Love in the Time of Dam-Panic

    MUSICA!     So interesting to write about love in the time of Dam-Panic ~ that’s  our new word, Dam-Panic ~ Joe thought of it! As a form of lemonade from hideous lemons.🍋 But let us speak of Love . . .

We had the MOST wonderful Easter! Did you? Maybe our very best ever . . . so many things went right. First off, it was also my birthday💫, an Easter birthday is a wonderful thing ~ so right away, it was something good ~ and the sun was shining. And it was Sunday!🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 

The morning sunshine through the windows lit up the kitchen. I put my jacket on and went outside with my trusty scissors to gather a few flowers!

Our trees still don’t have leaves on them, but the morning light on the forsythia hedge was perfect. Look at that oak tree in the middle, probably planted around 1900 . . . look how big it is compared to the house behind it! What stories it could tell!

I walked to the end of our driveway for a better look at the hedge . . . isn’t yellow a happy color?

Remembering again with this quiet tick-tock (so perfect for a spring day, and my birthday, on Easter, the time of rebirth and hope, a time-for-new beginnings kind-of-day) that 

Is the sky getting bluer? It is! Are the stars sparkling brighter? Is the sun more yellow? Yes! Or is it only here, on the street where we live?🎵 Or is it just my imagination? Pop in some electric cars and voila, we’d be well on our way to solving the climate problem and softening these crazy storms and making a better world.💖 Silver-linings!

So, I brought some of that sunshine in to put in my little vases💛

Because I thought I might bake myself a birthday cake! So, since Joe hadn’t come downstairs yet, I filled the vases, washed my Beatrix Potter people till they sparkled, wiped down the countertops, cleaned the sink, emptied the dishwasher, and shined up my stove, so it would all be pretty on my birthday for while I was making the cake!🌷

Just then, Joe came down, said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Getting ready to bake a cake.” He said, “No, I’m going to make you a cake. Get your coat . . . let’s go for a walk first.” I said, “K💖. Wait a minute I want to take a picture of me and my cute outfit.” Loving how the elastic on my mask makes elf-ears. Did I tell you it’s still freezing here? 

Yes, only 50º but out we went to big fresh air and more blue skies. It’s always quiet this time of year. We take our masks, but rarely have to pull them up. Out here, the choir is all bird song…

. . . and wind, lapping water, and seagulls . . . it’s my favorite church. Perfect place to say a prayer for the world. I go here everyday. And no need for social distancing! Want to find a walk near you? Go to this brilliant website and put in the name of your town: I put Fritter Batter in the fridge Saturday night, so when we got home, while Joe was working on the cake, I made us Easter-Birthday Breakfast, hot Banana Fritters! It was sooooo yummy . . . I thought you would love the recipe too.

I got the sweetest Easter-Birthday phone calls, I heard from all my family, and there were gifts too! Look at these bunnies! I’ve written about my lovely nun friends, the sisters at the Holy Nativity Convent, and how we found each other (if you didn’t see that post, you can read about it HERE). They surprised me with this Easter basket, with the bunnies, and a lamb, and a chocolate bunny with chocolate kisses, and the most delicious loaf of sweet bread they make themselves. Mother Seraphima has not been well lately (not the virus!), she is getting better, and I think a little prayer from us would be a great help!🙏💞From my Girlfriends . . . and a gift certificate to our nursery!👏👏😘 And at 5pm? A Zoom-Birthday-Call with cake and wine! Oh yeah, it was a total Red-Letter Day.

From another friend I received two dishtowels . . . they both looked like the one on the left, which Jack and I would call a clean palette crying out for details!

And so we added them!💞 We socially isolate our mail inside the barn for 3 days after we bring it home ~ so I know there are other cards and things waiting for me there. But now it’s my turn to give gifts! Time for our drawing for the Heart of the Home cookbooks I offered in the last post. I have to say, you left SO MANY DEAR COMMENTS, you lovely people.💞 Truly kindred spirits. The hardest thing of all is choosing only three names. But it’s my job, and bittersweet as it is, it must be done! Ready?

Here we go! Unfortunately, Vanna, our virtual number generator, is home socially distancing in her chateau in the south of France as befits a person of the Eurotrash persuasion, as you probably guessed. Therefore, I, wearing mask and rubber gloves, have done the deed myself, and very well, if I do say so myself. Not, I’m sorry to tell you, as exciting as Vanna, no toes curling over the desk ledge for me, no high-diving lime-green body suit. A straight-forward grab and take as befits a dignified person who just had a birthday like moi.

First one up ~ OH! We have a winner from England! How exciting! It’s “Caroline across the pond in sunny Hampshire!”And #2, our next winner is Patti H., the Patti H. with the “11-year-old granddaughter who wants to learn to cook!”
And last but not least, our third winner is . . . “Judy from Maine!” the Judy from Maine who used to have her own gift shop!. . . for all of you! I will soon be writing you emails to request your addresses and ask how you would like me to sign your books! Congratulations! I hope you love them! ♥️ And for the rest of you . . . a more transportable gift from me to you . . . Jack the finger puppet!
You can print him on card stock, cut him out, and voila! Dancing Jack! Perfect to send in letters to a grandchild, or to your sister, or whoever you want to surprise with some kitty whimsy! Just click HERE! You know we have other free little bits and bobs, bookmarks and stationery in my web store you can print out? There’s even a . . .

perfect Mother’s Day crown pattern with a lovely Abraham Lincoln quote on it about how much he loves his Mother. Just click “bits and bobs above!”

And one more luv-lee gift . . . it’s for the memories . . . a Courage Dream Charm . . . 

To remind us all how good we’ve been and that this too shall pass . . . and perhaps we will make from this terrible dam-panic a better world because, as we all know, if we dream it we can make it so.💞

A dream charm, with gold foil and a slash of pink (the color of universal love), which we will ship to you for free. 💝And so, back to my Red Letter Day! While Joe was putting together his cake . . . I went outside to take a picture of the weeping cherry tree . . .

We’ve had a dastardly crap-job of a worm coming here for maybe the last five years, it’s a moth actually, that arrives in November and flitters around charmingly and then begins to lie in wait for spring where it turns to a very nasty web-spinning green worm that eats ALL the flowers off our trees, takes bites out of the new leaves so they all have holes in them! It’s been a blight! But LOOK.⬆️ They did not come this year! Isn’t that wonderful?

The tiny flowers are just beginning to unfold! And there’s a robin singing in the tree! A Red Letter Day✔️. Then the robin flew away and I heard a rustle in the tree on the left behind this one and looked up to see what it was . . .

Hello. I could barely see him, he was in so much shade, but when he finally came into focus I could see he was a HUGE hawk, lurking. I ran to get Joe!

Very exciting! Out came the bird book. He is a young red hawk and not a bit afraid of us. And he’s watching our feeders and our garden to see what looks delicious for lunch, 

which I would rather not think about. I hope he doesn’t live in that tree!

So I went in to check on my apple trees lapping up the sunshine in our kitchen windows. Yes, I planted them from SEEDS I found inside an apple I was eating. Just wanted to see if they would grow!

And guess what! They did! And they still are! A third poked his head up this morning! HA!(Aside:) Watching EMMA (Gwyneth and Jeremy) right now as I’m writing you, at the end, crying my eyes out (not under my blanket, but I love it so much!) . . . Marry Me?Then what, oh yes, then I did some Birthday writing on my new book,  😊 then I took a short Birthday nap 😴💤 . . . and then it was time for my Birthday Party!

And everyone started popping in . . . some of us live next door to each other, some of us are in different states, and see there? Rachel and Paul who came to the party from England! I love Zoom. Have you tried it? You should. It’s free and much more gratifying than you might think!

As the little squares filled in I wanted to sing, 🎵 There’s a story, about a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls . . . 🎶

It was like a real party ~ and with dearest friends . . . Ray and Paul brought Alice, their dog . . .💞

There was wine, and martinis, and talking, and laughing. Margot had her granddaughter Georgia, who wished me Happy Birthday in her little 5-year-old voice (Red Letter✔️).

It was like a real party, especially when Joe surprised me by bringing the cake in with lit candles and everyone sang Happy Birthday🎶 and then they pulled up cupcakes with candles of their own! And we all made wishes! And blew! Of course that part was way too exciting for me to remember to take pictures! I’m lucky I got these! It was a PERFECT day. Maybe my most memorable day … Love in the time of Dam-Panic.💞

So off to the kitchen to stuff ourselves on Joe’s old-fashioned icebox cake!✔️

Jack was rolling around on the table happy to have the attention back on him again where it belongs, and enjoying the light of the setting sun!

After dessert we made a delicious little dinner . . . asparagus and a great big baked potato ~ And I thought you’d like the recipe for this delicious thing, so here goes: Preheat the oven to 425º ~ then wash, dry, and cut off a slice of potato at the bottom to make it lie flat. Rub soft butter all over and salt it. Lay chopsticks on each side of potato, and cut-down in thin slices, (not all the way through). Put the potatoes on a baking sheet, brush between slices with a mixture of 2 TB melted butter, 2 TB olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, and zest from half a lemon ~ and put them in the oven. After 25 min, brush them with butter mixture again ~ then back in the oven for another 25 min, brush again, salt all over, and back in the oven for the last 25 min, till crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. After that, we were off to watch our favorite 800 Words on TV (on Acorn). We all know the dark side of this Dam Panic . . . it is very dark, and very sad and so much harder on some than others, which we all know and feel to our deepest roots. But I am going to leave that to the never-ending news causing us no end of anxiety and talk about something else. Because . . . Something amazing is happening: Ask people stay home to protect one another  and here’s what happens: they unselfishly do it! And suddenly, everything changes.💝 No school shootings this March for the first time since 2002 🙏, our air has gotten cleaner, our National Parks and all the critters are breathing easier, families are having dinner together, people are nice to each other and reach out to help, the earth gets a rest, we’re becoming more spiritual, angels are popping up everywhere, people are singing and clapping for each other from balconies, and kindness abounds: healthcare workers at a Boston hospital are gifted with lifetime Red Sox tickets as a thank you, a patriotic 99-year-old army veteran in England spends the lead-up to his hundredth birthday walking to raise money for the National Healthcare Service, my single-mom sister gets to stay home with her twins because she works for Starbucks who continues to send paychecks to their employees just as if they were working, and Andrea Bocelli sings Ave Maria to the entire world. And we all cried at the same time. It’s beautiful to see that we are part of a larger plan, a world cause, we are in it together. Turns out the gift is proof-positive and something we’ve always known: that the true heroes are the regular people, the unsung heroes of the world.

With quiet, good-natured, resolve. ♥️ Queen Elizabeth II

I love us so much, I’m so proud! Aren’t you? Can’t we figure out how to do this without a virus? Stay strong dear ones, it’s not over till it’s over. Sending so much LOVE, you’ll never know! XOXO Until next time . . .

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

735 Responses to Love in the Time of Dam-Panic

  1. Nan says:

    Happy Belated Birthday to you dear and wonderful Susan. You make everything even a dam-panic better. love, love, love you and the life you graciously share with all of us.

  2. Deborah Metzger says:

    I forgot to mention that you should look up “Alfie Boe Warbles a Bit”(youtube) and “Alfie Boe, caught redhanded ” online to hear some impressive kitchen singing. He has a very interesting personal story of making dreams come true by perseverance and love of music. Check the condensed version on Wikipedia.

  3. Kerrie A Foley says:

    Hi Susan, you really have no idea how much I needed this post. Happy, happy birthday. I have had a year full of heart problems with many surgeries, had to retire from my nursing job after 30 years because of my health, and had to leave my beloved little home and studio in Wickford and move in with my daughter and son in law and two grandbabies in Narragansett RI. I have been having such a tough time and feeling quite sorry for myself but you have just lifted my spirits so much I’m actually sitting here crying. We really DO have SO much to be grateful for and shame on me for taking so long to see it. I sat out in the warm sun today and was serenaded by all the little birds at the feeder and right now I’m getting the loveliest of “plastic” dinners cooked and served by the most delicious little 3 year old ever. When the baby wakes up we will all don our masks and go for a walk in the neighborhood. You have convinced me to try a gathering of my girlfriends on zoom (how hard can it be … right?) and and I may even get in some painting later on. I love how you pick whatever flowers there are at the time and put them in the sweetest little vases. I’m happy your birthday was so special and I love your home and your kitty and especially that baked potato recipe that looks absolutely wonderful! So thank you, again, for being so positive and such an inspiration to me. Stay safe and healthy. Give Jack a squinch from me. much love, Kerrie

    • sbranch says:

      Zoom’s not hard Kerrie, if I can do it, you can too!!! I’m so sorry it’s been so hard for you, you have every reason to feel sad with too many changes at once… but somehow as you kept writing, you managed to sound so wonderful, so full of faith, and life spirit, and gratitude. I love reading it. Deep breaths dear friend, thank you for all your years of giving giving giving… nothing in that regard has changed, you’re still doing it. xoxo💞

  4. Barb Urbank from Ohio says:

    Hi Susan, Happy belated birthday! So glad it was a nice one for you! We had a nice Easter here too, and my birthday the week before. We April girls! Lots of April birthdays of people I know, especially in the girlfriends. I didn’t read this post until today, Friday the 17, but I am glad I saved it! We have snow coming down outside today, can you believe it, crazy Ohio weather, and Michigan and Pa too, I believe, have the same. I needed to see your pretty spring pictures from Easter, all the Forsythia blooming,tree buds out. I have daffodils and tulips I enjoyed a few bouquets from but I am afraid to look at them now. This too will pass, I know and it will be spring again. Thank you for posting this encouraging blog during this difficult time, we need it. Congratulations to all the winners, too! Hugs, Barb

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Barb! I’ve been seeing the snow pictures from different Girlfriends, it’s so hard to believe! It’s cold here too, barely in 40s, but so far, knock on wood, no snow for us! Won’t be long till we get to start complaining about the heat!🤣 Only a matter of time. Happy Birthday MONTH! xoxoxo

  5. Jenny Lott says:

    Dearest Susan: Seeing an email from you MAKES my day!! ♥️Thanks for staying in touch!♥️Jenny

  6. Alice says:

    Susan, I’ve been away from reading the blog for a while, so read this and previous one together. Happy Birthday. I did not read all the comments, so I don’t know if anyone mentioned that a really good WWII book is “Mrs. Tim Carries On” by D.E. Stevenson. It is the sequel to “Mrs. Tim of the Regiment,” and they are both dear and funny. There are two more after that, actually, about what they did as soldier’s wives and mothers carrying the load while the regiment was busy with their work. So good. There is also one called “Henrietta’s War,” by Joyce Dennys, about the first three years of WWII in a British coastal town, and then a sequel called “Henrietta Sees It Through” about the last three years. Again, dear and funny and available on that bookseller online where we all order many books and other things. I have never shared about these books before because you have to have that kind of taste, and I don’t know anybody else who does, so if you don’t like them, that’s okay.

    • sbranch says:

      I think I might have that kind of taste💝 . . . have you read any of Barbara Pym’s books? I wrote down the ones you suggested, will look for them. Thank you!

    • Dianne says:

      Hi Alice, Thank you for the book suggestions. There are a lot of books coming out now about the role of women during WWII- Light over London, The Lost Girls of Paris, Fire at Night, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, and The American Agent to name a few. My Mother was British and lived in London during the Blitz. She really wouldn’t talk about the experience, so I have to learn about it secondhand. I look forward to reading the books you mentioned; hopefully I can find copies. By the way, World on Fire on BBC is quite good. It started on Easter Sunday here in the States.

      • sbranch says:

        I’m TRYING to watch World on Fire, but I don’t think I’m going to make it. I understand why your mom couldn’t talk about it. It’s unspeakable. Nightmare does not cover it. I’m too visual, I can read things that I can’t watch on TV. The books sound wonderful . . . thank you Dianne!

        • Sylvia in Seattle says:

          I’m having trouble watching this too. Almost too much considering what is going on right now. Some lighter fare is in order. Just received a Barbara Pym book I ordered so looking forward to starting it.

  7. Trace says:

    Happy Birthday…what a wonderful one you had.
    Thank you for the smile this morning and the big warm hug
    That’s how I feel each time I read your blog.
    You are truly a blessing to us all
    Trace Turtle Tree Farm ❤️🐐❤️

  8. Marybeth Rogers says:

    Susan, do you have any idea of the cheer you bring to those who read your blog, your books, shop in your store, and share yours and others’ quotes?
    My mouth is in the shape of a constant smile when I am here on your site.
    Thank you again for taking the time to create this blog, it’s so Joyful for me when I get a notice that you have posted here.
    Thank you for the Sisters at Holy Nativity, their work is astonishing! I am sending my sister and brother-in-law their cream and lip balm and beautiful cards. Thank you for sharing, everything. I am grateful for your presence in my life. Marybeth

    • sbranch says:

      Do YOU have any idea how happy it makes me to hear that? 👏👏👏 Thank you for supporting the work of the darling sisters (and for coming here to tell me!). xoxoxo

  9. Valerie Johnson in Weatherford, Texas says:

    Hahaha!! “Dam panic!” I love it! Thank you, Joe!

    Hey, how about that asparagus? Got any tips for making that not taste like yard twigs?

    Happy belated birthday + one week! So glad it was a joyful day!

    • sbranch says:

      Ha ha! Yes, preheat oven to 425º, wash it dry it … toss it in a bit of olive oil, salt it pepper it, put it on baking sheet, and roast for about 15-20 min until it’s tender… Roasted Asparagus is delicious! Plain, buttered, Squeeze of lemon juice, dip of mayonnaise . . . all good. If the stems are tough, peel them before you toss them.

  10. Dawn says:

    Happy belated birthday to you and hello to your dear Joe! And can’t forget Jack! Thank you for the beautiful post and Happy Spring from us here in Maine! <3

  11. Jan from Northern CA says:

    Hello Susan… from Jan from Northern CA. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a note, but I’ve still been checking out your blog. Happy Belated Birthday also. I do so enjoy your blog and all it’s cheerfulness. I think we’re going to try that baked potatoe recipe tonite! Yum….and the asparagus looks great too. 2019 was a tough year for me…..survived breast cancer again….only chemo (hair loss) and radiation and a double massectomy were in the tx plan this time. Not the way to loose 20 lbs for sure. But I’ve survived and life continues on. You come out of these things with so much appreciation for each day and all the little things God brings us. You just have to stop long enough to see them. I’ve learned that if nothing else. Well, thanks again for all your positivity…’s refreshing.
    Jan from Northern CA

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Jan, I’ve missed you! I hope you’re feeling like you’ve got your feet back under you. What an ordeal. But you did it, your voice of courage and gratitude comes through your words loud and clear. Sending all my love 💞 and prayers for all of us in this old world. xoxoxo

      • Jan from Northern CA says:

        Thanks Susan, You really did hit the spot in your blog about how our world is stepping up to the plate in humankindness. I think maybe our Lord did it on purpose? It made everyone, well most everyone, take a look around to see what blessings we do have and how to see others differently as we all, as a whole, are dealing with the same “virus” and it’s issues. At least that’s my positive hope for this adventure….that we all come out better on the other side.

        • sbranch says:

          I think so. I think He saw our direction and said, “Stop! I didn’t create this beautiful planet and everything on it, including you, for you to destroy it. Go to your rooms and think about it. Don’t come out till I tell you.”👏 Praying for us to think about it fast, and get out soon! xoxoxo

          • Janice B Smith says:


            Oh, we did the baked potatoes, but added broccoli as we didn’t have any asparagus. And cooked up a cheddar and srircha bratwurst to add some flavor to the meal. Thanks for the idea! Yum

          • sbranch says:

            Sounds perfectly delicious! xoxo

  12. susan says:

    I don’t do twitter so I hope you see this in time. Today (Saturday) and tomorrow until 11am est( not sure the time in the west) you can see a London production of Phantom of the opera on u-tube free.

  13. Janet in Pittsburgh says:

    Your birthday sounded absolutely perfect. Thank goodness for the technology we are blessed with, keeping us together, even when we are apart. Thank you, as always, for sharing with us. When I need to be calm, I always know where to look. Blessings to you, Joe and Jack.

  14. Carolyn Rector says:

    Thank you for your words of encouragement, and yes may the search for spirituality continue as we search for God.

    • sbranch says:

      I find Him waiting for me in two places, in my heart, and in nature… xoxoxo

      • Janice B Smith says:

        A long time ago….lol….I was involved in a service organization for girls under the Masonic (Shriners) Lodge…..called “Rainbow for Girls”. When you had been in a while and gone through the
        offices leading up to being “Worthy Advisor” or president….you picked a theme for your term as the leader. Mine was “A Walk in a Garden is a Walk with God” I was raised going camping and being outside in nature….and even at 16 knew that was where God showed himself the best.
        Anyway, I agree Susan…..he is in my heart and in nature!!
        Jan from Northern CA

  15. Stephanie says:

    The musica – the song from Emma – was perfect background to this post. Made my heart happy. Thank you! And happy belated birthday.

  16. Laurie Nico’s mom says:

    Thank you, Susan, for another light inspired post. These days I don’t know who to trust or what to believe, but I know I can count on you. Please tell Joe that my husband and I love his “DamPanic”! We need to approach this challenge with some humour or we’ll all go insane!
    Glad to see you had a lovely birthday that included friends. Your cake looked yummy. Take care. Hugs to Joe and Jack.

    • sbranch says:

      So true, Laurie. Sense of humor is parTICularly helpful at this time! I’m going with the scientists, our governor (also NY Governor Cuomo has been straightforward and informative), and my own common sense. Makes it all a lot less confusing and a lot simpler. Stay Home covers it for me. Protecting our healthcare heroes. Sending money to food banks. Love you dear. Stay healthy!

  17. Sharon Byars says:

    It was a RED LETTER Day thanks to you. I made the banana fritters for breakfast and they were a hit. Plus, I just ordered Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams for my friend’s birthday. A book about new beginnings is just what is needed now. Thanks, oodles!

  18. Julie says:

    My father is at the end stages of kidney disease, I’ve been so sad. Your post put a smile back on for a few minutes, I wish I could just keep reading and reading & stay in your world a little longer. I’m thankful for you and your thoughtful observations. I’ve been a fan since you began mailing your fabulous newsletters out. Happy belated birthday – thank you for sharing your wonderful day with us. And you are so right, there has been a lot of basic kindness shown through this pandemic, warms the heart. You so perfectly described what I too have always know; 98% of us earthlings are good and kind people; the bad few – blight – just like the moths on your cherry trees. Thank you for the lift today.

    • sbranch says:

      Beautifully said Julie! “98% of us earthlings are good and kind people; the bad few – blight – just like the moths on your cherry trees.” So true. I’m so sorry about your dad … I think I’m in your place, as just a couple of days ago my 90 year old mother, dearest person to me, was put on Hospice. She has dementia, but I can still talk “at” her, and hear her treasured voice. It’s a bad time for so many right now… and still, as she showed me all her life, there is so much joy in this world. I’m a very good compartmentalizer, thank God, it’s the only way I could stand this. You take good care of yourself. It’s spring, time for new life, new beginnings, xoxoxo

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Oh Susan, I am so, so sad for you and all of your family that you can’t be with your adorable mother now. You were her version of a “wing man”. What you learned at her side will live on from you to us, us to our kids and so on…down the years. I’ll get out the trilogy and look at all those adorable growing up pictures. You may be feeling a warm wave of love washing over you from the thousands of women that have been lifted and inspired over the years by You! We all wish we could help, but maybe knowing how much your mother is loved and admired by all of us may help. Together she and your cute father raised you to be the the person you are.

        Extra love,
        Debbie in Maine

        • sbranch says:

          My mom doesn’t really recognize us for the last few years … I call to hear her voice. But not too often, as I think the phone confuses her. I think I’ve been grieving her loss in little bites for many years. Acceptance has arrived. Although she is still with us, so we’ll see later on. I was her wing man, I still am, I guess I always will be. Beautiful words Debbie, you DO help. So much. It’s life, as you know, it’s just life. In all its beauty and heartbreak. xoxoxo

          • Dianne says:

            So sorry to hear about your mom, as I know how dear she is to you- and how dear you are to her. Although she may not recognize your face, you live within her heart. The bond you have is so evident in the pictures of the two (and sometimes three- including your dad) of you scattered through your books and posts throughout the years. I love the picture of your mom and Joe playing tennis!! Although you can’t visit in person, I’m sure she’s wrapped in both your love and the tartan throw you brought her from Scotland. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

          • sbranch says:

            Thank you Dianne. She’s wrapped in love, whether she “knows” it or not, I’m sure it comes through. xoxoxo

    • Deb Gage says:

      Julie & Susan,
      I’m so sorry about both of your parents. Susan, I have found myself thinking about your Mama lately. No idea why, but have wondered about how she is doing. It’s a sad time in our lives when we are about to lose our parents and particularly sad when we are unable to spend precious time with them to give them that one last hug. You are both in my thoughts today.
      Be well.
      Susan, a belated Happy Birthday to you!
      Love from the other Washington.

      • sbranch says:

        It’s a sad time, and yet, the joy of knowing her, will never end. Thank you dear, such sweet words. I sent my sister all the top hits of 1945, when my mom was 15, to play for her. She has dementia and nothing much gets through, hoping a bit of music will soothe her. Her gifts to me and her children and her grandchildren are her legacy that will go through the ages.💞

  19. Marsha Chowdhury says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Susan! 🧁🎈 It sounds like you had a purrfect day. You certainly deserve it! Don’t you just love April Birthdays. My birthday is April 2nd and my best gift is our forsythia blooming, grass turning green and a pot of pansies.
    Thank you for your cheerful blog. 🙏🏼 It makes my day when I read it. Stay safe and well.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I do Marsha, we start a new year just as the flowers begin to bloom …! Happy Birthday Month to you too! xoxo

  20. Rosanne says:

    The little white bunnies??? Are they felt? Is there a pattern? the ones from the nuns….I would give anything for a pattern to make them and lithtly stuff for next Easter. Thank you

    • sbranch says:

      They are very thin white metal! But I think your idea of felt is a great one! I bet you can find a bunny pattern if you Google!

  21. Iris Rolls says:

    I’ve enjoyed an Easter birthday several years ago. It just felt even more special! Thank you for brightening up our days with your beautiful photos, writing and creativity!

  22. NANCY ROBINSON says:

    I truly believe that you are the loveliest person on this planet! You will never know how much joy and inspiration you bring to all of us. God Bless you.

  23. Fran says:

    Happy Birthday Susan! I can’t believe you have been writing for 30 years and I just found you a few years ago. Where was I???
    Like you I am a collector. ( I also love old Country Home and Country Living magazines) and now I’m afraid I’m becoming a collector of your wonderful books, Have quite a few allready. Stay safe…friend Fran

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve run a little under the radar for many years . . . people find me most often through word-of-mouth, my very favorite! Happy to meet you! Thank you so much! xoxoxo

  24. Joy Manier says:

    A happy belated birthday wish to you! Haven’t been here in a while, and it’s so, so nice to catch up on all your doings. As I’m writing this, it’s 1:54 am, and I should be in bed at least trying to sleep. I couldn’t do that until I told you how much laughter, normalcy, and hope you have given to me as I’ve read this posting through to the end. Like so many of my family and friends, I’ve been battling some depression as we all work our way through this dam-panic (thanks to Joe!), and haven’t seen my son, daughter-in-law, and dear granddaughter in almost two months. Somehow the things you wrote have left me with the feeling that tomorrow is going to be a better day, because I’m determined to make it that way! The day will begin with bringing in some violets from my yard to serve as a reminder that beauty and hope still exist. Again, thank you. Blessings!

    • sbranch says:

      As with everything in life, it’s all up to us how we get through this. I love your violets, and how wonderful it is that your family is safe. What we’re doing will help keep them that way. Blessings on you all. xoxoxo

  25. Pamela DiPrima says:

    Hi Susan,
    You don’t ‘know’ me, but I’ve been a fan for many years, have all your books, and your calendar is always on my kitchen wall. I work at Costco, stressful during this time, so finally decided I could and should take a four week unpaid leave, to catch my breath through all this madness. I’m a single mom, have been homeschooling for over twenty years, so no stress at home, getting to spend long days loving and learning with my kids for a change. As I was thinking of HOME and more ways to enhance this time, I naturally thought of you and your always-lovely blog. I had an idea. About five years ago, my mom and I read A Fine Romance, and she took me to England! We had such a wonderful time, and have become budding Angliophiles. Britbox, Acorn, etc. Since I’m a homeschooler and always loved teaching history to my kids, AND we have so much extra time on our hands,
    I got this idea to try to construct a “British history watch list”, with documentaries and the best dramas. I was wondering if you have, or know of a site that has something like this. You’re the first place I turned for all things British!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s so interesting which of the big corps are supportive, or not. My sister works for Starbucks, they were told they could stop working when they began to feel uncomfortable…she’s been home with her twin boys since mid-march at full pay … getting her paychecks as usual, healthcare too, job secure. Now I’m mad at Costco for not supporting you better. ANYWAY😁 ~ That’s a very good question. I was curious so I gave it a Google … so much comes up … but is there a concise list, I’m not sure. It will take some investigation… Google and see what you can find there. It’s a win-win no matter what, you are about to get a very good education in a most interesting subject! Your kids are lucky! History is so inspiring! Your mom is a doll, what a wonderful memory you must have made together! Good luck with your project! xoxoxo

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Hi, Pamela,
      Anything by Dan Snow on British history. He’s easy on the eyes as well. The one on the beginning of the English Navy is just wonderful and any child would enjoy it.
      Debbie in Maine

  26. Karen L. White says:

    Thank you Susan, for bringing us so MUCH love, joy and happiness into our world especially at this time for all of us. I just love your life and the way you live it! Your artwork is one of my favorites! I look forward to your calendars every year as well as the “free stuff”. I host a springtime girlfriend luncheon at my house every year with gifts for everyone but this year it’ll happen on Zoom (thanks to your great idea that you had for your birthday). Please pat Jack for me and give your husband a hug as well. He truly is a gift for you. My husband won’t mind, LOL! I am glad you had a wonderful birthday. You sure deserve it.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much. You’re going to have a ball at that tea party … it’s amazing how close you can feel when all your friends are on the screen together. xoxoxo

  27. Nancy Williamson says:

    My daughter is a nurse and a front line worker during this dam-panic. I had your courage charm sent to her. She was grateful to the point of tears.

    • sbranch says:

      And so am I.😥 Thank you Nancy. Your daughter is a hero to our whole country. I’m sure you must worry … I’m praying for her safety. I hope she’s finding, making, time for herself. We need her. xoxoxo

  28. ~ Del gato gordo (kinda) y descarado~ says:

    It has been so long that I am unsure of the point in time, but I do know that I was planted into the island‘s sandy loam by a portly, and very determined grey squirrel, tightly snugging me far downwards. Then hastily covering me with rustling piles of gold and scarlet leaves that were diamond tipped wet with dew. I drowsed then slumbered. I awoke pushing upwards, then, surrounded by velvety green grass ruffling in the wind. Beyond me lay several white houses, a clovered pasture with tawny milk cows, then, dashing past me, wayward gang of motley chickens chasing leaping crackling grasshoppers.
    My first year was a battle for existence being a lane graded in front of me. I met with more than one fast buggy or child ridden bicycle…not to mention when a dog happened by. One Blackberry Summer day the warm breeze blew, a schoolboy was rolling a hoop along my lane. Far behind him, a small girl child straw hat cockeyed upon her head, was trudging along barefoot, hollering to “wait up” and “Mama said.” She clutched a large wad of knotted string with dangling of a single skeleton key. In her other hand a misshapen yellowed paper kite with its long raggedy pink tail trailing along behind in the dust. They stopped, debated greatly about the skinned marks on my sides and Sunday School teaching of the Book of Isaiah, whatever that might be. He pointed finger to her tan, skinned knees pronouncing judgment, that she was in fact “just a mere sapling.” When they left together, I was ringed with tall, stout rocks and watered well. That was the last I saw of them.
    Years passed, blazing comets light up the night, the sun darkened in the sky, a waterspout birthed from old ocean’s eccentric mood whirled inland escorted by roars of thunderclouds filled with the downpour of sheets of brined rain and fish. My trunk slowly nudged away the rocky ring of protection as I entered the seasons marked with Blue Nor’easters, pealing of Christmas Eve church bells. The perpetual tides threw their bounties of splendor onto the sand, the quickening rising of maple sap, running of smelt, moons waxed and waned as my boughs widened. With the changes of nature, I endured and recovered; those who were unable, failed to thrive, perished. As I gained stance my roots grasped the tumbled ring of tall, stout rocks and ever so gently embraced them and the kindness they left behind. What a glorious feeling to stretch, searching to the blue heavens, to welcome each sunrise and bid every night sweet farewell. In the measure of my days, houses turned to homes, rambling fence lines straightened, the congregation of families flourished.
    Windy days of Spring young fledglings rode my branches turned to the release of gold and scarlet leaves with abundant showers of acorns. My highest branches used well for a lofty lookout. Blue snow cloaked my thickening trunk as I cradled nested grey squirrels that slept away the long freeze.

    The day the dirt lane was paved it left a sudden, tightening stiffness. I recalled when I was ringed with the tall, stout rocks for protection, struggling to grow and gain my stance. Thus, I did once again with renewed strength and weighted balance I began to tower upwards and increase my stronghold. I glimpse the harbor, which for countless years I heard the metal clang of buoys sound from. I watch the lighthouse white beam circle round cutting through the sliding fog creeping inland to quietly blanket salty marsh nurseries of fish and fowl.

    My immense canopy provides bountiful shade and welcoming shelter, a gathering of respite for all. I have been graced by many a person, young, and old. More than one faithful and beloved pet of yesteryear rest in peace as I eternally watch over. Within my grey gnarled trunk, reside one or two children’s treasures, a wax-sealed declaration of love never delivered, the shining regards of a raven family, all carefully placed for safekeeping but now well forgotten. Sacred vows and blessings have been announced under my boughs. I have witnessed many circles of time, seasons of life.

    Yet still the island breathes its ebbs and flows of past, present, and forthcoming of future.

    PS) here is some more Happy Birthday!

  29. Christl says:

    Hello Dear Susan,
    Love your posts… I always send the link off to my mom via email, then to my 7 girlfriends via email too. Side note – My mom and I met you at Vromans book store in Pasadena a few years ago! Would you please ask Joe if he might share his Icebox Birthday cake recipe with me/us? I would be thrilled beyond belief if I could have Joe’s recipe!? (met him too of course at Vromans–wonderful Joe!) Hope he says, Yes!
    Your friend in Orange County, California, Christl (oh, and I am quite sure we are related, I am an Orr as well!)

    • sbranch says:

      His ice box cake is a well-known, well-loved “recipe” from I think the 1950s ~ a crowd-pleaser, popular for generations, that is beyond easy. All you do is buy 2 boxes (depending on how big you want your cake to be) of Nabisco Chocolate Wafer Cookies. Whip a pint of cream until stiff with some sugar and vanilla to taste. Make cookie rolls by putting whipped cream between them and layering, then put the rolls together to make a “cake” ~ frost the whole thing with whipped cream, sprinkle over cookie crumbs, and MOST IMPORTANT PART, chill for at least 4 hours before eating. The cream melts into the cookies and makes them soft so you can cut the cake. It’s so delicious! Have fun! Oh yes, my Grandma used to say that all Orr’s were related!

  30. Michelle Smock says:

    Hi, Susan!

    I just finished re-reading Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams and I have to tell you it has helped brighten these dreary pandemic days. Nothing like it to quell my anxiety – Thank you!!!

  31. Debbie Boerger says:

    What a Glorious morning here in Maine. Still unseasonably cool, but Oh, So Sparkling. Went out early to put the bird feeder out and had to just throw my head back and give our wonderful, beautiful planet a big, loud Yee Haw! Learned how to properly do that in 2007 in Sheridan, Wyoming from a young rodeo cowboy at the Rattle Snake Bar!! (You don’t want to know!!) This morning just called for that. Thank you, Dear Lady, for all the beautiful Twitters you posted on Earth Day.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Maine

  32. Barbara Jean Murray says:

    I came looking for another ray of sunshine from your little corner of the world, but alas, I will have to wait until next month. Hope all is well with you and yours! We are holding our own here in Virginia, but the days seem so strange.


  33. Barbara Bohlander says:

    Hello, Susan! I was SO glad to read that you think yellow is a happy color! I do too! Growing up, my favorite color was yellow. My favorite flower was a daisy. My bridesmaids wore yellow and carried baskets of daisies. My favorite dishes are loaded with daisies. It is these dishes that I wanted to tell you about. When I got married in 1969 they were actually quite popular as a “china” selection. They were made by Metlox Pottery in your home state of CA. They were in operation from 1927 thru 1988 in Manhattan Beach, CA. My pattern is Poppy Trail Sculptured Daisy. I have LOADS of it and still love it to this day! Please Google it so that you, too, can see just how “happy” a table they make! I’ll close by saying that I thoroughly enjoy your newsletters. Sometimes they are the “push from behind” that I need to get going and do something “productive”! Have a nice day from me in PA!

    • sbranch says:

      I Googled it and you’re right! It’s SO happy, I can see why you love it. So fresh! If I didn’t already have more dishes than cupboards I would be putting that pattern on my must-have list! Here’s to yellow!💛🌼🌟🌻🌝💛

  34. Carolyn says:

    Belated birthday greetings, Susan! Hugs!

  35. Debbie Boerger says:

    All three couples on our road, AKA The Dirt Road People, were out and about yesterday, your actual warmish, very sunny day. Closest was finishing up with the screens on her new “Tree House”, really a screen room nestled in the trees by the little rock stream and waterfall she built, the ones on the upper end of the road took their first paddle in their canoe, dodging a tiny bit of skim ice. It has been in the 20’s at night!! I raked an area, and, with Tom’s help, put some of the lovely compost from summers past on. (He’s building something else in his basement workshop). Tiny curled leaves of the smallest hostas beginning to poke up. They needed a good feeding. May get some more done before we are hit with yet another heavy, wet snow storm tonight.
    No worries, I made a big pot of chicken, vegetable soup yesterday, and Tom will lug out the generator again.
    I think one of the reasons I love living out here in rural Eastern Maine is that I feel a little more in control than I do in the big city. After a hurricane, you are at the mercy of the city to get your lights and water back on. No wood stoves or generators for folks living in apartments or small town houses. Summer storms there make for very sweaty nights, trying to keep loading bags of ice into your fridge….and putting some on your head…ahhh for a few minutes. And there are the skeeters and even snakes driven out by the high water.
    Please be very careful, everyone, as we can’t see Corona!
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a gift to be self-sufficient. Harder to come by in this modern world. But not being dependent on the world to provide the things you need to survive is rather a smart way to be!

  36. Barbara Cummins says:

    Thanks again for yet another greatly welcome post!! Also, letting you know I sent a partner to the Joe Going Out sketch- y’all can consider them keepsakes of this dam-panic.

  37. Karen Wills says:

    Thank-you for your messages of hope during this difficult time.

  38. Cheryl Grieb says:

    Happy Happy Birthday Susan. Better late than never. Missed the blog this month due to Dam Panic crazies. Funny how things are going along pretty smoothly and then life throws a pitchfork into the mix. So thank you for being so positive and such an inspiration to me. Stay safe and healthy. We have nine rescued cats here. Trying to keep ahead of cat litter and food has been quite an adventure. Hugs.

  39. Donna says:

    Just saw this posted on facebook. As usual, it’s beautiful. As unusual, it’s so hard to take today. My dear cousin, Shelia McGuckin, who introduced me to you, passed away in mid March at 86. She loved your posts when they used to come in snail mail. She was heartbroken when they stopped. I found you on facebook and used to copy them (with your permission) until she finally broke down and got an IPAD and started a facebook account. The IPAD used to frustrate her but she just couldn’t miss your Willards. As soon as they were posted, she would call me and we would go thru them together.
    Today it’s just me, wishing she were here sometimes but glad she’s not scared of this Dam Panic. Thank you for giving us years of joy and beauty together. Now it’s just me but perhaps someday, your God given gift won’t hurt me quite so bad. Bless you, Susan, and a kiss for sweet Jack too.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry Donna…😢 You are so kind to tell me about Shelia. Breaks my heart for your loss. I’ll kiss Jack for BOTH of you. xoxoxo

  40. Donna says:

    Happy belated birthday! Be blessed.

  41. Dezi Haasch says:

    Hello Susan, I am so excited when reading an old post, (October 2012), I found out how to leave a “comment”!! I have emailed you, but you are such a very busy person, I wasn’t sure when you could or would respond. So, my comment is this, I have only recently found your precious soul rejuvenating blog about three weeks ago right in the deep of this “dam-panic” , and now I can be another soul-mate among the thousands who have already fallen in love with your blog and consequently, with you!! Hearts and hearts to you all this week.

  42. Sherry Buckles says:

    Thank you. Just thank you. I needed your kind, calmness today. You are a straight up gift to humanity. Stay safe.

  43. Evelyn Brendle says:

    Hi Susan! I was looking back at your Peter Rabbit room today. It is so cozy and charming! Are the other bedrooms in your house decorated in such a fashion? I love the romantic, nostalgic feeling it brings. Fortunately, my husband has no problem with the frilly, feminine look and he just loves antiques as I do. In our last home, one of my guest rooms was the “Anne of Green Gables” room. I found this wonderful wallpaper border that had two girls in a garden that looked just like Anne & Diana! We must be “kindred spirits” in our love of decorating! Thanks for sharing your wonderful room with your girlfriends!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I’d say they are decorated in that fashion, all old things, cozy, four-posters, just without the Peter Rabbit connection. Love the sound of your Anne with an ‘e’ bedroom! We could have whole houses of book-rooms! Wouldn’t that be fun?

Comments are closed.