Don’t you agree? Nothing is normal these days? So let’s explore not normal with an open mind, and see what we think. We will require MUSICA for balance. Because THAT is normal.💖

Didn’t it seem like we went along for years and years and everything seemed normal (with a couple of deviations), but now every day is a new day of NOT being normal? Well, that’s what we’re “celebrating” today. This is one of the fisherman’s shacks we walk past every day. Been perfectly normal every day for years. It’s buttoned up for the winter, the summer people have gone, but it looks like they forgot something! #NotNormal Right?

And you KNOW this white rainbow wasn’t normal… but very beautiful anyway. Our poor little Island has had 80 new Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks, another 11 today.😳 Definitely not normal. More, by far, than we’ve ever had before. Twelve from our main Supermarket, Cronigs, which is now closed! Probably like where you are, we are getting that fall-winter “second-wave” they predicted. So it’s basically lockdown-city around here. Please watch out for yourselves, your families and neighbors, and the exhausted first responders in your hospitals because this is #NotNormal😷. The goal is simple: to keep as many people alive as possible until we get a vaccine. Which is coming! And God bless our very simple Thanksgivings this year. I just heard airlines are ADDING flights for Thanksgiving. This is a terrible idea. Giving thanks does not require a room full of people.🙏 Haven’t we just HAD it with this thing? Yes, we have. I will be knitting on Thanksgiving, watching old movies, calling people, and counting my blessings. You are a big part of my blessings, so please stay safe. For me.💞

So, on the more cheerful end of #NotNormal, I thought you might like to see a couple more photos from that beautiful foggy White Rainbow day. Because it was magic in more ways than one.

Fog was licking the shore with little cat lips. No, that’s not right, it’s little cat’s feet!🐾 Although I kind of like cat lips!

There it was, just here, waiting by the shore, that oddly warm, very wet day. Hello stranger. Normal? Not normal? Hard to say . . . but it was definitely magic … and it ushered in a nice long stretch of #NotNormal that we have very much appreciated.For over a week now, we’ve had highest temperatures for this time of year in history, almost 70º every day! The other day on our walk, the empty beach had two people sitting on it. Just them, and the sea, and their ice chest. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, and I was so jealous looking at them. I told Joe, we have to do this tomorrow. We haven’t just gone to the beach, sat down and done nothing for YEARS. But this is not a normal year, is it? So the very next day, here we are, for a day at the beach, and as usual, we brought the kitchen sink. It was the perfect place for distancing! Just us. And a big drink of fresh air.💫

It’s like riding a bike … you don’t forget . . . total paradise!  Usually the heat is on this time of year and we’re sitting in front of a fire. This isn’t normal but it was heaven.

We brought chicken sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper, carrot and celery sticks, red grapes, and Joe surprised me by sneaking in bottles of PEAH CI-DAH. Ice and everything! When we closed our eyes and listened to the whoosh of the water, we were back on board the ship to England again!

I read my most wonderful book, out loud to Joe … The Splendid and the Vile, I love it, all about my hero . . .

And 8th cousin on my Dad’s mom’s side ~ a Murray/Jerome (as in Jennie) . . . Oh yeah, DamPanic inspires hours on Ancestry . . . I love reading about our history … one of my favorite things! And WHAT character this guy had.🇬🇧 There is so much to learn by reading about that war, the entire human panoply spread before us. Like the title of the book says, from the splendid to the vile!


I finally got out of my chair because I knew you needed the sound of that day . . . wish I could send you the smell, but maybe someday! There was a cool breeze off the water, I wore a long wool sweater, a hat, jacket, Joe’s jacket, a beach towel and one of the nap blankets my Grandma knit to keep me warm! Could have used a scarf!We stayed almost 3 hours. Was the most stress-relieving thing I’ve felt in years. I slept 8 hours that night! 

It was still beautiful and really warm on our walk yesterday, but we could see things were beginning to change  . . .

It wasn’t this dark, the contrast was playing games with the camera. The silver sky, the silver water, that was all there.

I’ll take it any way it comes . . .

And here we are, walking home on the dirt road heading into the woods . . . have you ever been around a bubble machine and had bubbles landing on your shoulders, your hair and face, and how it tickles and makes you laugh? That’s just what happens when a sudden wind blows the leaves off the trees, and they fly through the sky, across the road, onto our heads, into our faces, makes you giggle the exact same way. It’s like a star shower. Nature at its most adorable. Me and him.

Forgot to show you the crew reshingling one of the old fishing shacks out by the water under that silver sky. So warm, working in T-shirts!

Back home we went . . . I prayed for a late fall this year, and I got it!

Past one of my favorite little houses . . . This cutie looks wonderful in all seasons.🍁

Back home we go … I took this picture from the car as Joe was backing into the driveway … the color of the Linden trees!

Inside, we have all the doors and windows open, whooshing fresh air into the upstairs bedrooms, Jack is on his perch on top of the ironing board, keeping his eye on the neighborhood through the pantry screen door.

The view from upstairs . . .

I worked in the garden too, cut back perennials, and brought in the last of the mums and the roses for the kitchen.

I still can’t get over it. What happens here in the fall. Growing up in California did NOT prepare me for this and it never gets old! Our fire pit and chairs are still out, we’re hoping to sneak in at least one more afternoon in front of the fire. Only thing we can do is make hay while the sun shines. And stay safe.

And in the meantime, doing the normal thing, I’m working on the 2022 Calendars. Think of it. 2022: No more virus. Life resumed. Everyone hugging madly. HUGE Thanksgiving dinners! Kids in school. People getting on boats and planes. Normal. What will we have learned? I would love to hear what you think . . .💞 

I loved painting these small windfall apples . . .

Something you might like: For years I never read AARP magazine because I thought it was for old people, and I wasn’t old.🤣 I’m over that now! Do you get it? It’s so good! This month Bruce Springsteen is on the cover. He’s turning 71, proving it happens to the best of us ~ they interviewed him about his new album. There are book and movie reviews, how-to tips, travelogues, stories about families, thoughts about careers, and lots of great suggestions about money and health, even recipes. Pretty much every subject under the sun. In this issue there are “Life Lessons from Queen Elizabeth,” “How to Host a Virtual Thanksgiving”, and ideas for helping socially isolated friends. Loneliness has to be the worst part of this Pandemic, there are interesting ideas in the magazine that can help. I love anything that helps us to lessen the pain of our separation, anything that makes us feel less alone.❤️ 

SO, more normal stuff: This puzzle. It was supposed to be here by the end of October, I know, it’s late, I’m SO sorry, but they are trying, they keep updating me, and right now “it’s on a train,” “on the way,” and “almost here.” Just want you to know I’m watching like a HAWK, and the moment they arrive, Kellee and Sheri will get them right out. We’re all excited to get them! BUT, also, truly, if this is in any way upsetting to you, this wait, please contact [email protected] for a refund. I’ll understand. It’s coming, I promise, and they are telling me it’s almost here! I probably shouldn’t have put it up for presale. But we were trying to make sure we would have enough of them for everyone. Here’s my makeup offering:Is everyone ready for their 2021 Full Moon bookmark? Because HERE it is! Just print it out, fold it in half, and voila! Every moon needs to be a prayer for 2021 normalcy. Kindness, health, something hysterically funny every day. Lightheartedness. Healing.

I’m making us something. It’s being printed right now and should be done in a couple of weeks. After I broke my wrist last year, I had to stop working on Enchanted, my newest diary book about our travels through England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. But I had finished some of it… so, as a surprise, Kellee and Sheri made the first chapter into a little book and we gave it away to some of our Girlfriends last year at a book-signing at the Apple Farm in California.

It’s only 28 pages, and they only made a hundred copies, which took quite a little while, all the cutting and stapling. This time, in order to make copies for everyone, we had to send it to a printer, and that’s what we’re waiting for. And, something else, you know how A Fine Romance started with a love story? Well, that’s how Enchanted starts too, with a love story. Rather than boy-girl love, this is family love.

Here’s the back of it. I’ll let you know when it gets here. They are tying it with gold ribbon! I can’t wait to see it!

One last thing … to my Betsy-Tacy (or Lois Lenski) Book-Loving Girlriends. There is a virtual tour of Maud Hart Lovelace’s absolute CHARMING childhood home, on which so many of her books were based ~ and you can watch it HERE. You will want to sell your home and move in here immediately! You can also join the Betsy-Tacy Society, and maybe find something fun in their gift shop to stuff a stocking with.💞 Shopping very small here, and I’m sure much appreciated. Okay dear ones, off I go


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493 Responses to THIS ISN’T NORMAL

  1. susan leary says:

    Dear Susan, Aren’t we so blessed to live here on Cape Cod. Who would have imagined the we would have “beach days” into November? I have a copy of your first chapter of Enchanted from your visit to the West Falmouth Library. I’m assuming it’s the same chapter. Thanksgiving must be remembered as a day of reflection and gratitude and not who maybe not sitting at the table. Stay well. Susan from Falmouth

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it’s the same one, with a different cover and just a bit more explanation to go with it, since I’m not there to tell the what and why-for of that chapter. 💖

  2. Maryellen says:

    Our state has jumped from 1,000 cases a day to 5,000, 6,000, now 7,000 just this week! Unfortunately one is my police officer son – sent home with a fever and all sorts of symptoms now. His young children and school teacher wife are holed up with him and I am getting updates. Meanwhile my school teacher daughter was in “contact” with her co-teacher who tested positive. Now she and her toddlers are home for 14 days with the health department making daily contact. I can’t wait until 2020 and some NORMAL!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh dear Maryellen. Yikes. I’m so sorry. All my very best wishes to you and your family. It’s just SO rough!🙏🙏🙏

    • Nicole Terry says:

      So sorry, Maryellen! Praying for your family right now…and, as a mother of a son in law enforcement, I’m grateful for your son’s service.😊

  3. Eliza says:

    So envious of your day at the beach! I miss it, haven’t been in two years.
    And seeing a fog-bow, how enchanting!
    Wishing you a pleasant stay-safe-at-home Thanksgiving!

  4. Arline In So Cal says:

    My hope for 2022 is that we will have all learned to cherish normal and waking up every glorious morning with a happy heart. Can’t wait to see Enchanted and hope there is one for me. My daughter and I were on a bus tour of Scotland, Wales and England and it looked like we were in the same spots a week apart.

  5. Laurie W. says:

    Thank you so much for the link to the Maud Lovelace house tour. It was CHARMING! Kudos to the Betsy-Tacy Society for doing such a meticulous restoration. I have to admit, I was an “Anne of Green Gables,” Laura Ingalls Wilder, Elizabeth Enright (Melendy Family/Thimble Summer/Gone-Away Lake) girl growing up and never quite got into Betsy-Tacy. But I will definitely make up for that now! And more than a few friends/library co-workers will be the recipients of that delightful book puzzle. I’m sure everyone understands about shipping dates in these unusual times and will be happy to get it when it comes.

    • sbranch says:

      Isn’t it fabulous? I just wanted to look at every shelf! Thank you for the forgiveness on the puzzle! ❌⭕️

  6. Patsy Bennitt says:

    Thank you, I needed that. There’s nothing like the sound of the ocean swishing its way onto the shore. We had a glorious display of color this year, but being landlocked has its drawbacks.

  7. Davi Mondt Lowman says:

    Helloooooo again…
    This will be yet another attempt at having my friendly, loving comments posted. I don’t know why, but I can never seem to find them/see them once I hit the “SEND” button. I hope it’s not due to something this rather “forward” woman has said! Remember when we used to use that word, “forward”, to describe someone who spoke their mind?
    I so appreciate it when people… especially women… speak their mind.
    It seems, dear Susan, you’ve done this for years…through your books and blogs and newsletter.
    I know your Iowa family – the Orr’s – from Boone, Iowa. I think they are part of your over-all Iowa family. I was born and raised in Boone – moved away – returned upon retirement in 2012 – and live very happily on our acreage, “Smiling Dog Farm”.
    We are kindred spirits – so many things you’ve written about, big family, growing up in the 50s and 60s, love of nature, eating good food, music, movies, books, Gladys Taber, antiques ,and being happy over little things.
    Including cats.
    I’m a former Critical Care RN/Director of Nursing and can absolutely tell you:
    Thank you for what you do – you make my day when I get to read the latest!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, yes, “she’s so forward!” I remember. LOL. I’m sure the Orr’s of Boone MUST be my family. There were 10 children in my grandmother’s family, she was born in Sioux City, at least one of those Orr’s must have gone to Boone! Or my great grandfather’s family…Thank you for the amazing work you did … I can say “amazing” with confidence because I never met a nurse who wasn’t. I pray for what they are dealing with everyday. ❌⭕️

  8. Slhaight says:

    Normal means different things to each person. For us we are not the have to go every minute of every day. So, it was eaiser to stay home and be safe, learning to just be in the moment as life seemed to change by the minute. Realizing that we don’t have to go to be happy. That what matters at the end of the day is what is right for you and the people that live in your house. Taking nothing for granted, and realizing how truly blessed we are. This year everyone has been touched by this COVID some more than others for sure. Normal will never be what is was and I do hope we keep some of this new normal forever as we found things we didn’t know we needed or already had that had been lost.

    • sbranch says:

      Could not agree more. I hope we are forever changed, and in a good way, a more awake way, and grateful.💞

  9. Karen M says:

    I love your embracing the #notnormal! Life is most definitely NOT normal these days, but you always find the silver lining, sky, sea, etc., thank you! 🌊🌈❤️

    • sbranch says:

      I find it because it’s THERE! Thank goodness! Pollyanna was right, there is something good in everything.💞💖

      • Karen M says:

        I finished reading Pollyanna last night, for the first time ever, and I’m so GLAD I did! Thank you for leading me to it! 😄💖
        This should be at the top of a dampanic required reading list for everyone, if you have other gems please do post!

        • sbranch says:

          Oh how fun! Yes! That book gave me SUCH a big clue for life! I was a voracious reader as a child, but of all the books I read, that one was probably the most influential in such a specific way. I’ve played the glad game probably every day of my life, sometimes realizing it, but most often, it’s automatic. It was my biggest power ever as a 9 year old! Not just the game itself, but the information that I could CHOOSE how to think of something. Woweeee!

  10. Susan Rodgers says:

    While I like to look on the bright side, like you, dear Susan, I have to mention that “getting back to normal” in 2021 or 2022 or whenever it may happen for the lucky among us, there are many, many people for whom life will never be “normal” again. Think of the terrible toll this virus has taken on our country, think of the empty chairs at future Thanksgiving feasts, at future weddings, at future graduations… not to mention on ordinary days. The response to the virus in this country has been criminal. I’m pretty sure you will find my post too political, and will delete it, but I hope you’ve at least read it. We are living in scary times indeed.

    • sbranch says:

      Of course not.😢 So many have lost loved ones. I wonder why we are not in national mourning. One day there will be a Sept 11, a Remembrance Day, for all that have lost their lives, and all the broken-hearted families they left behind. I don’t think this virus is political, and won’t treat it thus. We are put on earth to help each other. Thank you Susan. 💞

  11. Penny Carpenter says:

    Thanks for the ocean video!! In north Idaho we have to drive all day to hear it!!

  12. Kelli L says:

    I love the beach! The coast of Maine is my favorite. Hopefully 2021 will be somewhat normal! I’m looking forward to our family’s Ireland trip May 1st. It’s postponed from October 🙁 it’s in celebration of my mother-in-laws 80th birthday. (Now 81st)
    Will your little book Enchanted be available for preorder? I can’t wait!

    • sbranch says:

      Ireland! Wonderful! The excerpt from Enchanted should BE here, I HOPE, in the next two weeks, so I thought we’d just wait for it to arrive. The lateness of the puzzle makes me crazy ~ preordered things need to arrive when they are promised! Taking no chances!💞

  13. Lisa M. Jorgensen says:

    Thank you for helping us get through these difficult and “not normal” times!
    Loved your day at the beach! How fortunate to be able to do that and not fight mobs of people like the beaches here in Southern California. Being a San Fernando Valley girl also, I understand your appreciation of the seasons there.
    This year and experience has taught us all that we must be thankful for each day and never take anything for granted. I have my wonderful husband and kitty with me, and I am a homebody so I am doing good.
    Wishing you and Joe and Jack a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving!!

  14. Erica Burns says:

    Thanks so much for the ocean video. It soothed my soul and helped me remember that nature hasn’t a clue what us crazy humans are up to.

    • sbranch says:

      You’re reminded of that each time a wave breaks, been going on for such a long time. xoxo

      • Jan from Northern CA says:

        Erica, Yes, Nature has no clue what we crazy humans are up to….lol. She just continues on as in past eons. I was reading about roses and how beautiful the blooms were etc…..hybrids created…..and the comment at the end of the article stated that….we forget that the bloom wasn’t created for our enjoyment….but for the plant’s existence…….and we humans think they were just for us to cut for our vases. Kinda brings you back to earth and how small we are in the scheme of things.

  15. LLG says:

    Like you….I also live on an island about 8 miles west of Seattle, WA. Each day when I walk the dog I can also choose to walk near the water. We don’t quite have crashing waves like you would near the Atlantic but water is still lovely. So sorry to hear that you have so many COVID cases! I hope we turn the corner soon! I have a tentative reservation on the QM2 for the end of next May and I hope we do not need to postpone again. Happy Thanksgiving.

  16. Deborah Britton says:

    Love heaing from you Susan! Looking forward to the puzzle. It will be fun to set up during these short days. Stay safe!

  17. Pat Harmon says:

    What a wonderful memory! I’d forgotten about reading Betsy-Tacy! It was lovely to take the tour. I wish I could put the ocean on repeat all night! It certainly soothed my frazzled nerves. The water level regulator on my washing machine went really “not normal” yesterday and overflowed watering my floor and cabinets! I picked out a new machine and they are ‘out of stock’, until Jan or whenever, even at the manufacturer, because of C-19. So the repairman is coming Tue. He’s having trouble getting parts, sooooo……! I’ll just listen again to the ocean❤️I have my calendars for next year, yea! Love all things Susan. Thank you for the loveliness. We need it🍂🧡🍁💛🦃

    • sbranch says:

      Aaaaack! I hope he can fix it! But if he can’t, I bet he will have all kinds of ideas of what you can do. Good luck!❤️

  18. Laura Brown says:

    I’ve often wondered how we define normal. Ward and June Cleaver, though wonderful, were not normal. Who answers the door in a dress and pearls? What family regularly sits down together at the same time for dinner? What Dad stays in a suit and tie hours after arriving home from work? These were the ideal for a season. But, a true normal includes Mom in a soft fuzzy bathrobe, kids wandering through the kitchen in intervals, grazing. Dad fixing the leaky faucet while taking bites out of a sandwich. Families work harder for those special times when they can come together and share a meal, but, well, nine times out of ten, that’s not normal. Normal is a little scrambled, not perfect, but it works. There are alarm clocks that don’t go off, knees that get skinned, cars with three good tires, a stray kitten under the front steps and overripe pears in the fridge. We learn something good from all of life’s surprises, twists, turns – and file more memories in our recipe box of life. We look out the kitchen window and try to imagine what the recipe called tomorrow will taste like. And we wonder if it will taste normal. There will be smiles and laughter mingled with tears. Yes, ‘perfectly’ normal.

  19. JoAn Holdorf says:

    Thanks, Susan, for always cheering me up. The ocean sounds was so soothing to my ears and soul. I live far far away from an ocean and miss that. Praying that 2021 is a much better year for all of us.

  20. Jean Lederer says:

    Winding down summer-like days of autumn here on Long Island, too! Fish dinners and
    best breakfast in Bay Shore at Nicky’s Clam Bar, located opposite the ferries to Fire Island,
    come to sn end this weekend. But our ride to nearby Benjamin Beach to “wave watch” will continue! And move to toasting marshmallows indoors in our woodburning stove!
    I agree with the poster above that lessons learned from this pandemic in slowing down and staying home is to not only cherish family but take time to establish a real relationship with each other! Puzzles, Lego building, drawing and painting, sewing, knitting, crafting, wood working , board games, indoor plant keeping, bunny care, baking cookies, cooking and eating dinner together, snowman builds, sledding at local golf course, watching old movies, reading aloud and quietly to oneself are activities we did and then the computer, home invader, upended that! Like the “idiot box” of the excessive television
    use of our generation, the seduction of the computer and its overuse , too, has its drawbacks. We instituted “Electronics Free Sunday” to be with family. It worked! All our sons but one grew up and left Peter Pan and Wendy here. Cherish these days younger girlfriends, they
    go by so quickly. They do grow up! Hold them close this winter! 😘

  21. Dianne says:

    Thank you for the video, I loved it! I live on the shores of Lake Michigan. There’s nothing like the sound of waves hitting the shoreline, is there? And I read Betsy, Tacy and Tib to my daughter when she was young, so thanks for that memory. Happy Thanksgiving

  22. Rosemary, Nine miles north of Boston says:

    Dear Susan,
    Yup, Not Normal days are still here, but you’re absolutely right, they Will Not last forever. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pictures and yourself. Here just north of Boston we’re loving the glorious leaf colors this year, little leaf storms blowing around the yard in front of our windows. I miss like crazy the sound and scent and sight of the ocean; and I will see and hear and smell it again when the time is right. And we’ll hurry back the Normal days by doing our part, wearing the masks, keeping socially but still lovingly distant, having Zoom holidays this year. Can hardly wait for “Enchanted!” I have all your wonderful books and read through them yearly [have already read the new Christmas one twice, so will wait til December to read it again ;>) ]. Stay safe, stay sane, stay healthy.
    Love, Rosemary

  23. Patricia Sullivan says:

    Thank you for the 2021 full moon 🌝 bookmark and the special pictures of the white rainbow! Also thanks for the romantic idea for Thanksgiving. It’s going to be just the two of us so I like your idea of roasted chicken stuffed with my Mom’s special stuffing, whole berry cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie for dessert. Just have to figure out a delicious vegetable. Happy Thanksgiving – stay safe – love to you and Joe and Jack 🐾!

  24. Barbara H. Soctt says:

    Susan, thank you for the visit to the ocean. It has been many years since I had the opportunity to listen to the ocean. Wonderful! I am looking forward to the new book, in any form, sort or long.

  25. Olive L Brickell says:

    Dear Susan, I wonder if you even know just how many peoples’ lives you lift with each Blog ?? Sooo Many ! Thank You for lifting mine ! xo

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t, but I love reading these lovely comments, love our connection, love your sweet words. ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  26. linden honey is my favorite from my Daddy and brother’s bees. delicious!

  27. Marnie -in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies 🇨🇦 says:

    I love the video of your picnic at the beach. You caught the scent of the sea with your camera.
    Reminded me of September days at our cottage on mighty Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. Delicious!

  28. Susan says:

    Hi Susan I have been following you for years have all your books and all your calendars . I have not seen my grand kids or two daughters because of Covid .

  29. Kathy says:

    The pictures of your morning walks continue to bring me such peace looking at them. You live in a beautiful area with people who keep busy and that’s a good thing. Nothing like being content in our daily lives. When I feel overwhelmed by all this upside down world, I retreat to my sewing room and say to myself I will never get this time back being home so much with not a lot of commitments so I better use this time to create. Friends and neighbors still like a little handmade gift left on their porch so we must keep bringing smiles and happiness to others.

  30. Janice Kirk says:

    My dear daughter sends me your wall calendar every November for my birthday. Sarah lives in Amman, Jordan. I marvel at our “around the world” technical capability. This is not normal, it is a wonder! This year she added your 2-year pocket calendar and colorful pens to my gift. I feel so loved.😊

    This morning we were talking via FaceTime and Sarah said she’d like more puzzles, because she’s completed the 3 they have so many time she’s got them memorized. Sarah is homeschooling her children and is in the midst of lock-down every weekend, so I asked my friends to send her a puzzle they may have at home on a shelf. This is not normal for me, yet they loved the idea and are eager to bless our daughter and her family. This is the beauty of friendship. 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

    I hope the video I sent worked for you of the deer on the South Carolina beach frolicking in the ocean. This was not normal, what a joyous surprise of nature.

    Love you my sweet friend.
    Stay well.
    ~ Janice

  31. Donna Jones says:

    When we are able to travel again, I am DEFINITELY coming to Martha’s Vineyard in the fall. Your description of walking through the autumn leaves just made this California girl ache with longing to be there. We are about 20 minutes or so from the ocean and almost never go see it. People who live in Kansas would think we are crazy, but life just keeps you from doing the things you love.
    And then Covid comes along….

    • sbranch says:

      You will love it. All of New England is on fire in the autumn, and filled with American history!🍁

    • Julie Bersano says:

      I’m from Missouri and I would LOVe to live 20 min from the ocean?! We have been to Florida twice and Georgia once and that was not nearly enough ocean for me in my 49 years… The sound of the tide is so peaceful….

  32. Melissa Pimentel says:

    Oh my giddy Aunt!! I squealed (quietly since my three sons are sleeping) so many times throughout your post. First when I saw a new blog post “Eeeeep”, then when I saw your video of your day at the beach “Eeeeeeeep!!”. Then when I saw you’re getting copies of some pages from Enchanted printed “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP”. I almost spilled my hot cocoa when I read that. The level of excitement is embarrassing but it’s the little things and it made my day. Your art and your stories are a wonderful part of my life now and I share them with family back home in Australia. So far I have bought 12 (a few of each different size) of your 2021 calendars. I figure it achieves two things….One: my local supermarket will keep noticing a big demand for your calendars and will get more in next year which I will buy in big amounts to give away to friends. Two: I’ll force my friends to fall in love with your wonderful art by gifting them your gorgeous calendars. I’ll be sure to mention the blog when I hand their gifts over.
    You are a wonderful ray of happiness in this world. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.
    Warmest wishes from Melissa Pimentel (an Aussie fan) xoxoxo
    Please give Jack a kiss on the head for me.

    • sbranch says:

      I will definitely do that Melissa 😻 … and thank you for that beautiful word-of-mouth … it’s the story of my life, girlfriend to girlfriend, mom to daughter. My pride. 💖 Makes me go Eeeeeeeep!💋

  33. ~Del gato kinda gordo y descarado~ says:

    Look up fogbow, the pictures are astounding and from all over the world!
    Fogbows are rainbows’ cousins – made by much the same process – but with the small water droplets inside a fog instead of larger raindrops.
    Fogbows – sometimes called white rainbows, cloudbows or ghost rainbows – are made much as rainbows are, from the same configuration of sunlight and moisture. Rainbows happen when the air is filled with raindrops, and you always see a rainbow in the direction opposite the sun. Fogbows are much the same, always opposite the sun, but fogbows are caused by the small droplets inside a fog or cloud rather than larger raindrops. Because the water droplets in fog are so small, fogbows have only weak colors or are colorless.
    Look away from the sun and at an angle of 35-40 degrees from your shadow which marks the direction of the antisolar point. Some fogbows have very low contrast so look for small brightenings in the misty background. Once caught, they are unmistakable.
    The sun must be less than 30-40 degrees high unless you are on a hill or high up on a ship where the mist and fogbow can be viewed from above.
    Fogbows are huge, almost as large as a rainbow and much, much broader.

    And a moonbow, is something else….

    • sbranch says:

      Fascinating, isn’t it? And all these years we’ve walked in the mornings, all the years of my life, this is the first one I’ve ever seen!

      • ~Del gato kinda gordo y descarado~ says:

        “…always opposite the sun, but fogbows are caused by the small droplets inside a fog or cloud rather than larger raindrops.”
        Maybe its a lesson in “directional perspective” on a larger scale of one’s abilities….a wild guess here.

        PS) Thank you for the lesson of several aspects on one’s preceptive filter, you are appreciated!

  34. Sue Keller says:

    Lovely! Thank you, Susan.

  35. Shirley B Wells says:

    I listened to “The Splendid & the Vile” while sewing baby quilts. So good! Churchill’s brilliant leadership was a stark contrast to what we’ve experienced this year.
    But my favorite was Churchill’s daughter.

    • sbranch says:

      He was a very hands-on leader, to say the least, and thank God for the world he was. We visited Chartwell and saw the playhouse he built with bricks with his own hands for his daughter. And his art studio. It was an honor to be there. I thought I smelled cigar smoke.😍

  36. Judy Jennings says:

    Isn’t Winston remarkable and wonderful!? I love him so much and wish I could have met him (his wife, too). Be sure to read the book his daughter wrote (picture of the 2 of them on the cover, she in uniform). I still have the book of his letters to his wife to read yet.
    The painting you did of you and Joe walking the path in the woods is beautiful…those trees are so amazing…like a photo.
    I wish you wrote weekly….you so lift my spirit. Can hardly wait for your next written words. We’re the same age and share many, many likes & loves.
    Please stay safe and well on your island. 💕

    • sbranch says:

      He is remarkable and wonderful! I’ve been bitten by the Winnie-bug! The huge number of stories that he is part of are amazing. History swirled around with him at the center, or on the edge, but he was always there. I’ll look for that book!

  37. Kathy Landes says:

    I’m so excited to read that you are a lover of the Betsy-Tacy books. I read them all growing up & then my daughter did as well. When she got married she wanted a Betsy-Tacy wedding & so we did. All her attendants wore calico dresses w/eyelet showing out around the hems. They were taken to their reception in an antique car. To top it off she, like Betsy, married a newspaper reporter. I shall tell her about this video & the society. I know both of us will enjoy it.

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful! I was so excited to find that virtual tour… wait till you see the house! They did an amazing job of restoring it.

  38. Genie from SoCal heart in HMB says:

    You are the sweetest. The puzzle will arrive and I will be so surprised and filled with gratitude. Getting emotional writing this , it is going to be a tiny Thanksgiving and Christmas but our bubble is healthy and it is enough.

  39. Sandra L Barton says:

    Susan: Growing up in California (Anaheim) and being at the ocean as much as possible, I so appreciated all the photos of your “Beach Day”! The sky, water, sand—-oh my! Thank you sooooo much! Betsy & Tacy? Love them still! I have all the books in the series. My granddaughter has asked if they can be hers. Of course they can! The stories still give me smiles. Our Covid count here in Utah has skyrocketed & we are hunkered down even more. Very much appreciate your sharing the beautiful island with us. We have lots to keep us busy at our home, some little house projects for my hubby & craft & painting for me. We pray for “normal” & a vaccine. We are grateful for the internet, shopping on Amazon & other online shopping & zoom!!! Take good care, stay safe everyone!!! Hugs to you, Joe & Jack! Hugs to all the girlfriends!!!

  40. Linda, near Seattle says:

    This post is just what I needed after hearing our governor say there should be no gatherings for Thanksgiving, unless it is with people from our immediate household or with family who have quarantined for two weeks before. Guess that starts right now. I continue to pray for the residents of the skilled nursing facility where I work as a nurse, as I know how very difficult this is for them. I long for the day when this will not be the normal and we can return to the days when we can hug and visit to our hearts’ content.

    Enjoy those last beautiful autumn days, Susan and Joe. Give Jack a hug, and continue to bless me with your words. Happy Thanksgiving!


    • sbranch says:

      Breaks my heart for those in facilities, my uncle is one of them. Just when you need human touch the very most. Them, and kids. We just have to set a good example, and do our best. Who can ask for more?💖💖💖 Blessings for a lovely Thanksgiving.

  41. Margaret Harke says:

    Not normal- it was just announced today that in CA 1 out of every 40 people has tested postive for COVID. We try to stay safe, but the grocery store and the post office are necessary outings. Scary times when you live in a D- county. That was my county’s grade out of all the counties in the state as graded on culture, education and the economy. So many people here running around without masks and I even had one no masker tell me the whole thing was a hoax.
    Thank you for all yourlovely words and pictures to brighten my days. Many blessing and good health to you.

    • sbranch says:

      They’re showing the sky view of Dodger Stadium at night, with all the car lights, in line to be tested. It’s surreal. This hoax thing is a crime against humanity. Makes me sad. I’m glad you are taking care. We cut our grocery and PO trips WAY back. Clean off some of those pantry shelves! Stay safe, this too shall pass.

  42. Karen Baron says:

    Thanks for cheering me up. Apple Farm was two years ago already! 🍎

  43. Barbara Anne says:

    Thanks that you always look on the bright side of life (ta dum ta dum ta dum dee dum de dum!) and encourage us to do the same, to enjoy the beauty of the world (and apples), to listen to the music, and to be true to ourselves.

    As for lessons from 2020 … be kind, keep laughing, read to let your imagination take you anywhere in the universe when your body is safely at home, hug whenever possible, and always say “I love you.”

    DH cooks and bakes and I make quilts of all sizes to keep from going nuts. 🙂

    Big hugs!

  44. Jo'l says:

    Glad you’re enjoying the “Not normal” weather, and, in fact, making a picnic of it. We really should do it always but sometimes it’s hard. Keep helping us along through the times we have, heading to a better future, filled with things learned from these “not normal” days.

  45. SUSAN HEBERT says:

    I used to work with a lady who was a relative of Maud Lovelace and her first name was Tacy! I’d never read the Betsy-Tacy books until I started working with her in my late twenties. Thank you reminding of those wonderful books.


  46. Kim L says:

    I am so glad I found someone who elevates optimism, celebrates it, and talks about it all the time. Brava!
    Also, I have to change my name to something that begins with ‘D’; I just found your monograms, and morning glories are my favorite flower. They generally appear around here in my birth month, September. It is a magic blue, isn’t it?

    Someday I will have to tell you my story about jumping off the Chappaquiddick ferry. Or did I already? Oh dear. No matter. Have a good witching hour.
    PS Did you invent this font?

    • sbranch says:

      How about “Darling?” ❤️ Which font? The cursive used in the quotes is my own handwriting…the body of the post is a font that comes with the WordPress blog platform called “Terminal.” I think we need that story!👏

  47. Your O.C. Friend Janet says:

    Thank you, Susan, for bringing us so much light in these strangest of not normal times…and for helping us keep our sanity.
    I love reading your postings before bedtime. I sleep more peacefully.
    Hugs to you, Joe and the Sweet Adorable Jack. BE WELL. XOXOXO

  48. Ann says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the soothing sounds of the water at the beach! Lovely!! ❤️

  49. Judith says:

    No new cases for 13 days in a row in Victoria, Australia. Hang in there and stay home. You will get through this, we did.

  50. Kathy Prell says:

    Thank you for the most beautiful post. I thoroughly enjoyed every word. Your daily walk is so peaceful, inspiring and spiritual. Just what we all need in this time of uncertainty.

  51. Justine says:

    Just thank you xxx ❤️❤️❤️

  52. Julie Bersano says:

    Our 20 year old daughter tested positive this week because so many have the virus at her church…now her church is shut down because of so many positives. Our church is still open, thankfully, but my husband & I are staying in even though I tested negative and we are not sick. At least for the remainder of days that our daughter is no longer contagious, we have cancelled our church and serving events. I do see the positives in everything as well; I love how this scenario makes people slow down a bit and take time to think and just “be.” But life goes on and we need to live it to the fullest, whereever that may be. Right now, it’s on long walks through nature trails bc at least in nature, you can take deep breaths without masks. Soo thankful for God’s handiwork. I have noticed the changing seasons tenfold this year; before March I had been heading to the gym everyday for exercise. These days, I think… have never been outdoors so much since I was 6 years old!! <3 Be well!!

    • sbranch says:

      Hoping your daughter is one of the many lucky ones this thing barely touches! Yes, we have to give up a lot, but its also interesting to see what we gain. Blessings on you and yours Julie. 💞

      • Julie Bersano says:

        So true, Susan! Thank you for your blessings toward us <3 Yes, with every day, I see the new things that God unfolds before us 🙂 So yes, a lot of gain for sure!
        Our daughter is back to work today 🙂 Her symptoms lasted 10 days exactly and were probably much like the flu although we cannot remember her ever having the flu in her childhood, really. My husband & I remain well and we are so thankful for God's grace. Wishing ya'll of the same goodness!!

    • Jana Jopson says:

      Julie, I was just thinking the same thing a couple of days ago, that I had not spent so much time outdoors in my adult life. It is a deep reconnecting with creation, Mother Nature. When I take my little dog out into her fenced area each morning now, I circumnavigate the yard in my bare feet to connect to the Earth and remind myself that all is well.

  53. Theresa Kane says:

    Oh the sound of the sea is so soothing!! And all the pebbles on the beach! One day I will visit your wonderful town and go to the bakery (I follow them on Instgram) and dip my toes in the ocean… but for now, I am content to enjoy it through your sweet and thoughtful eyes!! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      The water running over the small pebbles makes a wonderful clicking noise … one of my favorite sounds.💖

  54. Care Woodard says:

    Thankful for you guiding us to see the beauty in the NOT normal! This time last year, we skied in 3 feet of snow in Vermont with, Mabel, our black lab. It was heaven so I am trying to enjoy the warm weather. I just finished such a good book, I think you would love… Becoming Mrs. Lewis…Did you read it? It was wonderful; the love story of CS Lewis and Joy Davidman. We are going to get through the rest of this challenging time by installing a claw foot tub IN our bedroom, so it will be near the fireplace. The tub is marigold yellow on the outside!! The happiest color I could think of and I don’t think I’ll come out until it is all over:) I am thrilled to be able to read the first chapter of Enchanted!!!! So grateful for you and the girlfriends !!! Happiest thanksgiving to all.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh how fun Care!!! That’s just great! A bath in front of the fire. What a way to spend the winter! xoxoxo

  55. Anna says:

    Reading your newsletter was very relaxing. In fact it was so relaxing that I read it twice – quickly the first time and slowly the second time to savor. You take time to note the beauty in the world. Thank you!

  56. Rejena Girton says:

    Oh Susan,
    You are a super soul-soother. (A New concept I learned last weekend from my husband.)

    Just what we need this year. Thank you so much. Stay safe out there.


  57. Lori says:

    Viruses are contagious. So are love and kindness.

    Betsy-Tacy … one of my favorite series of books. Betsy has Rose Chintz as her china pattern. (Hmm, I wonder who else likes that?)

    Can’t wait for Enchanted! My DNA says those are my “home” places.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  58. Ann Woleben says:

    I just finished reading Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict, historical fiction from the viewpoint of Churchill’s wife. You might enjoy it. Thank you for sharing glimpses of “normal” – water lapping at the shoreline, autumn colors, your daily walk , a sweet moon bookmark – simple pleasures! The pandemic has been a lesson in patience, endurance, a slower pace of living, focusing on others, and finding beauty in simple pleasures. Stay safe and well~

  59. Raquel Silies says:

    Our days here have been lovely as well. A good proper fall. So thankful for it. Your white rainbow is actually a fogbow, a natural phenomenon, although not too common. “A fog bow, sometimes called a white rainbow, is a similar phenomenon to a rainbow; however, as its name suggests, it appears as a bow in fog rather than rain.” Love that you captured it for us. Mariners sometimes call fog bows sea-dogs. Wishing you a healthy and happy Thanksgiving. We’re being sensible, just the 2 of us and the kitties. Still making our favorites though.

  60. Sandra says:

    Thank you Susan..for those amazing are so right nothing is normal..and we need nature to focus on to remind us it is Autumn all around us and we need to rejoice at the colours,,smells and sounds..and tastes using your recipes too.
    Thank you for all you give us..through your books and beautiful paintings..loving the Christmas book and can’t wait for Enchanted to be published..
    It’s so hard to just rest in this not normal times..but knitting,,cooking gardening help ..
    Sending loving thoughts to you ..this time of thanksgiving.
    Bless you all
    Sandra form Birmingham x

  61. Karen Lotito says:

    Hi, dear Susan! I couldn’t believe that we were seeing 70o in November here in Midcoast Maine! I went down to our beach hunting for sea glass and for a moment I thought it was Spring. No, nothing is normal and we need to keep safe and stay well. Which means turning our hearts towards home and staying warm and cozy, reading, crafting and cooking. (I just made applesauce with cinnamon and cardamom-yum!) Thanksgiving will be a quiet day and phone calls will abound to those whom we can’t be with but we’ll be together in our hearts. I read that wonderful article about Bruce Springsteen in AARP. He was such a big part of my college life, especially since I went to school with a lot of kids from New Jersey. Have a wonderful holiday, be well and be happy! Love, Karen xo

  62. Chris Wells Knickerbocker, Th says:

    I just downloaded the audio book from the library of The Splendid and The Vile. Thank you for the recommendation. I have found it very difficult to read this last year and audio books work so much better for me.
    When I need to find normal I go outside. My deer still come in to feed at the same time everyday, the turkeys are in the yard eating acorns and the squirrels are chasing each other up and down the trees. Their lives are not affected by the Covid World and they bring me back to normal. What isn’t normal this year is Fall! We actually have had one! I have been in Texas for 27 years now and this has been a true fall. Lovely day time temperatures, chilly nights, trees with color (yellow and brown are colors). The isolation doesn’t bother me, I really don’t enjoy going to town to even get groceries, so I am happy as a clam here on my little spot in the middle of nowhere.
    Wow would I love to see the white rainbow, but at least I can say I have seen a picture of one. I never knew such a thing existed…so rare!
    Every year at Christmas Jim’s daughter and our granddaughter and I work on a puzzle, this year it will be yours. Not worried at all. It will get here.
    Thank you for this uplifting post reminding us that life goes on, normal or not and really, everyone’s normal is different! Thanksgiving will be just our little pod and it will be outside on the porch, if I have to put heaters out there!! I really am excited about it.
    Stay safe and stay well.

  63. Sharon Bates says:

    I read your letter outloud to my husband and showed him every picture. He enjoys them as much as I do. We especially loved your beach video and the fond memories it brought back of our visit many years ago to your little corner of the world.
    One thing we have really embraced and plan to continue it going into our future is the beauty of picnics. We’ve had more this year than the past 10 years combined! Some were homemade and some were carry-out from local businesses we wanted to support during this crazy “Dampanic”! They’ve gotten us out of our house, into nature and to lovely little parks and spots we’ve never been to before!
    So here’s to more picnics for everyone, whether by yourself, the people you’ve been sheltering with or with all your friends and families in the near future (hopefully!) when this #NotNormal is GONE!!
    Thank for all your cheer! xo

  64. Becky Nexsen says:

    Susan, thank you for this lovely reminder of the beauty and abundance of living in the best of times and in troubled times. You and your thoughts and pictures are a bright spot in these Not So Normal times. You are a blessing to many!

  65. Sharon S. says:

    Hi Susan,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful blog. I certainly loved the pics of the Island and you and Joe at the beach. The leaves are changing here in Texas also. This morning is cool crisp and I have the windows open taking in the fresh air. I love Autumn….my husband and I have talked about driving down the east coast to see the fall foliage. Who knows, maybe we will make it to the Island.
    Like you, I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over! My younger sister, who is two years younger than me (she’s 66) contracted it last month from a co-worker who didn’t realize he had it. She didn’t have any respiratory problems, but she did feel terribly ill. It took her three weeks to get over it and she is now back at work.

    I just ordered the book “The Splendid and the Vile” this morning….I can’t wait to read it. Winston Churchill is one of my favorite people in history and he also is my 12th cousin twice removed on my mother’s side. Oh by the way, I loved the pic of the white rainbow…I have never seen one before. Hope you and Joe have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

  66. jeanie says:

    Your beach time made me smile. Big. It’s been warm here too — or has been till yesterday and now snow is in the forecast. Not much, but a reminder that “warm” doesn’t last forever except in the heart. I’ve been savoring every day. “Not normal.” Today is Friday the 13th and while I tend not to be superstitious, 2020 has us all wondering what is next. I will lay low as our Covid numbers are also on the up and up and up again, plan our Thanksgiving for two and settle in to watch “The Queen” and the “Great British Baking Show” and broadway on PBS. (“Holiday Inn” the musical is next week!). I think today feels like a baking day! I hope your weekend is wonderful.

    • sbranch says:

      I can’t wait for the Queen! I probably shouldn’t have written about our wonderful weather because it rained all day today! Thank you Jeanie! Love hearing from you!

  67. Melissa says:

    I love the AARP magazine too! It is so full of good, practical, useful things. I get so excited when it arrives; I thought I was the only one! It’s just so do-able, and full of good common sense. I loved the rest of your post, too, especially about the picnic; we did the same in Ogunquit, Maine the other day, took a picnic (in November?!) to the beach. There were lots of other people there, all masked except when they were taking sips of what I suspect was peah cidah (or maybe gin and tonics – it was 75 degrees!), all relaxed and happy, the upside of the time when all the visitors have gone home. We love them so but appreciate the peace when they’ve gone. But I’ve never had bare feet and short sleeves on the beach in Maine in November. It was glorious!

  68. Karen Grant says:

    OK – you asked … What will we have learned from this time when it is behind us? This is what immediately sprung to mind (spring sprang sprung?): Fear exposes what’s already in the heart. Angry hearts look for someone to blame and shame. Loving hearts look for ways to help.

    • sbranch says:

      Interesting, fear… such a powerful motivator. If I get afraid, I think about my heroes, their strength, and try to BE them. And all my heroes have loving hearts!😘⭕️❌

      • Jan from Northern CA says:

        The posts this time have been so inciteful. The angry hearts and loving hearts one especially true…..but sad. I try to put the anger into perspective when I come to it……Am I really in so bad a situation? Don’t I have a lot to be grateful for? When we look at the big picture…..we ALL have so much to be thankful for. I hope and pray that we have more loving hearts looking for ways to help than the opposite in the days to come. I will strive to do that personally as well paying it forward.

  69. Lynn Marie says:

    What a breath of fresh sea air you have gifted to us today! Thank you Susan. ☺ Our whole house (which consists of 3 of us) are recovering from the DamPanic virus. We are beyond thankful that we have weathered the storm without medical intervention–just our own company and lots of hot tea. I am eagerly awaiting that puzzle and have also ordered my calendars as I am beyond ready to flip the page and move on to next year! We are deciding what THanksgiving is going to look like this year–since we have all had it and will have the all clear, we are going to invite a few people and leave it up to them. But it will all be a blessing of a day–a just know it!☺

  70. Grace Dechant says:

    Thanks for brightening our days in these difficult times. Be safe.

  71. Rosey Koivisto says:

    Thank you for your uplifting posts. It’s always a lovely break in the day to read them and see your lovely pictures and photos. Keep well and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  72. Sherri McShane says:

    Just so sad to hear about the increase of COVID cases on Martha’s Vineyard and your grocery store closing. I don’t like feeling sad all the time but it seems as though every time I am pulling my self out of the pit, something else happens. My husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 renal cancer in July. I have been slapped in the face with the knowledge that every moment counts and must be lived to the fullest. I appreciated this blog because you so clearly do that and are willing to share. Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Sherri. I’m so sorry.😢 Yes, a slap in the face. Remember to talk to your doctor about your sadness and make sure you’re able to do what you have to. Saying that with all the love in the world. This is huge, never think it isn’t, don’t be strong all by yourself, just in case you need help, be sure to ask for it. Hugs for you both. 💞

  73. Ginny K says:

    Thank you for the wonderful email. I could’ve watched the beach video for hours on end, how blessed you are to live nearby. I can’t remember when I have last been to the beach. *Sigh* Thank you so much for the lovely full moon book marks. All of my family loves to read and I am sending them all this book mark with a lovely hand made Thanksgiving card this year. Your timing couldn’t have been better for those, I’m trying to send them out early next week or sooner. Love seeing the beautiful area where you live, thanks again for all the pretty pictures! IT does help during this time or NOT NORMAL, damn panic!!

  74. Vicki says:

    You cheered this gloomy day for me… thank you!

  75. Jeanne Jorgensen says:

    I have been through the comments twice and don’t see mine. I always feel such a good part of your network when my comment comes up, even if you don’t get the chance to comment on it.
    You are light bringer in a time of darkness Susan. Thank you for all you do to see the beauty in nature and even in the quirky human beings who live on this planet.
    Everyone in my family will be getting a book mark of the moons of 2021 to go along with a life shelf book we will send them. Books like “The Man Who Planted Trees,” and “I Capture the Castle” and your Christmas book.
    Jeanne of Iowa

    • sbranch says:

      I wonder where it went… oh well! You ARE a good part of my network, never think otherwise! Your words are wonderful, and I love them to be here! I Capture the Castle … xoxoxo

  76. Krista Barrett says:

    It has made my day to see your highlight of the beloved Betsy-Tacy books and link to the Betsy-Tacy Society. Several years ago Vanna picked my name for one of your giveaways. It was the teacup and saucer that was Tacy’s china pattern (and one of your china patterns!). Thank you for helping to keep Betsy-Tacy alive in these Not Normal times. Thank you too for introducing me to the wise and wonderful Gladys Taber.

  77. Tami says:

    Oh my, I’ve been waiting for Enchanted, does this mean we can buy the excerpt, it’s in time for Christmas! Last year I told you about my daughter breaking her wrist playing water polo at UVA, it was around the same time you broke your wrist. Well, it turns out she didn’t break her wrist but tore a tendon and almost severed another. She’s due for surgery in December. And for some strange reason this experience as well as the whole covid thing has made her decide to go to medical school (she’s biomedical engineering as an undergrad). I am an absolute medical wimp, seriously, my kids had to help clean all their own wounds if there was blood involved. So I guess we can put this as a mark on the silver lining side for the dam panic: one more brilliant, determined young woman trying to change the world and approach the medical establishment with a determination to help change the historical implicit bias in the medical community. (That sounds extreme, but the figures in health disparities in the US are staggering and my daughter is well versed in the reality.) doesn’t it feel good to hope again?

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, I’m laughing because me too… I’m a medical wimp too. Joe wants me to use a NEEDLE to get slivers out of his thumb sometimes, just GO in there and dig around😳, and just thinking of it makes like fingernails-on-the-blackboard claws go up the bones in my legs! Your daughter! God does provide some interesting ways of inspiring us! I love her, love your words about her, changing the world for the better, healthier, kinder, truer, more peaceful, more empathy and compassion, everyone’s dream. I hope her surgery goes easily. And yes, hoping is the very best thing. ❌⭕️

      • dezi says:

        I always faint at the sight of much blood! Years as a single mum to four children I realized God had His hand in their “booboos”. Very rare was blood an issue, but the time my daughter got stitches, the doctor took one look at me and ordered me to the waiting room! LOL! 🩹🩹 I put Elmer’s glue (not the school glue, the real Elmer’s), on slivers and let completely dry. Then peel it off like dead skin, and voila! Sliver comes out painlessly. Joe should try it.

  78. Ann Y says:

    Oh, Susan…you captured the light on the trees perfectly!!! When we walk I just keep saying “look at that light”. It is magical. Your day at the beach sounds wonderful…we plan to do something like that at our local park if we get another nice day! OH, thank you for the link to Betsey, Tacey, and Tib! Loved those stories and the one where they go downtown to the theater…and Betsey reads in the library all day and then goes for lunch at the bakery…it is all just SO COZY! Hoping you and Joe have a cozy, quiet Thanksgiving. Very thankful for how you share your world and gifts with us !

    • sbranch says:

      I think what we see in those stores, they are so NORMAL!😂

      • Ann Y says:

        Yes…Normal! Just have to tell you that I went to the library this morning, got two Betsy Tacy books ( including my favorite where they go “downtown”), then strolled to Lancaster Central Market where EVERYONE was masked and bought apple cider doughnuts and deli sandwiches for lunch…and now home, with tea, my books, a doughnut…BLISS. Thanks again for reminding me of Betsy and Tacy !

  79. Lori W Hamilton says:

    Just heard from our son who’s overseas in Eastern Europe – 22 out of his 43 personnel tested positive for COVID! He tested negative but says that all the 22 only have sniffles and ticklish throats so maybe it’s weakening? Anyway, I hope all of the girlfriends and you, Mrs. Susan, take care and this virus gets crushed in 2020!!

  80. Claudette Jensen says:

    Thank you so much for such an inspirational lift from the craziness around us. I am a hospital employee and our state is one of the states with the most increases. So nice to get a “breath of fresh air” from your writings. Your mini book looks fun!! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

    • sbranch says:

      Just know there are a whole lot of people out here who MARVEL at the strength and forbearance shown by first responders, especially hospital workers, putting themselves and their families at risk every day to honor their oath, or duty, or their hearts, or whatever it is that makes them do this incredibly generous work. We couldn’t live without you. Thank everyone, please. Take care. Praying for you.🙏

  81. Jana Jopson says:

    I miss the ocean so much. Hearing and seeing the sea in motion was awesome. Thank you, a million-billion!

  82. Kristin Gjertsen says:

    We are already hunkering down here in Charlotte, North Carolina. Staying home, stopped the gym membership, doing more home cooking and baking again, going for long walks and bike rides to look at the autumn leaves and enjoy some fresh air. Calling and texting family members. I am focusing on home projects. Sewing new curtains for the family room using gifted fabric, using an old Christmas Tablecloth to make a tree skirt and pillows to cheer up the couches and celebrate the season, cleaning and organizing, touching up paint, and enjoying music and family. Counting our blessings which are many: a good job, a mortgage that will soon be paid off, a college senior who is thriving at school, getting ready to graduate, holds a part-time job and is already looking for full-time work after graduation, a high school senior who just made Eagle Scout, and is looking forward to college and a job in the coming year as well.

  83. Linda says:

    Hi Susan,

    Enjoyed your post. Our covid cases are rising here as well, and now I have three young adults in my home who are sick- hopefully, not with the dreaded virus or I will most surely be doomed! Fingers crossed and prayers said! Anyways, loved your video of the ocean shore as I have not been down to the beach in eons! There is beauty everywhere if we look for it. Your posts are always a bright point in the mornings- thank you!

    XO Linda

  84. Karen Mikell says:

    Oh beautiful blog you made me cry…I’ve been doing that a lot lately…. the mask on the line next to the shack is priceless..(.people, don’t forget to dispose of your masks appropriately, please/thanks) Plus just watched The Secret Garden on TCM…thanks for the love, dear Susan.

  85. Sandy Schmidt says:

    Hello! As an artist myself, I enjoyed your progress images of the windfall apples! Thanks also for a peak of doing something normal…like the beach. I love the beach too! Happy (quiet )Thanksgiving Susan.

  86. I love your newsletters and work. You are an inspiration. For we knitters out here, I wish you would share more about your knitting. Knitting stories would make a great new book. I loved when you said you would be knitting on Thanksgiving…it left me wanting to hear more.
    Have a blessed holiday. You are a blessing to so many.

    • sbranch says:

      The funny thing is, I’m a terrible knitter! I just love to do it. I knit only one thing, scarves, oh, yes, and shawls.🤣 I have never learned to follow a pattern. I could probably learn via youtube, but I just like to sit in front of the fire, or the TV, and KNIT!

      • Annette says:

        Oh Susan, you are my kind of knitter. I even love the process of putting the fringe on. I’ve heard it make most people crazy🤣. No patterns, just knit and take joy in the lovely yarn and the sound of my wooden needles. I donate most of my scarf projects to a battered women’s shelter where I used to live(Wisconsin).

  87. Lorraine says:

    Thank you for this much needed reprieve from everything. Just what I needed.

  88. ~Del gato gordo y descarado~ says:

    I just connected the dots of
    the who of the kitties in your puzzle.
    Muchos ronroneos,
    amor viejo amor nuevo!

  89. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    How can I be the age I am, never having heard of Betsy-Tacy? A whole new discovery for me. Thanks!

    Oh, I saw your ocean video over on Twitter and I never tire of it. I even LIVE near the beach in SoCalif yet I never-ever tire of hearing those waves and wind. You really do live in a wondrous place, Susan. I think you’re definitely more of an islander (east coast person) now than a Californian, but I think I can see why, for sure.

    Saw your colorful ads for the Christmas book in both Yankee magazine and also Victoria; I hope you sell a lot of these wonderful treasures!

    Ah, the fall/winter foliage you’re showing us; all that color of yellow and orange. Of course here, we have so little of it, and a few weeks have to go by yet til we see any real color at all, but I have my fave trees I’ll go looking for (from the safety of my automobile!).

    I appreciate how you echo so much of what we readers think, like what’s so not normal this Thanksgiving, yet you also provide us with soothing alternatives and the positive point of view.

    • sbranch says:

      Been thinking about it for us, so I figure you’re thinking about it too … trying to figure this thing out! It helps to have kindred spirits in troubled times! ❌⭕️

      • Vicki South of Arroyo says:

        It does indeed. A friend I’ve had for 46 years gets on the phone with me every Sunday afternoon and we talk it out; only thing keep’in us SANE! We decided to make it a totally weekend thing, always check in, ever since early March and, so far, we’ve never missed a Sunday. It has really helped. Gotta love our gal-pals, Susan; the ones we’ve had ‘forever’. And then everybody here on your blog, see’in what everybody else has going on and how they (and you) are coping, too. It’s always such a soothing exchange of ideas.

  90. judy (jep) says:

    One of the best things is “talking books,” so thank you for your recommendations. Right now I am reading LOTS and the nonfiction on my nightstand is The Outermost House by Henry Beston who was married to Elizabeth Coatsworth (author of The Cat Who Went to Heaven, 1931 Newbery Medal Award Winner). Beston’s book is about spending a year living in a tiny house he built on land he owned on Cape Cod. He talks about the birds he sees rising up like “a storm of wings.” The book was published first in 1928, but has been reprinted as recently as 1988. And, just for fun I have been reading the Spice Shop Mystery series which starts with the book Assault and Pepper and is by Leslie Budewitz. I can highly recommend the series which is set in Seattle where Pepper has a spice shop in the Pike Place Market. There are five books in the series with more to come I hope! Pepper reminds me of you Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for the suggestions! We all love to see them!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Hi, jep,
      I have all of Beston’s and Coatsworth’s books here in Maine. I loved Personal Geography, An Almost Biography, Coatsworth’s memories. Bet you and Sue would like it. I think “the best people” are here on SB Blog.
      Debbie in Maine

    • Patricia Edde says:

      Judy, I love the Spice Shop mysteries set in Seattle and Leslie’s other ones set in, I think, Montana. I just finished her latest one and it was great. In these times a little escapism is good.

  91. DORIS MINEAR says:

    I have so enjoyed your pictures of the change of seasons. We have lived in S. Cal most of our lives. I grew up in the SAN FERNANDO VALLEY. After 60yrs on Cal we moved to Arkansas, so enjoying the FALL LEAVES. Looking forward to the 4 SEASONS. So far just emptying boxes. Love being out of Cal.

  92. Pauline Wyss says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so much for the little trip to Mankato to see Maude Hart Lovelace’s childhood home. I always loved those books and it was wonderful to see how beautifully they restored the home. What would we do without the internet while staying home, staying safe! When all this is over we have to visit in person!
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Pauline in Wisconsin

  93. Mary Alice Bowers says:

    When your email pops up in my inbox my heart smiles. I love the short escape from ordinary messages to your happy content. Blessings to you Susan for sharing your talents and optimism with us. We will make it through this together. Warmly – Mary Alice from South Carolina

  94. Pam Butterick says:

    Susan, thank you.💕 As always, I felt as though you wrote this for me! I think all your girlfriends feel that. The musica (one of my favorite musicals and duets to sing), the Gladys Taber quote, your encouragement. Thank you for calling us together exactly when we need it!
    Stay safe and healthy. We need you! 💕🍂🍁🌻💕

  95. I am sitting in a motel room in quarantine on the same side of the ocean as you now Susan! 7 days in and 7 to go. We have had fabulous weather just like you. I would like to say I brought it with me, but that would be a lie, we all know England this time of year is rainy, rainy, rainy. Not dry and warm. I got to hear my beloved leaves skittering across the pavement front of my motel door the other day and it was bliss. So I have been sitting here sketching, watching squirrels and healing. I loved that you and Joe got to have your picnic on the beach! How wonderful! Thanks for sharing the sea sounds with us. In seven days my sis and I will be able to clink bluebird cups together and say yay! We’re here, healthy and together! Yes this has certainly be a most unusual year to be sure, but here’s hoping 2021 will be better! This year has certainly been one filled with surprises! A very Happy Thanksgiving to all the girls!! Be happy and content and grateful for every blessing. “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ~Marcel Proust

    • sbranch says:

      You made it over! And Canada let you in! Kindly Canada! I’m glad to hear you’re safe and 7 days in, and only 7 to go before you clink bluebird cups with your dear sister! Good for you!!! I don’t have to tell you this too will pass. I know you know. It’s just a day at a time. Be sure to keep feeding yourself from the well of sweetness. Squirrel watching is perfect. It’s hard now, but PLAN something. The sooner you can begin to live in the future, and stop thinking of the past, the faster you will heal. I wish someone had said that to me, but in a way, by moving away, I had no choice, the past was gone, not even visible anymore. I hope it works that way with you. Welcome home. Lovely quote for Thanksgiving dinner. Stealing it to use for a toast to Joe!😘 ❌⭕️

      • I can see that quote on one of you calendars or in one of your books! xo

        PS I am embracing a new normal.

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Ditto Susan’s response, Marie. We in Maine have been enjoying the late season warmth, what we used to call Indian Summer, I think. Really miss being able to just scoot across the border to New Brunswick and on to Nova Scotia. Hope you have a mild, Maritime Winter.
        Debbie in Maine

  96. Stacey from SoCal to East TN says:

    I simply needed this today. Thank you.

    I love your “musica” and I listen to it every time. How come when I read your newsletter the music evaporates. Maybe that is just my experience. I can listen to Spotify with your e-mailed newsletter. Ah well, maybe that’s “not normal”?

    • sbranch says:

      I think it also depends on your device, whether or not you can play the music and go back and read while it plays.

  97. julia walker says:

    Bless you Susan! Seeing the video of your beach reminded of past visits to Cuttyhunk. Thank you for the mini-vacation! HI to Joe and Jack.

    With love,

  98. Carole Anderson says:

    Love your blog and your books. Loved A Fine Romance. Your illustrations are priceless. Keep up the good work.

  99. Denise Reese says:

    Dear Susan,

    As always, your Willard brightened my day. Loved the fogbow photos and the ocean video! Its been two years since I moved from northern CA to Ohio. I miss beach days!!! I have found several walking trails in my area that go past rivers, lake beaches, or waterfalls, so I can still hear water sounds and smell the damp earth in the woods. Ahhhh…………
    Take care,

  100. Barbara Weaver says:

    Lucky you to have seen a fog bow! Isn’t nature grand? Once again, your blog was a joyous read! Life ain’t normal but we girlfriends still have each other. We will survive!
    Barbara Weaver

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