Hello? Are you still there? I’m singing my song: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again!” Despite it all, I’m back, ready to free those pie plates, tell a story about my diaries, and announce our lucky winners!♥️👏♥️
You’ll need a cup of tea while I catch you up! I’ll wait . . . Here we go! I sent out a post last Sunday and about 3 seconds later, everything about my website disappeared. Instead of sweetness and light and all good news, this ⬆️ was the message you received in the mail… “Forbidden” ~ rudest message in the world! I’m so sorry! Then I started hearing from you, then Twitter, then Facebook and Instagram chimed in, and I found out I was NOT alone! I called my IT guy, crying, “HELP!”
I hope this did not hurt your feelings, I would never say Forbidden! We, my darlings, were attacked by some sort of hacking machine. I thought for a moment this meant we made the big time.😂 I asked my IT guy and his response was, and I quote: “In the overall scheme of things your site is insignificant!” 🤣 So, it looks like we were just roped into this with scads of other victims, which makes me feel SO much better than thinking someone intentionally did this to a purveyor of good news and the sweetest kindred spirits ever! Luckily, we have the BEST IT guy who had to practically reconstruct the whole thing, so here we are, intact, healthier than ever, ready to go, and grateful. Thank you for holding in there! Here is the post I TRIED send you last week:
How’re you all getting through summer? Hasn’t the weather been crazy? One day it’s unbearably hot, air warm and thick as sea water, the next day unbearably beautiful ~ and the day after that, it’s freezing! Horrible floods in Europe! Canada rivaling Death Valley for high temps! Crazy! We made it through our yard sale despite the relatively benign early-morning on-and-off rain ~ I thought you might like to see a bit of it . . . while listening to best MUSICA in the world… the soft melodic voice of young Frank! Take a deep breath, relax, and here we go! 💞
We rented a bunch of tables, spread them out, putting them as close as we could to the garden so no one could go around the back of them!
We brought out the old picnic benches to surround the bird bath because our number-one consideration was to protect the flower beds from the pitter-patter of thundering feet!
Looks kind of organized don’t you think? Well it didn’t stay that way! Which helped me to understand why churches call these things jumble sales! Blue skies . . . but changing . . .
We parked the van in a tricky place ~ gave us privacy from the road as we brought the boxes from the well-seasoned barn, a mish-mash of homey things to unpack, sort through, and organize.
I was thinking “department store” while arranging things, a born store-keeper-decorator ~ there was a linen department, a garden department, a kitchen department; there were sections for dishes, baskets, furniture, and applicances ~ like a pop-up store! I had a little store in California at one time and my favorite part was making it look cute! So I was having a good time!
This organizing kind of worked until we began to run out of time and gave up on it, and started just getting things OUT of the boxes ONTO the tables!
Birds, boxes, bowls, and baskets, . . . all good. Throw in some cups, vases and a thermos … variety, the spice of life, here at my favorite and most-spontaneous kind of recycling center! Everything going to new homes, spicing THEIR lives just like these things did for us! (At the top of this blog you will see “Home Sweet Home” … click there for talk of 100% originality about making a wonderfully original home from recycled things!)
We opened at 9 am ~ the line to get in was down the block ~ neighbors, islanders, and tourists, all together ~ my girlfriend Lowely had a yard sale that day too, and also Martha, and a few others in our neighborhood, so it was a lot like Halloween, people going door to door! Fun for all! And unfortunately I forgot to take pictures when the people were there!!! Too busy! And they were the best part! Everyone was in SUCH a good mood, toting cups of coffee, stopping to chat, they even brought their kids and dogs, I had to get a big bowl of dog water! ~ Summer Saturday morning ~ who doesn’t love . . .
It really wasn’t a beach day ~ it stayed overcast so what better thing to do than go to a yard sale!? You can see the line still going on the other side of the hedge ⬆️! They pretty much cleaned us out and I have to say, there is lightness of heart that comes with watching the pie plates run free! Everyone spoke of their incredible gratitude for the vaccine, that we were able to come together to do this! It really was sort of a mini celebration of the normal things in life! And I decided, if I ever really miss something, if I wish I hadn’t let it go, I won’t mind because I can put it on my list and start hunting for it all over again. A win-win! A great yard sale, all cleaned up now and put away for the next time!
So, I have to share with you what we did on our cold rainy days . . . we had about three of them in a row, I had to FORCE myself not to turn on the heater! (Almost feels like a dream now!) I just kept adding clothes, then blankets! And we made it cozy with this delicious tummy-warming lunch:
Maybe today it’s 115º where you live, in that case, this would probably NOT be the right thing (try my icy GAZPACHO!), but this Mexican White Bean and Chicken Stew is SO good, I had to give you the recipe. Joe and I tasted something like this on our travels, I wrote down what we thought was in it, but never tried to make it until now … oh what we’ve been missing! If you can’t make it now, save it for later! Because look!⬇️
It’s actually even better than it looks! Great if you have leftover chicken, but worth it to quickly sauté enough to make this! Gluten free, chock full of vitamins, and relatively low calorie! Easy to make! Pop, pop, pop, it’s done! Serves 6 . .
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 c. chopped yellow onion
- 2 c. chicken stock
- 2 c. jarred salsa verde (we used Stonewall Kitchen)
- 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken (we always use thighs!)
- 2 15-oz. cans of white beans, drained and rinsed well
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, sauté garlic and chopped onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil until onion is soft. Stir in rest of the ingredients, heat through and serve with all, or your choice, of toppings: chopped avocados, squeeze of lime juice, minced cilantro, sour cream, minced green onion, grated cheddar cheese, and/or taco chips.🥑
Hope you love it! So, what else do I have to tell you? Oh, yes, this: (I hope you are sitting down.)
Look what I did. Can you tell? Actually I’ve been debating whether or not I should tell you because everyone I HAVE told has gone, Oh nooooo! It’s okay ~ I always knew I would do it ~ to me it’s just like “Fly little pie plate, fly…” Freedom. Yes, you may have guessed . . . those are the shredded remains of my diaries! Don’t be upset! Let me explain! I am the mommy of these books, I brought them into the world, and it was time to take them out.💝
They gave back more than they were ever given, they lived a good and useful life but it was time for them to go. So this is how I spent my early mornings during most of the pandemic, reading, laughing, blushing, crying, tearing out a few pages to keep forever, and shredding the rest.
All gone! Blowing on fingernails, polishing on shirt, so proud of myself! I’m glad I have pictures of them. Before and . . .
. . . after. I kept the covers. And that’s not all . . .
I started by trying to burn them in the fireplace . . . and found out it was a very slow and cumbersome way to do it and guess what, they don’t burn! It was a romantic idea: dark winter day, world in turmoil, snow blowing, a cup of tea, crackling fire, reliving memories, burning old diaries, but, no…it wasn’t working.
So I moved the shredder into the wood room in front of the big flat box that holds the true pandemic treasure of Turner Classic Movies, put Jack next to me in the chair, and shredded a few pages every morning … listening to Shirley Temple sing, watching Fred and Ginger dance, realizing, as I read them how smart I was not to leave them lurking around! I stayed young and ignorant forever, searching for life, love, and purpose. I kept those diaries for me, not for posterity. I wrote “Your service is undeniable” in the back of each one when I finished it. They did their job, were a HUGE help in the beginning years of being a grown up. So there they are in that big bag behind Jack! And I didn’t throw the bag away, or put it in the yard sale.
Most of you know I’ve been keeping diaries for almost as long as I could hold a pencil. I’ve always loved writing, my diaries have been SO helpful for growth, and helpful for writing books later on! But I didn’t have what it took to begin trying to save them until I was in my twenties! (My mom kept a few of my things in my baby book!💝) I lost all my teenage diaries, all my little girl ones. Probably a good thing! But today, when I talk to children who say they want to be a writer when they grow up, I tell them all I know, “Read everything, keep a diary, and don’t lose it!”
You’ll be glad to hear I didn’t shred them ALL. I kept this one. It goes from from January 1996, to June 2007! Lots of good things in here. It’s at a bookbinder now, being rebound, it was a pretty book with a cloth binding that wore out with too much train travel!
To this diary, as you see in the lower right, I was was “your obedient servant.” Actually to all of them.💞
So I kept it.♥️ And as you can see, I never stopped trying to figure things out.
The diaries I shredded were filled with little bits and pieces . . . old letters, cards, ticket stubs, photos, tucked between the pages. Sometimes I would be somewhere I didn’t have my diary with me, so I would do addendums. I kept all this stuff and much much more!
I saved lots of whole pages, the happy times . . . and wasn’t about to shred this! Buying my first little house here on the island, Holly Oak! The doorway to my new life. But then I wrote all about it in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, used the good handwriting, and added pictures too, so I no longer needed the diaries!♥️
And this, trying to learn how to “Think Like Leonardo DaVinci”… 🤣 ~ I was reading the book, and put it down to try to do what he did one early morning, curled up all alone on a big overstuffed sofa in front of a huge crackling woodfire in the very quiet lobby of the Mt. Washington Hotel in New Hampshire, I drew my first “Mind Map.” Finding out who you are is a process.
And this, a wonderful Mary Engelbreit card Joe gave me in 1987, exactly 3 weeks after our first date. Read the top. I tried not to melt.👏
And then . . . the topper, My boat had come in!🙃 I wasn’t ABOUT to throw this away!💘 He already loved me. At the time, I thought, NO WAY . . . but then he set about convincing me ~ the fun part. My mother wasted no time, she was thrilled immediately.♥️ I transferred that whole story of our first date (that lasted a lifetime) from my diary to A Fine Romance, so I didn’t need to save it. Just all the cards and sweetness tucked between the pages. See? It’s not as bad as you thought!
And there are lots of other diaries I will never get rid of! My dinner-party diary is going nowhere . . .
My first English Garden diary . . . where, among other things, I figured out how to make cute fences like the one I saw at Great Dixter!
I kept all my English Diaries of course . . .Not to mention those journal BOOKS so many of you have read, where ALL my memories are saved .. . so I just feel good about the whole thing!
And Joe had a brilliant idea. He thinks I should send Cliff one of the new cups when they come in (for all of you who’ve ordered, they’ll be here to help us celebrate fall, 🍂 hopefully by the end of September) and use my shredded diaries to pack it in! Isn’t that perfect? Cliff’s a big fan of the cups! Perfect closure. I’m sure he’ll love it! A big relief, he won’t have to hear his most dreaded words anymore, “But I have the diaries!” 🤣 The torture has ended!Speaking of which, I’ve started keeping a NEW diary! I kind of stopped writing during the pandemic when I couldn’t focus! But I’m back! And that’s not all!
The other day I came into the kitchen and grabbed Joe’s hand and said, “Come with me… I want to show you something!” I was so excited. I pulled him through the living room into my studio to show him what I’ve been doing ~ working on my new book of quotes again! All laid out on my counter. My Creativity is back! Here are a couple of the pages . . .Joe was so happy ~ gave me a big hug! After the pandemic, I needed to get a new “foundation for the creation” and it took a while for it to form! Sometimes I wondered if it ever would, the waiting is always the hard part…but every day feels better and I say to myself, life is soooo good. Makes me happy. I am still my own science project! Trying to figure things out, forever and ever! My dad called me “Grasshopper” (he got it from the 70s TV show Kung Fu) ~ I was his inexperienced idiot student and he was all-knowing master! True then, true now. Learning something new every day!
And for the learning part and the beauty part . . . we finished listening to Hamnet while out on our walk (Joe gets one ear plug, I get the other, book is on the phone!). My review? Excellent. Beautiful writing. Lovely lovely lovely. They’re going to make a movie out of it! My favorite books are the ones that send me to Google, wanting to know more, about the characters, the subject, the time period, or the author. This was perfect for that.(It starts slow, don’t give up.)Blessings on all the geniuses the world has produced who have charted a path, and left their brilliant discoveries behind for us… you will love my quote book, I’ve collected them from the beginning of time, it’s going to be all the secrets of the world.♥️
More of the beauty part . . . good old tablecloth, of course did NOT go into the yard sale despite small hole from over-love! The pillows, made with my fabric from Spoonflower, were our Christmas gift from Kellee and everyone at the Studio last year!
We lit up the twinkle lights and had dinner under the arbor (Tea House of the Vineyard Moon”) with friends for the first time this summer. Everyone beautifully and inspiringly vaccinated and safe. Gratitude galore! Mutual admiration society! Tons of fireflies blinking in the lawn . . . corn on the cob, salmon, my mom’s potato salad, and root-beer floats! Do you butter your corn with hot bread? I’m so far behind, one of our guests just told me about this, I tried it for the first time! More genius! It’s everywhere!🤣
And roses . . . Joe brought them home, not from our garden, but very pink and very beautiful!
I love summer nights on the island when it’s all quiet in our neighborhood of old houses, and I hear dishes clattering, and music playing from other people’s screen doors, and then the boat whistle blows . . .like a dream.
So here we go my dear girlfriends. You’ve been so patient! Time for our drawing! I so hope YOU win!!! And if you don’t, don’t worry we will try again and again and again! ❌⭕️ So here we go . . . for the 4th of July cup . . . our lucky winner is . . .ta daaaa!🎵
KAREN BLANKENSHIP! 👏👏👏
And for the two Springtime cups, we have two winners:
MARY from Forest Grove and ALLYSON BILLINGSLEY..
How exciting!👏👏👏 I’ll send an email soon so you can send me your address and your new cups will be winging their way to you before you know it.💞 Thank you ALL for entering and trying, you never know, you still have a better chance here on this “insignificant” blog 😂 than you do with the lottery! Keep that happy thought in mind! ❌⭕️Last but not least, for all our fellow travelers to the English Countryside next May 🥳 . . . Kelsey at Discover Europe (Kelsey@DiscoverEuropeLtd.com) and I worked out a new tour to add to the list … this one goes from the ship by train to the Lake District ⬆️, then across the Yorkshire Dales, to York! This tour will NOT come back to join us for the picnic at Stourhead with our English girlfriends because travel time is a little longer than the others, but it’s still so very wonderful and you can read all about it and sign up HERE. And FYI, The Cotswolds tour is sold out, but they’ve made a waiting list because they are trying to put together another one💞, so be sure to contact Kelsey if you’re interested in that. There is still room on my favorite tour (they’re all my favorites as you know!), that’s taking everyone to Sissinghurst Garden!
And although Sissinghurst Garden is a little bit of heaven on earth, this tour also includes Anne Boleyn’s Hever, Winston Churchhill’s Chartwell, Vanessa Bell’s Charleston, places we LOVED, plus so much more! All in the gorgeous “Garden of England!” History, gardens, cottages, pubs, and charm, oh my!😘
And BTW, P.S, Here’s another surprise! Guess who’s flying from England to New York to board the Queen Mary 2 along with the rest of us? Guess!! Yes!!! Rachel!!👏 Bringing her darling husband Paul! It just gets better every day! There are more fun things to come, but I have to make sure they are 100% definite! So hard to keep my mouth shut . . . stay tuned!♥️
And, there is still a little space on the Salisbury tour that takes you to Lacock ⬆️, and to everything Jane Austen.♥️ Read about the four tours HERE.
And yes, if you don’t have time to take the ship, you can fly over and join any of the tours, and all but the one to the Lake District will bring you back to our picnic on the lawn in front of the grass bridge ⬆️ in Stourhead. Or fly over and just come to the picnic (May 15th, 2022, BYO picnic!) before you head out on your own. SO many choices! For a red letter year!
So off I go. In all my memories today I was reminded of something my darling brother Jim said to me once, “All I need to know about love I learned from the song Hey Jude . . .” ♥️ As usual, I’m thinking what an idiot. So of course I ran to read the words (insight into a brother’s thinking is not something one takes lightly) . . . And realized how right he was when I read . . . 🎶🎵 “Remember to let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better . . .”🎵🎶 One more reason to fall in love with the Beatles (and my brother Jim💞 ~ John Lennon’s OTHER song works for him too, Beautiful beautiful beautiful boy….💝) That’s him with his son Ben in ↖️ that picture.
Sending love, cooling breezes, dry days, soft rains, and starry nights . . . . ❌⭕️❌⭕️ Your Pal, Anna Susana Branchburger the third.♥️
P.S. 🎶🎵 “For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool, By making his world a little colder . . .”🎶🎵