Tick Summer, but things are looking up . . .

Been forever, I know it! I was bitten by a tick! I never saw it, never felt it, didn’t know why I felt so TERRIBLE, chills and fever, aches and pains, down for the count, and even though I did go to the emergency room when it started to get out of control, I didn’t get diagnosed until I started feeling better . . . took a month . . . but finally my smart doctor asked if I had been tested for a tick bite,😳 and sure enough, I had Babesiosis — a little bug in tick spit (I assume) that gets into your red blood cells, but not Lyme, thank goodness. Tomorrow I go for my follow-up blood test to make sure it’s all gone, but I feel great now, although it stole July and most of August. However, writing this Willard was good, I thought I had done NOTHING all summer, but that is not true. Now I get to think of myself as quite the little trooper, rather than the do-nothing person I thought I had been. So here we go. MUSICA!

May was gorgeous, June was gorgeous, July turned out to be August, hot, humid, hell on earth, August was mostly gorgeous, September has reverted to August, last 5 days have been the WORST. But through most of it, when we could, we walked  . . . through the woods, out to the water. Our nature fix, our joy.💞

And while we walk, we listen to books on my phone. One Air Pod in Joe’s ear, one in mine, so we get to hear the same book.📗

We just finished listening to this, Dead Wake, the story of the last crossing of the Lusitania, filled with fascinating history of the times, 1915, New York, President Wilson and his frame of mind, old letters, ship captains, German submarines, passengers, Prime ministers, spies, and WWI. SO interesting, so sad, you get to know and care about the characters, we loved it.

As we walk, we point out the interesting stuff to each other! No words necessary, the pointing finger is enough! Probably tick landed on me one windy day, took a bite, noticed lack of sweetness, recognized his mistake, and jumped off, but too late for me! 

The Long and winding road . . . 2.5 miles a day adds some good steppage to the watch 🏃🏽‍♂️. . . and lovely everything to my heart.

Lately we’re seeing the signs of change on the road . . .

Bits of color are starting to show up in the woods . . . rose hips wild asters, and flaming mushrooms . . .

We had beautiful sunsets . . .

And that last “Blue Moon” in August was pure magic.

Jack and I were up early . . . the moon was so bright it woke me up! So we came downstairs ~ it was just past 4:30 am and while the water was boiling for tea, I took the camera outside to catch the moon shadows, which followed me everywhere! That’s a rose trellis over the back screen leaving that slatted shadow on the walls around Jack  . . . 🎶🎵 I’m being followed by a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow . . .🎵🎵🎵

And look at this . . . it’s like a painting, the way the light falls on the Adirondack chairs! iPhones have such good cameras in them now! Slats on the lawn, slats slicing the picnic table under the arbor, affectionally known as “the Teahouse of the Vineyard Moon” so named by the Bowditch family who lived here before us and built the arbor.

It’s still nighttime, so quiet and chirping with crickets, the rest of the island is asleep, and I’m outside nurking around, feeling sorry for them for missing this, with only Jack as my witness. This is why it’s so hard to lose an animal, they know everything and love us anyway!😻 

The garden did a good job mostly on its own. We spent some nice time working out there in June, but for me, after that, other things got in the way ~ first it was too hot, and secondly, the tick bite had me doing a lot of sleeping . . . I just went out to check on the tomatoes, picked flowers and ran them back to the air conditioning to put in little vases on the shelf over my kitchen sink.

One thing about the humidity and rain, it kept everything green and the Rose of Sharon was in its element!

I have learned to love clover almost as much as the bees do! Look how cute! Wildflowers. There are pros and cons for every kind of green thing growing, but if planting a clover lawn sounds interesting to you, you can read about it here.

It’s more casual than a regular lawn, and looks like a field of wildflowers .. . but when the flowers turn brown, you can mow it! A LOT less mowing than a regular lawn because it doesn’t get tall.

See the dirt? Well, it used to go this entire length down next to the bushes. It was ivy, which had begun taking over the back yard. Joe made it his project this year to get rid of the ivy and seed the area with clover . . . You can sort of see a line between old turf and new-grown clover on the right. He would work, then plant, then do a bigger patch, then plant . . . Wonderful project, it took away that overgrown look and widened the yard by a visible bunch!Butterfly weed, roses, hydrangea, daisies, Beatrix Potter, and bird feeders. All my favorites!

Out to dinner with my dear old friend Elaine! Remember her and her little dog Boxcar in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams? She was my boss when I worked for Cliff? Yes, still friends … friends forever!💞

Despite being sick, the good news is that we had lots of fun things on the calendar. Joe had to go to some things by himself, but as I was getting better, I went too! We go to this restaurant a lot, because of the view, and sit on the porch. The harbor, the boats, the water, don’t ever think we take this for granted because we know a miracle when we see one.💖

Lovely friends . . . it was the birthday of our host (with his back to the camera) he played the guitar and we sang Beatles songs … on a beautiful balmy night with his family & friends . . . and right at the end of the table, in front of the birthday boy, on the horizon, someone all the way down by the shore was sending off fireworks! I told you in my book Vineyard Seasons, all those years ago, there are fairies running ahead on this island making little views of magic you never expect to see!👏

Luckily it’s not just me who believes in festival days! Jaime (on the right in sunglasses), next to Margot (with her red hair in a bun), arranged this table at the Katama Kitchen, sent out an email inviting everyone, telling us to bring a credit card and she would bring the wine, and please RSVP . . . and we did and met for this wonderful end of summer get-together dinner the first day of September. No one had to cook, no one had to pay except for ourselves, and tra la! Together at last!

How would we live without these dearest old friends!? We’ve shared our lives for so many years! It’s true love!💞 Jaime is my girlfriend who has triplet boys, and then a year later, she had ANOTHER one.🙀 She’s famous on the island. I read about her in the paper before I ever knew her, and recognized her in town with her stroller filled with babies! The boys are grown now . . . but that’s what I’m talking about! We’ve known each other a long time! We have lots to laugh about! Lots to admire! Hardworking women, lives well lived.💞

We had some wonderful weather this summer, but we also had a whole lot of HUMIDITY. In which, I melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. You won’t see any pictures of me outside when the windows look like this from the inside! I took this photo this morning!🫣 97% humidity. Call the police.

There is one week in August when Martha’s Vineyard does EVERYTHING …. The Fair, Illumination Night, the Fireworks. All the oldest and best summer Island events happen at the same time. It’s crazy. The Island is packed and we barely leave home. Except this year, we got the BEST weather for the Fair! Could not resist!

So here we are! At the Grange, on our way to the

You remember I wrote about Nancy Luce? The woman who loved her chickens so much? She sold her cow at the very first Martha’s Vineyard Cattle Show and Fair in 1858.🐄 Herstory!

Our Fair is all about family, food, and old-fashioned FUN!

Everything old is new again! Only thing different, they use matching plastic bags instead of gunny sacks! 

Little kids love the bee ride! And it was the only ride besides the Merry-Go-Round that looked interesting to me!

The only thing going on in my head when looking at this was No. No no no no no no no. No.🤪 Waaaay too much machinery.

This is what I like . . . the big barn with celebration of everything Home! Homemade everything!

First-prize, Blue-Ribbon fireworks quilt hanging from the rafters in the barn . . . notice the Oak Bluffs Bandstand in the lower left ~ celebrating a night of stars!

Here’s the real bandstand ~ she caught it perfectly on the quilt ~ on a night of fireworks and music with children and parents dancing around it while waiting for it to get totally dark.

This is the quilt for me, I just love the tiny pieces, the WORK in it, and the amazing charm of this quilt! I don’t see any two squares exactly alike! But none of the exhibits at the Fair are for sale, put away your credit card, NFS!😭

I know how it feels to be a quilt lover . . . and it’s September. Something about fall and old quilts that go so well together! I found all of mine in antique stores or yard sales. My grandma gave me one that my great-grandmother made, after that I’ve always loved them, loved decorating with them. You can see some of that HERE.

I don’t know how they could possibly judge the onions (or a cucumber, or the zucchini, OR even tomatoes), but here’s first place for onions! I think it’s the basket that made the difference!

I was surprised and thrilled to see the Martha’s Vineyard fabric I designed a few years ago in this prize-winning toddler’s romper and hat!👏 Yes, there were lots of sewing, knitting, crochet projects!

FYI, that fabric is still available at Spoonflower in three colors, and they even have it as wallpaper.💖

Back to my favorite cow. Freckled . . . and when I spoke to him, he mooed back at me. I was honored. I didn’t even know I was a Cow whisperer.❤️

Can’t help but picture these sliced on bread, spread with lots of mayonnaise, salt and pepper … love tomato sandwiches in the summer!

There were prize winning sheep, horses, goats, cows, chickens, and pigs ~ the kids were enthralled!

The pies, cakes, biscuits, tea breads, & muffins were all behind glass to keep the bees out of the barn! And it probably also kept them from being nibbled to death!

Of course they had all the Carny games, balloon darts, milk bottle ring toss, bells, whistles, and God only knows ~ the only problem with them is if you win and win BIG, you have to lug your winnings around for the rest of the night! “Please could you watch my banana while I ride the Ferris Wheel?”

You could always see who the big winners were! He probably gave that dog? Is it a dog? to his girl, and is thinking, “I’m not looking, someone please steal it, please steal it.”😂 She’s probably thinking the same thing. 

Over in Oak Bluffs, they were having the Island-Sing-Along at the Tabernacle in the Campground that happens just before they turn off the lights for Illumination Night!

Lights go off and the people who own the little cottages light up their luminarias and lanterns, everyone strolls, oooohs and ahhhhs, while talking to the people and dogs on the porches. It’s a gorgeous evening, but we were at the Fair this year!

And then back home for us!

So here I am, going out, but take note of the paper taped to the floor, and the hole in the wall . . . the kitchen has been torn apart because we had a plumbing problem coming from the bathroom above the kitchen . . .

Joe had to rip out the wall and ceiling for the constantly prayed-for, but sporadic arrival of the plumbers … he put plastic over the cupboards to keep the dust away, and blocked off the hole at night to keep Jack from heading out … not that he would … but see that rusty pipe in the wall?

It’s ancient. See the crack? Oh yeah. It made a big problem. We hadn’t used the upstairs bathroom in almost a year! But we found out not just ANY normal plumber could handle this … we had to wait our turn for the genius one that could. We live on an island. To get an electrician or a plumber to come, you have to go out looking for their truck, drive them off the road, and beg.

And all this? Yup, big fat lead pipe. But don’t worry, this was actually the pipe for everything that flowed AWAY from the bathroom, not for water flowing INTO the bathroom. It’s gone now, and more power to it. Did okay for a hundred years.

We got it all back to this point, and got the paper off the floor, before our company arrived! Feeling very good about ourselves. NICK of time! Love it when company comes, house gets cleaned up!!! Next step, tear it all apart again, wash the walls, and put on a brand new coat of paint.

Flowers for our company . . . 

Joe saved me these nails he pulled from the walls. Aren’t they wonderful? They look handmade to me, house was built in 1849, but Joe says no, they are machine made. All but that bent one has a square “point” and a square top. I think I might have to put them in a shadow box and save them for future owners. Sometimes nails are what dreams are made of.🏡💫💫💫

One thing I DID get done, the new 2025 calendars, all four of them!👏👏👏 This one, the Wall Calendar, plus the Blotter, the mini, and the small purse calendar.💖  

As usual, I thought to myself, what do my Girlfriends want? . . . I hope I got it right! 

Purse calendar is a cutie!

But forget 2025, here’s our 2024 Wall Calendar! For sale in 2023! 🤪 No wonder I never know what year it is!

All of them, the Blotter, the Mini, the Purse too. As some of you know, we ran out last year ~ we never know if that’s going to happen, just an FYI! As they say, the best way to remember Mother’s Day is to forget it once!💞

While I was sick, our website went down for a week. I weakly screamed bloody murder, but it took a while to get it back up . . . sorry for the confusion. But when it DID come, we got a brand new MODERN sign-up for you to receive notifications for Willard in your email boxes👏👏👏 — top of this page on the right ~ so if you haven’t been receiving it, feel free to sign up again! I never sell a list, and will never send you anything but Willard! You are safe with me!💖💖💖💖 

Time for me to go! But not before wishing you the most wonderful

I leave you with this wonderful quote:And you know, there are only two seasons, Autumn and waiting for Autumn. We are crossing over!!!👏👏👏 One last thing, a public service announcement:

My boy, about to do some weight lifting!💖💖💖💖💖 Byeee!

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171 Responses to Tick Summer, but things are looking up . . .

  1. Bonnie Baine says:

    susan, where is the cabin located that you all stayed in in maine? we are planningto go to maine next spring and that place looked so peaceful in the woods. if you can reply that would be great.bonnie

  2. Nicole Berg says:

    So glad to hear you are healing & taking it easy now with all that is going on. I had wondered why there were no new events posted since ’22. I’m very sorry I missed you in Danville, CA for your book tour last year. But I did recently pick up your Distilled Genius & I’m so glad I did! Also purchased from your store your ‘Enchanted Excerpts’ & am very much looking forward to its arrival. It’s wonderful seeing all your new calendars & things to be released. Glad you vacation in Maine, wondered if you ever been to Monhegan Island off its coast. Can’t wait to hear when you may be on the West Coast again next year. Please let us know!

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