Escapism R Us

Hello Everyone! Look at us! Over 4,600 comments to the last post!!! Impressive, wouldn’t you agree? 💌 So much to celebrate today . . . First off, it’s time for our drawing!🎊 Vanna is shuffling around the kitchen, putting Hershey’s chocolate syrup in her coffee (coffee-coffee-buzz-buzz-buzz), I hear the whip cream can fizzing. That girl knows how to start the day! So here we go! Enjoy these last moments of everyone being a winner. My favorite time! MUSICA🎧  So first let’s do my Pumpkinhead china cup and the Inspiration Notecards! ‘Tis the season! Eeeek. I’m probably more excited than you! Quiver stomach! Heart-throb! Wishing everyone GOOD LUCK!🍀Vanna is UP, perched on side of my art table, bedroom slippers kicked off, pink-painted toes curled over the edge, lime-green rubber body-suit gleaming like snake skin, yellow, daisy-covered swim-cap keeping her red hair in check, she does a high dive into the thousands of names, scissor-kicks to the bottom, round and round, vortex forming, little papers with names spinning up and out, floating and swirling around the room like confetti (and btw, you still have a much better chance of winning than if you played the lottery! Plus no ticket investment. Already a win-win!)👏

So here we go . . . I just pulled a name out of the air, floating right toward me, saying, “Choose Me!” And the lucky winner of this Pumpkinhead cup (and notecards too) is, 

PAM LANE❗❗ (the one with the red hair!)

Congratulations Pam! 🎉 I’ll email you so you can send me your address ~ but, as you’ll see later in this blog, we’re going away for a week, (we put FUN on the calendar a few months ago, and here it comes!) ~ I’ll send your cup and notecards first thing when we return.💖

So who will be next? Here we go, this time it’s for the four seasons of cups . . . four English mugs for one lucky winner!

Reaching, reading, and here we go! It’s

KAREN HORRIGAN, a second grade teacher, 

Our next winner! Congratulations Karen❗️🍎 I hope you enjoy your cups! I’ll send them in about a week! Say hi to the kids!💓And next, it’s time to meet the lucky winner of the Martha’s Vineyard cup!

Her name? Another flittering wisp of paper that says:

MARNIE‼️ The Marnie that lives in the Canadian Rockies❗️🇨🇦 (Did you notice how many people commented from foreign countries? Another reason to love the Internet.🌍 We get to connect!)

Congratulations Marnie, I hope you and your girls love it! ❓❓❓❓❓
How about this for planned spontaneity? We celebrated National Read a Book Day on Twitter last week, inspiring me to add just one more giveaway . . .

A book of your choice, signed to either you, or to the person of your choice . . . one of these, or . . .

Or, any of these that I still have! You can choose! I have some hidden away, but not all, so I promise to do my best. You can tell me which one when I email you! And decide who gets it!

PAMELA WELTER❗️❗️ . . . carrot and onion chopper extraordinaire❗️ (I like to clarify WHICH Pamela Welter, just in cases!).

So let’s run away! More escapism! Easiest time of year to do it! We are starting to see colorful leaves in the trees on our morning walk!

Well, we did it, we put fun on our calendar months ago, made plans, got tickets, set dates . . . we’ve been anticipating and TOMORROW is the day!Tomorrow we leave on the 7 am ferry to go to Boston where we’ll pick up our English friends Rachel and Paul, and off we’ll go for a meandering week falling in love with the NEW England countryside! To undisclosed locations none of us have ever been to! A rented house in a small town we’ve never seen. An Adventure! In the fall!

Old houses, drive-by photography, roadside stands, and perhaps leaves just beginning to turn and drift into the roads . . . crisp air, windows open, music up . . . morning tea around the kitchen table with the newspaper . . . 

Staying off the main roads . . .

Finding roots . . .And filling in the blanks of American history . . . stopping everywhere we want, lunches out, art galleries, a night at the movies with popcorn and Downty! None of us have seen it yet! Seeing this movie with actual English People! You go see it too . . . then we can talk about it next time! Fingers-crossed we love it!

With our dear, long-time, too-far-away friends (in this photo, years back, we’re in Maine), a miracle, when you think of this big earth, that we found each other, thanks to a letter Rachel wrote me when she stumbled on one of my books in England! And yes, I’ll bring home lots of pictures to show you! Running away from normal! This is when I try to slow down time!

If I HAD to break my wrist, I could not have done it at a more perfect time. Monday was exactly eight weeks, the optimum healing time, completed in the nick of time for travel freedom. Although, yes, as you can see, I will be bringing the instrument of torture (brace) with me on this trip. I don’t have to wear it, but just in case we decide to climb a mountain, the doctor suggested I bring it along. I’ve been doing my physical therapy and my wrist, and everything connected to it, is SO much better. Every day I can do something I couldn’t before. Like cut an apple in half! I’ve typed all of this so far, and so far, my hand isn’t hurting! Your best-of-luck and prayers did the trick!

On the way home from the doctor, this luv-lee scene was waiting for us at the harbor. Yes, island fairies running ahead, preparing little scenes of beauty! Before I met Joe he was the cook on that schooner. Made forty delicious meals, three times a day, on a wood stove!

Last Friday we had a dinner party for my girlfriend Jaimie . . . it was also the 30th Anniversary of the very day we began moving into our beloved house in 1989.

Here’s the kitchen as it was that first quiet winter, before computers, before blogs . . . with the old fridge that required defrosting! Which I loved and held onto until death us did part. And the old blue linoleum floor (you can barely see, for good reason), which we changed to wood. Other than getting a new stove, and changing the hinges, handles, and drawer pulls on cupboards and drawers, it’s all exactly the way we found it! We already had the bird feeders hanging outside those windows, and you can see one of my Beatrix Potter people on the little shelf, Jemima Puddleduck. Making tea in my old heart cup.

This was the dining room as found. My friend Carlton took one look at the house, looked right through that crazy turquoise paint and said, “Good bones.” My thoughts exactly. Girl Kitty (the first, from Holly Oak!) was helping me set the table for our first dinner party. Despite the wallpaper. Which clearly (to me) had to go. Thank goodness for candlelight, everything is bearable in candlelight. Anyway . . . one day at a time. . . this was the BEFORE picture . . .

And now, the AFTER. The next people to have this house will probably come in and paint the cupboards turquoise again!

Hello handsome.

Dinner party after dinner party . . . If this dining table could talk! Because this old table was also here when we moved in, and it will stay when we go. Now you know why I love all this old MUSICA I play. This house was made for it. It speaks its language.🎵 This house was built in 1849, only 23 years after John Adams died. It was here before the Civil War. Before Teddy Roosevelt, before cars, before two world wars. Before phones. During the time of letters and the clip clop of horse hooves.

And in between our dinner parties, thirty years of care-taking, we did our job, brought her through the years, all the holidays, filling her with LOVE DNA so she will be wonderful for the next lucky family. Our House of Creativity has become a person.

Only thirty Autumns, seems too few! And look at all the wonderful ways we’ve celebrated it:

Lighting candles on the fireplace mantle for our dinner party . . . flowers from the garden . . .

S L O W   D O W N

Don’t forget to put some escapism on YOUR calendar.🍂 The littlest thing keeps us looking forward!🍁 Hope you all have a wonderful day!💞 

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461 Responses to Escapism R Us

  1. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    I just read an article in the Washington Post that Amtrak is taking out the traditional dining car. No more white linen tablecloths and sharing a meal with another traveler at the same table. They’re going to pre-packaged meals you choose before you ever get on the train. No more cooking onboard. Hasn’t reached every route/train yet. But is expected to be an unwanted change by a lot of long-distance Amtrak customers and there’s already a petition up (somewhere) protesting the end of such a beloved train-travel tradition. They were quoting someone who’s a seasoned Amtrak customer (such as yourself, Susan!) who said (of his ‘fondness for the dining car’ [‘isn’t about the food as much as the experience…the time to sit down for a formal meal with views of America that can’t be seen while flying, and socializing with other travelers’]): “It’s just an amazing American tradition…there’s a beautiful rhythm in clacking down the tracks and an excitement in traversing a moving train…there’s something that feels special, unique, romantic even about having dinner in the diner, sleeping on the tracks and traveling America the way it used to be seen.”

    This is making me so sad. Before I get a chance to ever go long-distance on a train, they’re already apparently changing some of the best part of it. Darn. How much do you know about this; what have you heard, Susan?

    • sbranch says:

      I yelled at them on Twitter. Not that they care. They’ve been chipping away at Amtrak bit by bit since I first started riding, even getting rid of entire routes. But this wins for the worst. What’s the difference between this and a cattle car? Just hauling freight. All those meetings over dinners will be gone. Saddest thing! I wonder if we will ever take it again? Right now, I’m thinking probably not. Nice to drive too . . .

      • Vicki South of Arroyo says:

        Well, at least you got to experience it when it was good.

        Maybe you could make ONE more trip out here to California and they’d still have meal service ‘the old way’ one last time. Do it for old-time’s sake. Apple Farm in the Spring is as good as Fall, no?!! Remember how lovely Harmony Headlands was when you came last time after we’d finally gotten rain after drought? Green-green. Are you due for a visit; oh, I selfishly wish, ’cause no way am I missing one of your talks again!

        My husband thought he read further that they’ve pulled traditional dinner service only on Amtrak’s East Coast routes; a year-long experiment to lure Generation X and millennial riders (Generation Y), claiming those age groups want personal privacy instead of sharing a table with other riders (are conversely mostly on phones and laptops, solo or traveling with perhaps another quiet person equally immersed in those devices, not engaging with other people in front of them but only on screens; seriously ..?… who makes such generalizations … and if so, what the heck are we coming to, God help us).

        Hard to know what to believe/what you read … but otherwise, what …?… just more cost-cutting in general? Sounds like you’ve observed a chipping-away at services offered for awhile. I also read that Amtrak wants it to have more like a travel-by-airline feel; again, what the??? When you’re on the ocean liner, you sit with other guests, right? Which is the better ambiance!!!

        From what my WWII veteran-father told me, even on troop trains going cross-country during the war, the meal service was impeccable and, yes, white-linen tablecloths with nice flatware (and he was a country-boy, telling me he’d never even been in a restaurant before, afraid he’d pick up the wrong fork or knife and look like a bumpkin, so riding on a passenger train was a life-changing ‘learning’ experience for him when he was barely out of his teens – – I’ve heard other ‘dads’ say their troop trains weren’t deluxe but it sure sounded like my dad got a good memory).

        • sbranch says:

          Yes, it’s just the east coast, which it actually has been for a couple of years…no dining service on the overnight between Boston and Chicago, just sandwiches and snack bar things. Whew. At least it’s not ALL gone. But nothing would surprise me these days of MONEY being the only thing that matters. The train is wonderful, for our citizens, a history of the country, perfect for traveling tourists to see everything the slow way!

  2. Laura says:

    Congratulations girls! OMG SUSAN!!!!!!! DOWNTON THE MOVIE IS HERE AND IT IS AMAZING!!!!!!! Pardon me, I’m a bit excited😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍🏰🏰🏰🏰🏰

    ….and you got to see it with your bestie🥰🥰🥰

  3. willemien says:

    Congratulations /Gefeliciteerd to all the winners!
    And so good to hear you’re feeling better Susan!
    Have fun in New England with your friends. It’s so great to be outside now in the fall Autumn/Herfst.
    Lots of love Willemien

  4. Tara Baker says:

    Have a wonderful week with your special friends. My little family and I are headed to Woodstock, VT early October for a weekend to celebrate that we made it through back to school. I’m a 4th grade teacher, my husband is a middle school principal and my daughters are both in school. SoooOoooo ‘back to school’ for us really is crazy — so we scheduled some fun (as you say) with reservations at a sweet little place. There’s supposed to be an apple festival that weekend and we plan on eating, relaxing, shopping and resting from all that back to schoolness.

  5. Linda Lee Miller says:

    Happy Fall! I’m ready for all the festivities that autumn will bring! Now, we just have to coax Mother Nature into agreeing. New England is the place to be in the fall. Hope you
    enjoy your trip with your friends! Will look forward to all your interesting stops along the way!

  6. Lynette Strohbach says:

    Thanks for another post Susan, hope you have a great trip with your friends! Congrats to all the winners! I think I may snag one of your Too Mean to Marry Tshirts, to keep men at bay while I try to recover from my second divorce. I seem to attract losers!

    • sbranch says:

      Watch out! I was never flirted with more than when I wore that T-shirt. I wore it EVERYWHERE! The supermarket was especially fun. At least, if you wear that shirt, you are warning them. Too hot to touch!

  7. Helen says:

    So glad you are feeling better 💕

  8. Jane says:

    I’m happy for all of the winners. And I’m especially happy that you are healing nicely, Susan!

  9. Karen Seward says:

    I Love New England, one of my favorite town’s is Woodstock, CT. there used to be a Tea Room there I would go to called Mrs. Bridge’s Pantry but they closed just this year I was so sad but they still have antiqueing and the Woodstock Inn which has a delicious Restaurant in it and its lovely to stay there and spend a few nights, I hope you enjoy your trip, I hope you share all the town’s you visit…Karen Seward, Oceanside, N.Y. Thank you for your blog, P.S. what a difference in your living room since you did it over its gorgeous!

  10. Stefanie says:

    Susan…as always…such a delight to read your blogs…I put off reading them until the most opportune time, as they are truly a treasure to savor and enjoy!!!…as a Yankee living in FL…where it is still in the 90s!…during the day…YIKES!! I do miss the North and the four seasons…we do have seasons here, and I even planted maple trees in the hope of some “color”…not so…BURNT and dry that is the color!…Not complaining…it is what it is!!! Thank you for sharing…as always!!

  11. Christine Perica says:

    Beautiful, incredible, inspiring Fall! It became my favorite season when we moved to Princeton, New Jersey from the Valley in 1988 and every year since you have even made it come alive for me before the leaves even start to turn here in Colorado. Thank you sweet Susan.

  12. So glad it is fall, and cooling off – even in the Arizona mountains!
    My husband and I went on a road trip the past 3 weeks in Kansas and Missouri of all places. We had a ball, and saw some great things. We stayed at historic lodging whenever we could. It was great fun! I took about a million photos!

  13. Karen says:

    I love autumn. Thank-you for the great blog post. So glad you are feeling better. Have a great vacation!

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

    Hello Susan, how is your trip coming along, I do hope you enjoying beautiful Fall weather to enjoy it all with. Hello Girlfriends, its here… Autumn is finally here so Happy First Day of Autumn everyone and many, many Autumn Blessings to you all. Happy Fall!!! yay!!! I finally got my Farmer’s Almanac for next year and I love reading that all winter long. we had a bit of excitement yesterday, in the afternoon around 3:45- 4:00 pm. we had a rather large visitor to yard… a young brown bear. I don’t know if it was a male or a female, but it was young about 2-3 years old. hubby grabbed his hunting rifle and kept his eyes on that bear, it was just nosing about but we didn’t want it in the chicken pen. it just sniffed around and left, I have a hunch all the trash and garbage piled by the homeless at a property across the road probably attracted the bear and the fact our obnoxious neighbor piles his trash along the fence also caught the bear’s attention and his sniffer. but it left the property and wandered off, and we put out the warning to the neighbors that a bear was in the area. I just love this time of year, cooler days, getting dark around suppertime and nice crisp fresh air, along with gorgeous colors and falling acorns. I have all my Fall decorations up and just put the Autumn wreath out on the front door, my final touch for the season. now its time to get the laundry out and on the line for the last time, and give the chickens and ducks a treat… leftover salad and some stale biscuits. YUM!! you all have a wonderful First Day of Fall today, Happy Fall everyone. Autumn hugs…… 😀

    • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

      Hello Susan, Hello Girlfriends…. Happy Fall to everyone. we are enjoying cool wet weather here, had more rain over the weekend a good soaking rain and first snow in the local mountains. also been enjoying nice cozy fires in the woodstove and while most ladies are football widows, I am a deer season widow…. never see him on weekends as he goes hunting. funny thing is he never sees any deer, they are all hiding out on our back property safe from hunters as we have it posted “no hunting allowed on this property”. LOL!!! well we no sooner recover from the excitement of our big bear visitor, when we get a cougar prowling around and looking for snacks. it was a big cat, and it slept near the dumpsters of the grocery store, and moved over to a local restaurant dumpsters. caused a bit of concern but it just snooped around and left back into the hills. we’re definitely seeing a lot of color now, and it really feels like Fall now. cooler temps during the day and cold at night. good time for hearty meals like soups, stews and pot roast.. tonight its meatloaf, had the roast last night and hubby took the leftovers to work in his lunchbox…. pot roast sandwiches. does anyone here have a good recipe for deep dish apple pie??? I have a ton of apples and making a pie seems like a good way of using some of them up quick. that and I am looking for a new way to do pumpkin bread, like maybe with a streusel topping or something… any ideas or suggestions??? would appreciate it. well off to go get busy with the laundry and then sweeping off the front porch, and the floors. may just brew myself a good pot of tea and watch the weather from the front porch this afternoon, or go leaf hunting….. whatever it will be fun. Happy Fall everyone and many Autumn blessings. Autumn hugs…. 😀

  15. Julie says:

    New England in the fall is a dream – we’ve enjoyed meandering the back roads, seeing the steeples peeking out through orange & red clouds of leaves, spectacular! Enjoy…

  16. Maureen from So. Cal says:

    Hey Susan~

    So happy to see the blog, wonderful as usual. I’ve been so busy these days and my life has been upside down, so I’m just getting around to comment.

    Congratulations to all the lucky girlfriends who were so blessed to win the great give aways. Oh to be so lucky 🙂

    You have such great trips, I can only imagine what a wonderful time you had on your getaway with your visitors. Time with good friends is a special time. It makes life even more enjoyable, doesn’t it?

    Thank you for always sharing the beauty of your world with us. For me it’s very special and welcomed respite, and seems to be for many others as well.

    Autumn blessings to you, Joe and Jack kitty.  


  17. Charlene, near Seattle says:

    Thank you for the blogs since you broke your wrist – know it wasn’t easy for you to do. We are very glad it’s coming along so nicely…
    But, what about your new book? I had made the assumption that your silence was because of a big push on the book effort. But, it was a broken wrist instead – which probably means you are way behind schedule on the book?
    Speaking of dining room memories – – my mother always had company for Sunday noon dinner (if we weren’t invited out ourselves) – it was my job to set the table with the china & folded napkins – & I loved doing it. After my folks were gone, & my brother and I had to dispense of everything in their home (I live in a care home, & he is a permanent RV-er widower, so neither of us could take anything). To my surprise, my non-sentimental brother declared that we could not sell moms china or sterling silver flatware to strangers. “Do you realize how many meals our mother cooked & served on that china – it must go to someone we know, who will treat it with love.” And I did find someone – a lovely young mother who had grown up eating meals off of mom’s china. (That’s not a dining room table story, but is a dining room story, so thought I would share it.)
    Looking forward to your next post about your adventure with special friends.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, behind schedule, every day I try to move my hand into handwriting, but it doesn’t like it much yet. Let’s me type for a while, but even gets tired of THAT! I am doing my physical therapy religiously! Love your dining room story with the happy ending!

  18. L. Wolf says:

    Beautiful cups!

  19. Jaime Evans says:

    Oh Susan, please, please, pretty PLEASE, do a blog or even a book
    All about how you found your house, bought it, decorated it and changed it
    Over the years. I would absolutely swoon! I have the same stove as you and
    I love it so so much! Thank you for inspiring me!

  20. Frances Zvonek says:

    I love your blogs. and how nice of you to give away your mugs! ( they are so beautiful) My husband and I visited Maine a few years before he passed away. It was beautiful country! ( a lot like our home state of Michigan, our great lakes mimic the ocean, only no sharks and no salt, LOL)
    Visiting the New England states in the fall is on my bucket list someday.
    Oh, and I think you should write another book on your retirement days. I bought your three books and can’t tell you which one I loved the most!

  21. Kathleen Hinson says:

    Hello Susan! Glad to hear you are healing well. I had a bout with painful joints about 12 years ago and it’s amazing how we take our bodies for granted until something goes haywire! Your home is lovely. Don’t you wish the walls could talk and tell you all their stories? On a side note, I’ve been doing genealogy the last few years and was just approved as a Mayflower descendant. Now I understand the pull of Boston and its surrounding area:) Enjoy your trip!
    p.s. Saw Downton on Saturday with my hubby. It was like visiting old friends. Wonderful!

  22. Pauline Wyss says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you welcoming me into your world! I love to hear about your travels, projects, dinners and more!! I always look forward visiting Martha’s Vineyard and your beautiful home. Enjoy your get-a-way trip! Sincerely, Pauline

  23. Care Woodard says:

    Thank you for a beautiful, as always, blog. I loved seeing your house and thinking of it in times passed by. Enjoy your wonderful escapism. I just got home from CAMP!!! I felt like a little kid:) I went to Omega and saw Eckhardt Tolle… your message of love and oneness is the same as his and all the guiding lights! I LOVED it:) I was in a tiny little cabin in the woods, someone cooked delicious food, and I made friends with wonderful people from all around the world, Claire from England came home with me:) Of course we talked of you in our talks of enlightened beings:) Your kind humor is a beautiful sign. When I returned home, guess what was waiting of me?!!! My new champagne hearts mug which says Go. and Be. Love. You angel! The mugs were delivered so we all felt like WE WON!!!! Have a wonderful day, I know you will!

    • sbranch says:

      Your camp sounds WONDERFUL! I’m so glad you could go! And then Go Be Love, waiting for you at home! With love, from me . . . XOXOXOXO

  24. Kathy says:

    Dear Susan ~ your books have become friends that make me smile, laugh out loud, and are always happy to visit! Thank you for writing / painting / sharing the things that brought you joy. So glad your artist wrist is healing well. I tripped over our ‘bunny gate’ once and broke my pinkie – OUCH!
    ~ Kathy 🙂

  25. Margo Burke says:

    I began watercoloring after reading that you just sat down and started drawing and bought some watercolor paints when you first arrived on Martha’s Vineyard! Thanks!

  26. Nancy says:

    The cups are lovely! Enjoy this visit with friends and your Fall travel!

  27. Christie says:

    You are so right about candelight making everything better!
    I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful adventure with your dear friends, and home will be waiting with open arms!
    Happy trails!

  28. Rosemary T from Texas says:

    A New England trip sounds so wonderful in the fall. Have a great time with dear friends and take lots of pictures. Congratulations on the winners! We are all winners who follow Susan Branch. Speaking of traveling….I just spent a week in Paris last week, which was glorious beyond belief but what made it more so was that in addition to my husband, our two children and their families came with us. I still cannot believe it but we were celebrating our 50th anniversary, pretty grand as well….and having our family with us….unreal. So, wind your way through those gorgeous country roads and make some groovy memories. A full report in triplicate will be required.

    • sbranch says:

      I hear you Rosemary! Welcome home from your amazing travels!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        hello Rosemary, a trip to Paris… how exciting and especially now with the Paris fashion shows going on. I have a question for you …. did you get to see Notre Dame while you were there?? are they letting people near enough to see it?? have they started any of the repairs yet??? thanks.

        • Rosemary T from Texas says:

          We did see
          Notre Dame and it had scaffolding all over it and it seems to be in progress. We did not try to get any closer than the surrounding streets but on the last night we took a cruise on the Seine, which was amazing and from there we could see it at night.

  29. Christine from CA says:

    Our old house was built in 1911 before so much that has changed the world. An old orange grove house in California! We celebrate with family every occasion. Our motto: Celebrate everything!! Now 2 sons, 7 Grandchildren (3 of whom were raised in this house) and 5 great Grandchildren later we rejoice everyday for our wonderful life. Enjoy your get away. We go to Big Bear next week!

  30. Lynne says:

    Please oh please order more pumpkin cups!

  31. Amy L. Gonzalez says:

    Oh, Susan…I want to be just like you when I grow up 🙂 You’re living a life that I adore. <3 What a treasure and gift it is to "peek" in on all your adventures!! Thank you for sharing and I hope you all have a wonderful trip!!!

  32. Susan Zimmer says:

    Thank you for all the beauty and the scenes of memory!

  33. Debbie Boerger says:

    Good New England morning, Dear Lady,
    Who knew that chopping up your own veggies would be a major goal? The recent surgery on my left hand is in the healing stage, wearing the brace only at night, but the Dupuytren’s surgery I had last February on my right hand has gone awry, as some would say. The decision now is between having more surgery done before we depart, or waiting until we return to Tampa…which would involve finding a new surgeon. Now the “bird” finger is locked. I’ve devised tricks to cooking….a rawhide mallet and my big chef’s knife. Came in handy (pun intended :0) making a huge vat of minestroni.

    Your lovely old house: When we sold ours in order to build this place in Maine, we were about half way through the renos. It was quite literally falling down. Began life as a shack located about a mile south of the city center. It had been added to higgledy piggledy over for about 86 years. In Florida, that’s an old house. Tom has a sense of good value in properties. We purchased it in 1986 for very little, as the neighborhood was….scary, drug dealers, prostitutes, larger old homes chopped up into cheap apartments. I’m so glad I kept records of our work inside and out. After only 13 years, I was totally in love with our little, 1250 square foot bungalow, sitting on the front porch each evening, neighbors passing and stopping, our evening walks around, enjoying the light from the old homes with new life!!! We knew every crack in the old sidewalks, which were stamped and signed by the men who did the work. But Maine was calling. In that time the old places turned over, all our new neighbors were as interested in bringing their places back to the original Craftsman Bungalows. We all has so much fun running up and down our street, meeting on someone’s porch and laughing at our triumphs and failures. Stripping off multiple layers of paint and finding the marks measuring the annual growth of children was a common thing. By the mid 1990’s the neighborhood became part of the Historic District!! Bus tours driving by. My Tom was so right.

    I’m content to be just a couple of miles down the Bayshore Boulevard in a small townhouse community, homeowners association, so we can turn the key and leave for Maine each May. Still close to my bestest friend, making new ones.

    The family who follows you and Joe will be so grateful for your TLC over those 30 years. It flies, Time does. Each phase of life completely different from the previous, at least for me. How thankful I am for every circumstance that deposited me in Tampa in 1970, and saw to it I was single when Tom came into my life. So very, very fortunate.

    Happy Fall, Dear Susan and Joe,
    Debbie in Maine

  34. Beth Keser says:

    I cannot wait to hear about your New England trip! Hope you are having fun!!

  35. Inez Schlueter says:

    I hope this post is not too long. After my husband passed, I bought a little rancher. The front room was used as a play room for their daughter. I changed that to a library room of my own. I love books and magazines, anyway, I pulled ou tyour autumn, heart of home book, the original. As I went through the book, again, I do so with each of your season books. It finally hit me, why I love these books so much. It’s like a private journal you share with everyone. I take copybooks, and write down receipes , notes to self, have a garden journal and so forth. But I love your art, and happy messages. Thank You

  36. Therese says:

    Sweet Susan,
    –loved this post…cooking, baking, raking, hoeing,
    harvesting, harvesting, harvesting
    the beauty with every sense and every muscle and nerve.
    And then gratitude, gratitude, gratitude!
    It comes galloping through our hearts
    And the gladness and joy bubble up.
    So powerful, our being in this world.

    stay awesome, Susan!

  37. Aileen Nielson says:

    I love your blog, can hardly wait for the next post.

  38. Merci Schon says:

    Just love all your happy memories! Do enjoy your holiday with wonderful friends! Fall is upon us, and here in Minnesota it’s just beautiful! Cool crisp air, apples and pumpkins, and colorful falling leaves.

  39. Debbie Boerger says:

    Happy Rabbit Rabbit Eve everyone!! Had our first frost advisory for this morning. Our low was 34, no frost here, but we usually get it a bit later. It was crystal clear last night. Having taken the screen off the loft bathroom roof window, I had my heart pounding at the brilliant stars. Can almost get my entire head out. Love chatting with Orion and the Pleiades. My favorite month of the year….October. The trees are beginning to go “Pow” with color. The loons are gathering in the Great ponds (large lakes designated, no “ski-doos” allowed) before leaving for the open ocean or places southward. And…..wood stove time. Black ducks beginning to move over to our little cove, which is sheltered from the North wind. Don’t know where they go when the bay freezes over….must look that up in one of the many bird books in our new, Tom- built book cases.
    Speaking of Mr. T., he is playing his last Eastern Maine Seniors game for the season….grumbling at 6 AM that he guessed he’d wear long pants. Oh, Fall is officially here. Oatmeal with seeds and nut on the stove….So much to do.

    As of this year, our home here on the banks of Hog Bay…upper end of Taunton Bay….upper end of Frenchman Bay…and out to the North Atlantic, is in its 22nd year of existence. The night before the big excavator (what we used to call a steam shovel, as in Mike Mulligan’s…remember?) Tom and I came over from Donnell Pond where we were renting a camp. We drank a Shipyard beer and had a small fire, asking for good fortune. As we live on Shipyard Pt. Road, it seemed appropriate. The house has a new coat of paint and a new roof for her next phase of life in the woods….I called my little She Shed/Studio, “A Little Off in the Woods”, borrowed from James Dodson’s book, Beautiful Madness: One Man’s Journey Through Other People’s Gardens (2006) Hilarious!!! Love all his books. Hoping for 2 good hands to get the gardens back to a more flowers than Johnson grass state next year.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. On the first really chilly morning of Fall, my jabber just comes forth.
    Mucho love, Dear Susan and all the Girlfriends,
    Debbie in Maine…for one more month

  40. Ann says:

    WE ARE COMING! Mom had a major medical incident 2 weeks ago & miraculous recovery so we are still leaving tomorrow! Mom wants to know if she can borrow the plaid coat you bought in England? 😂

  41. Marnie says:

    Hello Susan,
    Thank you and Vanna so much for pulling my name as the winner of the Martha’s Vineyard mug. Such excitement I nearly rolled off the sofa where I was reading your blog!!
    I read the latest one, then this one, which I had put on hold. My dear Mom is 104 years, 7 months and 19 days old, as of today. I have been heading to her bedside each day lately as she is fading, and was waiting til I had a quiet moment to enjoy all your news with a nice cuppa.
    What perfect timing. Two of my girls live nearby and the third is flying in today to visit her Grandma. She will be very excited to hear about the mug. It is beautiful.

    Glad you had such a nice time on your trip north. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you so much !!!
    Marnie ….in the beautifully snowy Foothills of the Canadian 🇨🇦 Rockies

    • sbranch says:

      MARNIE!!! I keep writing you, but haven’t heard back. Check your email when you can, and send me your address so I can send you your Martha’s Vineyard cup! I understand, your MOM, how amazing, wonderful and awful all at the same time. I love that you have such a connected family, especially now. Sending love and blessings . . . and please write me … Love, Susan

  42. Mary Cardwell says:

    Just ordered by Branch desk calendar and the hanging one for my bathroom. I was thrilled to see a choice of English countryside. I visited by youngest son in England this summer. He is stationed at Lakenheath and lives in Bury St. Edmunds. Have been Branching for years. Fell in love with your cookbook that shared your Christmas family pics. I am Irish Catholic from a family of 10 and your pjs and tree pics brought back so many memories of my family. When are you going to have a girlfriend travel adventure ?

  43. Sharan says:

    Hi Susan! I didn’t get to finish reading your entire post yet (have to get ready for work) but I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip to the Hudson Valley. We live in Hurley (just south on the west side of the river), across the river from Rhinebeck. On your next trip, you have to look into staying at Mohonk Mt. House. You and Joe will LOVE it there. So beautiful and so much history. My husband and I met there as teenagers. A special place for us. Thanks for sharing about Stockbridge as well. We have a trip planned there for early November. Can’t wait. Now I HAVE to get ready for work. Yikes!

  44. Claudia Carlson says:

    I have been wanting to tell you forever, Susan, how MUCH you blessed me in the preface of “Fairy Tale Girl” Some things just hit your heart at the right time – and you hit mine!!! THANK YOU! Claudia – a fellow “Long Beach, Californian” Thank you again!!!

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