Off we go, from Sea-to-Shining-Sea on our Excellent Adventure Booktour celebrating the publication of Distilled Genius!  Did we have fun? Oh yeah . . . we had fun ~ we saw our girlfriends! Grab a cuppa, get comfortable, click on MUSICA, and enjoy your

Last post we did England, this post, we’ll do America! Because that’s what we’ve been doing this last month … since August fourth when we embarked on our sea-to-shining-sea booktour . . . stopping at bookstores all across the hot-hot-hot US of A to see as many of our Girlfriends as possible, our first book-signing tour since 2016! Too long! We’ve finally landed, here in California, visiting family and seeing oldest friends for the first time since the dam-panic disrupted everything . . . and here I am, checking in with you, sharing the adventure. PS Rabbit-Rabbit! Happy September!🍁 

Here we are, driving out of our driveway heading for the ferry . . . waving goodbye to Jack’s wonderful babysitter, Barbara . . . we’re in a rented car so we can turn it in at the end, and take the train home . . . it’s stuffed to the gills with two ice chests, all our vitamins, clothes, pillows, tea kettle, cups, camera, and pens. Would have loved to take Jack, but he is not the traveling kind! 🙀 A homebody if there ever was one!💖

Kisses goodbye and . . .

Off we went . . . with only 3,000 miles to go!

We weren’t the only ones traveling . . . I told everyone to meet me halfway … and they DID! While we were driving, we were seeing photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, of Girlfriends in their cars coming to meet us too! So fun, this is Mary Brehm, with her husband Bill and their two daughters, Jessie and Sarah (and sweetpeas from their garden) on their way to meet us!

Mary, who I “knew” from the blog and Twitter ~ and me, finally meeting in person! No one really knew what to do about masks, sometimes we wore them, sometimes we didn’t. I just didn’t want to be like a bee, going flower to flower across the country, leaving any sort of bad pollen behind! 

Bill, Mary’s husband, referred to himself, considering the company, as “chopped liver.” He was funny! Definitely one of the good guys! And not a bit chopped liver! Giver of my favorite flower!

Every event was filled with families like the Brehms, moms and daughters, sisters, grandchildren and grandmas, best friends . .💞

Kelly with her adorable baby, Marjorie ~ Girlfriends Elle, and Kathy

Daughter Amanda and her mom, Loretta

Mom Shalana, with her girls, Gentry and Cierra

Daughter Carlie with her mom, Suzie

Three generations: Stephanie, Violet, and Jan.

Sisters Nancy and Kathy


Kathy, on the left, is Kelsey’s Great Aunt!

Nora and her mom, Julie

Linda, is a first grade teacher, with her daughter in law, Jen.

Mom Bonnie, with her two daughters, Kristi and Bobbi

Mother and daughter, Marie and Molly

Olivia, Kayla, Leah … Sisters!

Daughter Gabrielle with her mom, Dana

Sisters Sandy and Betty

Meet Laura Ashley! Yes, her mom named her that! She loves it as much as I do!

Easy to do when you still get scared every time you have to talk in front of people! LOTS of heart-throbs!

I met old friends, This is Dawn . . . still bringing people together ~ she put us in touch with Prairie Path Books in Wheaton Illinois, and here we are!

Thank you Dawn!

My high school girlfriend Cathy came and brought her son Kevin and his wife Reyna. Cathy’s last name is Bliss! Isn’t that perfect? Ah, the memories we share!

And making more memories to share in the future! Say hello to Darlene and Barbara!

Linda and Christie, not the first time we’ve met!

Always so much fun to reconnect … Christie was on the Queen Mary with us!

Tawni, a very old blog friend I’d never met, in the middle ~ her Aunt Penny on the left, and Susan, who they met in line!

Lori is the sister of my island girlfriend Lynne! She lives in Salt Lake City . . . lovely to see her again!

Doreen and Greg Peterson ~ if you were a Twitter friend of Karen Peterson’s, I think you will know the lovely story of these newlyweds.After I wrote my first book, Heart of the Home in 1987, I started receiving mail from readers. Letters so nice the writers stopped being readers and started being Girlfriends. It was a complete surprise, but a wonderful one … Everyone writing about the things that brought us together, love of home and family, our petty pets, recipes, decorating, gardening, homemaking in general (most creative job in the world, all happiness depends on it) our other creative projects, our dreams, hope for children, and for the future . . . SUCH nice letters, I wished so much that everyone could meet each other and realize what a really wonderful world we live in. Didn’t matter where they lived, north, south, east or west, from the middle of the country, the bottom, top, or the sides, even from other countries, their letters all had everything in common: kind, courageous, optimistic, generous, working out the life things that come to us all, a treat to the heart. No computers when I first started, so the chances of us ever meeting were slim … 

but baby, look at us now! My dream came true! Between the Willard, our booksignings, picnics, social media, and penpals, we’ve done a great job of finding each other, our kindred spirits! And totally organic! I met friends from 1987 at these book signings, all the way up to “brand new today!” Under the radar we have run … all word-of-mouth, friend-to-friend, sister-to-sister, but it’s true . . . 💞💝

The people standing in line at book signings are laughing and talking so much, getting to know each other, meeting up from the LAST booksigning, or the Queen Mary 2, or an English picnic, it’s all I can do not to get out of my chair and join them!💖

Looks like it was ALL Girlfriends at the book signings, but it wasn’t . . . lots of our kindred spirits brought their kindred spirits too… This is Amy and Carl.💝

John and Sharon💘

Malissa and Jacob 🧡

Me and darling friend JoEllen @alicesroses, meeting again. . .💛

Pudgie, Cindy, and Carol, you can tell by the name tags that we have met before! 

I had the most fun . . . answering questions is so much easier than “giving a talk” … I get the best questions!


Christy, Jody, Lisa, and Lisa!

Sisters Johanna and Elaine ~ more family love!

Two adorable people. .. Kristina and Anjuli . . .

Four more adorable people … We didn’t get their names! But they were so color-coordinated 💞 ~ they said they didn’t plan it!

I gave a short talk about the inspiration for Distilled Genius, how inspired I’d been when I first discovered quote books back in the 1980s …in the nick of time as I was trying to figure out how to make a new life and searching everywhere for the secrets of life.

I talked about Holly Oak, how it was living there alone, and how my search for meaning had changed my life, discovering, through quote books and biographies, with the help of my heroes and teachers, the things that I would love and pursue all my life. I’ve always felt I write children’s books for big people, but never more than when writing Distilled Genius. How much I hope children will be attracted to the watercolors. I talked about hope and the future, and being passionately curious. I asked everyone when they were done with their book, if they would please donate it to their local school library, so kids can read the brilliant inspiring words of the geniuses of the world while they are still young, and know they are not alone. Lots of teachers at the signing were saying they would be using Distilled Genius in their classes. Made my day!

Me with Susan Shirley, “Miss Shirley” to her students! She was one of the wonderful teachers who asked me sign books for her class and school! Could not have loved it more! You can see her at work on Instagram … 

Bookstores, Schools, Churches and Town Halls filled with Kindred Spirits . . .

I took pictures of everyone . . . sometimes I even included my finger . . .

With Scott, manager of Tattered Cover in Littleton, CO. He was the BEST!

A WONDERFUL store if you get a chance to visit! Tattered Cover, in Littleton CO … say hello to Scott for me!

Here are Alice, Lynda, Rose, me, and Kym at An Unlikely Story in Plainville, MA 💞 I did a really fun Zoom with Kym during the Pandemic . . . I think lots of you may have been there!

Ellen, me, Anastasia, and Lisa . . . at Rakestraw Books, in Danville CA . . .

Wes and Kate who own the Charming Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio, commonly known by the locals as “The Owl” ~ it’s the shop around the corner we all dream about!

Hudson, Ohio, a charming town with a very special bookstore. The world would not be the same without our quaint atmospheric hometown Independent Bookstores (no two alike!), heroes of the Pandemic, keeping everyone creatively entertained with Zooms and Newsletters, Contactless Pick-ups, Support for kids and their stuck-at-home parents. They kept the home fires burning… many lost their employees, they had to stay home too, and somehow the owners, often alone, but sometimes with one or two crew, managed it all on their own, not only surviving, but thriving. Being invited by these book-lovers to launch my new book in their lovely bookstores was a pure gift. Gratitude is my middle name.

Susan, Vivien, and Roger from the wonderful Rainy Day Books in  Kansas City, a community gathering place since 1975! They’ve withstood the tides of time for all these years! For us!


Kate and Sandy at Prairie Path Books in Wheaton, IL.

Because so many of the events were actually in churches or schools, I didn’t see the inside of a lot of bookstores! But look how cute they decorated Prairie Path Books! Just for me!💞

Here I am with the cute people work there . . . Sandy, Sandy (yes, there are two), Kate, me, Susan, Linda, and Leslie … 

The girls at Titcomb’s Books … Love the body language between me and my friend Vicky Titcomb (that’s Vicky’s niece Rae between us, it’s a family affair at Titcomb’s since 1969)… Can you tell we’re both the oldest of eight children? We had to be bossy. Otherwise all those children would have been running around with no socks, with Cheerios stuck to their cheeks, wearing wet clothes, crossing the street without looking, and cheating at Candy Land like crazy! We know they never would have survived without us big sisters! 💖

Across America we went, Joe and I, loving every minute of it! Been a very long time, and we love our cross-country trips.

Over the river and through the woods . . .

🎶 . . . It takes two, baby . . . 🎵

All the views America has to offer . . . Barns and corn . . .

Small towns and big towns . . . and plenty of space with no towns at all . . .

But how gorgeous!

We drove next to this beautifully decorated train ~ I took this photo from my car window. BTW, we saw almost NO political flags or signs across the country.💞 Only the stars and stripes, I found that heartening. 

Couldn’t even THINK of passing through Missouri without stopping to see this famous house, two blocks from the Mississippi . . .  

This is the house where my hero Mark Twain grew up! Sam Clemens, actually! It was our second visit!

I put these two photos together after our first visit! I like to choose gigantic shoes I will never fill to be my heroes. Considering the lives they led, it always amazed me to think that people like Mark Twain or Ben Franklin were only children at one time. How did they get so much done???? Ben Franklin’s formal education ended at age 10…Same with Mark Twain, who was done after the 5th grade … but he gave a clue when he said, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”

All our motels and hotels had different views and personalities. All we cared about was 1. air conditioning, 2. fridge, 2b. a freezer if possible, for the ice, 3. microwave, 4. electricity, 5. bed.

Out front of that little room we had views to forever. It was soooo quiet there. We thought the Field of Dreams was across the street, but I had my “Picture This” app for plant identification and it wasn’t corn … it was soybeans, the Field of Beans.🤣 Was so hot and parched and humid all the way across the country. Who plans a booktour in August!!! 🤣

See the temperature at the top? Worst it got on our trip was 106º … in a couple of places ~ it wasn’t under 90º! BUT, we had air-conditioning in that big ole’ car, and everywhere we stayed, and everywhere we visited. So it wasn’t bad at all!


We loved seeing some of the famous supermarkets our Girlfriends recommended as we drove along . . . this gorgeous grocery store is Harmons Neighborhood Grocer in Salt Lake City. You get in, but it’s not easy to get out!

We made a sort of ‘home” everywhere we went!

We had mostly blue skies, but every so often we saw something like this storm coming our way! Because of the world, weather took on a much bigger part of travel-worry than ever before! But we made it!

Hardly ever traffic . . . but sometimes…

Pretty cities, nicest people, delicious food . . . this is Kansas City, MO …

This is our first view of the Mississippi River . . .

Some bridge somewhere . . .

You get off the coasts and gas prices drop like a rock. We were surprised, we spent a little over $600 on gas getting across the country. We expected a LOT more! It was $5-something on the Island, it’s around $6 here in CA! But in between, not so bad!

I wonder how much this gets to the gallon???? It’s the Wienermobile! In a parking lot in Illinois! 💛 Last time I saw it was at the Piggly Wiggly in Reseda, California when I was about nine. I liked it just as much this time, and began singing that song, “My bologna has a first name, it’s O S C A R, my bologna has a second name, it’s M E Y E R . . . Ohhhh, I love to eat it every day, and if you ask me why I’ll say . . .
‘Cuz Oscar Meyer has a way with B O L O G N A.” 

The moonrises and sunsets were spectacular . . .  We always came home late . . .

Through the blinds . . .

Aneeeway … we left lots of signed books everywhere we went. 📚 Of course, I know you know, I could not have done this without Joe!💖

If you’d like a signed book, call one of the independent bookstores on the tour and make their day … Here I am signing books to leave with Kings English, in Salt Lake City, Utah… with Jac on the left, Lorrin, and Rob helping . . . and Joe wielding the camera!

Next week we’ll have our last West Coast stop for Book Talk and signing before heading back to Fall on Martha’s Vineyard ~ it’s in Southern California at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, 11 am on Sunday, September 11th. Hope you can make it! I’ve felt such an intense feeling of gratitude this last month, it hasn’t completely hit me yet how amazing this trip has been, it all went so fast, like a blur, it’s been such a lovely reception, and meeting everyone along the way has been the frosting on the cake.

And, it’s still not over! I’m getting cozy pictures from Girlfriends like Mary Ann @maw1984. I especially like her tabs! But even more? The kitty!

Kitties with faces of love, blankets, and tea . . . and Distilled Genius . . . 💝 from Michelle @dersarkat . . .

Distilled Genius has even gone camping with Joanie @okjoan! I couldn’t be prouder!💖

So here we are, on the Central Coast doing as we are told on this postcard, “Sharing the Experience.”

We’re unpacked, laundry is done, and we’ve had time to wander around the garden. . . plus, we’re . . .

Staying at the Studio, having lunch out with Kellee and Sheri! Wonderful to be together again, and look at that view we have!!

You walk into The Vista restaurant in Pismo Beach and are instantly bowled over . . . definitely a room with a view … the entire Pacific Coast laid out before you . . .

And dearest friends to catch up with. The last time we saw these two was when they came to the Island to visit us in the fall of 2019. Been trapped far away by covid ever since, but here we are again, and YES! Wonderful happy news for all of us, Sheri is coming back to work with Kellee, only two days a week, but we are sooooooo happy! Anyone who’s met her knows why! My two best girls do an amazing job and make a wonderful team.👏👏👏 So, let me think, what did they say I’m supposed to tell you? Oh yeah:

This is the new wall calendar … but like always we have a purse calendar, a Mini calendar and a desk-top calendar, too. You can read about them HERE!You’ll see this page again in Fall 2023!

I need to do another photo like this! This grouping stops at 2016 . . . There have been seven more wall calendars since then! I love laying them out so I can remember the history! All those years ago! What else? Oh, all kinds of little things . . .

Promise me the first thing you’ll do when you get your new calendar is choose a few days and put FUN on them. Be specific, make plans, make sure life doesn’t escape you! You put your dentist appointments on your calendar, don’t forget . . . ❌⭕️

A new Dream Charm is coming! Inspired by Distilled Genius, stars as seen from the rail of a ship across the ocean, my inspiration for the cover of the book . . . it’s coming later in the season, and it will say GENIUS on them, with little hearts . . . perfect for all the geniuses in your life, including you! I’ll let you know when they come in!

And new stickers for your packages . . . more moon and stars, more Distilled Genius! Available now!

These too, sweet new Notepads! Great stocking stuffers, more Distilled Genius!

And Kellee had more of these notecards printed . . . back in stock by popular demand, just in time for our season of love and laughter!🍁🍂🍁

Here’s what they say inside!

And in case you missed them the first time . . . we just received a new shipment of puzzles!

What a wild year we’ve had…. and now all the travel is almost over . . . in a week from tomorrow we’ll be at Vroman’s Bookstore, and then we’re on our way Home. Three-day train trip across the country . . . Just in time. . .because

We don’t want to miss a moment of this most beautiful time of year!🍁

I so look forward to this beauty . . . 

To hearing the church bells and feeling that little fall chill in the air . . .

Watching leaves fly around our beloved home . . .

And blowing up behind our car . . .

Walking our walk through the woods . . .Cooking from my Autumn book, hugging our friends, and 

Setting pumpkins out in the garden . . . and don’t forget, it’s almost time for Sleeping Weather! Ooooooo . . . .

Time to see our kitty! Just. Can’t. Wait!

Lumbering home by Amtrak … in our room with a view . . . Thank you dear friends . . . it has been a year of dreams come true!This has to be my longest Blog… VERY hard to condense so much in such a little space . . . I have a zillion photos I didn’t use ~ I hope I’ll get to use them over time. So much wonderfulness!🧡

Bye for now, Happy September! Love forever!💝 . . . ❌⭕️❌⭕️



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  1. Rene Marie Foust says:

    Thank you Susan for being such an inspiration in so many ways; reading your Willard and listening to the music that you provide always gives my heart hope. I love reading about your journeys and I live vicariously through them. And I couldn’t agree more about Fall, it is my very favorite time of the year. The smells, the sights and the feels are pure coziness. Have a safe trip home.

  2. Ann Gregory says:

    Thank you for sharing your trip across the USA! Your small town picture of Nauvoo, Illinois caught me by surprise, My small home town on the big bend of the Mississippi! Seeing it brought back wonderful memories of growing up there. I am enjoying your newest book; it’s on my bedside table for evening reads. Wishing you a safe journey back across our big lovely country.

  3. Rosanne Murphy says:

    Thank you for this wonderful, heart warming and heart lifting post! It is a gift to see all the beautiful faces of kindred spirits, as well as your own dear face. I lost my darling husband of 47 years last year and today is our anniversary, so a day when smiles are most welcome. I cut some beautiful roses from the garden, and put them next to your “Love Stays” plaque on my kitchen window sill. Thank you for continuing to spread love out into and across the world!❤️😘 P.S. I also have a darling 3 month old boy kitty, Finnegan, who makes life sweeter, and right now chaotic!😂

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Rosanne, I am so sorry. I can’t even imagine how hard this year has been for you. I’m so happy to hear you have Finnegan… a little love to help you through. Sending love dear Rosanne. xoxoxo❌⭕️❌⭕️

      • Rosanne Murphy says:

        Oh yes, hard, but also filled with reflection, gratitude, meditation, and continuing with intention to find something good in every day – family, girlfriends, flowers, sunshine, books, knitting, kitties! I call my kitty Finnie, while my son likes to refer to him as “my cousin Finnie” or “Finnie and the Jets.” 😆 I had a fab 75th birthday celebration in NYC with my darling daughter and granddaughter – how special is that?! Grief doesn’t disappear. I think we absorb it and it becomes a part of who we are but it isn’t all we are. Now, don’t tell, but I just treated myself to some retail therapy in your online store.😉

  4. Davi Mondt Lowman says:

    SUSAN! Isn’t it great to see the BEST side of America??? I believe the number of GOOD PEOPLE in this country outnumber by far the other types!
    You… you lucky girl… got to see and meet so many of the good ones on this cross-country trip. I only wish you could have stopped somewhere in central IOWA – near BOONE… where your ORR family lives. I know you loved every minute of it, but I also know you will be SO happy to return to your beautiful home and Mr. Jack Cat. There’s not much better than a warm, cozy house, a good loving husband, and sweet kitties to hug. I look forward to all the good people showing up on November 8th and a return to the decent, honest, wonderful country we’ve always been known for!

    • sbranch says:

      I think if we all saw how beautiful and amazing our country is, it would make a world of difference. I look at Ukraine, how hard they are fighting to have what we have, and suffering so much ~ the children break my heart ~ sometimes I don’t think we count our massive blessings enough.💖

  5. Pat says:

    I was so happy to meet you at The Tattered Cover, Susan! I am enjoying Distilled Genius and I loved this blog post–I know both were a true labor of love!

  6. Hi Dearies,
    Such a wonderful trip! Lucky girlfriends and guyfriends all along the way. We were so sad that we couldn’t come see you with the Kings English in SLC this time.
    (I love that my town has the same initials as Mark Twain- Sam Clemens- and Harmons is my go to store.)

    We had tickets for that night for a show, that we had purchased back in May. It was our first outing at night in over two years …and Rick came down with Covid the following Monday. Wouldn’t you know it?! He isolated for 11 days in our basement, sleeping on a love seat with his over 6foot self the whole time (my knight in shining ‘amour’) and I luckily didn’t get it.

    I am living vicariously for your return to Autumn on MV. It has been so hot- we are on our 34th day of over 100F weather this year.
    Wishing you all the joy and fun out there and a safe trip home to Jack!

    • sbranch says:

      Your Go-to store? How lucky are you Gabi!!! I’m so sorry you couldn’t make it .. I promise to send you all the cold weather I can find! I’m looking forward to it too! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  7. Ruth Elder says:

    I NEEDED this post today! I’m nervous about teaching a class the day after tomorrow. I needed a reminder to count my Blessings. I know you are so busy, but please try to post more often <3 I'm stuck in Florida instead of somewhere there are seasons, and your blog keeps me grounded in an often chaotic world.

    • sbranch says:

      You will be great! I will try to post more often, I want to, but I run out of time!!💖

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Hi Ruth,
      Susan has an archive of her blogs. I often pick one at random, and I enjoy it even if I’ve read it before.
      Your talk will go well.
      Debbie in Maine

    • dezi says:

      Ruth, I am quite surprised at how Susan hasn’t burned out after all these years of giving so completely of herself! That, I too want more, but feel so grateful she is so inclined to give us her time that I too find myself hitting the archives often. I read four from August 2015 to keep enchantingly joy filled while Susan was so busy on her book tour. It was wonderful connecting again with her/our past again. ❤️👏🏻❤️👏🏻

  8. MargotB in Sister Bay says:

    So good to hear the book trip went well! Enjoyed your trip across the pond too!! 🇬🇧 I got a tea towel with all the regional flowers 🌸 at a place called the British Pedlar. For my birthday my sister brought me a few goodies from England, and my niece is drinking Earl Grey now. She got to go to his place. Who knew!
    Since I got home in May from AL, I have gotten the house 🏡 pulled together, and it is now on the market! We are in Door County 🍒 WI for inquiring minds. Stay tuned…

    OXOX ox

  9. Linda F says:

    Susan, Your Willards always, always lift my spirits and warm my heart. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

  10. Bobbi Urquhart says:

    Susan, you’re such a treasure! I too have just come home. After serving a mission for our church in Hawaii for 18 months, we have just returned to beautiful Colorado. I am looking forward to cool nights, golden shimmery aspens, sweater weather, and soup! I just missed your visit to “The Tattered Cover“. But I had my copy of distill genius sent to my home and as soon as I do a little more unpacking I will spend lots of time enjoying it. My sister and I are going to read it together, she waited for me to come home! She’s in California. Thank you so much for all the fun over the years. ❤️

  11. Larkin Marie Myers says:

    This was a long one! I had to read it in two sittings, sneaking it in with all the other to-dos. Thank you. I’m in Memphis and have had a terrible week with all the sad / scary events in our town. I needed a little reminder that it isn’t always like this. We do love each other and we do have things to look forward to.

  12. Wendi Unrein says:

    Wow. What a beautiful post truly. I was beyond bummed that I couldn’t make it in KC. I had planned to bring my Black Dog cookbook to for your dear hubby to sign too!!!Seeing all these happy kindreds is such a joy to look at!!! Look what you have created Susan!!!! Glad trip went well for you two as that is a long one but exciting just the same! How was the train ride back? I’ve always wanted to do a cross country one! Please share a tidbit or two!! I must be honest. I am sooo looking forward to next months post as I love fall and on the Vineyard even more!!! Happy spaces, creative faces💖enjoy!!

  13. judi says:

    Wow! Your adventures continue. Lovely pics and wonderful bookstores and fans. Hope you got to visit with family too. Happy and safe trails on your way home dear one. judi

  14. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    God bless you and Joe – love you so and God Bless the Queen 👑

  15. Carol Duffey says:

    Dear Susan, What a wonderful trip you and Joe have had, crossing this beautiful country, even in the summer heat! Your post is so fun. I’ve just loved seeing all of the girlfriends in different places along the way for your book signing tour. I have told you so often over the years how much I appreciate you and your outlook on life, your creativity and how wonderful it is that you share your many gifts with the world. It brings tears to my eyes sometimes because people like you are so few, but such a blessing to all who experience you.
    I am so sorry that I don’t think I’m going to be able to make your last signing at Vroman’s this time. Like Rebecca, I too am awaiting some surgery on September 20th and I just can’t stand in a line or walk too much right now. It makes me very sad that I can’t be there to see you.
    I also would have offered my Seal Beach townhouse to you and Joe again, but I just can’t get it cleaned to the point where I would want you to be staying in it. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll keep it. We just don’t get down there like we used to.
    If I could get Sally to come with me and we brought chairs to wait in, maybe we could be at Vroman’s. I just really don’t want to miss the opportunity to see you again! But if I’m not there, please know it wasn’t because I didn’t want to be, very badly!
    Have a wonderful wrap up of your tour, and a safe, enjoyable train trip back to the enchanting Isle of Martha’s! I’ll be thinking of you all the way!! xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Im sorry Carol, but remember, I always ask folks who have a hard time standing to come to the head of the line!!! I know it would probably be hard no matter what. Hugs to you dear… and get better soon!xoxoxo

      • Carol Duffey says:

        And one more thing, Susan; I absolutely love your Distilled Genius, as I knew I would. I’ve always loved books of quotes, too, and have a file of quotations myself that I always tell myself I’m going to paint. So wonderful to be able to communicate with the Genius behind the book!😊🤗

  16. Chris H says:

    What a beautiful cheery post. I was staggered at the numbers of people at some of those venues and the lines waiting to visit with you……..your poor cramped hand signing all those books!!! But what fun, telling your stories, greeting all the girlfriends, laughing and chatting.
    We’re moving into spring here so I’m looking forward to making a new garden but not looking forward to being dive-bombed by some of our native birds that get a little aggressive during breeding season or the reappearance of snakes after hibernation!

  17. Becky says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us! Have a wonderful and saft trip back! Happy Fall! You still have four months left of this wonderful year. I’m sure these months will bring you wonderful moments too. Thank you for sharing the wisdom of the ages! ❤

  18. Karen Horrigan says:

    My heart is a bit broken as I read this and see the pic you took of the Plaza in Kansas City. My teacher friends and I were all set to see you in KC but 2 days prior, I came down w the dreaded COVID. The last time you came, it was the same night as our 8th graders graduation. So yes, I did cry when I had to miss you for the second time-ugh! I so wanted to thank you in person for the 4 seasons cups I won a couple of years ago. I treasure them! And wanted to share a few pics of our annual Girlfriend Party where we gift each other w our favorite from your store. I absolutely love the new book and need order another copy for our library at school which the children will love. Still hoping to meet you one day! ❤️🥲

  19. Heather T Roberts says:

    We have lost our Queen Elizabeth today. Such great sorrow and depth of our core. Glad you had a truly blissful tour westward. Enjoy the coming Fall season. Our leaves of the maples here are just starting to change( Swamp maples, that is!). Almanac states a bit of heavier snow…hmmm! Anyway time to decorate with fat pumpkins and Indian corn!

  20. Coco says:

    Oh Susan,

    Soon after I heard that Queen Elizabeth perished today I thought of you and the letter you wrote to her when you were a little girl. My condolences to you.
    I’m so glad that you got to be in Britain for her 70th Jubilee!

    Cunard sent an email expressing sorrow on her death, which ended with the jarring line, God save the King. Jarring, because it doesn’t seem possible that Queen Elizabeth II is not alive in this world, calmly seated on the throne.

    If you have not read it, I believe you would enjoy a book called The Little Princesses, by Marion Crawford, governess to the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. It is a charming insider’s recounting of their childhood by their beloved “Crawfie.” She lost her job and all contact with the family for writing this unauthorized tell-all, but it is fascinating. The edition I got through my local library had gorgeous, full-page color plates.

    Thinking of you,

  21. Christine Perica says:

    What a fabulous travelog Susan! All those beautiful faces enjoying your words and starting new friendships. Views of our country and hope written. Thank you! Of course, another connection with you in Reseda – the Weinermobile at Piggly Wiggly – I jumped with joy and sang the song to my husband as I suspected we probably saw each other there once upon a time. Now dreaming our way into my favorite season of coziness, falling leaves, and re-reading your books. Thanks as always for a delicious read.

  22. Debbie Boerger says:

    Condolences to all our UK friends and family. And to you, Dear Lady. You were the first person I thought of when we heard the news yesterday. Tom and I had a day out and at lunch we were talking about the Queen. I said that I though she was just tired and was ready to go. Then when we got back to the car, we heard the news.
    Mucho love and thanks,
    Debbie in Beeeutiful, peaceful Maine

  23. Paula Cutchey says:

    The end of an era. The Queen, representative of our age, our heritage, leading by example is no more. I am bereft.
    Thank you for your charming book. We must look for hope in new places. Small will do, as Kurt Wallender said “There is no big picture.”

  24. VirginiaB says:

    I just got your wonderful trip report today, September 9, as a Willard. No blog yet for some reason. I loved being along, virtually. Your photos and commentary are always such a delight, worth reading several times. What fun to see the girlfriends all across the country!

    Many of us are now absorbed in watching coverage of the passing of Queen Elizabeth, such an extraordinary woman. Here’s a quote from her re 9/11 that I found most meaningful: “Grief is the price we pay for love.” RIP, Queen Elizabeth. How wonderful, Susan, that you were there for her last joyous celebration of the Platinum Jubilee!

  25. Denise Hyde says:

    I hope Enchanted Book Club members fortunate enough to be able to attend one of your book tour sessions sent you our love!!!!

    And how wonderful that you were able to join in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations (all that bunting that you showed us in the towns and villages) during your recent visit to England!!!

    Thank you!!
    Denise in Corpus Christi

    • sbranch says:

      I did receive that love, Denise, thank you, and sent it back! And yes, Queen Elizabeth was so beloved, I feel very lucky to have been in England for both her Diamond and her Platinum celebrations!

      • Denise Hyde says:

        Absolutely lovely!!!!!!! We arm chair travelers so enjoyed sharing in your English and American visits 🙂

        Happy Fall!!!!

  26. Theresa S says:

    This blog! S’wonderful, s’marvelous… also enjoying Distilled Genius. Thank you❣️
    On a different note, saddened to hear about Queen Elizabeth II. May she Rest In Peace…as Robert Reich said yesterday, “Her life was long and noble, in every sense of the word.”

  27. Patti from Pleasanton, CA says:

    Hi Susan!!
    The 3rd time seeing you & Joe was even more wonderful than the past 2 times!
    It was great chatting with Joe in line and getting his signature as well… you
    really do have quite a gem in Joe!
    My hubby, Paul, wasn’t able to make it this time so I brought a friend with me
    who is now also enamored by you and all your creative talents.
    Thank you again for making the little “sorry I missed you but hope to see you
    next time” video while in Danville for my daughter, Nikki, who lives in SoCal
    and wasn’t able to make your appearance there. She LOVED it, and that little
    act of kindness made her feel so special.
    Safe travels back to your beautiful island (that we visited 3 years ago and fell
    in love with too).
    Sending our love to you & Joe,
    Patti & Paul

  28. Viffy says:

    Not sure why none of my comments make it here 🙁

    • sbranch says:

      Let’s try again! ❌⭕️

      • Viffy says:

        Well, I guess a comment did make it here after all 🙂
        Some days you don’t win the tech war… and then, you get the good news that you’ve made it out into the blogosphere just fine.

        I absolutely loved the long blog post… don’t hold back, keep all of the great details coming! The new dream charm looks so adorable. (Too early to shop for gifts?)

  29. Judy Chihak says:

    I love love love the glimpse we got of your jingly jangly gold charm bracelet! Please do a post some time with close up pictures and the meaning behind your charms. My mom, me, daughter and granddaughter are 4 generations of charm bracelet wearers. It’s getting difficult to find quality sterling charms (like mine) Love your Willard!

  30. Joanie Ruppel says:

    Every single photo has so much joy in the faces of your Girlfriends (and guy friends)!!! It is pure happiness! Heading to the Island this week, sorry you won’t be back yet.

  31. Janine says:

    So bummed my mom and I can’t come to Vromans, but it’s grandparents day and we already made plans. Im glad we went last time. This was quite a trip!

  32. Jean Powers says:

    I wish I had known you were making a stop in Hannibal, Missouri, I would have brought my copies of Distilled Genius and A Find Romance for your signature…..or offered tea and scones. ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      Ohhh, very sweet.💖 It wasn’t really planned, but when we realized how close we were, just could not resist!

  33. DeAnna Jenkins says:

    It was so nice to see you again with the Learned Owl group and it was my first time speaking with Joe! I love looking through your books as I see something new every time!

    We have a new addition to our family…Max…a 9 week old tuxedo kitten! I fell in love with him at 1st sight!

    Thank you for being an inspiration to many, including me!

  34. Amanda Davis says:

    What an amazing book tour! So excited for y’all to get back on the road and can’t wait to read your new book! I loved meeting you and Joe on your 2016 book tour in Woodstock, Georgia- such a fun day and I can’t believe that was 6 years ago! All the autumn photos are beautiful (hope we get some of that in Alabama) and love the painting of you and Joe at the end!

  35. Pam says:

    Hi Susan, This latest Willard really touches my heart in many ways. Your picture with Jack saying good bye, his little tongue showing, is adorable. The pictures of the independent book shops filled with so many friends and fans brought tears to my eyes. Those special book shops are precious these days with so many independent businesses not able to continue. The pictures of our beautiful America are great! What a positive, loving and heartwarming Willard to read! Thank you for sharing yours and Joe’s adventures with your friends!

  36. Debbie Boerger says:

    Have learned a Great deal more about the Queen since here death. Of course we didn’t know, but now we do know how much she meant to the majority of the British people.
    The BBC online is just fabulous for those of us who want to know more. I spent a good bit of time reading the memories of people who met her. Sweet tears.
    And for us here, remembering 9-11. What a week!
    Thank you for the surfing sights and sounds. Hope we are still having this wonderful early Fall weather for your return to New England!! Just lovely.
    Mucho love and happy travels,
    Debbie in Maine

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

    good afternoon Susan, Girlfriends. been watching an old movie about Zigfield with Dick Powell and Myrna Loy, i do love this movie, well mostly the costumes and set designs, he was a very imaginative man. i was also taking a break from watching the events in England. my condolences to the people of the U.K. and to you, she was a special lady and a special individual in how she ruled the monarchy. i just feel so sad that she had endure the heartaches of the past few years and all the drama created in the family. how lucky you were able to see her diamond and her platinum jubilees. she always managed to rise above the soap opera drama within the family and continued her life of service and dedication to her people, a truly remarkable woman. i wish King Charles 111 all the best i hope things go well for him. believe it or not it has cooled way down here, we are actually anticipating rain today, tomorrow and later on this week. it feels so cool outside and smells so sweet like just before a rain. if it does rain i plan to stop the watering and roll up the hoses for the season. but for now i have busy getting the Fall decorations out and watching events in England. plus getting the quilts out and later on i have to get out and double check the water containers and food containers. the one good thing i will say about all this heat is i think i killed off an awful lot of the rats and mice we had in the barn, that my placing D-Con around where the rats can find it but not the chickens or our barn cat. i have been careful about that. got my farmer’s almanac yesterday, i love reading and so far they have been right on the button with the weather plus i always buy my friend an almanac … it’s tradition!!! well i had better back to hopping and get dinner out for tonight, trying to decide between pot roast, roast pork loin or meatloaf. any thoughts there??? take care, stay well and stay happy. Happy Fall . hugs ….. 😀

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Pat, Here’s a trick Tom and I learned from a neighbor. If you have inside cats with litter boxes with stuff that clumps, you just spread the clumps or even put some in used things like butter tubs, the mice and rats won’t go anywhere near it. It worked for us with the problem we were having in our basement. We don’t have kitties, but a few neighbors do, so they saved a few bags of “stuff” for us. Now, when we leave for the winter, we put a container on the Bilco Door steps leading into the basement from the outside. Not one mouse since then. The family of crows aren’t so happy, as they got the mice out of the traps!!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        Hello Debbie and hello Dezi!! Debbie i would love that idea except for one thing, we have a cat box in there and it seems to attract the rats and mice, they actually like the litter. as for using D-Con, i don’t think i have much of a choice there. it is getting rid of the rats and mice and since our neighbors ( and i use the term loosely) got 2 pigs we have even more of a rat and mouse problem. seems to be the only choice i have is use the D-Con. but don’t worry, it is nowhere the chickens can find it. we place between the walls, in between the shed and the barn and only the rodents find it and we hope carry it back to the nest for the rest of the family members. the cat cannot get to it in anyway. if the neighbors would move the pigs elsewhere the rodent problem would ease up but they want to get more pigs and breed them, they even want to put a pen on our property for the pigs, you can imagine my vote on that … absolutely not!!!! thanks anyway for the ideas and i may use the kitty litter idea for the hen house when the problem eases up. been out enjoying the start of all the color and the fresh crisp air. can’t wait for it to get cooler and become sweater weather. got to go get dinner going, sausages and veggies and potatoes. love and hugs to you both and many Autumn blessings. hugs …. 😀

    • dezi says:

      Dear Pat,
      De Con is an awful way for rats and mice to die. Or squirrels or chipmunks that might be able to get to it. Plus if that rodent is consumed by another creature, that creature is also poisoned. Just so you are aware. My hubby and I use live traps with peanut butter. Then we drive them far away and release them into a river front jungle area. ❤️❤️

  38. Judy Haueise says:

    So good to have Willard back!
    What a terrific book tour for a wonderful book. I love Distilled Genius. I too love to collect quotes and have post- its on every page of your new book.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    I’m sure Jack is relieved that you are back and shooting hair bands for catch.

    Lets have a moment of remembrance for the dear Queen. What a woman!

  39. Kate says:

    My very favorite post ever! It’s so lovely to see so many happy faces across our wonderful country. I can’t watch the news any longer as all you see are frowns and angry faces and that does not help one feel good about America. But your blog has and I am so thankful that you shared your trip with us. I loved every last bit of it and all the beautiful people who came out to see and hear you. I wish I could have been one of them. I came to one of your book signings years ago and you even signed my purse for me. I will never get rid of that purse! I will be glad to read about your walks on Martha’s Vineyard once again. Autumn is my favorite time of year so I’m looking forward to it also.

  40. Nettie says:

    I saved this blog to read when I could take the time to just sit and devour it and that I did. I feel like I just went cross country with you and Joe. What wonderful blessings for everyone of you.
    I’m taking two of my granddaughters to The Cape this weekend and we’ll spend a day on Martha’s Vineyard I can hardly wait to show them the places I fell in love so long ago
    Safe travels to you and Joe as you slowly journey to Spring St
    Absolutely love your work ,your vision and the love you have for all of us who love you too

  41. Angie says:

    What a great blog of your adventures. I truly look forward to seeing all your lovely photos and Jack, of course.

  42. Janie Foltz says:

    Susan, you have taught me much through the years. I cherish every book I have and I think it is almost every one. I am encouraged, inspired, motivated and hopeful each time I read a post. Thank you for always reminding us…Life is beautiful and to live each day given with Love. Blessings to you and Joe!
    Janie Foltz

  43. Mamey Brown says:

    What a wonderful blog!! I was thrilled to see all the photos. I am LOVING the new book and refer to it often. You are a true inspiration Susan. THANK YOU!

  44. Kathy Branch Spicer says:

    Oh, to have been able to meet you, Joe, and the Girlfriends at the wonderful Learned Owl in Hudson – but alas, your date there was moving day for us! I am back in my hometown (Canton, Ohio), back near family, and so, on your NEXT road trip, I’ll see you there!❤️🦉 😍

  45. jeanie says:

    What a jolly, happy post! Your road trip looks divine — wonderful people to welcome you in every place. And you are so right about our independent bookstores. What would be do without them? Now I must hustle off to your store!

  46. Care Woodard says:

    DearSusan and All, I just got home from our wonderful antique store, The Marlborough Barn, where I found the PERFECT door for my new closet:) I have lived without a closet for over a year now! Traded it in for a claw foot tub in the bedroom:) Always there was a plan to build a wall of built ins and a closet, but construction is so far behind. I have been very patient:) and now I will probably, maybe dress better:) I needed nourishment after my antiquing adventure and sat down with a piece of your lemon lavender polenta cake:) and realized… I never finished reading the blog!! What a treat; like having a snack with a dear girlfriend. I LOVE the new book. I’ve been filling in favorite new quotes from summer library books on the blank pages.
    God save the King. God save the Queen. I’m so glad you were there for her jubilee. I think many kindred spirits will be watching the tellie tomorrow. What a beautiful Life.

  47. Paulette says:

    Hello Susan,
    Any chance you’ll be restocking your British Corgi tea cup?

  48. VirginiaB says:

    Did you watch the Queen’s funeral today? Silly question, I’m sure you did. I got up at 5:30am and watched everything. It was beautiful and extraordinary and perfect. What a tribute to the Queen and to the British people.

  49. Debbie Boerger says:

    I have a prediction….There will be a noticeable “Elizabeth effect” in the UK. Just the kindness and thoughtfulness of that lovely lady are staggering. All the little stories we heard on BBC and its wonderful web site may make folks want to Pay It Forward. I’m certainly going to be one of those who try harder to manage my grumpy days. As you said, Dear Dear Susan, Be the Queen.
    We are finally getting some rain, but it may be too late for some of our apple trees. Oh well, we live in a blink in time. Nature will adjust.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Maine

    • sbranch says:

      I LOVE your prediction Debbie! Thank you for being here!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        Susan and girlfriends go to the Jaquie Lawson website for cards and read the cute story about Queen Elizabeth drive the Saudi prince around Balmoral and scaring the pants off of him… LOL!!! hugs … 😀

  50. Kristin and Gjertsen says:

    Here in Charlotte, North Carolina it is sunny and a balmy 71 degrees. I will be going for a long walk after lunch and another in the evening. Made scones for a Ukrainian friend. She is learning English and helping me remember the Russian I learned back in the 1980s. Going to bake a loaf of Artisan bread for our next meeting. Always nice to make a new friend. Thank you for sharing your continuing adventures. I think of you as a friend as well, even though we have never met. One of my dear companions who I learned through your books and your website.

  51. Debbie Boerger says:

    My living room/dining area walls are about the same color green as yours. I adore that color. Mine is a Benjamin Moore eggshell. Looks great with the warm tones of all our teak, and your lovely tall cabinet. That English pillow is wonderful, isn’t it?
    We off to see the huge ocean waves break on the cliffs of Schoodic Point. Hate that it’s hitting our friends on Nova Scotia.
    But worst for us is that Tampa Bay is in the bull’s eye for the next major hurricane. Please say a little prayer for us. Maybe this scare will convince The Lovely Tom to sell it while there is still anything to sell. Lots of rental home in out neighborhood for winter. Makes sense to me!!
    Have a great party, Dear Lady.
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie still in Maine

  52. Marigold says:

    Beautiful, Susan. Beautiful journey with beautiful scenery and beautiful people and beautiful memories. And best of all, the beauty of home and the beauty of autumn to return to. Thank you so much for sharing.

  53. Debbie Boerger says:

    Getting our 3rd Covid booster this morning.
    Can you all please send prayers for everyone in the path of Hurricane Ian?
    That includes Tom and me, sitting 2 blocks from Tampa Bay….gonna be a nail biter. If we survive this one, I hope to convince the Lovely that we need to sell
    Now, while we still have something to sell. Rising oceans, stronger storms are Real, and they are the result of our long ignoring of the warnings.

  54. Cindy Johnson says:

    I love the followup pictures of your tour. I always enjoy the pictures of the towns and houses, the scenery along the roads. What beautiful venues and bookstores you were in for your book signings. And the people… girlfriends and families were so happy. Please do another tour one day and come again to the south. Even if it is not for a new book, but because we love all your books, calendars and “goodies”. I know you are so busy, but would love to see posts more often. I go to the archives and reread each season. So it is time to do October and November again. 🙂

  55. Julie V. from Springfield, MO says:

    Good Morning! What a wonderful way to start the day by reading your blog! Yes I realize that you posted it a month ago. Been crazy busy with household “stuff” and watering everything daily to keep two years of landscaping alive from the lack of rain here in southern Missouri. I was so sad to miss you visit to KC but we had a family wedding. Would have loved to have seen you and Joe again. I was at your book signing in St. Charles, MO several years ago. Loved seeing all the pics of the girlfriends having a lovely time at all your events. You are truly a special person and bring so much joy to all of us! On one of your Twitter post I thought that I recognized the strip of highway you were traveling on where you had the road sign which I believe says Brookfield 4 miles and Chilicothe 34 ??? I grew up on a farm just north of Laclede, MO which is between Brookfield and Chilicothe on highway 36. Also, my husband grew up in Hannibal, MO.
    Anyway – just want you to know that I love, love, love “Distilled Genius”!!!! I too love quotes and have collected them since I was in grade school. I got eleven copies and plan to give them for birthdays gifts to my dear friends and sister-in-laws for their birthdays.
    Wishing you and Joe all the best for a beautiful autumn! Oh and Jack too.
    Love – Julie V.

  56. Marybeth Rogers says:

    Your work always leaves me with a smile on my face. Thank you, again. Marybeth

  57. Debbie Boerger says:

    I tried, but failed….to refrain from posting again until you put up a new Willard. But your tweet about the pecan, apple upside down cake almost knocked me off my chair with laughter. Tank you, you MB, for all the great posts on twitter.
    Isn’t this weather divine? Gawjus color, my favorite time of year.
    Happy Everything Dear Lady,
    Mucho Love,
    Debbie in Brilliant Maine

  58. Coco says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thinking of you, and hoping that you and Joe made it home okay. I thought of you when I heard that Amtrak cancelled all long-distance trains in preparation for the proposed strike, which was averted shortly right after they cancelled all the reservations! Hope you got un-cancelled straightaway.

    Gorgeous October here in Denver, sunny days and crisp nights. I bought my front porch pumpkin today. I’m always a little wary… one year after I got home and picked my pumpkin up out of the trunk of the car, an ENORMOUS spider who had been hiding behind the stem made his presence known, eeks.

    Can’t believe it’s been two months since I got to meet you and Joe at The Tattered Cover. Thank you so much for stopping there!!! Loved everything about it, including hearing Joe’s take on Jack’s personality and social skills. Hope you are now happily reunited with Furrface in time for Autumn.

    Wishing you a lov-er-ly Fall! xoxox Coco

  59. Peggy says:

    Dearest Susan,

    Are you ever coming back. I miss you soooo much!! I can’t get on twitter or instagram -so am still hoping to find you here. Hope nothing terrible has happened! Happy Autumn to you Joe and Jack. Hugs from Peggy

  60. Debbie Boerger says:

    OMG !!!
    Yes, I know that feeling of being grateful that you have a talent that brings you (and others) Joy!! I can see the love you’ve put into the water color of young Elizabeth.
    Such a beautiful Fall, the wet ground covered with colorful leaves. They are also decorating the wet boughs of the evergreens. How I love Fall, and all you do for us, Dear Lady.
    Mucho Love from Maine

  61. Coco says:


    That is what I would intone to see if my big fat gold kitty Marmalade was okay. We had a whole communication system, all in CAT, with many different variations on a meow. So, mow-wow? Are you okay? One of the wrinkles of having a coterie of girlfriends who adore your (usually) monthly Willard is that if you take a break, we worry about you! I am ALL for taking a break, but hope it doesn’t mean anything sad or bad has happened. Saying some prayers, just in cases, as you would say.

    It is an absolutely gorgeous October in here in sunny Colorado, and I hope you are enjoying the same on MV. Or perhaps you and Joe stayed in California longer than planned. Wherever you are, I hope you are having a wonderful day.

    Thinking of you, xoxox love Coco

  62. Debbie Boerger says:

    Thank you for letting us know you will be moving on from Elon’s Twitter. I will miss you terribly, but I can’t support him with even one more click. I also canceled Face Book, after Z. allowed so much garbage about Hillary on there in 2020. I can’t get to them with my Daddy’s iron skillet to bash them, so I just turn my back. I still get lovely mail and pictures via email.
    I’m getting most of my news from BBC. They have the most wonderful, fun videos on Reel, part of the online service. It’s also on the telly. Don’t you love the nuanced way they comment. English wit can be withering. (Uh,oh, I alliterated again.) The local news is nothing but pundits and the vile election ads. If exposed to just 5 minutes of that, I can feel my chest squeezing. My ballot is mailed in, and that’s all I can do for now.

    Having my banana bread I baked yesterday with good aged ‘nanners. Must use up or give away all the fresh food. Leaving for Florida on Nov. 5. Yikes, the Vitriol and Lies will still be flying down there. What if I am dragged off by the Morality Police for saying “Gay”? My “colbbering” arm is now weak, but I can still snarl and bite!! Grrrr. Remember when we used to be so relieved after elections no to have to listen to that? In these times, it’s Never Over, is it?
    Love you for being there for all of us, Dear Lady.
    Mucho Halloween Joy,

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