Hello everyone! From sunny, lovely, mellow, quiet, small-town, Central Coast of California, above Santa Barbara, below Big Sur, near San Luis Obispo, where I spent my concert-going formative years, age 21 to age 32. 💞 MUSICA. Dawn rising here, kitties sleeping, tea hot, making mashed avocado (they fall from trees here in la-la land) on Trader Joe’s toast for breakfast. Life, she is good. How is everyone???? Missing you! Have had terrible computer connection until we finally landed here. So we have a lot to catch up on. 😘
Breakfast: Chewy buttered toast, peppery, salted, ripe, avocado. Yum!
This little floral item is giving my nose heart palpitations right now. I picked it from the bush just outside our Studio door and put it a vase next to my computer. Heavenly California. Very nice to be back…
Our first night, after a long drive north, listening to the Joni Mitchell Court and Spark album, we went to dinner at the Pacific Ocean . . . with the most wonderful October sunset. Wanted to share with you deep breath of salt air and gentle breeze off the water. Although, do not get me wrong, I can’t wait to get home and see what the leaves are doing on Martha’s Vineyard! But, right now, we’re blooming where we are planted . . . and it’s really not been very difficult!
We traveled across the country the long, old-fashioned, S L O W way, as always, by train. Above is the view from our table in the dining car. We crossed the Mississippi just in time for a lovely sunset sky, working our way west.
We always know when we reach New Mexico because it turns red outside our windows. We live in a beautiful country and it’s a privilege to see it up close and personal.
We make the most of it, bringing our books, tea cups and tea, the kettle, apples, cheese and crackers. (Yes, I have my Apple cup with me, and yours are on the way, more at the bottom of this post!)
See the plastic spoon? There was a rattle, but Mr. Fixit solved it instantaneously! It’s so nice to have a man around the train car. Yes, sheep socks. The only way to fly!
Totally spoiled. Stopped at train station in Albany, Joe got himself a coffee shake! I brought everything with me but the kitchen sink.
We’re there, time to load up the car and hit the road!
Heading east across LA toward the desert . . .
First to Palm Springs area to see my sister Shelly (who loaned us her ice chest) and to see her darling twins, who grew up since we last saw them, they turned 15! (You’ll see later!)
Then out to Arizona . . . to see my dad’s wife Jeanie and her sister Mary who still live in the house where my dad lived.
Again, we went the long way, up and over the mountains, through gorgeous Prescott, then to edge of the mountain, old mining town of Jerome, named for a cousin of Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill’s mother (yes, he’s half American), who we are related to through my Dad’s mom, my grandmother Murray, because this is a nutty world, and down, along the precipice of the world where we were hailed upon, big ice-balls festively splotching onto the windshield, followed our car into the valley below.
We went that way both times, traveling in, and traveling back out. Slower but so much prettier,
. . . with lovely views, piles of billion-year-old rocks, and no trucks! (See the tree at the top of this?!)
Our first morning in Cottonwood, I was getting ready to do some laundry at the motel ~ we were going to visit my Dad’s grave after the laundry was done. I was digging in the bottom of my purse for money for the washer and dryer ~ and pulled a handful of change out of my bag and onto the motel dresser top to sort it. I saw this very old dime, and thought, let me look closer. And there it was, 1923, the year my dad was born. What are the chances? I said, “Hi Dad.” It was wonderful. I’m still not over it. I’m going to put that dime on my charm bracelet because my dad said hello the day I got to his town!We took our darling girls, my dad’s wife Jeanie on the left (91, I know, shocking!), and Mary (86, both of them full of love), sisters who take care of each other (Jeanie is my “other mother”) out to dinner to my Dad and Jeanie’s favorite spot in Cottonwood, Nic’s. It was wonderful to see them so well and healthy. Nicest midwest girls, Jeanie and Mary White, grew up near Chicago. Aren’t they adorable?
We stayed in Cottonwood visiting for three days, then back out to LA to see my Uncle Dick, my mom’s brother, then up Pacific Coast Highway . . .
. . . and finally, down the driveway to our Studio here, near San Luis Obispo, where Kellee and Sheri come every day . . . where we’re now parked for the duration.
This is where the gardenias bloom, and where our Studio Kitties, sweet, shy, Sasha, and
handsome, beauty-marked, Sammy, run the show. We are staying here now, and get these guys to ourselves at nights and on the weekends. Shhhh, don’t tell Jack.
We came out to California to see family, and also for a book talk and signing at the Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo, which took place last Saturday the 13th . . . these were the name tags Kellee made . . . everyone got one!
The moment we walked in the door Kellee and Sheri put us to work, tying ribbons onto these little books they’d made. Joe and I got home from our trip to England in July, and since then, as you know, I have been working on our new book ~ E N C H A N T E D. 💞 Before we left the island, I was writing and painting at my art table, and as time came closer for us to go to the Apple Farm, I thought, How can I make this book-talk extra nice? What can I bring that will make it fun for everyone? I thought, Well, I could read the first chapter of the new book, they might like that. I asked Joe what he thought, and he said it was a good idea, except, he said, “Wouldn’t it be better if everyone could see the photos you’re putting in?” And I thought, Oh dear, right, because as Lewis Carroll said, “What is the use of a book without pictures?” So, then I thought, Why don’t we make little books of the first chapter, include the photos, and hand them out to everyone who comes to the signing? So I called Kellee and Sheri to see what they thought ~ they loved the idea, so that’s exactly what we did!
So the big day came and we were ready! Kellee and Sheri kept the secret better than me, because I told Twitter what we were doing, due to large uncontrollable mouth and secret-keeper-failure.
Look at me, I’m ecstatic. Not everyone is on Twitter, so we were able to surprise lots of our Girlfriends, look at this happy group! We had such a wonderful time, spent most of it laughing!
It was a tent full of girlfriends!
Apple farm made it so nice for everyone! Lemon water, hot apple cider, fall decorations, it was a beautiful day.
They put a box of treats on every single chair. Treats, believe it or not, all made from recipes in my Autumn Book, all my favorites, including apple crisp, pumpkin cheesecake, and my Grandma’s maple cookies! Bless that Apple Farm’s little heart. 💝 And you are probably asking “Wenches? Why does it say wenches?” My Girlfriend Elizabeth, who I met when she bought Holly Oak from me (she doesn’t own it anymore), now lives in Palo Alto. I was texting her while she was driving (she was a passenger!) down the coast with her three best girlfriends on their way to the talk, and they were calling themselves, the Wenches (for reasons unknown, probably having to do with festive road trip!). I had lots of friends and family coming, and several dear old friends you would recognize as characters in my books, so sweet and helpful Apple Farm set a group of chairs off to the side and labeled it Reserved for the Wenches. And a thing was born.
Here are some of the Wenches . . . top row is Diana (Elizabeth’s cousin), then Teri, and Kathy ~ bottom row, the “original” Diana (best friend from my books), and then Elizabeth. (Perhaps “wenches” had something to do with those Hats!)
So then it was time, and here I am shaking in my boots, because that’s what I do when I have to speak in front of people. Rachael, my sidekick from the Apple Farm, is introducing me, Joe is pointing the camera and saying, “Look at me!” And all is chaos! But only I know, to everyone else, everything looks perfectly normal. My heart was beating like a squirrel’s crossing the LA Freeway.
I started talking, thanking the Apple Farm in quavering voice, tongue totally in the way, thanking Joe, who received a huge spontaneous round of applause!!! It was so cute!!! He turned six colors of pink. (It probably had a lot to do with the teabag caper he allowed me to photograph! Plus the other things, like painting the dining room pink, stopping creaks in train compartments, putting pumpkins over the front door, and general guardian-angel duties, like driving on the wrong side of the road in quest of beauty while wearing darling beret!) Then I introduced the Wenches, which, by that time, included my sister Shelly (above) and her twins. 💞
And then it was time! I’d signed all the little books the night before and the girls began passing them out.
Everyone promised to keep them a secret so it will still be a surprise for all of you when ENCHANTED is published. But perhaps I do need to give a couple more of them away beforehand, right? So I will do that the moment I get home ~ we’ll have a Girlfriends Giveaway when I am more connected to the computer again!
I read out loud, a little test run for Enchantment, and everyone read along . . .
Joe went around taking pictures while we weren’t looking . . .
Shelly was reading and the twins put down their phones long enough to read along. (Huge honor, will likely never happen again!)
The twins brought their dog Lucy in a baby stroller which actually got her into many restaurants too!
Afterwards, there was a long question and answer period, about art, and book writing, hand writing and love stories, cooking, England, ex-husbands, and Anglophiles, Scotland, Highclere, dreams-come-true, and every other thing we could think of. Then I signed everyone’s books and calendars. First in line was Oma, 96 years young, who tried to steal Joe from me with her charm and it almost worked! I was forced to give her my evil eye👀. Oma was born in Rotterdam, Holland, but has lived here forever, and came to the event with her daughter Annelies. 💞 Lucky me. MUSICA.
Sheri brought her mom, Donna, too . . . we had lots of moms and daughters, sisters, cousins and best friends, it was definitely a family affair.
The next day it was my turn with my mom, who lives with my sister Paula. We drove up to see them ~ it was wonderful to be with her and everyone again! Mom doesn’t have much memory left, but she still has the happy gene and she is well loved and cared for. Sometimes she remembers who I am, but not always. Once she asked me “Who are you?” And I gave her the whole thing, “Susan Anne Stewart.” And her eyes lit up ~ I knew she knew, and she gave me a big hug. Counting my blessings, I’m so lucky, I still have my mom. She’s 88 now.Mom, me, and Dad . . . doesn’t seem so long ago . . .
We all went out to breakfast and then stayed together at my sister’s all day. Later, for dinner, Paula made us a beautiful lasagna, we made a giant salad, the kids made my dad’s recipe for garlic bread, and Shelly made coffee ice-cream shakes . . . here is a family photo sampling from breakfast above: my niece Karis on the left, her husband, Henry, in back ~ my niece Tricia and her girlfriend Matisse. The two little ones belong to Karis and Henry ~ they are just a few of my mom’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All as sweet as they look. My beautiful family. The beat goes on. So fun to be “home.”The next day we said goodbye to Shelly and the boys ~ they headed home, back to work and back to school. But we’ll be here for another week. I’ll have several more visits to my mom, and lots of dinners with friends. I went to the movies with Diana yesterday, we cried through A Star is Born, and I’m going to see Colette this weekend with Elaine. It’s ALL, ALL, ALL good.
HAVE to show you this. Saturday night, after the Apple Farm, we went out to dinner with the wenches, had the BEST time talking about the concerts we saw in our youth, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffet, Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, the Beatles, and on and on, each better than the other, the Santa Barbara Bowl, Esalen in Big Sur, the Cow Palace, the Hollywood Bowl and the Troubadour . . . and then, THIS ⬆️ was in the bathroom of the restaurant! Note light at faucet, and then where water touches down. When you put your hand under it, your hand turns blue where the water runs on you, and yet, the water itself is not blue. It’s all just light! Had to show you, out came the phone, click! What will they think of next?
So what else is new? . . . Love that I get to spend time face to face with Kellee, concocting new things!
I was plotting our days here on the calendar, and noticed Kellee had hung the new calendar for 2019 behind the old one. Then I noticed the DARLING calendar wall hook. So cute! Called out, “Hey, do we sell these?” And the answer I love, “Yes we do,” came back. Into my bag she went. And I took a photo to put here in case you want one too!
And look what just arrived! As lots of you knew, we ran out a while back, but due to popular demand, they’re back! The little card that comes with the “I Love Autumn” dream-charm says, “Summer’s loss means little, dear, on days like these.” For those who love this wonderful season.😘🍁
And, let’s see, what else is new . . .This. There was a request from our Girlfriends on Twitter for this art to be made into a print. You need nerves of steel for Twitter these days and this is your antidote for modern times ~ a healthy reminder of how to survive and thrive is always a good thing in this crazy world . . . put it where you can see it every morning!
This new book just arrived . . . it’s a book for a mom to fill out about her daughter . . .
I call it Beyond the Baby Book, because it’s so much more.
Once you’re done with it, it will be a special keepsake book of memories, done in your own hand for someone you love, for forever.💝
Every question you can imagine from childhood to when your first grandchild shows up! Called To My Daughter with Love.
And here they come, los cups! . . . soon to a mailbox near you . . . shipped last week from England, limited editions . . .
We hope to see them here in California first of next week if all goes well in customs! I was just testing to see how the new Christmas cup looks with the old one. ❤️
We’ll ship to you immediately, first come first serve, in the way the orders came in . . . but you know Kellee and Sheri, they waste no time! A perfect celebration for the season. Hot chocolate, spiced cider, hot soup, Irish coffee and milky tea, here we come!
We’ll be heading back to the Island next week, by Twain, hoping to cheer Twitter up with Twain Talk . . . so watch for my new photos from the room with a view. I think we should be seeing lots of fall views like this one above on our way home! The train pulls out of the station about 6 pm on October 25 . . . for three luv-lee days crossing the country until . . .Soooooo looking forward to it. Hope a few leaves hold on for us. It will almost be Halloween, windy and wild, and the kids will soon be coming to our door.
And, you know.💞 There’s more than one little piece of my heart back home.
Jack’s babysitter writes me almost every day to tell me of his most recent antics. She loves him, he is in good hands, but I miss him. I’m so glad I get to stay home all winter!
We will have such a good time! Light the fire, bring me that rubber band, and let the snow fall!
Always a beautiful sight to me.
We’ll be going off-island for just one day, November 10th, for our 1:30 talk and signing at the West Falmouth Library. You can get tickets HERE if you haven’t already. And I was told by a girlfriend on Twitter that the website said, “sold out,” but when you call, it isn’t! Be sure to check. I’ll be there to sign your books, calendars, and things for Christmas giving. When I get back to the island, I’ll give you the link for this bookmark/nametag (above) so you can print it out to wear to the event. See you there!
It’s good to go away, it makes coming home better than ever.
Happy fall Girlfriends. I’ll see you soon! Thank you for being here! Here’s a wonderful, healthy, light, and deliciously colorful salad for you to try ~ Until we meet again!🍁