SPECKS ➡️ . ..

Good morning everyone! Happy Tuesday! Happy new Willard! Specks, you ask, what CAN she mean? MUSICA

Shadows through leafless trees grace our clapboard house as the sun comes up over the harbor on this beautiful spring morning.

Forsythia’s in bloom at the end of our driveway, part of it planted by Mrs. Bowditch (who lived here 1949-1989), her legacy and gift to the neighborhood, and part of it planted by us! Blooming again, as it does every year, thank you very much!Sometimes, as you know, I find things I have written (or painted), maybe never used, tucked between my books ~ like this ⬇️, which I typed at the top of a page, then printed it out, then ended up using as “scrap paper” on which was also a messy list of favorite songs (I write them down as I think of them), for MUSICA. I had just given the list to Judy for Monday Musica on Instagram, read this, and was marveling at how much this paragraph fit my life right NOW … it was undated, and clearly it was summer when I wrote it . . . but as far as I’m concerned, it’s perfect for now . . .

Yes, we made it into a  little vase!

Reading that, now I’m DYING to feel the kitchen floor under my bare feet!! Something wonderful to look forward to! And, go ahead, put on a sweater and seek outside, just this once! It’s heaven outside too!

Joe’s been taking down the storm windows, just like everyone else around here, just like we do every year, putting them in the barn . . . a few at a time as the days become warmer . . .

Seek outside, and bring the beauty inside ~ there is such HOPE in it, and your window sills will love it! Forsythia’s not toxic to curious kitties so they can love it too!💛

We have a bumper crop of Cardinals this year . . . here is a female who may have caught sight of me taking her picture from my kitchen window. This year I am determined to see a baby cardinal…Google showed me what they look like so I am better prepared.

She’s a beauty! 

I love the colors of each season, changing them out is part of the celebration. I’ve been going through my house gathering everything that’s yellow or pink . . . redecorating.  I’ve had two parties since we last spoke! Reconnected with our friends which is what feeds US!🌸

Little vases and yellow birds . . .

Daffodil, and rabbits in a yellow cup!My decorating is a testimony to the antique barn, the yard sale, to the slow gathering of little things that make life sweet! Not caring if they are perfect, or if they are valuable, only caring if they want to come home with me.💖 Sort of the way you choose your rescue pets.💖 For the earth (which doesn’t really need more stuff!)! For the seeing eye. For the heart.❤️

I put away all the brown and navy-checked dish towels and got out the yellow and pink.💝

I used jelly beans as table decorations and while we hung around the table after dinner, just talking, being together, slowly but surely, everyone, grazing like bunnies on the lawn, ATE them!🥰 I hadn’t occurred to me, but I will do it on purpose next time!🧡

At the end of my TGIThursday Girlfriends party, everyone took home a little harbinger of spring!💛

Our mornings have turned pink too … I was just outside taking this picture when I was reminded of watching the moon cover the sun yesterday! We weren’t in the path of complete bloto-nation (can’t remember epic phrase used by media, path of oblivion? Something like that, but bloto-nation works), but we had a good view and got our happy little moon-crescent shadows on the driveway and it all reminded me of how much I love to celebrate the moon that belongs to everyone!🌓 MAS MUSICA

I have a file of moon photos, taken from everywhere, from our front porch, rising above the desert from our window on the train, in the English countryside, above ancient gravestones, next to church spires and lighthouses. My own personal moon in Capricorn makes me do it, structure is my name, fascination is my game, and what gives us more structure than the constant, dependable, and beautiful moon that asks nothing of us? 🌠 If you live to be a hundred, you’ll experience about 1,200 wonderful magical full moons in your lifetime. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not really enough.💘

I loved how yesterday was a pure celebration, moms and dads and kids and grandmas and grandpas! We count on the earth, count on the seasons, count on the universe, to keep its promises, to do what they’ve always done . . . and we’re always ready to celebrate ~ the first red leaf in the fall, the first dancing daffodil, the first snowflake, our first tentative step into salt water, every year, all these firsts . . . even the way the shadows change in our houses… keeps our senses alive and ready to make a party of it. 🌸🌸🌸 Yesterday was a really big party ~ not often are we all on the same page like that these days!😲 It was the perfect start to Earth Day! I just LOVE April!🌸

We think of everything being so dependable that we melt down when an earthquake shows up out of nowhere (despite it being very much like an eclipse, only scarier), or a blizzard, where they DO NOT BELONG. But the MOON is still so dependable in this constantly changing world, you can plan parties around it!👏 Like we did yesterday! I’ve loved planetariums since my first AWESOME visit to Griffith Park Observatory with my 4th grade class . . . the excitement, the sharing of this first look into the heretofore silent unknown, something no one had words yet to express, the lights dimming until it was dark, our chairs leaning back to the dome of stars appearing in a black sky, some of us up on our knees, necks crooked, eyes wide, thrilled to see the planets revolving, the constellations appearing, a booming voice saying words we’d never heard, telling us about Pegasus and Zeus, folklore and mythology, ancient Greek and Babylonian traditions that go back to the 18th century BC, BC ~ inconceivable! It didn’t turn me into an astronaut as I was uninterested from the very beginning in leaving the earth for any reason, but it did make me starry-eyed 🤩… and it enlarged my curiosity . . . and it even made me feel forever connected to ancient children!

And every bit of it is all still worth running down to the harbor, one of us practically in her jammies, to take pictures.

What so many people talked about feeling yesterday, staring up at the sky like earthlings have done since the beginning of time, under the shadow of that same old moon, reminded me of what I wrote about after my visit to the planetarium on board the Queen Mary 2 ~ when, like yesterday, we were given lovely insight, a moment to wonder about our place in the universe.💖

It’s one thing to be in a planetarium on land . . .


But, it’s something else to be in a planetarium while on a ship at sea . . .

. . . where every day was automatically, unavoidably about the vastness, unpredictability, and wonder of ocean and sky, then suddenly, this, a very different perspective, where we became much smaller, not only in this sea and sky, but aware that we were connected even by tiniest parts of our world that can’t be seen with the naked eye. I felt the deep beauty of it, the boundlessness, the gift, and the sadness too, welling up. Suddenly, in that planetarium sky on board the ship, we watched our sun, our very own star, disappear into the cosmos ~ and we disappeared with it . . . specks with an outsized entitlement to it all . . . this was the part I didn’t catch in the 4th grade, when I discovered we were so much more than I thought we were, but the part that’s called wisdom that we (hopefully) get as we get older, is the part where we realize we’re so much less than we thought we were.💖 Sometimes feeling like a speck is a good thing.

Put it all together with moments of unity and connection as we experienced yesterday, we say more, more, more! we want more!… is there ever enough, no, I don’t think so! The adventure continues! 🌠🌠🌠 We never stop learning.💖

As for home, a couple of things we have loved streaming that I want to tell you about, the first is The New Look, about the lives of Christian Dior and Coco Chanel after the Germans invaded France. SO good! Details of history! You’ll love it. Twelve episodes on Apple+. (Now I’ll be looking for a Granville Rose in Dior’s honor, in his sister’s honor, for our garden!) And the other one is (of course) A Gentleman in Moscow. Set your minds at ease, after only 2 episodes I already know it is doing justice to the magnificent book, which if you haven’t read, run don’t walk and get it ~ (unless you have something against utter charm, then forget it of course)!!!💝 

We are still walking the walk every morning, through the leafless woods, in the cold sunshine, out to the water, an ear pod in my ear, another in Joe’s, listening to the same book from my phone. Right now we are listening to Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. So far it seems to be a  light-hearted story about a family of daughters learning about their mother’s almost-famous life as an actress ~ she is telling the story while they pick sweet cherries on their farm in Michigan . . . it might be a little TOO light-hearted for me, but it’s not over, and Meryl Streep is reading it, so I’m not complaining. It has themes that could almost be her own life she’s reading about. Makes us exercise, we look forward to “reading” so much!

One last thing, for my California girlfriends … I promised I would tell you if there was going to be an “estate” sale for the things we let go when we were there. And there is . . . it’s happening on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 19-21. It’s not worth buying an airplane ticket (there are no quilts in the sale, and no Beatrix Potter figurines!), so unless you have a penchant for old post cards, or maybe 30 years of collected wine corks (I heard the seller, Mike, is charging 25¢ a piece for them!), or menus from restaurants and ships we have known and loved, this wouldn’t be the place for you… I hardly remember what else is there, but here are a couple of photos I took before I left, the one corner Joe had begun to decorate for Mike… and then the whole room, as far as it was at the time. I have no idea how it will be set up, but the address is 2416 Lopez Drive in Arroyo Grande, CA, if you’re in the neighborhood and want to take a look, go straight down the driveway to the barn on the left.

I hope you have a wonderful day and that all your flowers bloom and each time it rains you can see them grow by inches… I’m having a No Mow April to go with my No Mow May … I loved it last year!  





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163 Responses to SPECKS ➡️ . ..

  1. Magdalena Mikulska says:

    Hello Susan. Wish you wonderful April

  2. Annette says:

    You touch my heart and inspire me❣️

  3. Karen Courtney says:

    Thank you again, Susan for another sweet Willard. I send you my best wishes for a blessed, bountiful, beautiful birthday on Friday.

  4. Barbara Thomas says:

    Thanks for the suggestion of A Gentleman in Moscow. I absolutely loved it! What a marvelous. Easy to read book. His writing just draws you visually into the story. I watched the first 2 episodes on tv last night as well. I love Ewan MacGregor in this role.
    Happy Spring! Barbara

  5. Kim H Carter says:

    Happy April Susan and Happy Birthday on Friday! April 12 is my birthday too and the last one in my 60’s! I’m going yarn shop hopping with my best friend from first grade and we’re having a fun lunch in an old farmhouse turned restaurant. I’m so excited. Hope you have a fun special day too!

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Birthday Kim, yours sounds perfect. I’m going with Joe and we’re taking a friend up to Boston for a procedure she needs … one of my oldest friends, so I’ll spend the day with two of my beloveds and wallow in whatever happens to us in the adventure of being off island!!!💝

  6. Debbie Boerger says:

    Oh, Joy! Just opened and read this new Willard. I always need several readings to digest all the thoughts. Lots of them.
    This is a Major day for me!! I got my first hearing aids!! They are just wonderful. Not that I’m terribly hard of hearing. Speaking of Being Thankful!!! I’m so very thankful I can have these without having to get a mortgage on the house!! They are $$$, but being able to hear the first Hermit Thrush in our woods in Maine, the owls at night, the Spring peepers, the little fox kits running rings around our house at night…little “Yip, Yips”, the early morning boats on the bay….Can’t wait!!
    If I were to inherit Big Money (not likely), I’d set up a fund for people who need, but cannot afford, hearing aids, glasses, dentists, doctors when they need them. I’ll bet there is a place here where one can do that!!!
    The lovely audiologist said she’s not in 20 years of practice had a client who was so totally over the Moon about getting these. Laughed all the way to Tom’s favorite cafe where we splurged on big, juicy cheeseburgers. We had the covered patio all to ourselves, water trickling over the rocks, huge carp in the pond, lovely palm trees and a very persistent squirrel. 😉 Been going there for over 40 years. Anyone visiting South Tampa, It’s at the Tahitian Inn on S. Dale Mabry.
    Thank you, Sweet Lady, for your thoughtful words. While an eclipse is Awesome, I find the night sky in Maine, especially in Winter, so breathtaking, I find myself teary-eyed. Or maybe in June when there are so many fireflies that they blend together with the stars in points of light.
    Mucho Grande Love and Thanks,
    Debbie in Tampa

  7. MJ in MI says:

    The eclipse was a wonderfully unifying event (didn’t expect that bonus) — and a heavenly reminder of the many fundamental things the inhabitants of our country and world share. Hope the feeling lingers! Thanks for yet another thoughtful read and happy spring ☔️☀️🌷

    • sbranch says:

      As we all fall more and more in love with our planet, we’ll all demand more to make the powers that be fix it. 🌸🌸🌸

  8. Julie V says:

    Hello, what are the hours of the estate sale?

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure, but I guess maybe 9 to 5 … or 4…

      • Vicki South of Arroyo says:

        The wannabe-writer who is me always wants to weave a story around someone’s life, solve their problem and tie it up all-nice with a bow. (Presumptuous; I know!) I keep thinking about your AG home and the plusses for you and Joe (as if I knew you personally, which I don’t [as if I ‘know’ Martha’s Vineyard, which I don’t!]). Like this ‘list’ of things, in no particular order:

        How there are NO STAIRS to climb at your AG home when knees and hips might begin to feel their age. How the Central Coast has year ’round good (great) weather (‘Mediterranean climate’) although you’d miss the MV’s four seasons, which I know you love. (We will never have their fall [nor will we have snowfall at the western coast]. But I’ve learned if you take a drive in the coastal mountains and canyons, there are oranges, reds and yellow galore, especially in Nov-Dec.) You generally wouldn’t have that stifling heat-humidity of the island in summer. However, if we go dry again with little-to-no rain, you’d have drought and water expense for your AG property, guaranteed. (Unless maybe you have a well and I’ve just forgotten. [I’m thinking you indeed might have your own water source.])

        You’d trade the colonial-America feel for the early-CA “Spanish” period in terms of architecture. Each has its own beauty and history. You’ve got your picket-fence garden in AG, very similar to yours in MV? You wouldn’t be able to grow the same things in your garden, East Coast differing so much from West Coast; but, think of it (beyond some delish artichokes and avocados!): Jacaranda trees. You’d be around the gorgeous purple-blue jacs again in the AG area come May and June. The birds and butterflies might be different, like you might have to trade cardinals for the blue jays … but, think of it: Monarchs! There also might possibly be a somewhat-lesser probability on your nine acres of TICKS (although coastal Calif does have them; but I think I’ve read that Lyme disease does not commonly occur here). You’d miss your daily walk to the water’s edge (the sea) but, on your very own AG property, you have another water’s edge (the creek); and you can be at the beautiful-blue Pacific O in under a mile or two from AG, no?

        The merits of living near a university town with its associated amenities often just can’t be beat, and you’ve got Cal Poly but a 20-minute ride from your house. Area restaurants would serve fresh fish like on MV; just a different kind of fish. No boat whistle or foghorn nor church bells(?) but you’d be able to see a small harbor in Morro Bay (a half hour up the road) or even Avila Beach; the rocket launches (Vandenberg!). Oh, the Apple Farm; all those apple orchards inland! And, out in ‘the country’ where you live, you’ll still see the big moon and lots of stars in the big sky with no city lights. Certainly more space around you with no other houses in view, yet I know you’d miss the lovely street upon which your sturdy and stately nineteenth-century home sits on the island. Of course the AG home itself, once you did some of those renovations you mentioned before moving back into it, is less ‘house’ to have to keep up/maintain. (My beloved former bungalow which is now over one hundred years old was a continual maintenance drain, nickel-and-diming us to no end, bless her heart.)

        San Luis O has that new Adventist Health facility; merging of two others JUST recently. Access nearby to a good hospital and medical care as we age can be pretty important. (SLO Chamber of Commerce: “San Luis Obispo is a nationally recognized hub of health care excellence, serving all of the Central Coast with superior regional medical facilities and well trained providers of all types.) And you’re less than ninety minutes north of Santa Barbara, which is a town of some of the finest doctors and hospitals in the nation (Cottage Hospital; the best [when I lived in SB a long time ago, I’d heard it often said that SB is where doctors from all over come to live and work, to train-teach other doctors {the doctors’ doctors, if that makes any sense; they like the ‘feel’ of SB; the lifestyle; the city’s charm; its incredible scenery; the weather!}]).

        You could still take the Amtrak to visit your island friends, just like you’ve been doing for years to visit your Southern Calif friends (and relatives). But I know it might be difficult for Joe to leave New England as a native born-and-bred guy (if I’ve got my facts straight on that), despite the fact that you and he lived in AG for a good amount of time post-9/11. Who am I, though (a stranger!), to spell out any of this to you. You’ve lived both places; you know the comparisons; the pros and cons. You know what you missed when living in AG, and you know what you’ve missed when living on MV. It’s not easy being a West Coast and East Coast girl concurrently, yet there’s also something pretty wonderful about it!

        My husband and I miss something of every single house or town we’ve ever lived in, wishing we could put the loved elements of each into one. I keep thinking of ‘what ifs’; if Susan could make the AG home her base instead of the other way around. Sell the captain’s house. Buy Holly Oak. Visit MV at the perfect time of year, ‘camp out’ at sweet Holly Oak for your stays. Maybe six months one coast; six months the other. (Unless you do two months in England; five months in CA and five months on the island. [I’m getting too carried away with this and it is SO none of my beeswax {I can’t help it; is how my brain works for happiest turns of the page!}.])

        Thanks for sharing your plans (and hopes and dreams) with your readers-fans-girlfriends. You’ll make the right decision on how best to live in these years of our seventies and more. Just listen to your heart, Susan. You and Joe are both intelligent people who’ll know what’s best, and I wish you ‘smooth sailing’ with the decisions!

    • cathy corell says:

      Ill try to make the sale…thank you for all the wonderful pictures you send especially of the moon…

  9. Barbara Vlcek-Vinikow says:

    Hello Susan!

    Happy April!!! 🌷🏵🌷And an early Happy Birthday!!! 🎈🎂🎈

    Your Willard could not have arrived in my In-box at a more perfect moment!!! I am sitting on the upstairs deck of our house, enjoying a beautiful April afternoon! The sky is bluer than blue & not a single cloud in it! The mountains to the west are still gleaming white w/ snow. Birds are chirping & the chickadees & the little yellow finches are flitting around in the ever so tall pine tree. The lilac tree, just below the deck, is leafing out in lovely spring green, a little early yet for buds, but I know they are coming soon.

    I can hear my neighbor scritch-scratching out in her garden, and I’m reminded of Farmer McGregor in “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”. The sun is warm and the gentle breeze is cool & fresh. And, yes, as I look around taking it all in, I am truly blessed!

    Just last week it was freezing & snowing & gloomy, so my husband & I watched “The Enchanted April”, which is one of my most favorite books & movies! It never fails to lift my spirits and bring me assurance that, no matter what, there are bright & beautiful days just around the corner! And, here I am, reading about yours and experiencing my own!!!

    I am so happy that you are happy, dear kindred spirited friend! Enjoy a wonderful Birthday & celebrate YOU!!! We were all blessed the day you were born!!! Thank you for the Joy you bring to this world!!!

    Love & hugs to you, Joe & Jack!💞🤗💞

    p.s. Apologies if I’ve ended up posting this twice.

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t seen Enchanted April in so long … I’m going to hunt for it. I love it too! And the book was perfect! Happy spring Barbara! ❌⭕️

      • Rosann Wynykoski says:

        I’ve not read the book, but have so loved the movie & play. Will also now be looking for A Gentleman in Moscow and Tom Lake (I love light-hearted). This post was much-needed to remind me of how blessed I am in the midst of feeling not-so-good about things. Thank you, aw always, Susan!

    • Denise Hyde says:

      Barbara and Susan,
      Since you mention Enchanted April, I want to mention that The Literary Book Club — theliterarybookclub.com — has that book as its June selection (coming up). The club mails out boxes with a featured title, as well as related gifts, 4 times per year, with some extra boxes, such as Christmas boxes, if members want to purchase them, too. They are beautifully selected and arranged items. It does cost, but it is such a pleasure to receive these boxes with individual little gifts to unwrap. I have tried the book club for a year, and it has been a wonderful experience filled with little surprises. You can check their web site to get a feel for what is included in the boxes. I believe they are going to do a “Christmas in July” order for a Tolkien box at Christmas time. So lovely! Just wanted to pass along! Cheers, Denise in Corpus Christi, TX

  10. Pam Erselius says:

    Your parties sound lovely with all the jelly beans and harbingers of spring.
    The word you’re looking for is “totality” as 100 other readers probably already told you. But I know because I flew to Texas from California to see it AND family -so it would still be a win if it was cloudy. Well it was a win-win and we saw the diamond ring in the sky!!
    Springtime blessings to you & yours, 🐈‍⬛
    Love, Pam

  11. Jill says:

    Oh, Susan, what a wonderful, magical Willard! First, I have to say I too love the look of bare tree branches against the house. Dark gray through the pale winter sunshine, to me they are more beautiful than full-leafed summer, but not quite as beautiful as autumn’s golds and reds. I love your garage sale decorating! I have garage sale finds in my home too. So much more interesting and comforting than the standardized beige, white, and gray palate you see in so many homes. Finally, your “Blessings” paragraph really resonated with me. We have so much to be thankful for. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can always open your eyes wide and find a blessing — like tree branch shadows on the house! Tomorrow I go in for knee replacement surgery. I have a long list of things to do while recuperating, not the least of which is re-reading your Martha’s Vineyard book (my favorite). I’ll be watching Turner Classic Movies a lot, too. I’m sure I can find some Cary Grant movies! Thank you for this Willard, and wishing you many blessings in the weeks to come!

  12. Eileen DiVietro says:

    This was a wonderful read. I loved reading this. I changed over my house too! Gone are the last glimmers of Winter. The tulips, with pink, yellow and purples appear. White bedspreads, doilies in white. It is so good to read that everything doesn’t need to match and okay that cardinals are flying by the windows. Even okay, when my house shook from the East Coast Earthquake. The center of the quake was only 15 miles away from my home. All is well, the sun came out, after it was “mooned”. Maine is thawing from their latest snowfall. Your blog just makes me feel like, it is okay not to be all sterile and modern, with the decorations of the house. It is a good feeling. Thank you, for your Willard, it made my day.

  13. Mary Lawrence says:

    Lovely as ever,I lost sight in right eye and have surgery on Thursday. So,now I’m doing no mow April and May as well.You make my day with your blogs and Willards.I look forward to them.Mary in Gloucester, Virginia

  14. Elizabeth Winterbone says:

    Wishing you a happy birthday, Susan! Friday is my birthday too, plus dear Gladys Tabor. I feel so lucky to share the day with you two! XO 🌸🌺🌼🌺🌸

  15. Beth Barnat says:

    Thank you for another delightful Willard!
    Beth Barnat

  16. Jennie Lou says:

    Hello again. It has been a long time since I have written. I have spent the last two years in hospital and skilled nursing, recovering from I still am not certain what, but whatever it was came on remarkably fast and killed me! I was brought back to life by grace and the local Fire & Rescue squad, right there in our driveway late one night in May of 2022. I woke up in what my mind decided was a banana warehouse full of small women who did not speak much. I thought I had been kidnapped! I told my captors that my family did no ways have sufficient funds to ransom me, but they weren’t interested. Every few days, a tall, thin, sharp-nosed woman in a white coat would come and bend over me and say that I was not eating and if I did not eat they would put a tube in me! This went on, I am told by my beloved spouse, for several weeks until my mind began to recognize things like blood pressure cuffs and IVs and the sort of monitors one has when all heck has broken loose in just about every part of you. It didn’t help, I know now, that the hospital where I was was still in the throes of the COVID-19 Pandemic, over-full and understaffed and that none of my symptoms had anything to do with the disease-of-the-decade. My kidneys were shutting down, my heart kept slowing down and setting off alarms, and, no matter how hard my brain commanded my muscles, they would not do even the simplest things like sit or roll or pick up a spoon. But “in sickness and in health” I had vowed, and since my husband had bravely faced cancer, I could not give up. My kidneys were saved by a brilliant Nephrologist and his team after giving me the experience of dialysis for many weeks, and I am the proud owner of a
    tiny pacemaker thanks to a pair of fine Cardiologists and their team. I had so many care givers and therapists that helped me move again and even walk again, and my beloved of 41 years brought me home in October, so we could celebrate under our own roof.
    And our home is why I am writing today. After two years, imagine what your yard, if left untended, unmown, unpruned look like in the spring. Now, imagine all of that overgrown with ivy and blackberry vines. I didn’t believe it until I saw some pictures of our home online, on one of those sites that shows every house everywhere! I could easily imagine it was the set for a movie involving ogres, hags and orcs! And I cringed to think of what all of my very nice neighbors, who knew my Husband was splitting his days between work and my bedside, thought of such as sight in the middle of our otherwise tidy and charming street.
    It is spring. and in spring, the postman delivers flyers for every yard service and landscaping business that exists as soon as the groundhog sees it’s shadow. Armed with a stack of offers of “free estimates” and my trusty cell phone, I started on a plan to say “Thank You!” to everyone for watching the house when it was empty all day, and for checking in when husband was picking up the mail to see how I was doing.
    As I write, the air outside is full of whirring and chipping and mowing and raking. We may have to figure out how to have the house pressure washed after the vines are gone, and the windows washed, but that is for another day.
    Today, a thank you to my neighbors. And to my sweetheart, who won’t have to worry about mowing the lawn this week,
    I hope everyone has as much to be thankful for as I do, Thank you, Susan, for always sending out a ray of sunshine, even when the sun is nowhere to be seen!

    • sbranch says:

      Jennie! That was a SAGA!!! With a wonderful ending! Humans are so interesting . . . we can do ANYTHING!🤣😘😘😘

  17. Gabriele Stevens says:

    Hello, just want to drop a Thank 😊 you note for you. To tell you how much I look forward to your newsletter. What a joy to read. I also signed up to receive the Gladys Taber quarterly newsletter. I am a fan of all Gladys Taber. I even have a few books. Looking forward to your next newsletter.

  18. Marianne from South Haven says:

    This was beautiful…. we so need this right now! Thank you dear Susan

  19. Laura says:

    Susan, I also share your affinity for the moon! Ever since I was a girl I’ve been enamored with the stars and night sky. I live in Indiana and was able to travel to the totality zone for the eclipse yesterday. It was stunning! I have a happy wooden man-in-the-moon on my mantel in my family room, which I like to call my ‘moon room’ since all the art prints have a moon hidden in them somewhere.
    Stick with Tom Lake, it is light-hearted, but there are some darker points coming up.
    On a side note, how do you maintain white couches??!! Do tell your secret!

    • sbranch says:

      I fell completely in love with Tom Lake on today’s walk. I knew I would, was just waiting for it. White couches, I can only attribute it to this good cleaning stuff they gave me (which I’ve rarely had to use), but probably even more, to not having children! But you should see it up close. Corners ragged from clawing of kitties! Pre-Jack! He’s the good boy. We got him a clawing post when he was a baby and he uses it!

  20. Audrianne Hill says:

    Tom Lake is wonderful. Set during COVID so only the family is available to breastfeed g in the cherry crop. The daughters can’t believe their mom had an acting career and gave it up for a cherry orchard just north and Traverse City. It’s a light-hearted read during a year of a lot of darker published books.

  21. Sandra Mailey says:

    Seeing your cardinals and reading your comment reminded me of one springtime long ago, probably about 1953 or so, when my friend Sherry and I discovered a cardinal’s nest in a low bush in the woods. When we first saw it there were eggs in the nest and the mamma was sitting on them. Somehow, she allowed us to watch her from time to time without getting too upset, and one wonderful day there were no longer eggs in the nest, but four tiny birds. We continued to visit them, at a discrete distance, until the babies were ready to fly off on their own. I haven’t thought about this long-ago adventure in ages. I’m not even sure that Sherry and I told anyone else about it at the time, but it is a wonderful childhood memory. Thank you for bringing it all back to me. XOXO!

  22. Peggy Willoughby says:

    🌷 Happy April, Susan. 🌹 Your birthday month! So happy birthday a bit early. 🎂🍷
    I love the music you chose in this Willard and I love your contagious joy.Thank you.
    I am glad you are home enjoying this Spring. I also love seeing everything bloom this time of year. Some plants and bushes I planted 4 years ago are flourishing and blooming beautifully now. My roses are up. Trees are leafing, Birds are busy. Yay Spring!

  23. Kate says:

    I think this is the very best post you have ever written. We are so tiny in a very huge universe. Ever wonder who placed that sun at just the right distance that we don’t freeze to death or burn up? It was all planned and created, just for us and we have such a short time to enjoy it. But there are far better things waiting if you know the right man and his initials are J.C. Happy Spring, Susan. God bless you and Joe on your life journeys.

    • sbranch says:

      How about our NOSES … the perfect place to put our GLASSES??? It’s all just too much!💖💖💖💖

      • Laurie+Nico’s+Mom says:

        Happy belated birthday Susan! I hope you had a lovely day. I love an April birthday don’t you? Spring’s new life, Easter, green things growing and our birthdays. So much to celebrate! 🧁💐🌿


  24. Carol I Nicholls says:

    I feel like I got a gift every time I receive your Willard. I drove 300 miles to southern Missouri to see the eclipse. It took me 7.5 hours to make the 5 hour trip home because of all the traffic! But those 4 minutes were so worth it! AND I was so surprised to hear you are reading Tom Lake. I finished it last week and recommended it to my book club who picked it for our next meeting. There are surprises coming up in the book!

  25. Ann Woleben says:

    I’m feeling blessed for life, health, family, friends, purpose and mostly recently an upcoming gift from our son – a trip to Martha’s Vineyard at the end of this month! It was to be our 50th wedding anniversary trip (2018) from our son, but COVID and subsequent health issues had a part in postponing the trip. We are so excited! If you see two people standing outside and trying to get a glimpse of you and Joe, please don’t have us arrested. I have enjoyed your blog for years and dreamed of visiting the Vineyard. Your books, including Distilled Genius, line a shelf on my bookcase. We are looking forward to exploring the Vineyard and places you have written about in your blogs. Loved this latest Willard!

  26. Margaret Harke says:

    Just a great big THANK YOU for all the lovely descriptions and thoughts. Made my evening!

  27. Linda, near Seattle says:

    Thanks, Susan, for another wonderful post. After a difficult day at work, this is just what I needed. We had cloudy skies here yesterday, so were unable to see even a sliver of the moon crossing the sun, but we loved the eclipse in 2017. I loved seeing the news reports of the crowds enjoying the eclipse. I, too, have done some redecorating for spring, and love the fresh look. The gardens are coming alive and there is work to be done to update them, too. Your forsythia reminds me of my grandmother, who loved them in her garden. Thank you for brightening my day.

  28. Evie Tong says:

    A-lo-ha-ha … dear Susan🌸 Seeing those pink hydrangeas make my heart sings … April’s full of diamonds for us: birthdays, memorials and Spring flowers 🌸 ♥️🌸 Xo Evie

  29. Jody Wallem says:

    I love your photos of the forsythia. They remind me of springs growing up in Virginia—so pretty and cheerful! I remember my mother bringing in branches with fat buds, placing them in a tall vase, and watching them slowly open.

  30. Nancy says:

    Oh poop, that little vase is sold out.

    • sbranch says:

      It always happens too fast.

      • Nancy says:

        Just wanted to touch back that I checked a week or so after I saw the little vases were sold out, and they were back in stock. I got one! I love it! It sits on a little shelf above my kitchen sink, so I see it daily. Thank you!

  31. Jill says:

    What a wonderful, magical Willard! I too love the look of tree branch shadows against the house. Dark gray through the pale winter sunshine, they are more beautiful than summer’s full-leafed splendor, but not quite as beautiful as the glory of autumn’s red and gold. I love your garage sale decorating! How much more comforting it is than the gray, beige, and white that adorns so many homes. Your “Blessings” paragraph was so consoling and a reminder of how many little blessings there are in every life. Even if you can’t find anything right away, if you open your eyes wide you will — even if it’s just tree branch shadows against the house!

    • sbranch says:

      That whole grey thing in decorating I think started in England. Because I began noticing it when we traveled there a few years ago ~ and I thought, in a country that has so many grey skies, why on EARTH would they paint their pub walls gray??? Then it came over here. And I realized there is no good weather for grey!🤣

  32. Sandi, now in Plymouth says:

    Beautiful, thought provoking blog. We are all so blessed and should be so grateful for what we have! This Friday is a very special day for you and my daughter! Happy Birthday to you and my Kelly! I hope you have several surprises, wonderful moments and lots of cake! Happy Spring to you!

    • sbranch says:

      I already feel so loved💛, I couldn’t hardly ask for anything more. Thank you Sandi and tell Kelly I said HAPPY BIRTHDAY!🥳🥳🥳

  33. Joan Putney says:

    Tom Lake is an excellent read, IMHO. I would not describe it as totally light hearted but you will discover that on your own. Love Anne Patchett!
    Another wonderful Willard! Thank you for your quotes, photos and an insight to your world. 🥰🥰🥰
    Joan in Richmond, VA

    • sbranch says:

      So funny because it was on our walk today that I finally fell TOTALLY IN LOVE with Tom Lake … to the point that when we got out to the water, we just stopped there and hugged while it was playing in our ears. It’s beautiful, touching, wonderfully read, and beautifully written.

  34. DonnaRay says:

    Dear Susan, you are soooooo good at reminding us, in the most beautiful words, of the essence of life! Thank you, Girlfriend.

  35. Margot Birkett says:

    I wanted Spring babies. One of the two is. Eric was born on April 27th. He always called himself “Nature Boy”. Earth 🌎 Day is before his birthday and we cleaned up the neighborhood. Arnie and I like Arbor Day too! 🌲🌳🌴
    I left you two comments on your last blog post. One was for your Happy Birthday 🎂

    Hugs 🤗,
    Margot B.

  36. Karen Longo says:

    Lovely words as always, Susan! Yellow is certainly the April color around here. I have that same Fiesta yellow pitcher, that I like to use as a vase. I’ll take it out today and fill it with forsythia, or as I like to call it, “Spring’s Yellow Telegram”!

  37. ❤️Karen Saunders❤️ says:

    Oh what a wonderful Willard. I save them all but this one just sang to my heart. I felt your joy Susan!!! Yes…we all need to count our blessings and be positive….the half full glass!! I live in Southern Oregon and I love each season. People that move here and some that grew up here don’t like the overcast days but I love every day here and they don’t bother me. When I was young I spent every day I could riding bareback with my friends on my horse Echo. Come rain or come shine. In the spring I loved the flowers and green grass and in fall I loved the crunchy leaves. It was all glorious!!! Thank you for your uplifting letter!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️

  38. anne Miller says:

    ABUNDANCE! You remind us with every post. Thank you, Susan for sharing the Joy, Wisdom and the Beauty! I imagine that the island herself is grateful to have you HOME.

  39. Clare says:

    You brighten my day! xo Clare

  40. Marths says:

    The “Springiness” of your post is so uplifting, Susan! Like you and the many many girlfriends, I savor the beauty of nature especially now. 🌷🌷🌷Enjoyed Willard as always, thank you!💗

  41. Carolyn Johnson says:

    As usual, I truly enjoyed your Willard! All the gorgeous flowers! Made me happy on a rainy, dark day in Arkansas. Loved your comments about the eclipse. Several towns in Arkansas were in the totality zone. (my town was on the edge but still a moving experience! A Gentleman in Moscow was such a wonderful book! I’m also now watching the movie version. Thanks for recommending really good books.

  42. Darlene says:

    Being an 83-year-old astronomy buff, the 2024 total solar eclipse was going to be a special event for me. I had my list of things I didn’t want to miss, like the Diamond Ring, Baily’s Beads, the Corona and the crescent-shaped sunlight on the ground. After the 2017 eclipse, you showed photos on your blog of the crescents on the ground. I was so disappointed that I hadn’t known about them and had missed seeing them. This time I was ready. The people in my condo building had a Solar Eclipse Party. We had a total eclipse here in Ohio. I had everyone on the lookout for the crescents, and we found two areas, each about a yard square, filled with crescents. Everyone was so excited to see them.

    We were to bring a snack. I made your Zucchini Bread recipe and cut it into finger-food-snack-size pieces. When I offered someone a piece, I waited for them to take their first bite. Everyone said the same thing, “Oh, that’s good!” and wanted the recipe. Your recipe is the best.

    Just wanted you to know how your photos and recipes are enriching peoples’ lives. Thank you so much.

  43. Jamie Malchow says:

    Dear Susan,
    This is a beautiful Willard🌼🎵 Thank you for sharing this with everyone🥰

  44. Nancy Kelley West says:

    Thank you for such beautiful words pertaining to the solar eclipse experience! You hit every note perfectly, all the feelings. My first REAL eclipse 73 years old and we got “TOTALITY” here in our northeastern part of Texas. It was an experience I will always remember. Both my children and their children, total of 8 grandchildren and one great grandchild got to experience the eclipse although we are not all in the same part of Texas. (250 miles apart) That was a total miracle! That we all saw it within a few minutes of each other🌞🌓🌑❤️ It was a very exciting experience for millions of people. We will all be talking about it for a long time. Our amazing universe! 🎶🎶total eclipse of the sun!

  45. Sally Jenks Roth says:

    Susan, thank you yet again for a wonder-full post. My father used to speak of “man’s inhumanity to man” and there is plenty of that around these days.
    However, the eclipse filled me with joy. It was only partial in Tucson, but still amazing, peaceful, quiet, cool and much more than I’d expected (75%). We were sad to miss the totality at home in Vermont but my daughter kept sending me texts, photos, and a video so I felt connected. I got great special glasses at the UofA Planetarium which allowed me to enjoy the whole experience. There are some cactus flowers here, but I’m really looking forward to spring flowers and blossom at home. Thank you for being you and for showing us so much beauty!

  46. Lori+Hamilton says:

    Always good to hear from you, Susan. Spring is the loveliest of seasons……I think………!
    (And will until summer shows her beautiful face!)

  47. Linda Kostecki says:

    Oh My goodness this was a masterpiece!!! I feel so warm and fuzzy!! What fun I put colored dishes of jelly beans all around!! Ive been feeling just stuck! Out came the all the bright and pastel everything!! Spring has indeed arrived!!! I love it that I have that same yellow and white tassled towel as you! this weekend in honor of our 43rd anniversary we are planting forsythia, wisteria, hydrangea….and a mock orange!!!! and yes we went to Southern Missouri to see the total eclipse. You took me back to the days went we could to the St Louis Science Center and Planetarium. Besides the night skies they had a laser light show to music. God Bless you and Joe richly!!!

    • sbranch says:

      You are planting all the gorgeous things! We have a large mock orange here, another gift from Mrs. Bowditch… blooms every year and looks exactly like a giant wedding bouquet!!! 🌸🌸🌸🌸

  48. Nancy M says:

    I love how you described your home because that is how I feel about the treasures I find to bring home. 😊

  49. Janet Conn says:

    I am always so excited when I see a new Willard has been posted. The Granville Rose is beautiful. I am going to be on the lookout for one to add to my garden. Last year I added the “Queen Elizabeth” rose, and this year I have ordered the “Julia Child” rose. I wish you and Joe a very Happy Spring.

    P.S. It was so wonderful to see everyone so excited, happy and united over the Solar Eclipse. Such a wonderful feeling!

    • sbranch says:

      Oooo, Love Queen Elizabeth! If you don’t have a Just Joey Rose … do what you have to do to get one!!! Such a wonderful rose, fragrance, prolific, healthy, long-lived, GORGEOUS peach color!!

  50. ReNae Stewart says:

    Thank you for this!! What a Wonderful read!!! I sure needed a pick me up! This was it!! I am recovering from a stroke last year and have done well but for some reason having hard days lately! I have followed you for years. I have your beautiful books! Thank you for brightening my day!! Much Love!! By the way my daughter is Susan so her maiden name was the same as yours!! Pardon errors if I have some typing is a challenge!

    • sbranch says:

      I remember my mom telling me she was having a good day … as opposed to a bad day … so now I think we get good days and bad days all at the same time. Must be time for a good day for you!! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  51. Biz Greenwell says:

    The eclipse was amazing here in Maryland. BTW, did you see that they are changing the image on the UK bank note from Queen Elizabeth to King Charles? I think it was June 7 that they will be released. Early June at least. I love all your yellow and pink. Yellow is the color I most associate with April. Because of forsythia and daffodils I think. I got a new perennial last year. Brunnera. It’s a leafy plant with delicate blue flowers. It will spread out and multiply. And I wish I could post a picture here. With the warm weather the past few days it is really thriving. I think you would love it in your garden. Keep an eye out at the garden center.

  52. Jennifer Farnes says:

    I learned that some of the stars we see in the heavens now actually died hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago (not light years) and the light from those dying stars is just now reaching us. I also learned a mystery. The detritus from those exploding, dying stars actually enters our atmosphere and gently settles into the very air we breathe, onto the food we eat and into the water we drink . . . and that very literally makes us made of star stuff. STAR STUFF! I love thinking that all that star stuff is what makes me twinkle and sparkle inside. That I am quite wonderfully made of stars. I knew you would love this.

    • sbranch says:

      We are made of stars! Didn’t you just KNOW that when you were six years old and looking at the night sky? It’s why those short people should rule the world. They cry if a tree gets cut down. I remember screaming at my ex from inside the house when looking out the window, I saw he was cutting a limb off a tree. He couldn’t hear me because of the noise of the saw, and I burst into tears from the frustration of not being able to stop him in time. He tried to convince me it was good for the tree, and maybe so . . . but I will never forget that moment.💖

      • Jennifer Farnes says:

        i knew an awful lot when i was six. probably more than i do now and i definitely believed in magic. lots of magic and faeries and stars and wishes. we need to become like little children again. and i still cry when a tree gets cut down. we live in washington state and there are acres of trees that get cut down and the entire hillsides look like someone gave them a bad haircut. but they do replant. they have that in their favor.

        • sbranch says:

          Awwww, I know JUST how you feel. What we know when we are six is the difference between right and wrong. If we can hold onto that, I think we can take over the world!💘

    • Vicki South of Arroyo says:

      I’m just one of Susan’s readers here and I totally loved what you wrote. That I am made of stars? What a wonderful thing and I am so happy to know!

  53. Marcia Ceisel says:

    Thank you for the lovely post (as always). I have been unable to shake the thought of something you mentioned in the previous Willard (or maybe the one before). You had the difficult task of sorting through things that were a part of your life for such very long time–at your place in California. I felt such empathy for you. I understand that it is very emotional to part with items that are connected to our past. I never under stand how some people say that we should get rid of our “stuff” and that it is a burden. Sorry, I digress, (as I do). Anyway, here is the magical thing you said regarding throwing away things from our past: …”it is like killing history.” THAT really resonated with me. Your statement was very moving, and I have thought of it often. You are so right. It does feel that way! I believe we should not listen to others who may pressure us to purge. I think you, and only you, can make that decision. To that end, I am glad you have not put your house on the market yet. You listened to your soul and will wait until (if) the time is right. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • sbranch says:

      YUP! Totally agree! What we all need is our very own personal museum!

      • Vicki South of Arroyo says:

        I am over-commenting today but I’ve gone back thru what everyone has said here and I so very much enjoy reading these thoughts of so many amazing people (of course, Susan, your blissfully-perfect posts prompt the rest of us to respond and share [it just feels like so much love {a very nurturing environment here on the Susan Branch blog!}]).

        I have been downsizing-decluttering for ‘way too long; and the reason it takes me ‘way too long (like in FOREVER) is that I can’t stand it. It’s the hardest thing EVER. No better way to describe it than ‘killing history’. I feel a pressing obligation (a heavy weight) because no one follows me and I don’t want to leave a mess for a stranger. But, absolutely, I am the murderer. I am killing my own history. It goes against every bone in my deeply-sentimental body.

        To have to get rid of things that several other relatives-ancestors entrusted to me, not to mention everything that well-documents my own life over seventy-something years, is wrenching (like, how many times when endlessly sorting-discarding-donating, have I shed tears that actually hurt my FACE [frustration, wistfulness, angst-anger, sadness; so many memories; the yearning over what has passed; reluctance to move along things that I really love and would prefer to keep {this is akin to identity theft, erasing my existence as if I were never here!}]).

        Although I’m doing it (and I guess I’ll keep doing it til I die or ever move again [since it IS a lot of stuff, so it’s time-consuming {and I’m slowed by trying to find the right ‘homes’ for things, because I care}]), I don’t find this ‘death-cleaning’ endeavor freeing; I find it ripping my soul. I’ve had ‘friends’ tell me that there’s something therein of the ‘hoarder’ in me because I want to keep everything (that I have too much attachment to material objects [don’t they realize I have the items for a reason, because they represent or remind me {warmly and happily} of a special person, place or thing {some people just need this; I DO!}]).

        They’ll say, “Just take a photo of it. Enjoy the photo; not the stuff.” (Sorry, a photo isn’t the same. I’m tactile. I like texture and color. [I love fabric and tapestry, ribbon, yarns and rickrack! How an artist worked his/her palette knife on a painting, just like Cezanne and Matisse!] I like to sniff; shake it for the rattle of age; see every little crack and worn patina; admire fine workmanship up close and personal. [I know, I know; I want everything.])

        I’ve never been a minimalist. I’m a multi-hobbyist and I like to collect because I have an appreciation and love for lots of diff kinds of things. Sue me for liking everything I’ve collected and kept! I happen to enjoy my personal museum. The one I’ve carefully curated!

        I live in an old town with a once-loved but now shuttered museum on Main Street. I feel for that dear old place, because it is me.

  54. PJ says:

    A Willard always brightens my day! Spring is finally coming to our area with my daffodils almost in bloom. My forsythia blooms some years and not others. I believe it is related to how intense our winters are. This may be one of those years when I give it a very serious pruning later in the spring. I used to think of forsythia as weeds, but I have come to appreciate their vibrant color as a sign that winter has ended.

  55. Mary Saunders says:

    This issue of Willard is blossoming with gratitude, SPRING, and so MUCH MORE. I will be revisiting it to take in all in. I will jot down good reads and good “views”. Thank you for these monthly and often more than monthly visits. They overflow with JOY and INSPIRATION!!! Blessings, Mary from Albuquerque

  56. Sassy Sausage says:

    Dearest Birthday Girl,

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you for this one and all the other posts throughout the year. They have been my mainstay for all that is good and true and that has been desperately needed. You NEVER fail to bring it with your posts, tweets, instagram and everything else.

    Please go to V.H. Nurs. there is a gift card waiting for you. I love celebrating you, your gorgeous, authentic, unique and lovely lady!! Ask for Laura. (Maybe a spring blooming tree?)

    Love you!

    • sbranch says:

      You are very Sassy Miss C. 💝 💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼 Thank you for sweetest you.💖

      • Ms. Sassy Sausage says:

        Imagine if you could have celebrated Mark Twain’s birthday while he was alive! You know you would have. Well, that is what I get to do with you!!

        P.S. They don’t have foxgloves, yet.

  57. Sandra Barton says:

    Dear Susan: Haven’t posted a reply for awhile—your Willard came at a perfect time—-I was going thru and getting rid of a gazillion E-mails, and such negative news stories that I was just passing by and there was your “Willard” and your lovely comments you had typed and shared with us—–I was feeling exactly like what you wrote! Blessed for floors, ice, warm home, nice clothes, flowers growing in the mini-greenhouse—–just feeling BLESSED! Thank you for the Willard and your thoughts! Brightened up my day! It’s a beautiful April day here and my hubby who has had a rough 2 months because of health issues is doing well and so yes, Blessings this April Day! Hugs to you, Joe and Jack!

  58. Carol Duffey, Sierra Madre says:

    Susan, I am so grateful for you. You always make me so happy. I have started a reply to you for both of your last two blog entries, and never finished them so decided to not send them. I just never know how to express myself properly. You are such a great writer, really! It’s intimidating!
    I just want you to know that I always read and thoroughly enjoy your posts. They are so uplifting.
    I was sorry to see that you are in the process of selling your Arroyo Grande property! It makes me sad to know that you have one less pull in this direction. I know that you still have family in California, but owning your own home here has I’m sure made things easy and comfortable when you come to stay. You know as long as we still own our Seal Beach home you and Joe are always welcome to stay there! We might not have it for the long run, but for now we’re holding onto it.
    I’ve been going through some changes in my life and it’s so nice having you to “turn to” every time you send a Willard. It really helps take me away from my troubles for a while. I have been diagnosed with neuropathy in my legs and feet. It has been quite challenging for the past year or so, and although it is not curable, I’ve got good doctors that have really helped me manage it. Michael has been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s Disease also, so we are meeting that challenge together. We have many good friends and family that love and understand him so we are not alone in this debilitating, sad disease.
    Thank you, Susan for always putting a smile on my face. It has always meant so much to me to be included as one of your many “Girlfriends”. XOXO, Carol

    • sbranch says:

      Carol! I’m just an old letter writer! But thank you. For a person who wondered forever if she could be a writer, I’ve decided to believe my friends, and know now that I AM a writer. Communicating with words is a wonderful challenge, to say what you mean, to have enough empathy to feel the person/people you are writing to … it’s not always easy because it doesn’t matter if I understand it, it’s if I can say it right, so others do! And, oh dear, I’m so sorry to hear about your health challenges ~ what, as they say in the vernacular, A DRAG.😢 These little (and big) bites being taken out of our health, it’s not fun. But then there are the whole OTHER parts of our lives, still filled with joy … you are so good about staying with the joy parts … your words mean the world to me, never ever be intimidated, you are beautifully expressive. ❌⭕️

      • Carol Duffey, Sierra Madre says:

        Thank you, Susan. Coming from you, that means a lot.
        And you’re right, there is still so much in life to be grateful and joyful about! All is not lost, but I do wish time wouldn’t pass so darned quickly!
        Enjoy your beautiful spring!

  59. Joanna+Peterson says:

    I’ve always loved a bright moon, but you’ve added a layer of appreciation for me with your bookmarks that taught me, along with my kids, the names of each full moon. Also, I love your yellow and pink spring theme.

  60. I so agree – we have so much to be thankful for that we sometimes take for granted. Love your thoughts, your pretty table-settings and spring decorating, the forsythia at the end of the driveway, your joyous zest for life. I hope that you get to see that baby cardinal this year. xo K

  61. Dee+Ann says:

    Yellow and pink….love that combinations of colors! Yes, thanks to you, us girlfriends got to cross the Atlantic together!

  62. Karen Pedevillano says:

    Lovely to read. Wondering if you will get more of the circular “Find heaven within” vase ?
    Daffodils and hyacinths blooming in Upton MA. I adore being outside as well. Love the jelly bean idea on the table.

  63. Mary+Brehm says:

    Good Morning Susan! Thank you for the lovely gratitude filled post. You are so good a putting into words the things that I think and feel. A fellow girlfriend replied in the comments how she is always hesitant to respond for fear that her words won’t do justice to how she feels and I’m the same way. You are a wonderful writer and story teller.
    I love the picture of the Forsythia. My earliest memories are of learning the names of flowers and being captured by their beauty. When I was growing up we lived next door to three old women who were sisters. Their names were Bertha, Nellie, and Hazel Peepers. The Peepers sisters! Don’t you just love those names? They were all lovely and they had a wonderful garden. There was a huge Forsythia that grew over our fence and I was enthralled by it. My mom told me what it was called and told me I should always say it with a lisp…Forthithias! I still do to this day!
    I love your lady cardinal friend. I think the females are prettier and the males. They are so sweet. I hope you get to see some babies soon. We have a nesting pair of blue birds in one of our birdhouses. It’s so exciting to see. The female is very busy plucking fiber from the liner in my hayrack planter and building her nest. The male sits and watches over her and then escorts her back to the box and sits on top while she goes in and does all the work! Hopefully we will have baby bluebirds soon! I am watching them right now as I right this.
    I have been swapping out spring things as well. It’s fun to have a new season to look forward to. I opened all my windows and washed all of my bedding and hung it on the line. It was so yummy to climb into bed with crisp sheets that smelled like sunshine! I loved your table setting with the jelly beans. What a great idea! Your girlfriends are so lucky to have such a thoughtful friend who takes the time to make things pretty and even give them lovely hostess gifts.
    We watched the eclipse as well, but as you say we weren’t in complete “Blotto Nation”. So funny, I like your term better! It was pretty cloudy but it was still a thrill to feel the air cool and the birds go quiet and feel the sense that we were all experiencing this wonderful thing at the same time. I just happened to finish reading “a Fine Romance ” for the thousandth time and I love that passage about the planetarium. You write so well I could actually feel the experience as you wrote about it.
    Thank you for the viewing recommendations. We have been hungry for something new to watch. We just finished watching Ted Lasso again. It’s so good! and now we are watching the Detectorists again. Also so Good!
    How nicefor your California girl friends to be able to go to your estate sale! Lucky girls! It cracked me up when you posted the picture on twitter of the corner Joe was decorating! Chaos all around but that corner was tidy and pretty! Good work Joe!
    One last thing, I have that little vase on my bedside table and I treasure it! I hope you have a wonderful birthday tomorrow!
    Love, Mary

    P.S. Speaking of good shows to watch, Have you ever seen “Somebody Feed Phil” on Netflix? It’s really good. It’s a travel/Food show. He travels all over the world and introduces you to different cultures. Makes you realize we are all more alike than different. Such a wonderful show and Phil Rosenthal is great! He is on tour right now and we are going to see him tonight! I can’t wait!

  64. Dani Hollingsworth says:

    Happy Birthday tomorrow! I hope you have a wonderful day and are absolutely spoiled! My husband has the same birthday as you so we will be celebrating too! Sending love and sunshine!!

  65. Helen Edwards says:

    How exciting to learn that they have a planetarium on the ship! That is so unique and as a star watcher sounds like fun!

  66. Barbara Anne says:

    What a delightful Willard and I thank you very much for its charm and joy!

    Soon, we, too, will be downsizing and hope I find my heartstrings aren’t connected to too many things!

    DH and I watched the “We Are the World” documentary on Netflix a few nights ago and felt were were back in 1985 with good friends, whose music we’ve enjoyed most of our lives. I recommend it whole-heartedly.

    Wishing y’all well! Hugs!

  67. Jane Franks says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan! This Willard was just wonderful. So lyrical, poetic, literary. I was drawn into the heavens with you! When we have full moon here, it appears directly in front and over our house and can be seen behind a web of stick limbs in winter on our maple and veiled in lovely green in spring and summer. But there is a space where the sky is clear of trees and I always step outside on those nights and feel I can nearly touch it. There is something so fresh and pure, clear and uncluttered in that experience. A hushed silence in the night. As you wrote about your thoughts, mine were drawn to the solid reassurance that all this was given to us by our Sovereign Creator who created all this for us, whom He also created, to live in and to enjoy and to take care of. What a gift! Thank you again for stirring creative thoughts and juices as you always do. Jane xoxo

  68. Heloisa de Mesquita Inoue says:


  69. Coco says:

    Happy Birthday to you,
    Happy Birthday to you,
    Happy Birthday darling Suuu-san,
    Happy Birthday to you!

    You are the jolliest good fellow (gal) ever!!! Thank you for all the JOY and enthusiasm and creativity and humor and LOVE you bring to the world just by sharing with others whatever you’re excited about.

    Hope Joe has some fun and funny things planned to fete you. And Jack — what capers shall HE cook up for your birthday?!?

    Best wishes and bunches of love, xoxox Coco

  70. Flossy Stewart says:

    Happy Birthday Susan to one of my most favorite human beings🌼…I feel soooo lucky to be sharing Earth with you🌼…sending lots of love for a lovely day🌼…PS another wonderful Willard🌼!

  71. Linda M. Smith says:

    Happy Birthday!

  72. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    Dear Susan, it’s your birthday today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!

  73. Cindy Penzler says:

    You will finish Tom Lake and be thinking about it for weeks! Always a sign of a great book. You and Ann Patchett have SO much in common. She is all about the beauty in life and domesticity as an undervalued role. She is fierce, independent, childless, and brilliant. Tom Lake is a perfect companion to Wilder’s Our Town and Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard. If you are ever in Nashville, you must call her and go to her bookstore, Parnassus. I can just see the two of you together over a cuppa! Thank you for the beautiful Willard. I read this one out loud to my love of 40 years! We had a big scare with our furry “child” today and it was the balm and reminder we needed. Happy Birthday!

  74. Barb techel says:

    I love and appreciate your blog, Susan. I’m wondering if you or any of your followers have a suggestion for me in regards to your recent sharing about Friends of Gladys Taber society. I’ve tried twice emailing them regarding membership and haven’t heard back. Checked sneaky spam too and nothing there. Any thoughts anyone?? Thanks!

  75. From this speck to you, thank you for this beautiful post.
    It’s so difficult navigating enjoying life and shifting perspectives from grumbling to gratitude while the world is burning. People like you, and the community you created, help us stay grounded, as little specks, and do what we can for those around us.

    I’m so bummed to miss your estate sale. Friends and I drive down to Morro Bay to get fleece processed all the time (until she retires later this year). I would have loved to see your property and all you and Joe did to it.

    Alas, we are hosting the San Benito Open Studios Art Tour that *same* weekend from 11-4 so if any girlfriends live in the area from the Central Coast and SF Bay Areas, they can head to sanbenitoarts.org/open-studios/ for the map and visit us.
    We’ll be hosting my fellow Fiber Artist and Fine Artist Andrea McCann officially (she’ll also have her emu chicks with her!) and we’ll also be hosting members of Anne’s Web Spinners from Monterey and the Carmel Crafts Guild. The members will be prepping fibers, spinning, weaving, knitting, and crocheting.
    I’ll be demonstrating wet-felting and dyeing as well as spinning and weaving.
    So much glorious fiber goodness!
    And like you always say, the best way to clean your house is to throw a party!
    Our goal is to to show local people how many ways there are to play with fiber and show them the opportunities to learn. We are an aging demographic, and young people are eager to learn these ancient skills, but sometimes there is a perceived barrier to entry for them, especially since many of our members are older, white women. We are focused on getting kids interested and being inclusive of all people.
    So I hope the sale goes well (even though you won’t be there), and I hope you enjoy all that Spring brings.
    Hugs to you,
    Susan of Mosshollow Hill

  76. Gert Stevens says:

    Good morning Susan, as always I love you Willard’s. And of course who doesn’t look forward to “spring”? The world is anew —- and alive!! An awakening —- as I look out my window, the grass has had a few drinks of rain water and now has turned a gorgeous green in color. The sound of lawn mowers are in the air and so it begins. Birds are singing and at the feeders each day. My kitty wants to chase them even if she ends up running into the sliding glass door—ha!ha!
    I wish I had seen the sky’s through a planetarium as you did, but the raw skies with the stars and moon are special to me.
    Enjoy your friends, life and SPRING!!

  77. Mary Kopecky says:

    Dear Susan,
    What a wonderful uplifting blog. We especially loved the video clip of the QM2 ocean crossing. 🚢 It took us back to one of our most special trips with you and the Girlfriends.

    My best buddy and I had a fun time at today’s estate sale at your charming 🏡 home site in Arroyo Grande. It was a true feast of riches for us serious tag sale, thrift store, swap meet shoppers. We scored big time! 🥰

  78. Amy G. says:

    It’s a treat every time I see a new Willard come through! <3
    I have recently purchased a number of Gladys Taber books and wanted to know if you had any particular recommendation on which book to start off with. I'm eager to dive in but not sure where to begin.

  79. Denise Hyde says:

    Thank you, again, Susan!!!
    I didn’t realize more episodes of The New Look had come out–thanks for that, also. And I’ve been watching Gentleman from Moscow, as well. I still really like 1923–except I wish some of the good in the Catholic Church had been portrayed…

  80. Hannah Wend says:

    Hi, Susan! I’m also an April birthday girl and my birthday was yesterday. I had bought the “Birthday Girl” crown and wore it to the restaurant my friend took me to for lunch. What a hoot! It was so much fun and we had a great time (everyone in the restaurant seemed to enjoy it, too). Thanks for such a cute and memorable birthday item!

  81. Sheri T. says:

    Dear Susan,

    Do you know if the Bowditch family who built your home were related to Nathaniel Bowditch, the great American navigator and astronomer? He lived during the time of the American Revolution. A brilliant mathematician with a heart for the sea and helping sailors navigate more safely.

  82. Alice Wagner says:

    I read your Willard at the perfect time. I am 83, have cancer … the cancer doctor describes it as “can’t be cured, but can be treated” … so I AM on a “daily pill” .. I hope it gives me more years. My sister is 94 and in a nursing home, my wonderful neighbor is 95 and dear heart: her 70 year old daughter died recently. The most I can do for Dorothy is call and talk with her and steer our conversation to her missing her daughter so much.

    Because I am “so old,” I am in the process of sorting thru my “stuff” and almost all of it goes to Goodwill. I just keep what my CAT and I will truly need or want.

    Best wishes to you in taking such a BRAVE step in yours and Joe’s (and Jack’s!) lives.

  83. Alice Wagner says:

    Well I did something wrong … I wrote a comment but it disappeared. That’s ME AND TECHNOLOGY!

    I am 83 and have cancer. My cancer doctor describes it as “can’t be cured, but an be treated.”

    I had written to my friend near Kansas City and said on that particular day, I was thinking about dying. She immediately wrote back and said, “We’re all dying from the day we’re born.” Profound stuff!!

    My dear neighbor, Dorothy, who is 95, her 70 year old daughter died and Dorothy is having such a hard time dealing with it. The best thing I can do when we visit on the phone, is to steer the conversation toward that happening, letting her “vent.”

    Because of my age, I am busy sorting and sorting thru (lots of) stuff … most of it goes to Goodwill. Breaks my heart to part with some of it, but really no choice.

    Best wishes to you and Joe and your new life. xx

    • sbranch says:

      Lovely to hear from you Alice . . . so much of everything is in our attitude toward it . . . bless you.💞

  84. Prue Ronneberg says:

    Oh Dear Susan and Joe and Jack, We felt this was coming… after you got home, and just before you left California, we had a notion. And it’s okay, isn’t it!? It certainly is. Thank God you are healthy and have your walks, your talks, your cups of tea and infinite everyday friends. Take your time, travel light. Ha ha ha! Just like in the ship, take it all with you in your hearts. Thank you for your honesty and the wisdom you share with all of us!! 🥰 And… wait just think… there’s mileage between Massachusetts and Washington DC. That’s a good thing. We keep doing the next right thing. Sending love ( from the Shenandoah Valley in VA )
    your kindred spirit Prue.

  85. Diane Cushman says:

    All the while you were in California and writing to us about the beauty and the weather, I wondered why you were selling. The east coast is beautiful, but I will take warm weather any day now that arthritis pains my joints. You will be okay. You will be great! It will take a lot of energy, but when it’s done, you can sit in the yard, sip on a glass of iced tea, and wonder at the sunsets.

  86. Jan says:

    A kind person would be supportive and wish you all the best in California. A kind person would not express their great disappointment at missing regular posts about New England autumn and fall with its shadows, light, snow, sunsets, and seasonal decorating that doesn’t seem at odds with the weather. I’m so torn….All the best in California.

  87. Fran Pedro says:

    Best of luck to you both. The east coast loss…your gain..great weather and a nearly empty house in cali to bring your treasures to.

  88. Ruth Winkler says:

    Dear Susan, Reading your latest blog, I was worried and anxious to read why you were talking to us using those words? I was scared it had to do with health problems, but thank goodness, no. I know how much you love your home there on Martha’s Vineyard. but, as others noted, your beautiful California home is waiting for you and Joe and Jack. You will be missed by me and my daughter, who read your blog and called me in tears. Your California home with the views and gorgeous plantings reminds me of your garden now. I cannot tell you how much I love your blogs. You bring joy to everyone.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not stopping my blog . . . I’m taking everyone with me! We got a really BIG moving van, so climb in and bring everything you love!💞

      • Elizabeth R Sterling says:

        Hi Susan! I love your work; your illustrations, your recipes and the three books about your life. I especially love all of your postings about your life on Martha’s Vineyard where I have visited. My heart is broken about your move from the Island. The news was out of the blue and frankly a shock. For me this is the end of something as I am sure it is for a lot of people who ‘tune in’ to what you are doing. It’s important to note that and respect that. I am sure you are a wonderful person to know, but it is your work on the Island that I have loved and the quotes you have shared. It’s a loss for all of us who love the New England setting and your home. The decision seems very fast to me, you have so many options, and California can be very dry, not always green as it was this unusual year. Leaves and flowers do show up in New England. Remember to take time to grieve. Speedy moves do not take the pain away. Before you leave, take time in your home and go into each room and thank it for everything that happened there. Take that time. I am an Architect and I have seen how you love that house and I promise it will be in your heart for the rest of your life.

        Take care and God bless. My experience after living in both Washington state and Vermont (Yep, an almost an exact parallel life experience only on far less money); Your Home is where your kitty is. Thank you, Elizabeth

        • sbranch says:

          It WILL be in my heart the rest of my life, so profoundly, I don’t have words. What a gift. I can’t believe how lucky and blessed I was to find it at just the right time. I hope it won’t miss us too much. I worry more for it than for me. True love. We aren’t giving up our lovely island. Will visit off season for as long as humanly possible! And we’ll take you along!😘

  89. Kathy Goblirsch says:

    I have so missed your posts. The quotes, the art and all the stories. Reading about your new Califrnia studio the selling of that wonderful home in Marthas Vineyard was a tough but God supported choice. Your analogy was right on.
    I have loved the East coast and homes rich with history. Seeing your treasures, gardens and loving husband feels so joyful. Your cats are so photogenic. They know the luck of life for them.
    I just had a bone marrow transplant. Only MDS, not yet AML I am blessed. My recovery is a number of months.
    Looks like living in California, I may be out and traveling by the time you take a stand here. Until then, I look forward to your posting of items you treasure whether new or hidden away for years.
    Your art and spirit warms the soul.

  90. Linda K. says:

    Wow! What a surprising post this time! I can fully relate to your thinking of your future and in a house you can be more comfortable with when things start to change. We sold out of our 5-acre place in WA state to move to AZ where the year round weather is so much more comfortable and we don’t have the work of what acreage entails. We were there 30 years but at 76 and 82 just can’t handle all the work. So now we are in a 55+ community with lots of options and clubs to join! It’s a change for sure but we still have our health and we do have to think of our future requirements also. Best wishes to you two and your new life and home in CA. Loved the pics of your CA place!

  91. Andrea McVety says:

    Beyond happy for you and Joe. You will be so happy together in California. It will be easier and beautiful . I seem to be loving the Seasons in New England the older I get. Yet it does become difficult dealing with long winters as we age. I cannot wait to follow your great adventure as I have done for years. You are going HOME. The most beautiful word ever. ❤️❤️❤️

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