First World Problems

Feeling pretty miserable! (Bet you never thought you’d hear me say that!!) Guilty too, because I KNOW, and commiserate with every terrifying thing going on in the world 😥, and YET, I’m commiserating with me too, for my own infinitely less important problems 😧 … moving, getting rid of things, going through stuff and saying Ohhhhh, I have to keep THAT. How do people DO this????? It’s like killing history! Okay, I’m sorry. I’m going to keep it short. The next time you hear from me, it’ll be from Martha’s Vineyard! Twighlight zone! The realtors come at 10am, I need to get going, we leave on Saturday. Oy. Don’t worry, you know there’s always a bright side ~ you’ll find it lurking somewhere down there ⬇️ … MUSICA

Yeah, you try it sometime.😜 So much different when it’s YOU that’s doing it!🤯

Bleak. Not neat, not organized. Doesn’t particularly smell good, definitely wouldn’t taste good, doesn’t feel good either. It is the antithesis of all the things we love. And yet, it’s human. And it’s the job at hand. We have to DO something with this stuff.

We have trash bags filled with no-longer-needed files. It’s hard at first, but after doing this for a couple of hours, you get so cavalier. Barely even open some files. Just tossing things around like they aren’t the bank you once put your dreams into! Well, most of them aren’t, they are junk, why did I ever keep them so long? These are the questions.

Then I find something like this, written years ago, and think, No. And it goes in the save pile. And I start wondering how many of these went out with the cavalier stuff?😲 Too late now!

It’s Boxland. If you were a box lover, we would be your Disneyland. They are everywhere, and yet, I need more!

Look at this, acid-free boxes filled with original art, from the beginning of time . . . calendars, fabric art, dishes art, old hand-written Willards from the 90s, miscellaneous scanned art . .

And every book I’ve ever written, all the original pages of Heart of the Home in one box, all of The Summer Book in another, and so on, and so on. Twenty-seven boxes of book, calendar and misc. art. Guess how much they weigh? A million pounds. Despite the fact that we leave on Saturday, we STILL haven’t decided how to get these things back to the island. Aren’t decisions fun? I especially like the ones where no matter what you do, it could turn out terrible, and still cost an arm and a leg. If you ask me, it’s anti-fairytale-girl. There are RULES around here! 

Oh yes, all kinds of (really nice, hardworking) guys coming to the house, to check out the septic system (dig up yard, kill half the alstroemeria living there ~ oh yeah, we’re leaving, stop crying over alstroemeria) . . . Reports on the septic system, reports from the guys checking wells, report from the termite guy, and from the one with the clipboard, looking under the house, into electrical panels, doing a complete home inspection. The good news is we found out it would only cost a mere $100,000 to make this house perfect if we decided to stay. We still have time, the realtors don’t come until 10. Haven’t signed anything yet. Arguhhhh. Train leaves on Saturday.

So I’m in the house, wistfully waiting for the tea water to boil while looking out the kitchen window at the green pastures and tall hedges ~ feeling a bit sad as I take my tea back to work, going through files, weeding out, deciding, organizing, throwing huge barrels of stuff away … days of this. My sister Shelly comes and helps me, so that happens with lots of stories and laughter. I’m doing GOOD, I think. Productive. Getting stuff done. And then, last night, for the first time in two weeks, I go out to the goat barn to check on what Joe’s been doing …

And what do I find?

He’s been decorating. He’s been out there, all cozy, day after day, making a little antique store. Yes. I know, how darling. But we leave on Saturday.🙄 The realtors are coming today… Everything we are taking home, all the boxes of art etc, have to be packed up because we leave (on Saturday), and the moving van has to come get them. None of the stuff in the goat barn is going back to the Island BECAUSE we have a guy JOE HIRED who is coming after we’re gone to take all this stuff ⬆️ out of the house, barn, and garage, and wherever and DISPOSE OF IT. All Joe and I need to pay attention to is the stuff we want to take with us. For instance his file cabinets, which he has not touched yet. See the situation? He is literally playing!!! I’m venting here, ignore me.😳

Been trying to include beauty-appreciation between the tossing and packing … and it’s definitely not hard this time of year in California. I mean, it’s gorgeous. So much light! Wildflowers on the hills and along roadsides…The air is clean and clear. And that’s part of the problem. It’s too nice. This ⬆️ is called ceanothus (California Lilac!), a plant so popular here you almost take it for granted. It’s so beautiful, so blue, and its fragrance is so pleasing, like very light grape candy. It’s often used as a ground cover, or like this one, a nice tall, shiny-leafed hedge. What a gift.

And an afternoon tea at Sheri’s produced my favorite photo ever taken of me (Thank you Carrie Weidert who was sitting behind me) … We were on Sheri’s front porch. There is a swing hanging from the roof, very low, just over the brick stairs that drop into the grass below which goes downhill quickly. I sat down … and LOOK, like I did 👀, at the BEAUTY, … I walked back, and kicked off, and up I went, a moment frozen in time for me. I really couldn’t believe it. Sheri lives up on the hill behind us, so that’s our green valley, and how gorgeous it is. This is why my problems mean nothing, despite how they are keeping me awake at night.

Fragrant, pale-pink jasmine vines climb all over this house . . .

It’s just coming into bloom now. I think if we went away and let this house just sit here, it wouldn’t be long before it was covered in jasmine like Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Ceanothus and pink roses look very good together! I always seem to have time to go out and pick flowers … 

And I’ve been able to paint new art . . . So that’s like dreaming while wide-awake. More like the fairytale-girl business I’ve been spoiled by.💖

And I found art I did in the 1980s which has barely seen the light of day. You know I love linens … I bought that flowered pillow, and the blue and white striped linen pillow under it, on my first trip to New York back in the 70s! They finally wore out and had to go. But here they are again!!! I’m kinda like the Norman Rockwell of everything I’ve ever owned. From bowls to shoes to quilts and everything in-between.

And of course, we’ve taken some beach time, smell-of-the-sea, coastal breezes, umbrellas, and cappuccino martinis, with my bestie Diane …our troubles completely disappear in the sound of the ocean.

And when I can’t do it, I look at the wall, and there I am . . . in my dreams.

And my Bo-Bo Joe. (What? Me worry?)Took a sunset-selfie of my reflection in the restaurant window.

Joe and I went on a long walk along the shore after dinner . . . went home and completely forgot to set the clocks back, and didn’t find out until 2 pm, I mean 3 pm, the next day. What a loss! It was almost past my nap time!

And I took this photo of the sky (with my iPhone) in our driveway when we got home. Look at the stars!  Guess what I heard this morning? VERY cheerful news! First off, have you read A Gentleman in Moscow? It’s the closest thing to a perfect book I’ve ever read. It’s so good, go read it if you haven’t, I know you’ll love it too.💖 It’s by Amor Towles, and guess what? They made a mini-series of it! Debuting on March 29th on “Paramount”, which is probably the ONLY streamer we still don’t have.🙄 It’s starring Ewan McGregor (he’s been in lots of things, but also Miss Potter ~ 👍) … I can’t wait!👏👏👏

It’s been helpful for me to be reading my Gratitude book. Have you ever seen this? I always forget to talk about it! But it’s a wonderful reminder, to be grateful, even for the loss. It’s been an honor to be the caretaker of this beautiful land for 23 years . . . I have tons of pictures of it, and I’ll never forget.💖 So, off we go! Time’s up! And don’t forget, despite the difficult moments, we are really so LUCKY . . .💖Bye for now dearest ones . . . see you on the other side. Until then don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers!❌⭕️❌⭕️ 

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263 Responses to First World Problems

  1. Goodness! I felt every word! In 2020 my husband and I had to sell our home in Cambria and move back to Agoura Hills. It was so difficult knowing what to keep and let go of. Everything is sentimental to me. I teared up reading your experience and am sad you are heading back to the other coast. So much love and well wishes are with you from all of us! Your posts bring me so much joy! Thank you for being such a bright light in this crazy world xoxo, Kristina

  2. Dearie Sue,

    I feel for you. It is so hard to uproot- even a home you don’t live in full time.
    I have been culling books and cookbooks and even that is so hard- I can’t imagine going through twenty three years of creativity and nesting.😶

    I wish you so much good energy to get through it! ❤♥
    Lots of love and safe travels for your return to MV.

  3. Carla Ludwig says:

    Hang in there my Dear! I truly understand how difficult it is. We moved 5 years ago from MI, where I had lived my whole life… hard in so many ways. Once here in New England, I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier, it’s just getting through the PROCESS! Will be thinking of both of you, safe travels!

  4. Mary Huff says:

    Oh, I feel your pain and I’ve only been cleaning and disposing of things in one closet! Love the photo of you on the swing, that needs to be framed and kept to look at when life gets heavy back home, in fact looking at all that you plan ship home, aren’t you afraid that you might sink that small Island? Oh, I couldn’t leave the 2 oval antique frames and the bust out in the barn to be disposed of, but I do understand that we have to draw the line somewhere, and the realtor & the train are both coming soon! Wishing you love and prayers for this especially difficult but freeing time of cleaning!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      I was given an old oval frame by a favorite cousin in 1968. I held onto it as it moved around with me. And Bingo!. It found the perfect spot over our sink in the loft bathroom in Maine about 2000. Tom built everything up there, and I did details. Made that frame into a mirror.
      I do not recommend this as a life style. Sooo many U-Hauls!!!
      Debbie in Tampa

    • Joanna+Peterson says:

      Totally agree about the oval frames and the bust! Of course, I zoomed in to “shop” Joe’s antique store! 😆

  5. Mary Saunders says:

    A loving suggestion …. Storage unit or POD for the sake of you mental and physical health. You have packed a lot ( figuratively and literally) in a relatively short amount of time. Do yourself a favor… Hugs

  6. Monique says:

    Oh you have done a lot! An inordonate amount of A LOT..
    It must be very hard to can visit though.The bright side.The glass half full.
    I keep all my humble art also..and wonder where all my things will be one day.My mother’s things..grandparents things..our things..Just THINGS but everything has a memory.
    It must have been a trip down memory lane..Seeing beginnings..
    I am glad you are moving most of your treasures with you.
    You have been a great keeper of things..
    Joe and the barn:). Oh I could not leave that.
    Grateful on the plus side..people who buy your home will have the 100k to update. And good you did an inspection before..I was a realtor for 30 yrs..The buyers can have their own independent one..but you are prepared for bargaining hassles ..No one will though.
    I see sold today.Overbid too. Take care.Love the swing pic too.I love backs of people.

  7. Alice Dennison says:

    Dear Susan I feel your pain. I moved a little over 3 years ago. I had all of my stuff and all of my parents things. Overwhelming !! I’m surprised Goodwill didn’t say here she comes again by the end I was ruthless. It is done now but it took me about 3 weeks to recover I was emotionally and physically drained. Take care . I am sure you will be happy to see Baby Jack

  8. Bess J. says:

    Dear Susan, Your posts always, always cheer me up, and often just when I can use some cheering up. Today is Wednesday; you leave Saturday~PLENTY of time to finish everything you need to do. 😂 Wish I could pop on by and help. Pressure always does seem to help motivate us, though. Hope the next few days are as productive as they need to be, so when you are on the train, you can put your feet up, have a cup of tea, say “Ahhh” and watch the world go by.

  9. Julie Ann Westwater says:

    You, dear Susan, are allowed to feel sad, to feel stressed, and to express and vent all of your feelings. I know I am not alone in wishing that we, your girlfriends, could lend a hand in some way to lighten your load. We are with you in spirit though, cheering you on as you always cheer us on. Thank you for sharing the reality as well as the magic. You are so real and relatable, and it’s why we love you so. Thankyou for your heart, and for sharing it with all of us. Always. ❤️ On behalf of all the girlfriends, love to you from your one in a millionth.

  10. Carol on the farm in Iowa says:

    Oh Susan! I can honestly relate to all you’ve said here. I have a house full of “treasures”
    That I’ve slowly, very slowly, been doling out to my kids. Slow because none of them live in the same state, hundreds of miles away.I started saving family treasures when my mom and her sisters were cleaning out my grandparents house and they were going to chuck my grandpa’s McGuffey’s reader!
    Deciding is the hard part and when I think I’m going to really dig in and get rid of some of my own stuff, it’s overwhelming and I put it all back!
    I could go on and on, I hear you and I feel for you! Praying for you xxoo

  11. Beverly Armani says:

    Whew! I was worn out just reading about all you have to do…I guess a yard sale was out of the question with the time constraints…but I did get a kick out of seeing a box with “Syracuse” on it in the Goat Barn..since it is my hometown! I’d love to know how that box made it to Susan Branch’s cottage in California!
    For now…I send thoughts of comfort and strength as you complete these tasks…I wish you could have created a Susan Branch museum!!! Good luck with everything…and Happy St.Patrick’s Day!!! Oh..and Happy Easter, too!!!

  12. Debbie Anderson says:

    Oh moving is hard. But in a couple of years (at least), you will be able to laugh about all the hassle. Be kind to yourself but be strong in what you leave behind. At the end of your life, you can’t take it with you as my mother would say.

  13. Peggy says:

    Right-o -so difficult. Our lives laid before us. I tamp down the idea of moving for lots of reasons. Never could afford another house in this area. Only $58,000 35 yrs ago -now almost half a million!! eek!! then -how can i empty the dang place. Just guess I’ll stay here and enjoy all I can. Good luck to you Susan and Joe. Look forward instead – getting back to normal -hugging Jack etc. your friends and a good life.

  14. Charlotte from Williamsburg says:

    We’re all with you! Take good care and only smile when you look back.

  15. Audrianne Hill says:

    YOU ARE REAL! Thank you for venting. It’s good to try to be Pollyanna but reality does happen from time to time. Just breathe. Everything will be okay in the end.

  16. RuthW in MD says:

    Thank you for the starry starry night photo!! There’s so much city glow and clouds where I live that I seldom see much of the stars. It’s so hard to decide what to keep and what to toss. It’s all so connected. Good Luck!

  17. Michelle A. says:

    This has to be one of my top-ten favorite WILLARDS. What a relief to know that Joe isn’t 100% perfect 😉 (My Own-Leo-Who-Can-Cook is guilty of similar nonsense. Oh what would they do without us?! Thanks for taking time to share this and travel safe. xo

  18. Oooh, I was practically salivating when I saw all that art in the goat barn. I would love to get my hands on some of that! Absolute treasure trove!

    May I gift you one of your quotes, perhaps a favorite of yours(?), since it graces a sweet trinket dish made by you, that sits on my dresser? “Courage, dear heart.”

    Unwinding a quarter century (nearly!) of life and work that’s been lived and remembered and archived is not for the faint of heart. And a courageous heart doesn’t preclude an aching heart that is mourning what will soon be no more.

    I’m so grateful that you have saved the art, the jottings, the clippings, the diaries, all of it. And shared them with us, your virtual girlfriends, through the years. It’s all grist for the creative mill. I can only imagine the agonizing over what to keep and what to toss.

    But I also couldn’t help but smile at the stacks of boxes of art and book manuscripts. What a lovely thing to have, I thought.

    Bittersweet, the keeping and tossing. But isn’t it lovely to have so much that is tangible to keep and carry forward?

    Blessings as you and Joe turn the page on this chapter…xx

  19. Larkin Myers says:

    Moving is so hard! We moved from the south to midwest last year in June and we are still dealing with the purging / slimming down / where do things go now?!? So I feel your pain. But you will feel so accomplished when you get past each hurdle! Thanks for sharing with us.

  20. Debbie Boerger says:

    I know you are feeling like a whirling Dervish these days. You have done so much in such a short period. And…you are letting the paint brushes fly as well. My Tom found an old file out in our garage a couple of weeks ago. It had a goulash of things from Birthday cards from my Daddy, pictures and other from my first marriage, even pictures and letters from my first real love. When I toss a picture, it feels like Murder. But it Must be done. (This sounds familiar, bet I’ve said it here recently.)
    You and Joe have really accomplished a tremendous number of things. I know you don’t fly, but Joe can always fly back in case he’s needed. The Lovely used to go ahead of his wife and kids and pick out a house at their new assignment in the Coast Guard. Then he’d meet the movers and have everything unpacked when she and the 2 kids arrived from spending time at “camp” with her parents in Maine. Some men are just good at that stuff, and I believe Joe is one of them.
    Right in the middle of my tossing out, I had my foot surgery. Pinky toe bone removed, the bone above it “adjusted and shaved”. Pinky toe, very little pain, the one above it….EEEIIIOOO! Tom has been a Prince, bringing me food, new ice packs, Helping me downstairs, etc. Best of all is Mini Drumsticks. Remember those? My nutritionist friend in Utah, says, healing from surgery eats up lots of calories, so eat what your heart desires, especially ice cream. 😉 They have them at Walgreen’s on sale. Day 3 is better.
    You guys would not believe the Drugs the doc prescribed. Big time Gabapentin, 300 mgs., and some narcotic that came with the Narcan spray in case of overdose. I will not be using that stuff!! The pain can’t even compare to getting that hernia thing done last August in Maine, and I just got a standard med for 5 days up there. What’s going on here? No wonder people get addicted.
    Fingers crossed that things will go smoothly in the move. You can sleep on the Twain!! Spring in New England awaits you. 🙂
    Mucho Big Love from
    Debbie in Tampa

    • sbranch says:

      My God Debbie! The Toe! It sounds terrible!! But I do like the mini drumsticks, behind every cloud. Love you dear. xoxoxo

  21. Dee+Ann says:

    My stomach is churning for you…what a job of selecting what to keep and what goes away! But it is “All Good” and it will work out fine. Hang in there. Spring will be waiting for you and Joe once you are back home in Martha’s Vineyard. Happy Days!

  22. Gay Hughes says:

    Oh Susan! Been there, done that! I sympathize with you completely. It is so hard to move – to sell a home you have spent part of a lifetime in. To erase things that cannot be brought forward. So painful. There are moments when you are brutal with throwing things away, and moments when you can’t move forward, stop, and like your hubby can only rearrange. We experienced all of this too. Has to be the most stressful life event ever. But, when you are on the other side, and find new homes for your items, new arrangements for your life pieces, you can find beauty in them with a new artistic eye. This will happen for you.

  23. Kathy W says:

    Hi Susan!
    Lots of work and there’s never enough time to do everything but looks like you got a lot done on your trip! Makes me want to tackle some things around here. Glad to see you’re living your best life from sea to shining sea! California and the Pacific will be waiting for your next visit!
    Have a great trip back.

  24. Diane C. says:

    This had to be so hard for you. It’s all treasures from a wonderful life and it looks like you’ll be taking the important things with you. The note you found about your writing is precious. Your artwork was the first thing I liked about you and then you proved to be good at writing, as well as showing us how to enjoy life. There is a beautiful home to get back to and we all know how much you love that place too.

  25. Janet Conn says:

    Thank you for this post. It is always bittersweet packing up a house with all the memories. I always try to be thankful for having the memories, but it is still so very hard. I wish you and Joe safe travels back to Martha’s Vineyard, just in time for your second Spring this year. I bet you can’t wait to snuggle with Jack. He will be so excited to see you again!

  26. Nancy Thoma says:

    Those of us who have moved after many years in a home can certainly relate to your anxiety and heartache and headaches! The process may be painful, but in time you will appreciate that feeling of “lightening your load” so others won’t have to someday do it for you…
    Hang in there and have safe travels back to MV!

  27. Maryellen says:

    I would get a pod – load your precious boxes and Joe’s files and have them drive the pod to Martha’s Vineyard so you can keep sorting. My daughter has moved twice with the pod people. You pack it yourself so you know things are packed the way you want them.

  28. Sharon Norville says:

    I do understand your angst regarding packing and The Move. In 2022 I sold my wee house of almost 39 years and seemingly waited until the final week to pack. And I was moving from Colorado to Illinois!! (Roughly 1000 miles, which seemed like Light Years to me then.) Yes there were a few aggravating hiccups along the way but I did it, a new widow plunging into a new and scary life. It has been almost two years now since The Move and I am still settling into my new world, having left so so much behind. But I guess this is how we grow, especially when one is tip toeing towards 70. You will be so happy and relieved when this is all behind you but don’t be surprised if you also have a good cry. I did.

  29. Mary Ann in Mid-Missouri says:

    I am so impressed with how much you’ve accomplished! My husband and I are in a (sort of) similar situation. We have lived in our 150 year old house for 33 years. We are ready to downsize, as 3,000 square feet is just to much to keep up with. The only problem is trying to get rid of 65% of our belongings. All my beautiful antiques and vintage finds, the family pictures hanging everywhere, 33 years worth of just stuff (but stuff that I love.) It’s so overwhelming! You are inspiring me to get moving on it though. Thank you. Have a safe and restful trip back to MV.

  30. Susan Branch says:

    I’m in the process of helping a friend sort her life really so she can move to a smaller home. This Willard is inspiring and helps me to not give up but keep on trying. Thank you. Another Susan Branch

  31. Amy Gonzalez says:

    <3 <3 <3

  32. Jaclyn Krueger says:

    Yes, Gentleman From Moscow is one of my very favorites too and I am so EXCITED to see what this movie looks like! And your Gratitude book, also one of my favs and I give as gifts often. Sorting and packing up one’s life is the very hardest thing in the world…too much of you in there but for everything there is a time as scripture tells us. At 82 I have been downsizing since I retired 7 years ago and am still at it…oh how will I live once I truly have to get rid of almost everything and go live in a facility? Hoping I will pass in my sleep to avoid such trauma. But, you live in a wonderful place now, so GO LOVE BE HAPPY!!!

  33. Carolyn Johnson says:

    Bless your heart (I’m from the South!). It’s apparent you haven’t moved a lot (like I have). It’s so hard – the packing up, the leaving, making decisions, getting rid of stuff (memories will always be with you though). You know all this and that you will get through it and be oh so glad to be back home on that beautiful Island. It’s just the doing – and getting through it all – and leaving friends and places. I just love your honesty! As for A Gentlemen in Moscow – wow! I read it after reading about it in your blog – and loved loved it. An absolute favorite. Am so excited to see the movie – and thankfully we do have Paramount +. Thank you Susan for sharing your precious life with us. God’s Blessings on you and Joe.

  34. Becky Cook says:

    Makes me sad to see you have to deal with decisions about what to keep and discard. Has to be so difficult. I know you will be glad when you are on your way back home. Where even the tea kettle sings with happiness!

  35. JoEllen Bendall says:

    Dear one, I feel so much of your pain/”lucky-ness” that I’m all teared-up for you. I’m at the farm, throwing out, scrubbing, raking, sitting down to think. I’ll be on the highway just behind you. I’m heading back to the Cape for spring. Have Joe give you a hug for me. Be good to yourselves!

    • sbranch says:

      I heard it was 50º on the island today! Welcome home JoEllen and thank you for your tears, I feel so much support from everyone… it’s hard, look how many of us are figuring it out! Problem is, if I had it to do again, all this stuff, this house, etc. I’d do it.💖

  36. Julie says:

    LOVeD this post, it came just when I too was struggling with a few things but alas, a pick-me-up encouraging post from you lightened my load. This is life, with a few dips along the way to make it interesting. And to let you know that you can indeed handle everything that comes your way. Because you have. Many times. Always a good reminder for us and plus, doesn’t it feel glorious when it is far behind you? Thank you Susan!

  37. Jo'L says:

    I cried for you, did it help? Have a tiny apartment and a very full storage unit that needs to be emptied ASAP, so my tears were for us both. Deciding what must go and not being able to get it to a place of MY choosing, harder than hard! But like taking a trip, at some point, it will be done, and we will be on our way to the future. Safe journeys.

    • sbranch says:

      It did help.😘😘😘 Thank you! All you girls help. What would I do without you??? Extra reason to feel so lucky! We only have 3 days left, and then we go, and whatever doesn’t get done, will go down in the monumental annals of things that never got done. But what a relief it will be when the train starts moving!😄

  38. Oh dear, you are in a pickle. But oh what a pickle to be in, two houses, all the memories, a day at the beach with friends. Warm, fragrant vines then septic tanks, what a range of emotions.
    Take care, be well, safe travels ~ Hugs, Lacy XOXO

  39. Pat Harmon says:

    Oh! A Gentleman in Moscow! The Best Book Ever!!!! I read it again immediately! Can’t gush enough about it! Read it girlfriends!
    Susan, I had to deal with selling a house. I know your frustrations! I like to keep tangible memories too.❤️❤️❤️❤️ My house overfloweth! I also don’t like to get rid of your art. I force myself to keep only your previous year’s calendar instead of piling them up. Loved your books. Those I keep! So happy when Willard shows up🥰

  40. Delcia R. says:

    I SO get going through stuff—been at it for the last three years a little at a time between tutoring/correcting for my teacher friends at our congregation’s Lutheran elementary school. There’s nothing better than being with kids all day! One of my teacher friends has held a garage sale (in our school gym) the past two summers. She’s retiring so this is the last one coming in June. I’m at “that age” where it’s easier to get rid of stuff I just don’t use nor want to keep in cupboards and closets. I’m finding it very freeing. Other younger folks are still in the “collecting and wanting stuff” stage.

    I’m looking forward to hiking/backpacking season and carrying only a little to see a LOT with a small group of gal pals from 30-60ish years old. Time with people is better than stuff. Coffee/lunch/brushing the kitties dates with my non-hiking hubby and yard work are top priority. So I’ve learned a bit from the past 69 years, and I’m still learning.

    All those packed boxes, etc. are a lot to reflect on and took so much work, but you’re almost done and can relax soon. Your ever optimistic self will look back with satisfaction—I just know it! Jack is waiting at home with that darling moustache! Safe travels!

  41. Debbie R says:

    Oh Sweet Susan, sending you oodles of love and hugs your way. Totally understand this has to be so hard and sad all at the same time. Hang in there!

    Debbie R
    (Use to be from Valencia, CA)
    Now from Godfrey, IL (good ole Midwest)

  42. Barbara Vlcek-Vinikow says:

    Dearest Susan,

    I truly feel for you; share in your feelings of loss as you close this chapter of your life. I understand the process of going through things & papers & just “stuff” when preparing for a move. At first you are motivated, even excited at the thought of digging in, getting organized & making decisions: “Yes, keep this! No, that goes!” And at the beginning you are so optimistic and believe that you have plenty of time, and it’s all going so well! And you think “Yay for me!!! Look what I’ve accomplished!!!”

    And then, time gets shorter, but you still feel mostly organized and that you are making progress. However, all of the decision making is starting to wear you down; you begin to grasp the reality that there is still a ton of “stuff” left to sort through, pack or get rid of it. You feel depressed and sad and overwhelmed, and like you’re never going to get to the end!!! And, you are running out of time…That’s when reality hits & you say “To hell with it!!! I don’t really need all this stuff!!!”

    I have been there/done that numerous times. When I sold & moved out of my big old house in Tacoma, where I’d had my Bed & Breakfast business; moving into a 1200 sq ft condo. Had one crazy month giving stuff away, right & left as fast as I could because there wasn’t even time for a yard sale!

    The last time I went through a move was 10 years ago, to leave Tacoma & move to Reno because I was marrying my college sweetheart ( finally got it together after 40 years!!!😁). That time I had to move, not only my home, but my classroom as well!!! You can just imagine how much “stuff” I had at school…nearly 50 of those office file boxes!!! It was crazy; it was a DIY move; not enough time & I felt so unorganized! If it hadn’t been for a few very good friends & my sister helping me, I never would have made it!!!

    As I said, dear friend, I understand your pain! I am so glad that you’ve had a few lovely, calm, beautiful moments to take deep breaths and just appreciate the simple, good things in life & the blessing of friendship & family!!! I’m so happy you’ve had time to share & create new memories with your dear, long-time girlfriends, as well as family!!! That’s what is important & essential. (Little Prince)

    I’m wishing you the very best and safe, smooth travels back to your “Isle of Dreams”!!! I know how good it will feel when you are home at last, in your wonderful, pretty, cozy house with your adorable Jack curled up beside you!!! Sending lots of love & hugs for you & Joe!!!❤🌷❤🌷❤
    Your friend in kindred spirit,

    p.s. Hang in there…you are almost done!!! 😊

  43. Theresa Raffee says:

    Hi Susan
    My goodness how overwhelming to pack up all of your memories! what a gorgeous home and location, must be hard to give it up. It must feel good though to weed things out, I am doing this in my house too.
    I am hoping to go back to England this summer to see my family, it’s been since 2019, I miss them. I love your book about England and I have visited many of the places you wrote about. My favorite is Hilltop Farm/Lake District and the Cotswolds! I am hoping to go to the Yorkshire Dales/ James Herriot. I sure hope you publish Enchanted, it will be a hit!! Good luck traveling home, someday I will take the train and ferry to Martha’s Vinyard! Your posts are always wonderful to read, thanks for sharing!
    Take care, XX Theresa

  44. Marnie in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. says:

    I hear ya! It’s an overwhelming task….to pack up your life. But once you are back in the Vineyard….with all the sorting done and decisions made, you’ll be able to unpack what you brought with you, organize it to suit yourself, and enjoy a huge job well done ! Take heart ♥️!
    As my dear old Mum used to say…’You can do it !’ I’ve got your back! However, I will say, I’ve never done it myself!🫢

  45. Roseann Copeland says:

    Bless you Susan! What a challenge you are conquering. Makes my challenges seem simpler. I too have been faced with this challenge, but on a very minor scale compare to what you are undertaking. Love your blogs!
    Roseann Copeland
    Overland Park, Kansas

  46. Kathie B. says:

    Poor you. It is so hard to say goodbye. You are good at loving and cherishing things old and wonderful and reminding us to do the same. I wonder if you could do a set of cards with your tea art, which you must have enough of, for us all to cherish too? Maybe in a darling box? Just an idea. Would love some.

  47. Janice B Smith says:

    Susan and Joe,
    I’m so jealous that you are getting it done! I have been trying to clear out the last 48 years of our accumulation and just keep the things we really love. The rest just takes up space. And if you’re just going to keep it in a box somewhere….that’s a waste. Let someone else enjoy it. That on top of my parents house which had 63 years of accumulation, good stuff too……wow. It’s so time consuming. And you feel like you are missing out on important life things. Hard to combine both. But, it looks like your trip out was a positive
    one. It’s also so much a look back at how much you done in your life. Hard to imaging that you accomplished so much….and dang, where did all that time go?
    Best thing I’ve learned is do what I can and remember to take it a day at a time. And, enjoy the day itself.
    Have a great train trip back. REST for three days. Then when you get home give Jack a big squeeze and you’ll be home sweet home. Yea!
    Jan from Northern CA

  48. Carol Maurer says:

    I loved the Willard! Well, I always love it, but this one seemed a bit sad. It’s got to be hard moving after so long. I forget, are you selling the store as well or is this just your home as well? You have been sooo busy going through all your things. I mean twenty some years worth. Good thing you have a barn back in Marthas Vineyard as you’re going to need it. Hope it’s not filled up with ‘stuff’ already…LOL
    I’ll keep you and Joe in my prayers are as you finalize everything and pray for a safe trip back East.

  49. Pam MacLeod says:

    Susan, I am right there with you, trying to purge 40+ years of belongings from our San Diego home. Not even moving or selling, but trying to stay ahead of the game. And yes, it is so difficult and heart wrenching…but needs to be done. I have created boxes for each of our children of things I simply cannot throw away. They know their boxes will be waiting for them some day and then they can do what they want, but it won’t be on my watch!

  50. Andrea McVety says:

    So many treasures you found. Such a big undertaking. So many blessings and memories to take back with you. Safe travels. Wish we were all there to help you. xo

  51. Ann Y. says:

    Oh, Susan…you, if anybody, can do this! I understand how you feel…but after a bit the letting go is very freeing. We built three homes ( moving for work ) and loved them all, cried a little when we left each one. ( I put a note between the floorboards in the basement, or behind the medicine cabinet to let someone know someday that that home was loved and filled with love. ) The last home was as close to my ideal as possible…but it became too much work. We downsized big time – and though we did not have all that you have to deal with, it was daunting. Luckily I had great nieces who came and took some beloved items…and the rest…OUT. I have to say, after almost 7 years, there is really nothing that I think “oh, I should have kept that. So my thoughts are with you, have a safe journey home, and cherish all your memories of your California spot. Hugs!

  52. Andrea McVety says:

    So many treasures you found. Such a big undertaking. So many blessings and memories to take back with you. Safe travels. Wish we were all there to help you. xo

  53. Karen H. says:

    Dear Susan, you and Joe have made so many memories in this California home, and altho we may shed a few tears, these wonderful memories are always in your heart 💜 You have worked hard with all the packing and cleaning out…more memories along with all the fun with family and friends 🩷. Prayers for safe travels. Enjoy all those kitty kisses when you arrive home to The Vineyard. Xo Karen

  54. Vicki Snead says:

    Have you thought of donating your artwork and papers to a University? I am sure many would be delighted to have your work!!!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a bit overwhelming … do I call? Email? Send a friend? It would be so much easier and way more fun to just keep on doing what I’m doing!

  55. Amy Turner says:

    Thank you for this perfect timing post. I too, am going through all my belongings and treasures, trying to downsize and declutter prior to my divorce next month. Many changes ahead and a new chapter of my life to begin. I totally can relate to the stacks of boxes and the decisions to make regarding everything that once held value. As I take my many boxes to our local thrift stores and resale shops, I think about the next person who will have the pleasure to find a new treasure and love these items.

  56. Linda Tondola says:

    I read A Gentleman In Moscow last year and I just loved it! What a fun book! So many twists and turns! How did Amor Towles do that? It’s definitely a book I will reread again someday….as well as The Fairy Tale Girl, A Fine Romance, and Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, of course!

  57. Sheryl Mercer says:

    Just starting the “toss, toss, toss, keep” mantra also. The mantra is from one of my besties, Eileen…who is awesome! This is difficult! But, you get the hang of it!

    You have a treasure trove, a virtual Susan Branch Museum’ of artwork, books, treasures untold! There are many ways to … um … distribute your legacy. Your family, friends, yours millions of ‘girlfriends’, your website! There are many, many of us standing in line!

    And, did I see some vintage Laura Ashly sheets in your stack?!

  58. Annelies says:

    Best of luck dear Susan. I will miss driving by your home, but remember the lovely visit at the Apple Farm. Will forever miss your shop in Arroyo Grande, and will always remember Joes restaurant by the train station. So as you pack up your memories, I unpack mine. I cherish them and hold them close to my heart.
    Also sharing a chuckle….sweet Oma went to the Dr yesterday. I call them “ well baby visits”. She ended the visit by inviting the Dr to her 102nd birthday party!!!! The Dr did mention her high sugar count. Oma promised to be good….but then called to tell me that when she got home, the HUGE box of Dutch cookies she ordered came and it was too heavy to pick up. So she called her neighbor to push it in with her foot!!!! All of this shared with the hope it brings you a smile. Oma and I love and miss you both. ❤️

  59. Cindy B. says:

    You are a ROCK STAR for thinking of sending us a Willard in the middle of your move…..the pictures! the brain power to process your feelings about leaving! Well, I just think you deserve a monument placed on a spot of your choosing. Had Joe decided to pack instead of decorate he could have had one too. I suppose we could forgive him. One of you without the other just won’t do. Okay, make that a double…..the two of you looking to the sunrise of the Next Thing.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, only one monument in this family!!!😆😂🤣 No, one without the other would definitely not do. And if he lives through this, we will know that for sure!!😇 ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  60. Helen Edwards says:

    Those lilacs!!! As always, thank you for sharing!

  61. Laura Ann in Vermont says:

    Into the Mystic came on the radio the other morning soon after I got up and, for some reason, it just stopped me in my tracks. I’ve heard it a gazillion times before, but for some reason it just grabbed me that morning. It just made me so happy!

    I’ve lived in Vermont for 26 years now and it feels like home, but before that I lived in California and it still sometimes calls to me, too. The big crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, the smell of a redwood forest, a field of California poppies, eating Black Tartarian cherries or Blenheim apricots straight off of a backyard tree, the heat that comes off the street at the end of a long day. I remember all of it and sometimes it tugs at my heart. I can understand you being sad to lose your little piece of California and and how hard it must be to sort through and discard so much of your life. Lots of hugs!! xxxooo

  62. Jean says:

    ALWAYS, an email arrives from you, dear Susan, just when I need it most! Clearing out
    the room my husband created so four sons would, over the past twenty years, one by one have
    their space in our attached garage from which they could launch into adulthood, leaving home. Our youngest left after Christmas…and we have yet to move two BILLY bookcases from IKEA for my library and writer’s desk in there, along with my stash of yarn and recliner!
    We have been in the midst of my husband’s workplace selling building and business as we move toward another phase in our life together. Thirty six years whooshed by so quickly!
    In gratitude for sharing angst, sweat, and tears and your sharing of this bittersweet journey home to the east coast. It’s a rough draft of a new book for YOU. I hear CarlySimon’s song
    about coming home to the island in my head as I close now… . Happy Homecoming, Susan!

  63. Lynn says:

    Dear Susan~
    I too am in the process of “clearing out” my house.~We aren’t moving yet but “someday” and I want to be ready! I have 40+ years of life in this house to go through! What helps me when I know I have to part with something (but memories keep me stuck) I just tell my self how much someone is going to love and appreciate what I’m donating! I hope people think that when they have to sell or donate~ then I go to a thrift store or an estate sale and buy someone’s cherished memory for me to now love~ And bonus! We know repurposing is good for the environment so I don’t need to feel sad! Lastly, we can always take a picture either with a camera or our brain!❤️
    So proud of your progress to get it done!

  64. Heather Robert says:

    Okay, I had to stop reading this Willard and jump on with my comment. I will finish reading the after. Susan I deeply sympathize what you are going through. It is like a pre-final estate clean out while we are still living. I have my own big one across the yard in our massive 1742 barn filled with my father’s legacy as a silversmith and that of his/my mums everything that concluded their lives to go through.
    Yet, my dear person! Susan you will make your decisions to save and keep. But please remember though we cannot be in your shoes right now, you have an amazing studio awaiting you back home in Massachusetts! You will find joy and tears and you will celebrate and you will have all your beautiful memories of your dear “in-the-sun” home in California. You are so lucky to have Joe by your side. You are one tough cookie, and the sun will shine in your heart and thoughts again! Safe trip home! Hugs.

  65. Therese says:

    Holy Synchronicity, Susan!
    The thought for the day from my favorite Buddhist nun is this one:
    Reality is always falling apart.
    In this fleeting situation, the only thing that makes sense
    is for us to reach out to one another.
    Darling sister Susan, You are spot on, as usual. And you all look wonderful!
    Now I have to go back to finding more boxes…
    This unrepentant packrat is moving too!
    sending love and gratitude always!

    • Debbie Boerger says:

      Therese, I have to comment on your comment!! Reality is always falling apart. So true.
      From another unrepentant packrat!!
      Debbie in Tampa

  66. KR says:

    It can’t be easy seeing a phase of your life closing out but it’s always a privilege when you can do it yourself by choice and not be forced to do it. And you can do it with all of those lovely flowers around. I hope you paint a lot of lilacs.

  67. Karen+Baron says:

    Times they are a changin’! Best to you and Joe!

  68. This is probably my most favorite Willard I have ever read – I felt your “pain” of moving, disposing, leaving…and laughed when you showed the picture of Joe’s “antique shop”. Best of all, I’ll take with me the quote you started it all off with, reality is something you rise above. Today I will try to RISE! Thank you, safe travels!

  69. Kim says:

    Safe travels as you begin your journey home on Saturday.

  70. Jacque Fisher says:

    Oh, dear Susan~ I can so relate to what you are facing. Three years ago this summer I spent the month of June going through every drawer and cabinet and closet of the family home where I grew up. There was SO much! Completely overwhelming. The emotional ups and downs of finding so many treasures and wishing my mom were still alive so I could ask her about everything… In some weird cosmic law of physics, the mountains of things to sort seemed to grow larger instead of smaller. One evening, at dusk, I took a walk up to the lovely park of my childhood, just up the street, to decompress from another day of sorting and decision-making. I was alone with my thoughts when something sparkly caught my eye. It was a child’s wand, a star covered in shiny rhinestones lying right in my path. A magic wand! A sign, a gift from the universe that everything would be okay. From that point forward, things began to fall unerringly into place, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. What had seemed insurmountable was becoming do-able. When time was running out, as it is for you, I was still making last second decisions about what to keep and what to leave. When the clock ran out and we had to go, I closed and locked the back door one last time. “Things change,” my mom used to say, and there was no greater change for me than closing the door on the house that was my home for over half a century. It was stressful at the time, but that sparkly wand worked its magic (I kept it, of course!), and I am grateful for the time I was given to say a proper goodbye to the family home. I know you will experience much the same thing. Blessings to you, Susan!

  71. Barbara Anne says:

    Hence the term “bittersweet”. Sigh!

    Hang in there, the most important items to take with you and you and Joe!


  72. Rhet says:

    This is so beautiful, full of memoirs and bittersweet. The end of an era and the beginning of a new season. It’s hard to leave lovely things behind, but we do grow older and things change. I can feel your emotions and love the pictures and memories. Thank you for sharing your life with us! Blessings

  73. Karen Mac says:

    Dear Susan, How fitting is the picture of you on the swing!!! You have certainly taken a leap of faith, and the world and all its glory stands before you. Think of all the help you’ve had on this tough journey of leaving something you love so much. When you are finding it hard to sleep at night, try to focus on all the people who are rooting for you. Safe travels back home. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. 🩷

  74. Kathy Madigan says:

    I loved A Gentleman in Moscow! Thanks so much for letting us know that
    it is now a mini series and will be on Paramount! Have a safe and enjoyable trip back to the Vineyard.

  75. Kathy Fletcher says:

    HI, thinking of you in this time of sorrow- yes- its sorrow for the lost things you are getting rid of……and then the land and your California home for so long. It will be missed i am sure. I have an idea, i think you ought to take ALL of the Willards and make a book of them…..all in one big book- oh that would be delightful. I would buy it and i know all your other girl-friends would too. I have the little paperbound booklet you had years ago of Willards, but this would be a wonderful book….think about it huh? It would be a BIG seller! We all love you dearly and are wishing you the best in your trip home……take care! Safe travels you and your hunk of burning love……
    Kathy Fletcher-Wilmore , Kentucky

    • Therese says:

      I second Kathy’s “motion.” –been thinking along those lines and I figured if it had occurred to me it had probably gone onto Susan’s “list” already.
      Thanks for putting out here Kathy!

    • sbranch says:

      It might have to be more than one book! I would love to do it, such a big project when you look at all the years! xoxo

  76. Dee Van Ingen says:

    Having moved 27 times in 55 years I can commiserate with you! The memories you’ve made will never fade………breathe, smile and love what you’ve accomplished! You’re definitely a breath of fresh air!

  77. Jan Goodell says:

    Where are you moving to?!!

  78. Jan Goodell says:

    So sorry – I’m not sure if my email went through!

    Where are you moving to?!!

    • sbranch says:

      Not really moving … we have two houses, the one in Martha’s Vineyard and another in California that has housed our business, and sometimes, us … for the last 23 years. We’ve been in California for about 2 months now readying this house for sale. But it’s very hard to leave it! We’re now on our way back to the island, and when we get there we decide for sure to either sell CA, or keep it, and sell MV, and just visit back east in our favorite seasons. xoxo

  79. Leslie Kelly says:

    So hard to pack away the memories!! I grew up in an old barn lovingly restored by my parents, who lived there for almost 60 years. When my Mom passed away we had to clear everything out and sell the house – the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! I think you’re right – gratitude makes it doable, but still heart wrenching. Thinking of you as you move forward.

  80. Kathy Murphy says:

    For the first time this is a post that brings tears to my eyes. It had to be so hard for you to let go of so many memories but I know you will be making many more!! Have a save trip home and give Jack a snuggle for me.

  81. Pam Erselius says:

    I think many of us here have piles that we need to sort whether we are moving or not. I’ve moved 8 times in my 40+ year marriage. And each time I’ve gotten rid of boat loads. I can’t imagine if I’d never moved! But now I STILL have too much that I never even look at nor use!
    Your Willard has been an inspiration, I imagine, to each of us, to start Uncluttering!
    Thank you.
    Pam E

  82. Cindy Johnson says:

    I don’t know how you decide on keeping or “ the other”. I know by train day things will be better. But I’m one of those with that sizing down list too. Somehow we manage 🥰. I love my newest cup ♥️💙♥️

  83. Debbie Boerger says:

    I’m picturing you and Joe, exhausted, on the Twain headed toward Chicago. Then over to MVI.
    Every time Tom I would pack up our tiny camper to be on the road for at least 4 months, I’d hope I remembered everything. Of course that’s the Reverse of divesting. My point is that once you are on the train or driving along, All you can do is say, Ahhhh, and take a much needed Nap!
    Mucho Grande Love, Dear Heart,
    Debbie in Tampa

  84. Marilyn Gage Guest says:

    Have a safe journey home!
    Xo Marilyn

  85. Mary Casassa says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you as you make this very difficult decision. Recently I sold my parent’s home. It had been in our family for four generations. It was the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. Kept as many things as I could but had to let go of so many things since space is limited.
    It will always have a very special place in my heart. I am fortunate to have the storehouse of good memories.
    Always enjoy your books and posts and had the privilege of meeting you when you were in Charleston, SC in 2018.
    My very best to you and Joe (and Jack).

  86. Linda says:

    LILACS!!!!!!!!!! Thank you.

  87. Carol Kennedy says:

    Any kind of moving is just the pits!!! and all of your stuff seems to multiply!!! Just do your best on what to take and trust that you made the right decisions. one thing you’ll always have that doesn’t need to be packed up and doesn’t take up any room is memories!!! you’ll always have them wherever you are. have a safe trip home!! Carol

  88. Jody says:

    Just read Willard, you’re up to your neck with moving, etc and think of us! True girlfriends love right there. May your journey home to Martha’s Vineyard be safe, take it slow if you can, savor the memories until next time. Once you arrive, grab a cup of tea, a sigh and look forward to the tomorrows.

    • sbranch says:

      You, my girlfriends, have been so full of great advice and good wishes . . . I am feeling so blessed. We leave for the train station in about 3 hours. I have so many of you I want to answer right now, but I am out of time. So I’m only going to quickly read, and allow for the rest of these comments to spread their wonderful good cheer to everyone who reads them. Can’t thank you all enough! Twitter from the Twain will start around 6pm Pacific time tonight! Or check in tomorrow morning, Instagram and Twitter! xoxoxoxoxo Thank you Jody!

  89. Carol Honeywell says:

    Your work is so special, leaving any of it must be difficult. That’s a reason memory is so important. Safe and restful journey. The train ride is a lovely way to travel across our amazing country. Peace.

  90. Kim Young says:

    So torn dear Susan !!!! I can’t imagine the mental back and forth you and Joe are processing. Maybe the rhythm of the train will soothe you and things will crystallize? I mean if I can’t decide where I want you guys to live, how will you decide😁?? lol!! Mostly just want you both to have the most joy, happiness, and magic possible going forward. What a monumental task you’ve undertaken these past few weeks and as per, you’ve also seen the beauty and joy along the way. My mom used to say, after a huge undertaking like spring cleaning or sewing Easter dresses, that she was “ bone tired”. I’m thinking this may be how you might feel as you board the train. Love you and pray that all will become clear and that the rocking of the train will induce glorious restful 💤 as you make your way back to MV. Giant hugs to you both
    Kim from NC

    • sbranch says:

      I know the MINUTE the train starts moving, the stress will fall away! Because there will be nothing left for us to do but nap, read, and eat… the three things we are best at! Lovely to hear from you Kim, thank you for the sweet words. xoxoxo

  91. Jennifer Pawley says:

    What I wouldn’t give to sort through that goat barn! 😄 Safe travels!

  92. Holly DiMauro says:

    Wow Girl…You need some cheering up! I’ve always said that moving can even depress a comedian convention! We recently downsized from a 3 story house with a large barn/studio and renovated/moved into a small parish house down the street with a large yard and a shed! It was gutrenching to start the process of sifting through my architect husband’s 50 years of plans and my stuff of art and home decor from years in the design business. But,We two packrats finally rolled up our sleeves and like rusty old wheels that hadn’t turned in many years we dug in. Once we got rolling, it was cathartic, the two of us manically throwing files, wood, broken pieces into dumpsters and putting aside the better stuff for the street, facebook marketplace and the local Church thrift shop. There were many interludes of reminiscing and being somewhat sad and then laughter and tons of sweat. Oh and some anger that one or the other was slacking off and not keeping up. Yup, all the emotions were present! And we are now really happy where we are, snug in our little 19th century house in Tiverton RI with our big yard full of sun and a new garden to shape.
    You have been such an inspiration and pleasure to check in with over the years with your beautiful watercolors and tactile photos of your interesting house full of flowers, wonderful possessions and creations… And your immense love and joy for each other, your cats, your family and friends. So it was hard to hear you struggling with closing this chapter on your life but also wonderful that you, as a fellow sister of the amazing world we live in, would continue to share your life with us with all the emotions which somehow allows us to find the magic and goodness and struggles in our days too. It has been a gift of huge proportion to be able to tune in to Willard each month to see what sorts of beauty and whimsy you have been up to and your dedication to keeping us all inspired is truly amazing to me. A Fine Romance, my favorite travel book of all times, takes center stage in our bookcase nudging me to include a trip to England at some point and Distilled Genius was a balm to me in a period of dullness.
    So I say to you, wrap up the dreariness of those boxes, hug all your friends in CA and set your compass for the Vineyard and I almost want to promise you that you will feel lighter, brighter and freer, ready to walk back into that world of magic that awaits you on that wonderful island.
    Many thanks for your creativity and inspiration!
    Happy Travels,
    Holly DiMauro

    • Christie+Levin says:

      Hi Holly, I so related to and enjoyed your response to Susan; I especially agree with your words of appreciation for her and couldn’t have said it better:
      “So it was hard to hear you struggling with closing this chapter on your life but also wonderful that you, as a fellow sister of the amazing world we live in, would continue to share your life with us with all the emotions which somehow allows us to find the magic and goodness and struggles in our days too. It has been a gift of huge proportion to be able to tune in to Willard each month to see what sorts of beauty and whimsy you have been up to and your dedication to keeping us all inspired is truly amazing to me.”
      It’s encouraging to read that ~ after all your hard work, physically and emotionally ~ you are happy and snug in your 1800s home!!
      Cheers from a fellow amazing-world-we-live-in-sister Christie xo
      PS Please listen to the nudging from Susan’s AFR! Don’t wait! Begin planning now! Start looking at little cottages to rent in Chawton and the Cotswolds, compare B&Bs in the Lake District and Hampstead Heath; go to your calendar, pick a month (May is always good) and write “Set Sail for Southampton” on the 1st of the month and “Check the reservations for home to see if we can stay longer” on the 31st. 🚢 Time keeps on slipping into the future…

  93. Linda Pintarell says:

    I don’t know how you did it! My heart would have been ripped out of my body giving up that gorgeous, special piece of land and home. I know it was something that was inevitable and needed to happen…but just makes me sad. I hope whoever buys it, loves it and keeps the beauty intact.

    I, too, love Gentlemen in Moscow…one of my favorite books ever. I saw sometime ago it was being made into a movie. So very sorry it’s not coming to theatres but on Paramount Streaming. Makes me so mad that we are all missing so many good shows as we can’t afford to have ALL the streaming channels. It’s one of my pet peeves…as you can probably tell. Oh well…we shall see what happens in the future. Hopefully it will come out on some channel that I have.

    Sending lots of love and hugs your way. The enormous task you have just accomplished was a BIG one. I’m sure you await your return home to Martha’s Vineyard and the comfort of your regular lifestyle.

  94. Patti 🌸 says:

    Oh sigh~ I cried I laughed I loved I seriously can’t handle😩 Love it alllllll poor poor you Seems silly to say that but I know you get it… so much heavy goodness ❤️2U

  95. Gail Risden says:

    Hope that your journey was pleasant and RESTFUL.I think you & Joe have gone thru an ordeal-all those special things have memories.When our backroom roof caved in-big CA storm 2021 I had to toss so many wet & moldy things that had been special, including maybe 200 books bought while teaching for my class & kids to be born.Today is day 5 of my dear hubby being in hospital-6 hrs on folding chair until our girls came to spell me. Found such comfort in your Willard & loving comments all around. You truly make life better for soooo many people Susan. Thank You! Looking forward to hearing and seeing more. Love & hugs, Gail

  96. Catherine L Carpenter says:

    It’s so, so hard. I feel for you.

  97. Once again a great Willard .Blessings to you.Happy Spring.

  98. Jane Franks says:

    Oh, dear Susan! I’m late getting to read this, but how I empathize with you on several fronts. First of all, leaving California! It is still my heart magnet after 33 years!! There is something about it. It get’s in your bloodstream. I was just so homesick (in a wonderful way!) at all of the gorgeous photos you have sent of the central coast and valley. I know how hard this is for you. You carry the good vibes and joyful spirit of the true Californian with you. I never met better people in all of my life and I miss each and every one of them every day, not to mention finding the love of my life and getting married in that magical place. I know you will carry all of this with you back to MV, and you are so blessed to have family out there you can visit. I’m hoping to get out there sometime this year. Time will tell!! It was the happiest time of my life, that first decade of marriage to Gene and all we did!! His art/paintings; his teaching; we wrote all of our books and published them there. So many memories.
    And . . . my heart was in my mouth along with you, seeing all of the art and journals and files and notes. That’s what I face. I/we have been in this house for 24 years, and I still have all of Gene’s art things — desk, easels, files, brushes, paint, paper, etc., etc. etc. Not to mention piles of our books to sell, and 64 paintings I need to market. I am just coming out of the mist, and feel I can face people to sell the work, but contacts are getting cold, and I face a steep mountain. But I will climb it, one step at a time. In addition to that, I have tons of my books, 57 journals, numerous spiral notebooks, tons of paper, and all of the original art (left after selling a few) from all of the books. Some day, I am going to have to face what you are — or have just completed facing (I saw your post on Instagram in the moving train this morning!). I wrote in my journal this morning, before reading this and seeing your moving train post, that I wish I could wave a magic wand and get rid of all the stuff I don’t need, and organize all the stuff I need to keep! Anyway, more importantly I need to get out this spring and sell one or two originals, at least, to keep me afloat and keep the mortgage paid. Think good thoughts, if you have time. I certainly will be thinking and praying for you as you make this gigantically huge shift in your life. Downsizing is gut-wrenching. But everyone I know who has done it, says later you look back and are glad you did it, and wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. I’ll take that by faith! I still can’t imagine how I will ever part with these important parts of my life!! I know people say, “Just do it. You can’t take it with you.” That’s true. But when I leave and go to the next world, I won’t need it, like I do now. God bless you and Joe! I look forward to the next chapter in your adventure. You have always been an inspiration and sparked all kinds of rays of hope with your work and sharing your life with us!! Much love, Jane xoxoxo

  99. Jane Franks says:

    One more thing I have to say, Susan. I feel your dilemma of what to keep and what to let go of. I think the weight of responsibility of how to archive your legacy is very real. I continually, every day, feel the enormous weight, yet also grateful joy of privilege of being the one to “hold” these things of so much value to all who have enjoyed Gene’s art — his paintings and the books. 2.5+ million books “out there” around the world; and hundreds of paintings for which people have paid thousands of dollars, each. I can’t just destroy all that history, or give it to a thrift shop. I will know, when the time comes, what to do with it. And I believe you will, too. We do get Divine guidance from God for direction. I believe there will be a museum, an academic organization or some non-profit dealing with the kinds of creativity that you and Gene have done, for these important parts of your lives to be deposited for posterity. How else would we, of this generation be able to see and read the original works of the artists and writers throughout history. The things of those who have gone before are so important to those who will follow. I love what the Earl of Grantham says in one of the scenes in Downton Abbey, when he is trying to convince Matthew that the work of maintaining the estate is important. He says, “You don’t love it like I do yet, Matthew. We are the caretakers. We do not own this, but we must preserve it for those who come behind us.” And I believe the things you and Gene have created will be important to many for years to come. God bless you and Joe as you stay tuned to listening, while you sort and archive your things. Love and prayers, Jane xoxoxo

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