Hello Everyone ♥️ . . . I’m baaaaack . . . with MUSICA!

I’v always thought of myself as a lucky girl because I was born with the happy gene . . . I’m the one that wrote:That’s probably part of the reason I didn’t recognize the overwhelming feelings of loss that descended like a black cloud early in February and left me sitting on the couch, staring into space, wondering if I should go to the emergency room. I couldn’t even express the symptoms. What could this shaky, unmoored feeling of being perched on the edge of a razor blade possibly mean? I should have known, but I forgot. Twenty years ago in Girlfriends Forever I wrote:How could I forget? This part especially ⬇️ . . . it sneaks up on you. Yes, it does.  I’d been too busy with racing thoughts, deadlines, and worrying about the world to notice the black cloud swirling until the floor suddenly dropped out from under me. Yes, I did spend a lot of time worrying, but wasn’t that normal in this day and age? My purpose in life has always been to try and spread a little sunshine in hopes of changing the world. I had the happy gene! I counted my blessings! But the other side of my coin, I was born worried. Since I was little, I could feel the despair, no matter where in the world it was, and I worried about it. Don’t tell me not to, I can’t help it … I worry about everything from starving lost people to fish choking on plastic.I cried to think of our isolated beloveds stuck in nursing homes with no hugs, and anguished about hungry, confused, innocent children left alone to fend for themselves. I lost heart wondering if the healthy, strong, and rich would ever care for the weak, poor, and vulnerable. Otherwise why did God put us here? Why do animals have to suffer because of us? I was disgusted with the sick adoration of money. These last years of turmoil and chaos, floods and fires, gunshots and death counts made me feel like what I spent my life doing didn’t matter. And of course, my mom died, and February was her birthday, my first without her. My dad was gone.😢 Too many sadnesses lead to sleeplessness and anxiety. I lost control of my brain and bad thoughts filtered through my dreams. I felt so alone. But, now I know I wasn’t. 

One gray day, I found one of my best friends standing outside my kitchen window holding this sign in her hand. 😢  Of course, I let her in. The first person in our house in a year. Joe made us a fire, I lit some candles and made tea. She sat at one end of the living room and I was at the other. We commiserated about our moms, about the constant bad news, how awful it was for children missing school, how overwhelming it was. missing everything ~ we dreamed out loud about what we were going to do when it was all over. If it was ever over . . . the light at the end of the tunnel was still very dim.I read in the newspaper that that people all over the world have been coping with stress because this dam-panic has been MISERABLE. The drip-drip-drip of bad news wears on us like a plague. Stress is too small a word ~ when your mental health starts affecting your physical health, it becomes much more than mere stress. And, if I felt like this, what about the nurses and doctors, the hospitals, and the families who had to deal with constant grief, would it ever end for them? I read about trauma. I knew it shouldn’t be like this.

My world looked like this. Hope had flown the coop.

I could not find the bright side. I couldn’t even write you. Something HAD to be done.

One day, sitting in my chair, wondering if I should tell Joe (I didn’t want to worry him) and ask him to take me to the emergency room, I said to myself, “What do people do when they don’t feel well?” I glanced over at the couch and answered, “They lie down and go to sleep.” So that’s what I did. And I felt a little better when I woke up. It gave me just enough energy to get on Google to find out WHAT IS THIS? I already knew, but I forgot. I had somehow gotten myself into this, and I learned from Google, I could get myself out. I read that if you are not sleeping well then you MUST nap. It’s not a luxury, it is a necessity. Your overall health depends on it.

And when the rain stopped we went for a brisk, wet walk through the woods and out to the sea. Every day. I turned off the news and turned on HGTV and watched everyone choose floors and faucets for their dream homes. I wallowed in the creativity of other people. Ommmmm . . .

I stopped eating lunch at my desk, and started eating it in front of an old movie. Where the music is wonderful, the rooms are gloriously romantic, and everything comes out the way it’s supposed to.I stopped going into my studio and signed up for twice-a-week sessions with my girlfriend who is an acupuncturist. At first, I got there dizzy and unsteady and lay down like a buzz saw, hovering above the table about a half inch, holding on for dear life to the razor’s edge. But when Marjorie found the first point (she said it was the “Gate of Hope”) boom, I fell to the table all at once, became grounded and calm, like someone had handed me a teddy bear and a blankie. It was life saving. She said my “adrenals” were shot. Whatever that was. I put myself in her good hands and it’s been a huge help. At first it seemed to wear off after a couple of days, but each week I got stronger, the wearing off took longer, and now it doesn’t happen at all! I have a 2 pm appt. with her today!👏 Because I am committed. I have places to go and people to see. But more than anything, my Google research reminded me . . .

I started meditating faithfully once again, every day, about two months ago. When I first started, I pictured myself sitting on top of the earth with the stars, a lovely, quiet place to be. Something else that’s cumulative, one day of meditation is definitely not enough. It’s made a world of difference to consciously stop time for a little while and count my blessings. And find, once again, that within each of us is everything we need, bravery, wisdom, clarity, gratitude, peace, healing, God. I made up my own mantra: I say an affirmation such as, I am happy, or I choose health, and at the end of each affirmation, I add “Because every cell of my body is bathed in the creative light and love of God.” It’s heaven in there. My mom and dad visit.💞 And it’s making me well . . .

If you’ve never tried meditation, or if it has seemed too hard (another word for meditation is prayer🙏), you might enjoy reading about the different kinds of meditation. My favorite is “guided” meditation . . . it keeps your mind from wandering in the most wonderful way. You can find so many guided meditations on Youtube . . . try this one, or this one. Or choose one for your own circumstances. I don’t know if I would have ever written my first book if I hadn’t found meditation. It’s so powerful. You have to do it every day, every other day is no good! Care for self comes first so we can care for others.💞

Being faithful to meditation reminded me of when I first moved to the island, feeling that loneliness and terrible loss of self . . . many of you remember me writing about discovering it in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams

It was like that, burrowing in, rebuilding, getting strong again . . . 

 Relying on others to help.

And you know I have the perfect others!

He needed me. Sort of. Not really.😹 But I can wield a mean can-opener. It’s good to be needed.♥️

And this good man. My guardian angel. He needs me too.♥️ Every day I got better.

So then I discovered these little magic things . . . AirPods, wireless earbuds. You just put them NEAR your iPhone, push NO buttons, and they hook themselves up to your phone.😲 Then you sign up for Audible, audio books you keep on your phone, and voila! A new world opens!

You put one earbud in your own ear, and the other one in Joe’s.

And off you go, into the woods, with the blue sky coming through the bare branches, the clean cold air filling your lungs with Spring, and the luv-lee sound of an English Storybook in your ears as you walk through the woods to the sea and crashing waves, the salt smell, the seagulls call.💞 Joy of life.

I’d read the book before, but Joe hadn’t ~ he loved it as much as me. Much more fun with him! Sometimes we walk all the way to the water with the book playing, then take out the earbuds, and walk back doing “book club.” 

It’s even a better book that it was a movie, and it’s a WONDERFUL movie. In case you haven’t seen it. Set in 1930s England, published first in the 1940s … Delightfully written with every word a pearl, I Capture the Castle.   We finished it yesterday and today we start a new book, The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson ~ everything personal and public about Winston Churchill during WWII. Another English accent to listen to while we walk! ♥️ 

Other “words as pearls” arrived this winter, beautiful letters, kind emails, and concerned comments on this blog from Girlfriends, who somehow knew, even though they didn’t really, and worried about me, and sent love.💞 Inside the watercolored rose Ann B. painted, she wrote, “Now abideth faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” One girlfriend (Ellen I.) wrote, “The journey of life has ups and downs, not always easy to see the silver linings, the positives…the blessings… there’s always something to be thankful for.” Made me cry. See how connected we are?

I read that what we eat has a lot to do with overall health, even mental health, so I ate better . . . Mmmmm, split pea soup and beets. 

And after I meditated, and after our walk, and after I got home from acupuncture, it cheered me up to make ice cream sandwiches like flowers to take to friends.

And I made some for us . . . (This easy delicious recipe is in the 30-year anniversary edition of Heart of the Home ~ this time I made them with ginger cookies, pickled ginger, coconut ice cream and ground black pepper ~ yum!)

I put flowers in my tiny vases, one of my tried-and-true cures for whatever ails you.

I felt better every day, and finally cleaned the kitchen . . . the red holiday rugs were getting on my nerves, I needed to lighten up, so I changed them out for summer blues and brought down my bluebird lampshade. We opened the door and let in a little fresh air . . .

I washed everything in the open dish cupboards, made it all shine . . . stood there and stared at it, proud.Pride doesn’t have to be big, even little pride can help . . .

And noticed with joy that the sun was getting stronger and our days were growing longer…👏

We watched a wonderful movie called Two Popes . . . A must see! THIS is what I call HOPE! You don’t have to be Catholic, or even religious to love it! It’s a people movie.♥️
I finally finished the 2022 calendars! I worried I would NEVER get them done, but I did! God and nature and the whole world and the stars too. . . 

I sewed a little heart on this guy to give him as a get-well gift . . . couldn’t tie off the thread, had to leave a long one hanging inside of him . . .

This happened in the garden . . . so I brought some in …

Snow drops, the first flower to bloom here on the Island… they come up even in the snow! If that’s not a vision of hope I don’t know what is.

Then this happened in the woods . . .

And this happened in the kitchen . . .

And I made an Easter Cake . . . Domesticity always comes to the rescue with me.🌼 And you can’t beat domesticity in the spring. It’s the best! Spring cleaning to a new beginning.

But the most wonderful of all . . .

I got my first Covid-19 vaccine ON my mother’s birthday, and the second one on the first day of Spring, and then, on Easter Sunday, I was fully immune (as immune as we can be).🌺 They gave me this card and I felt like it was an “I voted” sticker! Talk about proud! Wanted to wear it on my coat! Most of our friends were in the same boat at the same time. We have experienced our first hugs now.💞 I CRIED when I got my first shot. I didn’t expect to cry but I was suddenly filled with gratitude for our amazing medical people and scientists who worked so hard to save us from another year of this misery. The joy at our hospital where they gave the shots was palpable. Everyone felt it. We’ve lost so much, but my heart tells me there’s been a shift. I even heard people talking on TV about money not being everything this morning ~ that made me very happy. Maybe, just maybe, we have learned something. Maybe we are coming out stronger, better, more loving.🙏

We celebrated on the first nice day with a picnic with the swans . . . and then we went home and took a nap. And each day I felt better and stronger and more “myself” than the day before . . . 

We planned our first Dahlia garden. Joe has always wanted one.

Soon it will be time to plant. It’s going inside the picket fence on the right side of the gate (in the center), so we can see the tops of the flowers peeking over the fence from the kitchen window. This year I want to fill that garden with  


Dahlias, forget me nots, roses, foxgloves, Shasta daisies, white cosmos, hollyhocks, and pink petunias. You’ll see. I’ll take pictures! Don’t we all feel this way? A new start! Sweet Peas, my favorite flowers, don’t grow well here on the island . . . but if they do where you are, be sure to look for the variety “Cupani” … I hear they are more resistant to heat, and have the very best fragrance . . . and with a sweet pea, that is saying something!

Isn’t this gorgeous? We ordered our dahlias on line from Swan Island Dahlias at www.dahlias.com . . .

We chose big ones and little ones, but mostly ones that make good cut flowers . . . we got fifteen varieties . . . 

Hard to narrow choices since there are over 50,000 different varieties! Some people make a life’s work of them, finding all the rare ones … I watched a wonderful Easter Special about a Dahlia Garden in England belonging to a couple who’ve been growing them for twenty years . . .💞

I managed to make us some new cards . . . the always-needed festive Birthday Card ~ and Friendship for saying goodbye to a PANDEMIC . . . 

And these rainbow stickers! You’ll find them and the cards, along with some new sewing kits here.

And a new garden banner from our luv-lee creative girlfriend Janie! Look at that envelope, isn’t it darling? She is so good, we never know what new idea she will have!♥️

We got in a few more of my dishes including these sweet little ring plates.🌺

And two pages of bookmarks, decorated on both sides, you can cut out and give to your friends . . .💞And this is why I feel so much better . . . the grand essentials of happiness . . . Check ✔️! And yes I’m about to start designing us some new cups! I’m ready! But I saved the best for last . . .

Loving our Country Life Magazine . . . giving us hope for the future! It’s time to start dreaming! So let’s have more MUSICA, one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite songs . . . all about dreaming . . .

So, if all goes well . . . Joe and I will go WEST to California via AMTRAK, in our room with a view, this fall to see everyone … Oh the hugs. I can’t wait. Big dream. I hope this world cooperates and doesn’t mess with us!

And then, oh yes . . . We made reservations to sail to England on the Queen Mary 2 next year, on May 1, 2022, God willing and the variants don’t rise! And wouldn’t it be fun if this time you come along with us for real? Think about it! You wouldn’t have to be crushed into suitcases and smuggled aboard and dance in the dark this time! Because yesterday I called Cunard to see what I could do to make that happen.♥️ I spoke to Susan Gannon and she said if you’d like to sail with us next year, you can call her at 800-468-7752 ext. 41663 and she will personally help make your reservations. You will have to mention that you’re part of the Susan Branch Girlfriends group, give them this group number: TNM, and voyage #M211 so they can keep track of us as a group . . . If there’s enough of us they’ll have special group pricing and other surprises. They had to cancel their entire spring and summer itinerary this year, which means that many of the people that didn’t get to go this year, will be going next year. So think fast! You would have to make a deposit, but you can cancel with complete refund if you do it by December 31, 2021, this year. It would give you extra time to decide for sure. Susan can answer any questions you have and you can call her anytime. This isn’t a tour like the kind you read about, where you have a “tour guide.” It’s more like one of our picnics, only on the ship!🚢 2022 Should be an especially WONDERFUL year in England 🇬🇧 ~ probably dancing in the street due to freedom from pandemic🤞, but that’s not all . . . bunting will criss-cross every city and village as the whole nation celebrates the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth! It’s the first time ANY British monarch will have celebrated 70 years on the throne! She will decree an additional “bank holiday” … an extra four-day weekend for everyone! (How’s that for power to make joy?🎉) I’m sure there will be fireworks, probably in June! We were there for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and I can tell you, Brits know how to celebrate their Queen! Every kind of ship and boat came from all over the Commonwealth to London to honor her in a Parade on the Thames! Even rowboats and the “Dunkirk Little Ships” were there. It was beautiful.⛵️

 I stopped writing here, and when I did, I heard the sad news that Prince Philip had died at age 99.😢 The Queen’s rock. Macho man who took on the job of guardian angel.💖 A reminder that we’re losing the Greatest Generation. The Prince is a huge piece of the past, our history too, the history of the world. The Queen has “carried on” through thick and thin, through wars and Prime Ministers, natural disasters, and even worse disasters, the man-made kind ~ through every sort of challenge, always with Prince Philip at her side, but this one will be her most difficult of all, she must go it alone. I hope the UK spends all of 2022 celebrating their love.♥️ I hope they play this MUSICA . . .  it was their song when they were young. Wasn’t she lucky to have the person she loved at her side for so very long for what I think might be the worst possible job in the world!?! Sending my deepest condolences to all my UK Girlfriends …

So out we go, it’s a good time for our walk with Winnie (just found out he took two baths a day no matter WHAT was happening! Even during his darkest hours. The ultimate in self-care. Love this man.) I hope you are having a WONDERFUL DAY and taking very good care of yourself💗… now, I will go add MUSICA to this blog, and voila, fini! Finally! Happy spring dearests!🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 Talk soon!

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  1. Linda Hartman says:

    Your positivity prevailed over the frighteningly dreadful dark place. Thank goodness. Thank you for sharing, Susan . . . certainly you have helped others make their own comebacks. I’ve missed you. So very good to have you back.

  2. Becky Maggio says:

    My heart aches for you dear Susan 😢 for I know too well what you’re going through, in the very worst way! Without details, it happens to anyone even when we least expect it. I’m just so happy you’re headed in the right direction but there may still be days of unexpected ups and downs for a while. It’s natural. This has been the hardest struggle of my life and if I’ve come this far I KNOW you will be ok, too. When my husband and I met you and Joe in Asheville several years ago at a book signing, my amazing husband drive me there from South Louisiana just for that! He knew how much it meant to me. It lifted my spirits in the midst of a very sad time. It was just day by day for me. I still have those days but together we’ve learned how to cope. After reading about the cruise to England that REALLY lifted my spirits!!!! 🤗😜 May 6,2022 will be our 50th anniversary 🥰❣️💝 That would be the perfect trip for us to take. I plan on calling Susan with Cunard on Monday for more info. This is so surreal 😬😊 So much to think about. Where to stay, what to see??? Now that’s making me nervous already 🤦🏻‍♀️ Can anyone help me??!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m setting up a page on my Facebook for us to share travel ideas, tips, suggestions!!! You should come!

      • Arline in So. CA says:

        Yippee, I’m booked! It’s so wonderful and necessary these days to have something to look forward to. Do you have a link to the Facebook page?

        • sbranch says:

          Yay! You’re coming Arline! No Facebook yet . . . Kellee will put it up when she gets in tomorrow … I’ll put it in the next blogpost . . . xoxo

  3. Marigold says:

    As someone who inherited a melancholy gene from my Irish father, I understand a bit how the stress and sorrows of the world can tug and pull and wreak havoc on one’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. I am grateful for your courage, Susan, in sharing your struggle, and I am sure you have touched many lives with your story. I am also grateful for all the ways you discovered and implemented to set yourself back on the path to wellness. Sending you gentle and encouraging hugs.

  4. Laura says:


    Sending you so much love and the biggest of HUGS!!!!

    Laura in Illinois

  5. Debbie Boerger says:

    I thought the funeral of Prince Phillip was Just Right. Just the 4 singers, just a few trumpets and bugles, just the close family and retainers. So many personal touches. Big tear drops plopping into my lap to remind me of how much I love my dearest husband, and how so many of you have suffered through your losses during this awful time of Covid. Even a queen is not spared. So I will treasure what time we have left, and I will squeeze him tight today when I pick him up at Bangor Air Port after 3 weeks of being in Florida.
    As we are often reminded by Susan, Courage Dear Hearts. Courage and the Knowing when to ask for Help.
    So much love and thanks for all of the sharing. We women know how to do that, don’t we.
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      Was so beautiful, and sad, and the Queen😓… I felt so lonely for her! Yes, we are compassionate sharers, there is no question about it. xoxoxo

  6. Kedra Sugg says:

    Dear friend,
    As always thank you – for your gift of sharing. Yet again, however, your special print types simply do not translate to my computer – a good ol e-machine, which has no problem with any other communications. As an example, I could decipher, “I Capture the Castle”, perhaps because I’m familiar with that title, but absolutely cannot decipher the following title which I would love to read or watch. Am I the only one with this problem?
    Please help, if you can.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure what goes wrong, but I know I used italics for those book names … the other one is The Splendid and the Vile, it’s WONDERFUL, about Churchill. What kind of type are you seeing here in the comments? Is it better? Sorry!

  7. Sue says:

    Dear Sweet Susan,
    Your beautiful post always gives me a smile….your words touched my heart so much. I lost my beautiful mom on February 23 and my heart has been broken ever since. My husband has dementia…I am a ship without a rudder. Watching the Queen yesterday broke my heart…loss is just that way. Thank you for giving me a spoonful of joy…whether it be in your post, your cookbooks, recipes or just you….blessings and love to you…and thank you…with a grateful heart.

    • sbranch says:

      Deep breath Sue, and give yourself words of L O V E … So hard what you’ve been going through, all this and pandemic too.😭 ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  8. Linda F says:

    So nice to find your blog when I returned from a trip to Iowa. Glad that you are feeling better again and thanks for bringing a smile and uplifting my day!

  9. Nicoline says:

    Hi again Susan,
    Have you heard……Gabri just called from the car, on his way home, to tell me he has just heard……THERE WILL BE ANOTHER DOWNTON ABBEY MOVIE!!!!


    Happy days!!

  10. Anne C Lovell says:

    Dear Susan, I knew there had to be a reason I hadn’t read your post as I usually do, as soon as I get it. I really needed this today. I woke up yesterday and felt all wrong, everything was off. Nothing I tried could make me feel, well, happy. Now I can confirm why. Depression. It just seems like there is so much bad/sad news bombarding us everywhere we turn. I started crying halfway through and reading all of the wonderful replies, oh my. So I’ll cry this out and make some plans to ‘Be Happy’ I think I’ll look for some dahlia bulbs to plant. Thank you so much and I’m glad you are getting stronger. Now for me to follow in your footsteps. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you back Anne! I hope you’re feeling better . . . it takes a little time, don’t worry . . . we’re going in the right direction!

  11. Diane Marie Harris says:

    So Susan, I thought it was just me, but no, I believe the entire world has struggled through this long winter. The isolation was most debilitating, physically, mentally and emotionally for all of us. Thank God for spring flowers and longer days. I remind myself when I get so miserable that “this is not Heaven”. Imagine how richly we’ll be rewarded once we get there if we just keep the faith!
    Hugging you from Butler, PA
    Diane Marie

    • sbranch says:

      Spring sunshine came in the NICK of time!!! Just waiting there, tied up in ribbons and bows for the perfect time!🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷

  12. Susan, so glad to find your wonderful email and know that you are still thinking more about us and getting yourself better at the same time. I am 92 years and said to myself I should be able to shake my feeling of sadness and dread. But it’s been hard, Ijust had a feeling yo were not doing too well.I even checked to see if there were a blog I might have missed. Have gotten both my shots and am able to see family and friends again. It helps but Istill have some work to do inside my brain!! Thank you for your loving inspirations and take good care of yourself. You are a treasure😍😍Love from Charlene

    • sbranch says:

      That brain can take us down the garden path, or off to war . . . little stinker. But the wonderful thing, it can be trained, just don’t give up, and when it starts being bad, just say NO! Out loud ~ sometimes it works!

  13. JudyBogié says:

    Dear Susan Branch~~~I am heartened you have been able to pull up your big girl panties and continue on. Your sharing of taking control of your difficult times is very helpful and I sincerely appreciate you enlightening us to your methods. May the Peace of God which transcends all understanding guard your heart and mind, Susan Branch. Peace be with us.

  14. Paula LaMont says:

    Dearest dearest Susan I don’t know if you I’ll ever know that you have the impact you have for not just me but all of the above people, even when u are not yourself you are so genuinely yourself that you lift us up like a 🎈. I have never felt so close to a writer or artist we we are quite simply one. I will tell you you have always been an empath, I am one also you can see about it on my website. I can give you a few more things to do if you write me to keep those feelings at bay. Another great affirmation is I RUN MY OWN TRUE SELF ENERGY. Hold you palms outward feet on the ground, sitting or standing.while saying and you will feel your energy, which your acupuncture is unlocking. That was a perfect prescription for you and so glad you got a good person. Your true self energy is the energy running from your soul and many life times. I feel losing your mother as losing a HUG-E enerGy strand for you and you are helping yourself so much with all your doing. Love love love you to pieces, thank you sweetie for you.

    • sbranch says:

      Love every word Paula… I know you’re right, especially about my mom. I’m so immersed in the joy of meditation, it’s been just WONDERFUL… and yes, Acupuncture has been a rock for me! Thank you for the kind words! xoxo

  15. Debbie Boerger says:

    Heaving a Huge sigh of total contentment:) The Lovely Tom brought back my favorite Musica from Tampa. I had it all packed, but all was chaos due to the remodeling mess, split second decision to Get the Halibut out of there in March, 2020, I left the bag. Cases were going through the roof, and absolutely nobody paying a bit of attention….
    Anyway, I am playing all of my Chris Botti CD’s and thought of You, Dear Lady. Andrea Bocelli singing…la Musica…to Botti’s etherial trumpet. I have seen him live 3 times. An amazing show with some of the best jazz musicians in the world. He’s so smooth and soothing. Mr. T also brought my Diana Krall’s and Ella as well. I know we should learn to use Spotifi (?), but there are other things I want to learn more!! Working on French!
    Sun is shining, until we have another needed Spring storm…with some snow and hopefully, lots of rain. Hope for all the Girlfriends good gardening….baking…seeing grandkids, friends. Especially for the ones who lost family over the last year.
    We’re taking the day “off”, so back to my Susan Branch jigsaw. The librarian neighbor who introduced me to you, will be gifted it when it’s done. She now works for Maine Readers and Writers, a non-profit based in Bar Harbor, that was going strong before the dampanic. They book the writers into schools. Still doing it, but for the present, it’s remote.
    Mucho Love and Thanks,
    Debbie in Maine

  16. Susan Grover says:

    Sorry you were suffering
    I think we were all, to some extent.
    Glad you work Ed your way out and aren’t you glad mental health isn’t a no no subject any more??

  17. Karen Friedrich says:

    I just want to thank you for this post. It made my heart light.

  18. Teresa says:

    Dearest Susan,

    I kept stopping by hoping to see a glimmer of light & then this morning, when I so needed the smile of a friendly face, kind words, & a wee bit of hope: there you were. It has been a rocky road & like you I have fallen into that soggy place of worry, frustration, & doubt. Thank you for the tips & your wonderful advice regarding meditation. I truly feel inspired by your gentle words, soft smiles & belief that the world is full of wonder, grace & love.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  19. Debbie Boerger says:

    Happy Birthday, Lilibet. Surely hope she can have family around her today. In 1977, I was in London for a full dress rehearsal for the June Trooping the Color to celebrate the “official” birthday. We just stumbled upon the beginning of it, walking toward the Horse Guards grounds. So we got a front row place. Had lots of nice chats with Londoners and several Bobbies who always wanted to talk to Yanks…I was fascinated by the shoes the soldiers wore. They are designed with a curved sole, sort of like a shallow smile. One Bobbie told me that that was to make them seem to be gliding along. And….one of the troops in a huge bear skin hat, fainted, staying ramrod straight, right on his face. That was a Jubilee year, so my high school alumna bulletin said that I’d gone to Help the Queen Celebrate.

    I am so terribly lucky in life, to have been able to fulfill most of my dreams. I saved for 2 years for that trip. My then husband and I cooked many lunches over a sterno stove in various Lay-bys. Also, had many, many Cornish pasties, and suppers of gammon steak (ham), chips and green peas. We did the entire trip for a few bucks over $3,000. Including airfare. Bob was..and still is…a meticulous accounting person. We had every single receipt for every single pence we spent.
    Do hope you get to explore Cornwall in 2022. It’s magical. Back then, there were no Motorways there, nor had the mega-rich put up there second get-away homes everywhere. Very few “Dual Carriage Ways” either. We drove on small lanes so ancient that they were many feet beneath the ground level..and with the hedge rows on top, no way your could see what was coming. Bob got very good at backing up.
    Sorry, I guess I just can’t be helped! Blog Hog, I am.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Beautiful Maine

  20. Dori Molletti says:

    Hi Susan! 🙋‍♀️ I’m glad you are feeling better. It’s so kind of you to share your troubles and your self-care solutions with us. We are all in the dampanic together, but we all feel so alone, and if we hear that others feel the way we do, well, then we DON’T feel so alone ☺️. The loss of loved ones is so hard, and I loved reading about your mother in your books and on your blog. She sounds like she was an absolute doll, so kind and supportive and fun. When we’re depressed, it’s normal to feel like we shouldn’t share our hard times with others because we don’t want to bring them down, but we really should share. The people who love us or like us (or even have just met us) want to know and help us if they can. It’s so hard to remember that when we’re depressed. So thank you for sharing. Your blogs and books are helping me get through the dampanic.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s exactly what I thought . . . that if I was experiencing these things, that probably others were too … we continue to support each other . . . a wonderful connection we have! In it together!

  21. Elizabeth Browning says:

    What an inspiring blog post! Like many others, including yourself, the weight of worry and stress has been a struggle for me these last several months, but what beautiful words and art and photos you’ve provided to remind us to be hopeful and to take care of ourselves. Walks outside and sowing seeds in the greenhouse and lots of cups of tea have been my saving grace this spring. Excited to see how your dahlia bed comes along! Happy planting!

    • sbranch says:

      We’ve got the soil all dug deep and ready! Painting the picket fence right now! I can’t wait!

  22. Dear beautiful Susan! So wonderful to see a post here again. And feel the turn of hope and even joy as each paragraph went by. I needed that today. I’m finally feeling the hope and happy of new beginnings and Springy start overs. May our world continue to heal, change, and focus on all that is truly important in this life. Blessings to you and Joe. 🙏

  23. Nancy K says:

    Hi Susan, there was an article in The NY Times on the 19th, titled “There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: it’s called languishing.” As soon as I read it, this blog post came to mind. And both hit close to home!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, so interesting! I saw an interview with the writer of that article. He said it’s possible that with all of this languishing and having time to really look at our lives, many of us might not WANT to go back to the way it was . . . interesting thought!

  24. valerie says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I’m glad you are doing better. One of the worst feelings when going thru a dark time is not knowing how long it will last. I went thru a bad spell and it lasted six months. Which is short compared to hearing stories of those who have gone thru years, but I couldn’t see an end at the time. You probably had signs before you even realized what was taking place. Lessons can be learned during these times, mainly – always take care of yourself.
    Much love to you,
    p.s. I read some of the wonderful comments, way too many to read all, but thought of your dear father, who did.
    p.p.s. I checked out the book, I capture the castle, at the library. Finished it in a few days. Oh how I wanted it to continue, ~ but it does in my mind. Lol

    • sbranch says:

      Now that I look back, I had plenty of signs! Yes, my dad . . . he read and loved them all. He would call me and talk about all of you! He would love to see our wonderful connection has even grown more!

  25. Dianne says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you ,once again, for sharing your road to recovery. I have wanted to try meditating for some time now, and the links you provided are quite helpful. As we look toward brighter days ahead, I am also looking toward the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I have to pinch myself at times to believe it, but I have made a booking for the May 1st sailing of the Queen Mary 2. I am so excited!! I will probably be traveling alone, so I look forward to meeting the girlfriends on board. I wondered if there might be a way that we could connect with each other beforehand. Any ideas? I hope to stay in England until sometime in June, so that I will be there during the Jubilee. I also want to visit some gardens, including Sissinghurst. Would love to meet someone to share part of the adventure with. Please continue to take care of yourself. We all love you

    • sbranch says:

      Watch Facebook, we’re going to try to put up a special page for us sailors!💞 How wonderful you’re coming, Dianne!

      • Dianne says:

        Thank you so much. That would be wonderful. I’m trying to figure out just how Facebook works. Now I have another to give it my best!!

  26. Arline in So CA says:

    So enjoyed reading this. Finally getting excited that “normal” life might still be out there. I haven’t read the 943 comments (so far) but does anyone who is Facebook savvy plan to set up a Susan Branch trip page on Facebook? It would be a great way to find others planning on going from our area and perhaps make post cruise plans together. Visiting Blenheim Palace, Highclere, theatre (please be back open 🙏🏻) etc. Dreaming of going along.

    • sbranch says:

      I kind of thought the same thing! Who, me? The one with the happy gene? But yes, me, and the good part is the coming up after the going down.👏 I sent info to Kellee about putting up a Facebook page… hopefully she’ll be able to do that on Monday. Great idea to put everyone together!

  27. Audrey Anderson says:

    Dear Susan,
    For you to have been pulled off centre is a reflection of how dark and heavy our world is right now, and no reflection on you. Your heart is always open, focused on what is beautiful, uplifting, joyous and kind, and so you will feel things more deeply, be affected more profoundly by others’ suffering. You must take very good care of yourself, rest often, read only uplifting books, work less, treat yourself to whatever might help fill you up and keep you balanced. Because we need you, we need your voice reminding us that the world IS beautiful, and joy can be found in the simplest moments. Thank you for your ope heart. Take care.

  28. Debbie Boerger says:

    Happy, Happy, Happy for you and the Isle of Dreams Friends! Can’t wait for our neighbors to be fully vaccinated, so we can get together inside. Beautiful table, lovely food and Laughter. Tom went next door last night to discuss our shared property, sitting out by their fire pit. I have a summer cold, so stayed home. Bev sent me a big piece of her fab cheese cake. They have one more dose and wait time. Then I’ll have a cookout for all who are fully vaccinated. I just So look forward to it!
    Thank you for the reminder about weed killer. The first dandelions are blooming. Years ago we decided never to use harmful chemicals on our property, as have our next door neighbors who are on the end of the road. Others do use weed killer and fertilizer, sadly. Even though it’s strictly Verboten here on our estuary. The only fertilizer we use is composted manure (Tom used to go the the farm and fill up the back of our Outback!! I use ash from the fireplace, make compost from the property and the kitchen waste….great easy turn drum that you don’t need to hurt your back to crank. Here’s a good thing I learned years ago for spot treating unwanted growth between cracks or in your pebble walkway. Boil regular old house hold white vinegar to reduce by 50% It only takes a little to kill “weed”, roots and all. I don’t worry about something like Round Up eventually going into the bay.
    The first year we were here in Maine, I rented a honey bee hive from a friend who had blueberries and lots of hives. Just fascinating. While I’d trample anyone’s Grandmother if a wasp was buzzing, I love bees. Go figure?
    I just bought a book, A Honey Bee Heart Has Five Openings.

    Sending Mucho Love, so happy for you guys!
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      You’ll be surprised how wonderful it feels to be close again and see the smiles and animation. We couldn’t stop laughing! Us too, we make compost from our eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable peels. Thank you for that smart little recipe! We do need to take care of our bees in this crazy mixed up world, take care of everything! Mucho love right back to you!

  29. Tressa Frazier says:

    Absolutely love reading about your childhood, it reminds me of how lucky we were.

    • sbranch says:

      Crazy lucky. When I think …. Course I just watched Pal Joey with a 2021 eye … OMG! There was work to be done!

  30. Marilyn says:

    So happy you are feeling better. It has been a rough past year and we are all taking gulps of air and trying to resuscitate. I live close enough to Swan Island Dahlia Farm to visit each year. It is so beautiful. I just want to buy them all.

    • sbranch says:

      I can’t wait to see what happens in our garden . . . we are putting a new coat of white stain on the picket fence while waiting for our tubers to arrive!

  31. Debbie Boerger says:

    Don’t know how I missed your comment, FayE, but I just now saw it. That is so similar to what happened to me…thus to my Tom because of my wounded, defeated, very angry spirit. It took work with a professional therapist to pull me out of my Hole.
    Hope you are feeling a bit more hopeful. We can’t change the die hard Nay sayers, but if the Yea sayers numbers keep on growing (political, that is) all will be lifted. Including You, FayE. Having said that, I still only watch local news and one 30 minutes of Lester Holt, who ends with an uplifting story. It definately helps keep the mind on positive things.
    I’m meeting a friend today at an outside cafe in Ellsworth, Maine, where it will be nearly 70!!! Now that’s a Big Deal. Plus, our neighbors will be fully vaccinated by the end of May, and we’re having a Party!!
    Follow Susan’s advice, FayE, find one beautiful thing several times a day.
    Sending Much Love and Hope,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      Lester Holt has the highest ratings of all the news people — and that is probably why. A little good news goes a long way!💝

  32. Nicoline says:

    Hi Susan, It’s me again….I wrote last week, but I think this comment vanished in thin air, so I’m writing again, just a short comment, to let you know…..At the end of the year there will be another DOWNTON ABBEY MOVIE!!!!


    Lots of love, Nicoline
    ( who is keeping fingers crossed you will organize a picnic when you are in the UK…..In Cornwall perhaps??….)

    • sbranch says:

      Oh BOY! Downty! How fun, back we go again! I’m thinking “picnic” …. love this year of planning! Will pass so quickly! Can’t wait to see you and Gabri again! ❌⭕️

    • Dianne says:

      Hi Nicoline, My previous reply to you also seems to have vanished. I have just started gathering ideas for my trip to England, and I would love any suggestions that you might have. I did a walking vacation in North Cornwall in the Fall of 2019. It is absolutely beautiful there! I hope to return at some point in order to explore the southern portion. I’m not sure that it will be on this trip. Wouldn’t another picnic be wonderful? I’m keeping my fingers crossed. A second Downton Abbey movie- how wonderful! I can’t wait. Right now I’m getting my “British fix” by watching The Crown. So enjoyable. Take care

      • Nicoline says:

        Hello Diane,
        Lovely to hear from you! You are gathering ideas for a UK trip, how exciting! When are you hoping to go? Well suggestions and idea’s…?? Our favorite area is Cornwall. We had been to a cute little fishing village (LOOE) for years and years, loved it! It’s on the south coast. Nowadays we go even further west, to St Ives, where you will probably have seen that the seawater is turquoise blue, oh just stunning….
        Have you been to the Cotswolds? Kent, the Garden of England?? The Lake District? Yorkshire? The gorgeous city of York? Canterbury?
        If you are interested in visiting country homes/stately homes, I would suggest you join the National trust, at the 1st opportunity you get/the start of the trip/ You’ll get a temporary card, and a thick book with a description of their properties and areas of land, and then you can visit the most gorgeous places, houses, castles, ruins……
        If you like shopping at yard sales, look out for signs at the road-side that say CAR BOOT sale…..That’s a yard sale, great bargains to be had, and it’s fun to haggle for a better price!
        Also, in almost every town, city and village, look out for “Charity shops”…..These are second hand shops, (thrift stores) and run by volunteers, and the money they make goes to the charity they represent. Great bargains to be had again!
        I hope this helps, and it doesn’t vanish haha! Have fun planning!

        • sbranch says:

          Such good advice Nicoline! All the secrets! Thank you!

          • Nicoline says:

            You’re very welcome! Just don’t forget to bring extra cases or bags…..You could easily end up with way too many cute pieces of china, or old books….It’s a good thing the back seat of our
            car is empty, because the boys don’t come along anymore, haha!
            What are you’re plans Susan? Are you staying in the UK, or are you thinking of going up to Scotland again? And how long will you be in the UK?

          • sbranch says:

            Well, we haven’t gotten to the where we’re going part of the trip yet!!! And at this time, we’re scheduled for about a month and a half, but that could change too! My very biggest problem is Jack. He is so madly in love with me now (at least that’s what it looks like to me!!!) … and vice versa… I want to bring him. But I know he would hate it! Going away for that long feels awful because of him … but I keep putting it out of my mind, we have a YEAR …

        • Dianne F Metsger says:

          Hello Nicoline,
          Thank you so much for all the wonderful info you shared. I am still in the early planning stage of my trip but I do plan to include Cornwall (probably using Mousehole as a base) and York. I also plan to join The Royal Oak Society (U.S. branch of The National Trust). I wish I were brave enough to try driving on the “wrong” side of the road, as I love to stop at the CAR BOOT sales. I may have to limit myself to thrift shops. The Lake District, Kent, and the Cotswolds are also on my list. I recently read A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier, so I must visit Winchester Cathedral. Since I’ll be traveling mostly by train, I’m , first and foremost, trying to figure out how to limit myself to one suitcase. Oh well, I have a year in which to try to find a traveling companion (brave enough to drive) with whom to share all or part of the adventure with

  33. Suzette Shoulders says:

    By some amazing coincidence, I logged on April 9th to see if you had left us a blogpost yet, and there it was, and I read it through and left a comment, but again it didn’t ‘register”. I sometimes think that computers hate me. And to think how MANY things I have had to learn to do via computer during this dam-panic, whew! However, I am going to again try to leave a comment. I have been puzzled for years that I don’t get emails with the new blogposts, and have to intuit that it is about time for a new one…. but never mind that. I am just SO glad you are feeling better, and I was very worried about you when you didn’t post for so very long, as all of us girlfriends were feeling anxious for you. I imagined the worst, since I , too, have the worry gene. Just so grateful that you and Joe and Jack are okay, and that you have climbed over the hard patch in life’s road. May we all be seeing blue skies and singing along with Vera Lynn in our many springs in various states and countries! I wept for Queen Elizabeth. Hugs from Oregon, Suzette

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry to make you imagine the worst. I’m like that too, what I don’t know DOES hurt! But I’m so MUCH better, and love hearing for you, and see our kindred spirit-ness is still totally intact!💞 Hugs back to you Suzette! Please email [email protected]/~susanbs3/susanbranch/ and see if she can help you get emails for the blogposts!

  34. Karen Milano says:

    so good to see you again! many of us have felt that same awful weight of the world lately. Thank you for sharing your experience and recovery. We have rented a house on the Vineyard for end of July into August and I am SO HAPPY to be returning after the year that wasn’t. Vaccinated and hugging the elders again and it all feels like the return to something more normal, more good, more loving.

    • sbranch says:

      Feels wonderful doesn’t it Karen, starting up again. We are SO LUCKY we live in this world of science where these guys have been working on this type of virus for years, and got us vaccinated in only a year instead of FOUR years!!! People do what they have to ~ but look how England (all of Europe) had to live for all those terrible war years, yet they managed to do it. I’m just glad we don’t have to! Looks like the Vineyard is going to have a banner year! Everyone wants to get out and celebrate! A world of gratitude!💞

  35. Heather Hanna says:

    Can’t wait to see you again in England next year. So sad saying goodbye to the Duke of Edinburgh. We all look forward to happier times and valuing the simple pleasures like tea with a friend, visiting the seaside and hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that was so sad. A strong living link to the past was broken. My prayers go to the Queen. I heard she got a new puppy? Makes me very happy to hear that. See you soon!

  36. Sue Aberbach says:

    Susan– I am sorry to hear about your depression, and I hope you are able to access professional therapy that will be helpful to you. I have wondered about your use of the term “dam-panic.” It indicates an attitude of anger about the pandemic. Society has had to adapt to the disease with our best scientific knowledge. Panic indicates an irrational and overly emotional reaction. Neither word is a useful or healthy attitude toward our collective efforts to combat COVID 19. I hope you will reflect on what you are communicating to yourself and others by continuing to use this term. I was concerned when you first wrote the phrase, and I hope you use language more responsibly on your public forum. Best wishes for your recovery.

    • sbranch says:

      Well, I WAS mad at the dam-panic!😅 Among other things … mad at the lack of compassion I was seeing in the world, mad at the people tearing us apart. But I moved my mind to gratitude mode, and found SO MUCH to be thankful for, including you, Sue. With time and practice, it changed everything. Thank you for the kind advice. I’m 100% better, and barely have words for all the loving support I found here amongst my girlfriends!💝💝💝

  37. Amanda Davis says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredibly vulnerable post and your experience with anxiety during this difficult year. When COVID first started, I felt grateful that I was still able to work and life hadn’t changed TOO much for me. I’m a homebody/introvert by nature, so I thought I would be okay for the long haul. Over the months though, the isolation began to creep in and this year, I’ve had levels of anxiety and fear I never even thought possible! It felt like the hits just kept coming with many personal stresses and a tornado that devastated our neighborhood. I kept telling myself “feel grateful that you have a job and you still have a home and your health”, but it became nearly impossible to feel positive. At my wit’s end, I took up meditating after remembering seeing it in your book- love Russell Brand’s Anxiety guided meditation on YouTube and also listened to Andy Stanley’s “Why Worry” sermon on YouTube weekly. Long walks outside, healthy food, podcasts, music, cooking and COMPLETELY tuning out of the news have helped. I realized that intaking all the negative news/social media was affecting me and although it can seem selfish to disconnect, good mental health is not selfish, it’s selfless! Thank you for all the inspiration you have brought to my life over the years. We are all in this together!

    • sbranch says:

      We can handle lots of things if we are strong mentally, but all that constant negativity ~ even watching OTHER people be hurt, can insidioulsy strip us of our comfort zone… I’m so happy you found your way out, and me too, I’m up and breathing the beautiful fresh air again! Isn’t it wonderful that we have everything we need right inside? Feed yourself from the well of sweetness … I wrote it and I know it’s true.💖

  38. “Be still and know that I am God”….it’s hard sometimes but God is the answer to all our worries and sorrows. So happy you are back on an even keel.

  39. Candy Tame says:

    Dear Susan,

    I am so thankful for your recovery from “the dead zone”, as I think of those miserable times. When I lost my mom in 2016, I wanted everything else to go away, too. Now I thank God that our dearly departed ones live on in our memory until we join them in Heaven. I hope you received the 1947 magazine that I sent to you a while back. I found it in the things from my grandparents’ attic right after I had finished reading your books for the second time. I was thinking about you and how I could thank you, and there it was! Reading your books has become a holiday tradition for me because it brings back my cherished childhood memories, as well. Thanks for helping me remember! Enjoy your life!



    • sbranch says:

      Lovely words Candy ~ I’m SO much better!… and I DID get your magazine. Was JUST looking at it the other day! A different world! Thank you for the sweet thought! 🌷🌷🌷

  40. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Omgosh SUSAN! My husband just booked us on the Queen Mary 2! We’ll be seeing you at the Meet and Greet! EEEEEEECK! I can hardly believe we are taking a trip to England/Ireland! I’m kinda in shock. This would probably never have happened if I didn’t know you (you know what I mean…..) so I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, truly! We have lots of homework to do to insure we have a wonderful and blessed time. We’ve never traveled outside of USA. I’m reading A Fine Romance for the 3rd time and have clicked on I Love England for tips. BTW – Happy May Day a few days early!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Cathy, this makes me so happy! You’re going! We have lots of time to PLAN! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

      • Cathy from Golden CO says:

        I also wanted to say that I lost my mother 21 yrs ago. Her bday is 4/14. I miss her everyday and always think of her, carry her in my heart wherever I go and still look to her for advice. It does get easier but the missing never goes away.

        • sbranch says:

          Wouldn’t she just love to see you going on this trip? You said it perfectly, you carry her in your heart wherever you go and still look to her advice. I didn’t realize, until recently, you could do that . . . but now I do. I visit my parents every day during meditation and it’s been wonderful!

  41. ~Del gato gordo y descarado~ says:

    As always, love to all~

  42. Dianne says:

    Dear Susan,
    My previous post (made a week ago) seems to be lost in cyber space, so I’m posting again. I am so glad that you are feeling better with each passing day. This has definitely been a trying year for all of us, but brighter days await. Speaking of which, it seems as if quite a few of your girlfriends are planning trips to England- myself included. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of us could meet ahead of time by mail? Especially those traveling alone. Any ideas? I’ve just started watching The Crown on T.V. (loving every minute of it) and reading a biography of Queen Elizabeth. And of course, I’m rereading A Fine Romance while making plans for my trip. I’m scheduled to get my first vaccine today and my second toward the end of May, so I’ll be “safe” to travel. I also just ordered the Dream banner to keep my dream alive! Take care

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Dianne… I’ve been thinking about how to give everyone a place to talk about the trip … perhaps on Facebook. Lucky we have a whole year to plan! A year from tomorrow! You’re already preparing in the most wonderful way! SO happy you’re getting your vaccine! Wait till you see how HAPPY it makes you, it’s like a ticket to RIDE!!! xoxo

      • Dianne says:

        Isn’t it wonderful! A year from today we will be boarding the Queen Mary 2. A dream come true. May 1 was my Dad’s birthday, so it will be extra special for me. I had a special relationship with my Dad , as you did with yours. He actually named me for a song- not the Paul Anka (?) one. It was an older one that I’m not that familiar with, but maybe you are. It goes something like “I’m in Heaven when I see you smile; smile Diane, smile for me.” My Dad died when he was only 50 years old, but I still see him as a guiding force in my life. So, when I travel, I won’t really be alone. He will be with me, cradled in my heart

  43. Christie says:

    I loved this post until…the COVID vaccine celebration. Many voices, reputable doctors, medical professionals, virologists, pathologists, nurses among them, do not see this experimental gene therapy as the miracle gateway to normality you seem to be touting. It’s impossible to know since there is no research a person can study as we ARE the research. We do know, this vaccine does not prevent transmission. Fully vaccinated people are contracting Covid and still dying. At best it overrides our beautifully designed natural immune systems to suppress the effects of Covid. Vaccines are not one size fits all. Especially experimental vaccines. I know many who have already been injured by these vaccines. Personal medical decisions should be kept personal, period. Loved the rest of the post but was not on board for that. This entire year I have loved and hugged anyone who let me…guess what? None of us got sick. I did not stop living this beautiful life because CDC and the WHO told me to. I hope this comment doesn’t get deleted. It was written respectfully.

    • sbranch says:

      Absolutely wouldn’t delete it! And I know it can be difficult to know which sources of information to trust in this crazy day and age. Before considering vaccine information on the Internet, look at the best information from the Center for Disease Control. Over 200 million people in America alone have received the vaccine. The beautiful part is that they had been studying this virus for years before Covid-19 appeared, so instead of 4 years, a total lost generation, and an irretrievable economy, it’s been only one year. I think that’s what the main celebration is about. I did stop for a while, to keep myself out of our tiny hospital where our doctors and nurses were already busy enough. To make sure I didn’t give it to my loved ones, or die, apart from Joe. But that is almost in the past now. All I hope is that 80% of Americans get vaccinated so the variants that are popping up in India and other places, don’t get a foothold here before we are all vaccinated. Our hospitals almost didn’t make it with the millions who were sick, but it could be worse. We don’t do it for ourselves. We do it for our country. All my friends and family have had them now, they feel GREAT, tears-in-our-eyes happy. Blessings on you and yours.

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Maine has the most per-capita vaccinations in the country. As of last week, there have been only 107, yes one hundred, seven break through cases, all very mild, except for one death, which was an elderly person who was already dying in Hospice. I agree, rely on the CDC, and we all trust our Dr. Shah, who all the papers credit for Maine’s success. He did 3 televised and radio broadcasts every week at the height of the pandemic. Now does 2 a week. Always opens it up to the media to pose questions. If he is unsure, he’ll say, “I don’t know, but I’ll get that information for you”. We had a recent spike. That has been attributed to young people Parting Hearty Maskless. We’re going back down again.
        This is America, and anyone is allowed their opinion….but Not their own set of facts and data. Very Sad.

      • Dianne says:

        As a recently retired nurse, I agree that vaccination is a personal decision. I am, however, old enough to know the difference that vaccines have made where the health of our nation is concerned. We no longer worry about smallpox or polio. Nor do we worry about diptheria. Measles is no longer the threat it once was. When I was young, I had friends whose siblings died from the measles. It was a common childhood illness back then. And yes, you were quarantined when ill with a sign on your front door. Although chickenpox was not usually as problematic, it can be devastating, and often lethal, when contracted as an adult. I worked in a community hospital. Before the Pneumovax vaccine, we had at least one death each year from pneumococcal pneumonia. Since the vaccine, that has not been the case.The Vaccine for Covid is more like that for the flu. The flu vaccine does not keep you from getting the flu. You will just have a milder case if you do get it. Are vaccines without side effects? Of course not. Nothing is. We are all unique individuals and our bodies react differently. Should we compromise our immune system? Of course not. But sometimes our immune system might need a little help.

        • sbranch says:

          So true, and just LOOK at what poor India is going through right now!😭 It’s completely out of hand, they can’t keep up with it. We need to get ahead of these variants here. So far, we’ve been lucky, it can get worse.

        • MargotB says:

          Bravo! I from a long line of nurses salute you. My sister and I studied Medical Technology and my cousin in California is a BSN and we got our shots and made sure our families did too. I have heard the stories in my family of pre WWII illnesses and what they caused in illness or death. Even with all our family’s nurses 😞.
          You couldn’t have told it better Dianne!
          Thank you for your encouragement Susan.
          Love to all,

  44. Jennie Lou says:

    Rabbit, Rabbit! Happy Month of May! To all the anti-vaxxers from the viewpoint of the ‘Boomers’ who lined up for our sugar cubes so we no longer have to put kids in Iron lungs: yes, there will always be a chance you can still get the virus after you have been vaccinated. Yes, there is a chance you can get it even if you wear your mask and wash your hands until they are raw. However, this has been a year where fewer people died of the flu because we were staying home when we were sick and not spreading it around at work and school. Have the courage to be part of history. I hope you survive, whatever you decide. And I hope your children do and your parents and the people next door. Our family has been vaccinated, all but the newborns, and we are all still here. Not one of us has had polio, smallpox, tetanus or diphtheria either. We cast our lot with the doctors and the science and millions around our planet who stuck out their arms. It’s a brave thing to do, and you will feel the thrill and the doubt when you do it, like all brave people do. I hope you will change your mind.

    • sbranch says:

      Beautifully said Jennie! If we hadn’t closed schools and work, and the vast majority of us hadn’t isolated ourselves for this past year, everyone wearing masks and distancing when we ventured to the supermarket, it could have been SO MUCH WORSE. We don’t want to do that anymore if we don’t have to. Even WITH all those safety measures, our hospitals were overwhelmed and our health workers were put through the grinder. But it could have been MUCH worse ~ it worked because MOST of us followed the guidelines. We deserve a huge applause for ourselves, and great gratitude for our scientists and for each of us who held up his end of the American family baragain!🇺🇸💝👏👏👏👏👏

  45. Debbie Boeger says:

    Big News for the Boergers!!! I have begun booking our England trip in mid-September. I’ve got 2 weeks in a fabulous little apartment in Greenwich, with everything we need, and very close to public transport…the train (15 minutes to Central London…and beyond…like Kew Gardens), or the river boats. Just 3 blocks away. Many, many pubs close by, several which are over 400 years old, and just our pint of Whatever. We need to sit down with our maps, books and files and think about what else we’d like to do. Probably stay a month, as is usual for us. Won’t book airline flights until closer to time. They don’t offer a ful refund as do the airbnb apartment I booked.
    EEEEKKKK, I’m just beside myself with anticipation!!! Tom says he has always wanted to spend extended time in and around London. Same here. We can also go on the train to visit friends. Hoping they don’t have another Surge of Covid. But that’s something I can not control. Things are opening up there around mid-May, indoor dining, museums, etc.

    So glad you compost. It feels good, doesn’t it? The egg shells are good to crush and put around any plants subject to slug and snail attack. I start saving them before the hostas come up, as they love chewing holes in the leaves. Another thing…clumps of kitty litter that have been ‘anointed’ by your kitty keeps the deer away as well as the chipmunks and squirrels out of the veggies. My neighbor shared hers with us. 😉 Also, Cayenne Pepper sprinkled around anything you fertilize with bone meal…keeps canines and skunks from digging. You do need to reapply occasionally, unless you feel like pounding holes and pouring the meal and pepper down in the holes…which I used to do in my Salad Days.
    Sending Mucho Love and Thanks, Be well,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy for you guys! September should be PERFECT … everyone vaccinated and ready to meet and greet! Fingers crossed things stay on this upward curve! xoxoxo

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        While I’d love to “show” Tom England in May or June, having seen both, we chose September because schools will be back in session, making venues less crowded. And of course to give the vaccines more time to work their magic. We went in October on our previous 2 trips, and it was beautiful, too. Especially the hillsides of heather in Scotland.
        As any true Anglophile knows, England works its magic in all seasons!!! Did I just go, “EEEEKKK”? Oh yes, I did!!

  46. Anne Miller says:

    You do not skimp on anything, Susan. You are even generous in sharing challenges. You are transparent, real and abundant in your humanity. This is such an important blog. You have us believing there are many opportunities to recharge “Because every cell of my body is bathed in the creative light and love of God.” I love this so much. Also, thank you for reminding me of “I Capture The Castle” I read it when I was a teenager and now plan on revisiting it. I am now reading “Meet Me At The Museum” a tender and elegant, little novel by Anne Youngson. Sending so much gratitude your way. XO

    • sbranch says:

      How kind of you Anne. One thing I found out through the response to my books ~ even the cookbooks ~ is that I’m not alone in my feelings . . . we’re all human, and sharing is a way to soften, or a way to inspire. Love of home and family, books, gardens, pets, and even concern for the safety of our children, we’re all in it together! 💞

  47. gwen says:

    Hello Susan,
    I have a question to ask you. I remember you painted your front door on Martha’s Vineyard a dark dark green that appears black. May I get the name of that color and paint please?
    Ready to paint next month and my house is white! I think that would be beautiful on the door!
    Thank You, and Happy Spring! 🌷💜😘

  48. MargotB says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am glad that you are feeling better! My hairdresser said I was all knotted up in my neck. 🥴 Spring is a busy time, so we need our full measure energy. After all we have cleaning 🧹🧽 and planting 🌱 to do, then ☕️ and back to work! Arnie is even painting the bottom of his sailboat ⛵️ before he gets ready to deploy. Whew!
    I keep forgetting to tell you that he loves his last August birthday present, which he got in January, of a certain sailboat mug 😉!

    Hugs 🤗

  49. Georgette Pidal says:

    I read your last post twice. I know how you have been feeling. I have felt the same, I worry about everything, can’t help it. My children, grandchildren, all I love. The people in India, Brazil and wherever the COVID has been the worse. I’m a widow, (77)and live alone with my little dog. It has been a terrible year, but I’m lucky to have one of my children nearby. But I missed the rest of my family, hugs and getting together and just talk. I have sat for too long, not even watching my favorite shows or reading much, except the (terrible) news. I’ve lost loved ones too. What has kept me going is my faith and living in Florida. We have mostly sunny days, so I can go out to my small patio and feed and watch the birds, the wildlife
    that live and come to the pond that borders my property. I wish you the best, and hope you can start your regular life soon. Keep on writing your blog please, me and I’m sure a lot of others
    look forward to reading it. God bless you.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh thank you Georgette … I truly understand ….just be sure you are taking time to say all the wonderful things that there are to yourself ~ balance the negativity (undeniable) with the BEAUTY, also, undeniable. I’m SO much better, there are hardly words. Blessings on you and yours . . . I hope you get to see more people soon, it makes a huge difference! 💞

  50. Leigh says:

    I loved reading this. Thank you,Susan, for sharing your challenges. It’s been so crazy and difficult for all.
    Thank God the flowers are here!

  51. Patricia Edde says:

    Hi Susan,
    How are things going for you now? I hope better as I hope for all of us. I do my Texas two step, one step forward one step back then 3 forward again. It’s amazing how a “not so good day” can catch you unawares. My biggest problem is a crippling sciatica that loves my behind too much to let it go and I can’t get a shot until June 8th. I get into some of the weirdest positions to try and bring some comfort – I’m lucky there’s no one around with a camera or I might be on the front page of the Inquirer. I am so thankful that President Biden is going to open the patent on the covid vaccines so that more companies can make it and more countries can be helped. We really won’t be truly safe until ALL countries can immunize their populations in large numbers.
    I made my first foray out into the real world 2 weeks ago when I drove to the BIG city of Rochester, Minneapolis. So many shops to visit, such little time. It takes me almost an hour and a half to get there and that’s me driving over the speed limit (sssshhhh, don’t tell anyone). This time I went to my holy triumvirate, Trader Joe’s, Target and Barnes and Noble, After spending 3 hours and mucho dineros there I returned back home to my ever faithful welcoming committee, Liv, Bix and Si. Next time (the Saturday after my Thursday colonoscopy, I want to hit the nursery (plant not baby), Petco (for a combo cat scratcher/condo since the other one is looking pretty lame) and Trader Joe’s again. Oh the many things to look forward to. I bet you are already getting ready for your next trip to England – lucky you. Well I probably have you going cross eyed by now so will say good-bye, adios, au revoir, auf weiderzen and any other farewell that I would probably misspell as I have the aforementioned. I am sending you, not champagne wishes and caviar dreams. but peace, happiness, and joy.
    Much love to you, Joe and Jack
    from Patricia, Liv, Bix and Silas

    • sbranch says:

      Are you Googling “how to stretch your way out of sciatica” (the mother in me wants to know💝). So sorry, I hope you can feel better soon. I love it when America, the richest country in the world, is generous. It’s a “bring us together moment.” Makes us proud. Yes, making all kinds of fun surprises for our shipmates! Thank you for your choices of what to send me! Much more my style…❌⭕️

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