisy’s picnic would probably have the best fare). Beautiful, beautiful picture of Scotland! Pack us all up carefully (I’ll bring my own P&G Tips) — we’ll be very quiet and well behaved stowaways! Hope to see you waving on the live cam tomorrow, but even if not, we are all SO looking forward to your posts! Thank-you ever so much in advance for sharing with all your online girlfriends, and I wish you and Joe a truly enchanting (and seasick-less) trip.

  67. Donna Kelly says:

    My dearest Susan……I am so very sorry at the loss of you and Joe’s little love, Girl Kitty. My heart broke for you when I read this. This has just been one awful year for you. You always make the bad turn around to be the good. Have an excellent time on your cruise and in your time in England and beyond. Safe travels and thank you for taking us on your journey once more. We girlfriends are forever grateful….Love to you both! PS. I sit here and type and look at the picture of you and I when we met in Hudson Ohio this past Spring. I will never forget how lucky I was!!!!! Bon Voyage!

    • sbranch says:

      Really awful, and really good. Roller coaster city! Hard to believe, but here we are, driving to meet the ship in New York . . . and the plan is quiet and rest and play and fun. And learning something new. xoxoxo

  68. Rose Ann Bacher-Giallombardo says:

    Oh dear Susan, I can clearly see that you & your Joe are happy 🙂 A very smart looking couple indeed! They say that the true secret of a happy life isn’t buried in a treasure chest of material possessions; but it lies within your heart* May the sun always shine on both of you in your travels.
    Enjoy all the adventures that will be coming to you both.
    Always remember that your Girl Kitty loved you w/ all her heart as you did her. She now rests in peace in Kitty Heaven.

  69. Melissa Myers says:

    I am so terribly sorry that you lost your Girl Kitty. My heart goes out to you. At least you were with her until the end and it did not happen while you were aboard. I lost my 15 year old DrewCat in January so I know just how you feel. Hugs to you both and safe travels. I cannot wait to follow your adventures and see all the beauty of the UK through your eyes.

  70. Sarah Nunnelly says:

    Perhaps you should find Jack a new home where his parents will be there to love and nurture him. It’s hard for us to leave our cat for 2 weeks ONCE a year….don’t know how you can do it.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s been hard this year. But we’ll make up for it when we get home, until then he has his surrogate mommy and his own house he’s known since he was a baby.

      • Tawni Urrutia says:

        Well, it seems perfect to me.
        I mean one can’t stay home, and miss traveling the gorgeous world, hauling thousands of girlfriends along, educating and inspiring us along with yourself, because you are afraid to leave your loved and adored Jack with a close friend(and a team of support no less)who will also love and adore him in the comforts of his own gorgeous home!
        I bet it’s tough to leave, but I’m so grateful you do!!❤️
        Bon voyage!

      • Mary S. says:

        Yes! I know there’s no way you could give Jack to someone else! You love him with your whole heart! He’s fine! Cats don’t really mind when we leave as long as we find someone to take care of them when we’re gone! We all know he’s definitely much loved and nurtured! Love from Mary. In Fresno, California

      • Beth T. says:

        We know that cats have neither watches nor calendars, so they don’t know how long we’ve been gone. They hold us in their hearts and trust we’ll come home…which we always do. Until then, Jack is loved and cared for and all is well.

        I learned this lesson when my sweetheart had to move from CA to GA for work–a “temporary” assignment that stretched into (literally) years. There were trips and visits, and every time he came home, our dog was thrilled and delighted, but not really surprised. She knew he would come back, just as Jack does. Love is what matters, love and security. You shared a quote with me long ago that says it all: Love remains. Go have your adventures that fill up your heart and soothe your soul after a rather rough patch, and then come back and share some of that joy with your boy. xxx Beth

  71. Melissa says:

    I simply can’t wait to go on this virtual trip with you! I have been saving all your recommendations. Hopefully I can make the trip myself someday….

  72. Victoria Miller says:

    So very sorry to learn that Girl Kitty is no longer with you and with us. She will be missed, by you of course, but also by those who have gotten to know her through your posts over the years. By now you are off on your voyage across the pond, and here’s wishing you a most wonderful voyage and visit and return voyage.
    Thank you for sharing you lovely life and oh the places you go. You certainly are one of life’s great heartwarmers!

  73. Anthea Milton says:

    Well Susan, you have had a very memorable year so far, lots of highs and some very low, low’s…just know that we laugh and cry with you, as I am doing right now!
    Listened to your radio broadcast, I cannot believe that you don’t talk with a British accent,I know its ridiculous but that’s what I expect to hear. Other than that ,I really enjoyed it. it was nice to hear your story as well as read it.
    Very jealous of your trip as I originally come from Wales and lived near Bath for years, before bringing the family to Washington, I hate to fly so haven’t been back for years, my daughter is currently in N Devon visiting Grandparents.
    Anyway, hope voyage is a good one, calm seas and plenty to drink!!

  74. Trish Dinsmore says:

    Susan, wow you leave tomorrow! Not much sleep tonight I bet. I can only imagine how you must be feeling.
    My daughter just returned from London Tuesday. She had a wonderful time. It was an anniversary/birthday trip.
    Have a fabulous time and we can’t wait to hear all about it.
    Bon Voyage!

    Cape Cod

  75. Diane V. says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. It’s hard to lose one of our furbabies. They bring such joy to our lives and such pain when we have to say good-bye. I know you and Joe will miss her.
    On a happier note, I wish you both safe travels and I can’t wait to hear of your adventures. This winter my husband and I will be planning our own England, Scotland vacation, I’ve already got great ideas from you and am looking forward to hearing more!

  76. Jill Garofano says:

    ok, now you have done it, I am sitting here, bawling my eyes out over Girl Kitty!! I am SOOO sorry!! She was beautiful and reminds me of my Maxie, who looked exactly like her and lived to be 18. She got me through my divorce when I left my cheating husband and moved into my apartment and was my best friend and confidant. I am sure Jack realizes she is missing, but he will be fine. Thank God you have trusting friends who can stay at your place and take care of him (wish I was one of them, I am a crazy cat lady, so Jack and I would be best buddies, lol!). Anyway, have a great time on your trip, cant wait to read all your adventures.

  77. Carol B. Yannone says:

    Thinking of you and Joe as you embark on this wonderful journey to Scotland and can’t wait to see the beautiful countryside you will be visiting. My heart aches for you both over the loss of Girl Kitty. I have always felt close to her because she reminded me of my tuxedo boy, Oreo who had a countenance like hers and those beautiful green eyes. He went over the Rainbow Bridge over 4 years ago and my heart still aches as if it was yesterday. We’ve lost 4 other adopted cats in the last 4 years along with way too many people we have loved. I truly believe their spirits travel along with us still, always close to us and watching over us. It makes it more bearable!
    Bon voyage and let your hearts rebound with the joys of all you see and do on this wonderful journey. Looking forward to enjoying it second hand! Blessings.

  78. Vida Howard says:

    Okay I am on Page 243 of Isle and had to had to pick up the tablet and send you a note. First, I am so sorry for the loss of your kitty. We are very lucky to be loved so completely by our furry friends.
    I could just kick something because I had to miss your visit to Kansas City after I got tickets and everything. However, the bookstore contacted me and sent my books on to me (very sweet if them, I think) and Im having the best time reading.
    Anyway back to page 243. The Gun/Guy attraction theory is totally True! I once found an unusual old leather rifle holster in Old Town Albequerque and walked around with it. Men came from everywhere. haha. We girls are wasting a lot of time on hair products and perfume if you adk me! We should strap on a tool belt or pistol and just wait for the testosterone waves to draw them to us. Love you and Love the Books. Bon Voyage!

  79. Cyndi in NC says:

    I know how much it hurts to have to watch your sweet Girl cross the Bridge. But she is whole and running with the others, a few of them are mine. The only thing is you are not with her. But she will wait and watch for the day you and Joe and even her brat brother Jack will join her. Hugs gal. As to the trip we all are waiting to slip into your suitcases and have another grand adventure with you! Will be watching our back sail tomorrow at 5! Glad you all made it through the storm. See you tomorrow!

  80. Elyse H. says:

    Susan I am so so very sorry to hear about sweet Girl Kitty…just heartbreaking.
    My husband and I are currently here on Martha’s Vineyard celebrating our third anniversary. I’m so grateful to see this beautiful/charming/magical island after reading about it from YOU all these years 🙂 I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow and sending safe and happy wishes your way as you head off for your next amazing adventure. Enjoy!!

  81. Cindy Stierhoff says:

    Oh Susan dear, am so very sorry that Girl Kitty is gone from your life after 15 years of true devotion to you. I know how this feels, last Nov I too lost my dear Angel after 15 yrs, she also had so many ailments that it made her life miserable, though they never complain, do they…

    May you have a smooth and merry sail on your way over to the pond where the land of Beatrice Potter awaits you. Was there last year, the countryside took my breath away and seeing her home and gardens were such a magical time for me.

  82. Linda Kidd says:

    Can’t wait to hear all about your trip. Will check each day to see what’s happening with you and Joe!! Sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. So sad to lose a beloved pet!!

  83. Jane Alexander says:

    it’s late tonight, yet I want to add my bon voyage for your lovely upcoming trip. Surely one where your heart will turn to healing from the sorrows of the passing of your daddy, and Girl kitty….. As you breath and feel, and walk, I know healing will cover you more and more. Perhaps some rest for you and Joe.
    Much love and prayers to both of you, and for Jack as well.

  84. Judy in Ohio says:

    Dearest Anna Susanna…I wasn’t going to comment today, since I know you are busy and excited at the same time…beyond belief…and already have plenty to do…but I just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear about Girl Kitty.

    It is funny, I was just thinking about her a few days ago and thinking about how you don’t like to leave her these days and wondering how it will be for you going on such a long trip…and now, it looks like she has the BEST pet sitter EVER! But I am still sure you miss her lots, as we all will in the coming months. So sorry, dear friend.She was a very special old soul in all of our lives.

    I also want to thank you sincerely for the lovely musica of the ” North Sea Gas”…I could listen to them all day long!! (And I just might!) Thanks so much!!
    Just beautiful!!!

    We hope that you and Joe have a much deserved vacation…that is filled with all that you hope for and in the “fairy tale girl” way that you dream it will be!!

    Happy Trails to you both…
    FUN is GOOD!!


  85. Sherri Fabbri says:

    I’m very sorry about girl kitty! I’ve lost 2 cats and 5 dogs and it is never easy😢I hope you have a wonderful trip! I’m looking forward to reading about it and seeing pictures! You are a train/ ship travel pro!

  86. Kelly from Walnut Creek, CA🌉 says:

    Bon voyage and safe journey Joe & Susan! For all you have given to us over the years, I hope this trip gives back to you the same joy and happiness you have shared with all of us.

    ‘Now go have yourselves an adventure!’ 🚢🏣

  87. Mary from PA says:

    I’m sitting here happily reading along trying to wake up early for work, when I’m not an early morning person, and I get to the part about girl kitty…..I’m so sad, it took my breath away! I know you made the right decision, but it’s hard.
    I just got my new calendar yesterday and I love it! I think the paper is fine!!!
    I can’t wait to hang it on a special place on the kitchen wall in the new to us house we’ve been working on for MONTHS! Moving soon!
    ENJOY the trip!!! Can’t wait to read along! xo, Mary

  88. Cindy Tuning says:

    Wishing you calm seas and smooth sailing on your well deserved crossing to a fabulous vacation. So sorry about Girl… she had a good life. I know that you worried about her when you were away as she wouldn’t eat. You’ve done her a final act of kindness that thankfully we can do for our pets. No more sadness and you will have one less thing to long for while you’re away because this time she’s going with you. Have a wonderful time and take lots of pics. It’ll get us excited for when we go over in June and possibly on the Queen Mary II (Ted’s idea). Packing now for Hawaii to leave on Tuesday where I’ll be pinning my daughter’s anchors on her as she has been promoted to Chief. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even consider flying that far !!! Fair winds and following seas to you !!!

  89. Sally Roth says:

    So sorry about Girl Kitty but, as usual, you’re philosophical and positive.
    Bon voyage, you’ll have an amazing time and I’m looking forward to the next book! Best wishes to you and Joe…

  90. Emily says:

    Hope you have a lovely trip! A few years ago, I went to Scotland during Christmas. I have strong Scottish roots and I wanted to see where my ancestors came from. It’s a magical place, very old and very special. The castles are amazing.

  91. Catherine Wegner says:

    I hope you have a wonderful trip and will be looking forward to “going along” with you. Bon Voyage!!

  92. Linda from Virginia says:

    When you went to England in 2012, I was there, too, and your blog sent me to Emma Bridgewater’s factory and shop. I went to Glasgow to research my grandfather and his family. I had wanted to take him back, but he died before I had the means. He came to the United States by himself when he was 13, turned 14 on the ship. As we drove north to Glasgow, my husband said, “I think we are in Scotland now,” and I sobbed. In Glasgow there is a library devoted to ancestry research, where I saw my grandfather’s birth certificate and his parents’ marriage certificate. We stayed in Edinburgh at a bed and breakfast and ate wonderful meals at a hotel restaurant within walking distance. We were warned to be careful of shops on the Edinburgh mile, that most of the plaid blankets and scarfs were made in China or elsewhere of wool not even from Scotland. We found wonderful Scottish products at a shop in St. Andrews.

  93. Nancy fron Iowa says:

    I’m having such fun actually seeing the Queen Mary II on the webcam! Thank you for the link! I’ll be watching as you leave the harbor. Safe travels and have an absolutely lovely time!
    P.S. I tried a Pimm’s Cup and I LOVE it!

  94. Charice Beard-Chartier says:

    I was reading your blog Susan as I always do, and sort of knew when you were writing about leaving Jack, that Girl Kitty was gone before I even got to the part where you told us. Broke down and cried when you wrote you buried her in a pillow case and marked her spot with flowers and a heart shaped rock. So very hard. But… you have a wonderful adventure ahead of both yourself and Joe. Enjoy, enjoy and thanks for making me a part of it. Can’t wait for stories to come.

  95. Susan Coady-Butler says:

    Dear Susan and Joe, Many thoughts and wishes…..enjoy your wonderful upcoming adventure. Thank you for sharing it all with us. So sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. She is loved and she gave you her love. I wish for you the continued sense of her love and joy. Stay well.

  96. Lori C. says:

    This is the Scottish Girls Group “Give Way” – just loved seeing them perform.
    Safe journey!

  97. Ilene Gavenman says:

    Love listening to North Sea Gas from your post as it reminds me of our trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland last summer! I know you and Joe will have a most spectacular time and I am keeping my fingers crossed that you will decide to create another book based on this trip! The scenery is sooo magnificent! Love those fabulous packing cubes too! Our travel agent mentioned them to us before our trip and we use them now every time we go anywhere, and have purchased them as gifts for family too. Like you mourning your dear dad, I have a heavy heart as I continue on without mine. It has been almost 3 months for me yet I still miss him so very much. As you look at the beautiful scenery and enjoy this trip with your darling Joe, I know your dad will be smiling down upon you. Have a wonderful time!

  98. Jennifer says:

    Hi Susan. So sad to hear about girl kitty. Having seen and read about her on the blog, I feel like she was my kitty too. Also wishing you a safe trip to Scotland. Will that become the next book?

  99. Susan N. says:

    Bon voyage!
    So excited for you both. Just finished A Fine Romance. What a lovely book, the artwork, the recipes, the pictures. I laughed out loud reading about your driving travails in England! Hopefully it’ll be easier this time around🚘. Looking forward to your posts. Enjoy!

  100. Deb Harmon says:

    Susan, Am so sorry to hear about Girl. It seems like I’m always crying when I read your posts.God, I blatted my head off at the thought of your 3 kitties passing away. The ones that you had in your Isle of Dreams book. I think I’m crazy! They would be so very old now, of course they passed away. Guess I’m just an animal lover, can’t help it! Cannot wait to accompany you on your trip! Happy Trails to you, Joe and Petie!!

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