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

  1. Mary+Brehm says:

    Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry about the tick thingy. I hate them so much. yucky gross nasty things. I’m glad you are on the mend. You had so many lovely things to share about your summer and I just soaked it all in. The friends, the garden, the walks, the fair…and the QUILTS! Absolutely stunning. Oh my goodness the workmanship and the colors…just dreamy.
    Isn’t it nice to have a handy husband? Like Rosanne Rossana Danna liked to say, “If it’s not one thing it’s another!” Plumbing issues, probably not what you were anticipating for your summer. I’m glad you got it straightened out. One of the nice things about having company or a big event at your house is it forces you to get things cleaned up and in order. I always think to myself…Why didn’t it do this sooner??
    We had my daughter, Jessie’s baby shower last weekend and it was wonderful. Bill and I worked our tails off the week before in that nasty heat and humidity getting the yard and gardens ready. So much weeding! Weed, sweat, take a shower and go back out weed some more. Where do all these weeds come from? We got it done! and everything went so well. She looked beautiful and got so many cute baby things! Now I’m sitting in my chair in a quiet and relatively clean house working on her baby quilt. I think I can get it done before the baby comes Her due date is October 24th. The day after my birthday!
    I swapped out my Susan Branch summer book and replaced with the Autumn book in a place of honor on my kitchen counter. I love changing out the seasons, especially Autumn. Something so new and invigorating about this time of year.
    Once again thank you for sharing your lovely slice of heaven on the Vineyard.

    • sbranch says:

      I love baby showers! So pretty: the colors, so cute: the gifts, so hopeful and filled with expectation in more ways than one! Not long now! Happiest Fall ever to you and yours!🍂👶🍂

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Oh bless you! Glad the sickness was not worse! Blessings ❤️🙏

  3. I always look so forward to seeing your posts. So full of delights, kindness and cheerful beauty. I do hope you recover quickly and completely. Happy Fall!

  4. Carol Domenicucci says:

    Haha cow whisperer….. you have been a cow whisperer since your visit with the cows from Pilot Hill Farm….!!

  5. Treese says:

    Your beautiful “Freckled Cow” looks like a bull to me. LOL. Still quite the beauty.
    Treese/Colorado Cowgirl.

  6. Debbie says:

    Oh, Deah! I’m so sorry you have been sick! I think we all sensed something was amiss. So thankful that the infection was Not Lyme. We now have 2 more neurological diseases from deer ticks here in Maine. My Lovely Tom doesn’t always remember to spray, spray, spray and tuck his pant legs into the socks. We’ve made the tick check after showers into something X Rated!! Make it fun for him, and we’ll get all the ticks. And there have been many. He’s had to go on antibiotic twice this summer. So far, so good, got it early. Even though he traded his old humongous Paul Bunyan sized chain saw for a smaller one, he still cruises the brush and woods. Still building things for me, and still playing golf several times a week. Not too shabby for an 83 year old Cutie Pootootie!

    Our tomato “trees” are finally producing ripe ones, just in time for Hurricane Lee to hit us. I still have my Southern Living fried green tomatoes recipe, and can use the windfall apples to make some chutney. I don’t do much canning these days, as standing for hours is asking too much for these po’ deformed feetsies…even with those squishy mats in the kitchen and wearing these ginormous Hoka shoes.
    Saturday we traded our neighbor some ripe ‘maters for her just harvested pole beans. Finally cool enough to turn on the oven, so we had a supper reminiscent of my youth in the deep South (minus some of the pork fat). Good lean pork chops, beans with onion, and some freshly made buttermilk biscuits. All windows and French doors open wide. Ahhhh!
    Those square cut iron nails are just like the ones we used here in our floor. We have varied widths of pine put down with those nails. Lots of sore knees from that. A local guy forged the iron hangers for the beams that hold up the loft.
    Can’t fathom that the house was built in 1997, and we are now in the replacement phase. Some windows have rotted. Hope the huge 10’ long one doesn’t blow in with this hurricane.

    Mostly, hope all of you, Joe and Jack and your wonderful friends sticking out there in the Atlantic Ocean come off unscathed. You are old hands at this, so you know to get ready. This will be bad for New England and our beloved Nova Scotia. We happened to be there when Hurricane Dorian hit a few years ago. Those tough Canadians kept things open and everyone seemed to enjoy the challenge. We stayed at a lovely inn way out on the a northern edge of Cape Bretton Island, and the host gave everyone a lantern, battery powered, and extra blankets. He powered up his generator and made us the most wonderful breakfasts. Even the Fortress Louisbourg with all it’s costumed guides just kept going. Actually the candle and lantern lit interiors made it seem as though it was “Real”.
    We are all so grateful for every bit of Joy you give, Dear Lady. Give yourself some hugs from us.
    Mucho Love from Debbie in Down East Maine

    • sbranch says:

      Be careful . . . am watching Hurricane Progress … we managed to save our Summer Vacation for this Friday, heading to Lake Sebago just in time for storm! That’s alright, it’s a camp where they feed you 3 meals a day . . . we’ll have books, light fires, take naps. Love it all! Give Love to Lovely Tom, Hugs to you sweet girl! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  7. Glenda+Slanina says:

    Happy end of summer….almost! Sorry to hear about you being sick. I spent five weeks feeling lousy with a horrible cold which I know had to come from my two young grandkids. My remedy was to be grateful it was only a cold and to read your Summer book through two times. Yes, twice. I was just enjoying in your delightful book what I was missing in person. Oh well, all better now and ready for the heat and humidity to go away. Bring on autumn! And yes, your Autumn book is already on my nightstand. 🍂🏈🍁🐾🐿️🌻

    • sbranch says:

      I think my Summer Book might be more like summer now than actual summer!🤣 Glad you’re better! Happy Fall! 🍂🏈🍁🐾🐿️🌻

  8. Dee+Ann says:

    So glad you are on the mend…happy Fall to you and Joe. So excited here inTexas finally receiving rain and cooler weather.

  9. Andrea Tandler says:

    I’m so glad you are feeling better Susan! Thanks for sharing the Fair with us. That Fireworks quilt is beautiful! I have a family heirloom quilt that was handmade by my late husband’s great grandmother. I gently attached rings to the back to hang it in my dining room. It seemed like a Susan Branch thing to do. You have been inspiring us for years. 😊 Thanks for the Willard! 🍁🍂🍁🍂

  10. Kathy George says:

    All your wonderful walks helped you heal!!! So happy you are better. Keep taking care of that happy gene and your good health will win. This post reminded me to order my calendar. Hello to Joe.

  11. Ann Woleben says:

    So many charming, fun events on your island! Glad you are feeling better.

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

    Hello Susan, Hello Girlfriends. so glad you are back and doing well. i was worried that something was wrong, glad you are now okay. we have ticks here and when wandering around in the back it is best to wear long sleeved shirts and blue jeans. but if it is hot, just don’t go back to the back part of the property. life here has been hot, we had 112 degrees in July and triple digit days following that .. YUK!! really makes me not like the Summer too much. we only have ceiling fans and they were going 24/7 and we finally got a window A.C for the kitchen and had the fans going to circulate the air around the house. it felt marvelous. i stayed inside more than i went outside it felt so good. well life here has been interesting, my FIL was put in the hospital July 6th and he is still in the hospital, he had a series of surgeries done due his falling over and injuring his neck, back and spine. plus the blood circulation in his right leg was clogged over 90% and we feel this is why he was falling over all the time, but he neglected to say anything to the doctors about it ( his falling over). when they did a scan and saw how clogged that major artery was, they had to surgically put in stints to try to open up the vein, no good as his foot, and lower right leg were going black (literally) due to the lack of circulation. and about a month or so ago his lower right leg was amputated about 3 inches below the knee. so now he is in rehab to get some upper body strength to lift himself to help the caregivers get him into a wheelchair. the problem now is he is refusing to do anything to help himself, he expects that he can go home and we will care for him. not possible, my husband works 10 – 12 hours a day as a mechanic for the bus company, he is the head mechanic there. but still he cannot just stop his work and go care for his dad, and not me as i have a lot to do here and volunteer work at the school and local library. there is no way we can do that, we cannot lift him should he fall over, we may do more harm than good due to his injuries. plus FIL has the notion that my husband is retired, he is not as he works for a living. he is however retired military (Navy) but still he cannot stop work to go care for his dad. we have told the doctors and the case manager this but his dad insists on going home so we can care for him. I even got so ticked off with his dad that i shouted at him that no we could not care for him, with all his problems and such it is better he have caregivers there 24/7 to deal with him. but his dad refuses. and so it goes on. anyone got any ideas on to solve this??? we are starting to see colors here, Fall is coming, only 12 days away. i cannot wait for all the wonderful colors, the cooler nights and shorter days, the wonderful scents like sage, and cooking roasts or turkeys, the clean crisp air and wonderful days filled with all sorts of good things. take care and stay happy. hugs ..

    • sbranch says:

      Hardest thing of all. I think most of us pray we can die at home. How awful for him, and for you. Sometimes Hospice can give you good advice. Maybe if he’s in that kind of place, they can provide the care he needs. Good luck Pat!

  13. Jill Beck says:

    Glad you are recovering!!! When we lived in Wyoming, I had been walking our dog through some brush one afternoon. That evening I felt something odd on my leg, dropped my drawers and there was a tick trying to decide on the best spot to nibble! Luckily it hadn’t bitten nor burrowed. Sorry you were so tasty.
    With your descriptions of summertime on your island, people will start moving to Martha’s Vineyard in droves!
    Happy Autumn!

    • sbranch says:

      Did I mention Humidity from Hell? 🤣 Think Twice. Summer is not the season! Yes, I think I should have been able to feel the twitchy little legs of a tick, but NO! I need to sensitize myself more! ❌⭕️❌

  14. DonnaRay Evans says:

    As awful as illness is, especially mysterious illness, it does make us stop the hurry scurry and live with just ourselves for awhile. In my experience, goodness and gratitude always come from that. I’m glad you are well.
    Susan, you are so in love with your island home! Reading your words encourages me to look around and notice again what I love about my home. Thank you for the inspiration.
    Loved the photos of your several Festivals of Friendship! I baked a blueberry pie for dinner with friends, realized we had known them for 50 years, so cut pie dough letters that read “50 years of friendship”….no easy task! But so worth the celebration and down-memory-lane discussions.

    • sbranch says:

      I agree, being sick is being human, we need to be reminded sometimes. Yes, madly in love ~ I hope who ever owns it in the future lives with it for a while before tearing down walls and oldness. Because it’s a hugger! And a storyteller. And they will need time to recognize it … house hugs are very subtle, but oooo la la! Ohhh, what a beautiful pie and celebration of your friendships! 👏👏👏

  15. Memarge says:

    Oh, Susan! I’m so sorry you’ve been ill! I wondered if I’d been kicked off the Willard list accidentally. Because I don’t recall getting the newsletter offering new cups offering the Queen Elizabeth II and now they are no more. But hurrah you’re back and you’ve been missed!

  16. Kathy Branch Spicer says:

    September is my FAVORITE MONTH! My birthday is in September, and I always loved back to school! And usually, the weather is LOVELY. Wishing you a beautiful, healthy September (ticks are no joke!).

    • sbranch says:

      Usually September, from day one, is fall for us. Not this year. It tricked us the first 4 or 5 days and was perfect, but since then, eeeeeeek! It’s August to the nth degree! But this too shall pass, and I’m ready! Happy Fall Kathy!🍂

  17. Sue says:

    Dear Sue and Joe,
    So sorry to hear that you got bitten by a tick. I worry about them whenever I do yard work. I’m glad that you are feeling better now. I check your blog all the time, and wondered why it had been almost 2 months since your last posting. I am not on twitter, but up until recently could see your tweets. For some reason now I can no longer see them, which is a bummer, but I don’t feel comfortable joining twitter, so I am limited to only getting information from you by Willards. I’m glad you still got to enjoy seeing your friends when you felt up to it. Have a wonderful fall. Love Sue

    • sbranch says:

      Interesting. Most if the people I know on Twitter are not happy with what Elon Musk has done to it. Many, including me, have joined the new Threads ~ SO much sweeter and nicer, at least so far. Probably move over there when more of my friends have come there too . . . it’s hard to leave folks when you’ve been there since 2009! I’m going to try to post more often. Maybe shorter, but more! ❌⭕️❌

  18. Linda Hull says:

    I’m so happy that you are feeling better and sorry that you had to go through it. This summer was a bad one for ticks! Autumn is a welcome change although it still feels like Summer right now. Cooler temperatures are in our forecast here in upstate New York, so we will send them your way. Thank you for such a newsy Willard. I’ve been reading parts of it aloud to my husband and we are getting a kick out of it.
    Enjoy the Fall and all it brings,
    Linda 🌻🍁🍂🌾🍎🥧 🎃🧡

  19. Erica C says:

    Very glad you’re feeling better, Susan! Those ticks are nothing to scoff at. We lived in California tick country for many years, and I found THE BEST gadget to remove them~~works on people and especially on pets. It’s called the Tick Tornado and works like a charm. Highly recommended for all the Girlfriends, and especially for those with furry friends.

    So pleased you’re back in the swing of things just in time to celebrate Autumn. I haven’t yet brought out my “Autumn” book this year~~anticipation! Happy autumn to you and to all.

  20. Barbara Anne says:

    I so enjoyed this, and all, your Willards! What a breath of fresh air, kindness, and happiness. Just what the word needs in abundance.

    Sorry about that tick bite. Let me warn you about another type tick that made its unwelcome way from Texas across the South and now well up the Eastern Seaboard. It’s called the Lone Star tick, it has a tiny white dot on its back, and – I kid you not – it can make you allergic to beef (that’s my problem) but others also can become allergic to pork, chicken, and dairy products. Watch out for GI misery and get tested. Look it up. To wail a bit, I miss hamburgers, chili, pot roast, roast beef sandwiches, etc!


    • sbranch says:

      Some people on the Island have already gotten it. Friends, suddenly allergic to beef! If Joe got that it would break his heart. He’s Meat-Man and always will be. When you can’t have those things you’re used to, it’s hard. If you sneak just one something in, like eat one sandwich, are you instantly sick? Occurs to me, this may be God’s way of saving the earth, make us allergic to eating animals, new tick comes along, and suddenly we’re allergic to cars, gas stations, plastic in water, etc. 😳 This is what happens when you have TOO much imagination!😂 Hugs to you Barbara Anne, stay healthy!❌⭕️❌⭕️

  21. Janet in NC says:

    I came to the blog in search of Willard. So sorry for your illness, and grateful for your PSA and recovery. Fall festivals are gearing up here in the south, wishing you the loveliest season.

  22. Eileen says:

    Did you realize your previous blog post began with Tick-Tock? Prophetic! Love the floral watercolor at the start of the blog. It’s so pretty.

  23. Suzy B. says:

    Sooooo glad you are feeling better! What an ordeal to face. Hopefully fall will be smooth sailing for you. Absolutely loved this September Willard – the gorgeous hollyhocks in your garden (I think they are hollyhocks?) are just fantastic. And those county fair quilts. Dreamy. I wanted you to know that your white picket fence garden has inspired me to start a perennial flower garden in a bed of our raised bed veggie garden that I see from my kitchen window. I have been thinking about it for over a year, delayed by this and that, but with teamwork with my hubby (his muscle, my flower choice and arrangement) we just got it planted. I chose flowers that like to be planted in the fall in the PNW and now we will see what comes back in the spring with some tlc and fingers crossed. It is just about 3’x6’ – small, but a big improvement over a few weeds and snap peas that did not enjoy our hot hot and very very dry summer. Every time I look out my kitchen window now it makes me happy. Thank you for sharing about your happenings big and small that inspire us girlfriends everywhere. 💕

    • sbranch says:

      Ohhh, what a thrill it will be next year as your garden comes into bloom! From your kitchen window! Fantastic gift you gave your family! Flowers for your little vases! Yay!🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

  24. Viffy says:

    So glad to see a new blog post, and that all is well with you!
    My former boss had to deal with a tick bite (Michigan trails are a favorite spot for them) and I saw first hand just how dangerous it can be! Blessings to you for fighting through it all, and still bringing a beautiful as always perspective on how life can twist and turn for us all. Your stories, photos and experiences (and this one was a scary event) help us to join with you and navigate from afar.
    Stay safe and sane.

  25. Nellie+Bragg says:

    Oh, dear! What an experience! Ticks have been bad here this season. I was able to remove a small one that had attached to hubby’s leg earlier in the summer, and not long ago discovered a larger one crawling on me!! So happy you are feeling improved! Our house is only 20 years old, and we had plumbing problems, too! Everything one possesses needs maintenance, it seems! I love lawns filled with clover. It makes for happy bees! Still waiting for summer to realize it has overdone itself this year; time to move aside and make room for autumn. We are blessed and grateful and send along our very best wishes to you, Joe, and Jack! -xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Wow Nellie, you too! That’s the thing, I’ve NEVER had one attached before … not that this one was attached, I have no idea WHAT it did, never saw it … but like you, I’ve had one crawling on me . . . not my favorite thing. Around here, if you even have one crawling on you they start you on antibiotics! Too many people have gotten desperately sick from Lyme … they take no chances anymore. Happy Fall dear Girl, always lovely to hear from you!❌⭕️

  26. Davi+Mondt+Lowman says:

    SUSAN! We had a worse-than-usual TICK summer here in Iowa. And, since we live in the country on an acreage, we are very tick conscious. Checking each other for ticks is not only necessary, but quite fun! This retired RN is SO glad you didn’t get Lime disease! And I’m very happy that you’re all better now. We’ve had quite the summer here at Smiling Dog Farm with the addition of a new boy, Arlie J. Lowman. He is an apricot-color Goldendoodle. He joined us in May at 7 weeks of age and we’ve been in babyland since! Tonight is his first Puppie Class. Our two housecats and our very old Schnorkie were not pleased with the new family member…. but things are slowly improving. There is never a dull moment around here. The Autumn weather is such a relief after the same awful humid HOT days earlier. Enjoy the outdoors but remember to tuck your pant legs into your socks and wear long sleeves and a hat! The ticks are with us until a very cold freeze! Bring it on!

    • sbranch says:

      A puppy!!! 👏👏👏 Job and a half, but what fun! Yes, my walking outfits are distinctly weird now. But I don’t care! I should have put those tips in the willard, glad you are saying it. . . Retired RNs carry a lot of good advice weight!❌⭕️

  27. Barbara Vlcek-Vinikow says:

    Hi Susan!
    I’ve been thinking of you and wondering if you were OK since it had been awhile since your last Willard. And now here it is! I am so very glad to know you are doing well and have recovered from the tick bite. What a bummer to have experienced that. I admire your ability to continue working on your calendars throughout! They look just beautiful!!!

    I love so many of the pictures you’ve posted here on your blog: the one of Jack looking out at the moonshadows from his perch on your ironing board; the pink hollyhocks growing in your garden; the peach-color rose in the mint-green vase (a favorite color combination of mine!); and those amazing quilts!

    I have always loved hand made quilts. I have a few of my grandma’s quilts, made by her and/or her sisters. When I was a 4th grade teacher I always brought them in to decorate my classroom in the months of October & November. I used quilts as a teaching theme in math (geometry!) & reading (many great children’s books: The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco, The Quilt Story by Tomie DeCarlo, Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold were favorites). And, of course, art projects!

    I’m glad that you had some good times with friends over the summer. Nothing better than sitting outside on a beautiful summer day/evening, eating delicious fresh veggies & fruit from the garden, sharing & enjoying great conversation! Especially at the beach!

    We had some wonderful beach time, ourselves, up on the Oregon Coast during the last week of July. Met up with family and shared a vaca-rental. Then drove south along the coast into CA. We took a jet boat ride up the Rogue River from Gold Beach to Agness. So much fun! We had a great guide who shared so much of his knowledge about the history and the environment. And we saw all kinds of birds & animals…even a baby black bear cub who was so curious about this “thing” out in the river with all the strange looking “creatures” on it. He followed along the river’s edge for awhile until he obviously heard his mama’s call to him, because he turned and scampered up the bank into the brush where she was waiting.

    Summertime is lovely, although, like you, I don’t care for the hot, hot, temps. My favorite season, particularly here in Reno/Lake Tahoe is Autumn and I’m looking forward to beautiful sunny days & crisp, cool nights, and the gorgeous colors of gold & scarlet leaves!!!

    Wishing you , Joe & Jack a Happy September & Happy Autumn! And sending you all love & hugs! Take good care of yourselves…you are so treasured by so many of us!!!
    Your friend,

    • sbranch says:

      Lovely summer news Barbara! You made some great memories! We’re having our summer vacation at the end of this week, heading up to Maine. We have Hurricane Lee haunting the coast, but looks like he’s turning out to sea.👏 Happy Autumn! ❌⭕️

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Barbara, My Tom and I took that jet boat trip up the Rogue to Agness. So much fun. I bought a little watercolor of Gold Beach.
      4th grade was my favorite one to teach, sooo many years ago.
      Debbie in Maine

  28. Karen Courtney says:

    OH! I’m so sorry to hear you had been sick but (although I’m not sure of the pronounciation) “babesciosis” sounds like something you might contract from being too much of a Babe! I bet Joe would agree! Ha Ha! Having your stuffed tomatoes for dinner tonight. I missed your August Willard so you made my day. Happy, happy Fall to you both (and darling Jack)!!

  29. Carolyn S. Johnson says:

    Just what I needed most today – a Willard to read! So enjoyable – love all the pictures and quotes. Thankful you are all well from that awful tick bite! Lots of ticks in Arkansas where I live. No fun. I do have my 2024 calendar and it’s beautiful as usual!!! Blessings on you and Joe. You impact so many lives in so many ways.

  30. lak says:

    Love to get your Willard, it is balm for the soul and music to my heart! Glad you are feeling better!

  31. Debbie says:

    I’m glad you’re feeling better, now that temperatures outside should soon be more inviting. Thanks for sharing the fair with it’s gorgeous displays. Looks like a great time. Keep feeling better!

  32. Lynn Marie says:

    What an accurate description of this summer! Even far away here in Indiana. The Humidity was a dinger–I couldnt even walk the dogs around the house without becoming drenched in sweat. But onward we travel into Fall and beyond. I have my Autumn mug out and my morning coffee has been extra special.

  33. Beverlee+Moreno-Ring says:

    Wow Susan, you got bit by a tick!!! Im so sorry to hear you were sick. So glad you are feeling better now.. That was such a great Willard with so much news and summer happenings. Hard to imagine you were sick too!!! So glad you were able to find your happy place among the tick bite, the humidity and heat. Autumn is happening!!!! Sending lots of love,
    Thee Beverlee

  34. Pamela Sinsabaugh says:

    So glad the “icky-tick” days are behind you. Very scary. Love the pics from the Fair – looks like good time was had by all! Take care of yourself and Joe and Jack too! Be of good cheer – summer 2023 is on its last leg and beautiful Autumn is knocking on the back door!

    • sbranch says:

      That last leg is HEAVY here. It’s 6:30 am, looking outside: pure fog, 98% humidity, I’m guessing around 75º ~ ick like the tick!🤣 Joe’s getting up early so we can walk. It will be gorgeous by the pond, with the view through the fog! Yay for fall!🍂

  35. Sandi in Plymouth says:

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I had a tick bit in January of all months, and almost died from the antibiotic that I was given to ward off Lyme disease! We moved this summer and that also just about killed me! I’ll never move again and love living in America’s Hometown! Best to you and thanks for sending Willard, a bright spot in my day! xoxoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Never move again because you are in the PERFECT PLACE!! Good for you Sandi, for making that happen. Such a wonderful town! Yeah, Lyme is nothing to fool with! Best right back to you Sandi!!!💖

  36. Stacey N. says:

    Just what I needed. In the process of determining if I have an autoimmune disorder, got off work in a hospital and so tired. Made myself check e-mails and so happy to see yours. Saved it for last to savor. Glad you are feeling better and no Lyme disease. You must check out Lost Forest on You tube. She is in Ireland and a very special Kindred Spirit. Just watching one of her videos makes me feel better, like reading your blog.
    Enjoy and take care, fall can’t come soon enough, although I am in Northern Ca.


    • sbranch says:

      The pressure on our hospitals these days seems overwhelming to me. It’s not like your job is the ONLY thing you do. Not to mention the stress of the chaos in our country and in the world. I’m glad you’re taking care!🍂🍁🍂

  37. Mary Helen Z says:

    A site for sore eyes after a bad day at work! Thank you!

  38. Gail Risden says:

    Welcome back Susan! Boy were you missed!! So glad you discovered it was a tick -hope no lasting side effects? I love reading about your life and thoughts. I hope you never get tired of sharing . Please don’t retire ever. (OK maybe slow down if you need to but never stop altogether? I live vicariously thru my friends travels and you are a dear friend,! Love and hugs, Gail PS Your Enchanted Book Club trips sound like such fun. Will there be any info about how the latest one went?

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Gail! 😘 So far, no side effects. But those shivery chills were very strange! Bug juice is b.a.d. Bad. I feel the same about me retiring as you do, but I also feel the effects of getting older. I want to write another book, I think having a new book when I turn 80 would be my perfect birthday present to me. We’ll see! The Enchanted Book Club trips are not mine, just inspired by our Girlfriends trip last year! Makes me so happy… they belong to Haley Solano of the Book Club … she’s doing tours of authors homes . . .I’m sure she will be updating everyone on her social media accounts!💞👏

  39. Wren says:

    I visited the Cape and MV for the first time earlier in August and had a wonderful time looking at all the beautiful houses. We went to Beach Road Weekend on Saturday. It was so loud! Tore off bits of napkin and stuck them in my ears! 🤓

    • sbranch says:

      We live very close to that venue and almost had to put plugs in our ears too! What were they thinking … they’re going to make all their fans deaf! You were here!💞 I hope, despite the napkins in your ears, you were able to get out to the shore and the quiet . . .💋

  40. Laura says:

    Just wanted to say Hi! Just skimmed through will spend part of my day off tomorrow leisurely rereading this Willard with a fresh cup of coffee. That kinda morning could lead to a Red Letter Day!!!♥️♥️

    God bless you & Joe & sweet Jack

    Laura in Illinois

  41. Ann R says:

    My goodness Susan, you had a eventful summer! I am so glad you’re on the mend, and thank you for the PSA on Babesiosis & Ticks in general. Wikipedia says Marthas Vineyard is a very high risk area for them. In spite of this health drama you managed to have a fun filled summer with all your photos of the events. The canning and pies brought back memories of going to the Puyallup Fair (also known as the Western Washington state fair) when I was a kid. A slice of rhubarb pie would hit the spot just now. Thanks for sharing Aloha.

  42. JoEllen Bendall says:

    OH dear girl! NOT the dreaded tick. I’m SO glad it’s not Lyme disease and you’re recovering. I look worser and worser when I work in the yard. Pants tucked into socks (a favorite w neon margarita print), my hair tied up in a bandana, smelling like industrial bug spray. Thank goodness you’re better. I’ve had the hottest and coldest strangest weather back in Indiana. Up early to head off to Farmer’s Market in South Bend for pumpkins and mums and the eternal tomato. BIG hug.

    • sbranch says:

      Exactly how I look going on our walk now! Joe looks at my “outfit” and laughs but he still goes with me and that’s all that matters! Sounds like you are right back in the groove. BIG hug right back to you!💖

  43. Seona says:

    So glad you’re feeling great again now Susan, ready for autumn 🍂. It seems that you packed plenty in to your summer, all things considered, well done! Lots of love, Seona (from Sawrey) xx

  44. Ellen Eastman says:

    I can “appreciate” your lost summer. I went through chemo for cancer and like you, I would go out in the cool of the morning to attend to the garden. I was good for about an hour. There is something about the beauty of one’s garden that feeds the soul.
    All is well now. Say “hi” to Elaine for me next time you all get together.

    • sbranch says:

      I just texted Elaine with your hello Ellen! Took her to Birthday dinner last night. She’s doing great! I hope you’re feeling better and getting back to normal!❌⭕️

  45. Debbie Boerger says:

    Looks as though Lee will arrive this weekend but not linger too long. You’ll be in southern Maine and a bit inland, so not the strongest winds. Our wonderful, accurate Keith Carson on the local NBC station is usually right about all the storms and every day weather. He says the eye, if it still has one, will probably hit Down East, and we can expect strong but not hurricane winds. The flooding and road wash outs are more concerning, as we are going to have steady rain again today and most of the week….then Sunshine and cooler temps for your visit at the Camp.
    Tom and I once stayed in Weatherby’s Lodge in Grand Lake Stream. It’s a major fly fishing area in the Spring, and all sorts of fishing and hunting other months. We weren’t doing any of those things, just wanted to experience that. Loved the 3 meals a day, when they rang a big bell to tell you to hustle on over to dining hall. It was definately not fancy, but food was great. All the fisher folks all decked out to spend the day angling.
    Is the one on Sebago the same that you visited before. Looked so cozy, kind of like out house here! All wood inside.
    Take care on the drive up, as you and Lee will be keeping company headed North.
    Mucho Love from Maine

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that’s the one! Thank you for the weather update. I keep checking! Packing rain coat, umbrellas, and layers~! I don’t know what we’re going to get, sounds like a bit of everything! xoxo

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