A little May, a little June . . . a little happy, sweet old tune . . .

Hi everyone! Keeping busy? Me too . . . but time out for a girl party! That’s this! MUSICA    (Just click on the record!)

It feels like I’ve been keeping track of the months forever! It’s really time I update this photo … do you recognize these? Calendars all the way back from 1993 ~ but this photo only goes to 2013! And here we are, looking at 2025! Big surprise from us today because the calendars came early this year!💝
Yes! I’m excited to see them! But so early! We are hoping they last till Christmas … but just in cases, if calendars are one of your stand-by gifts, be sure to get them soon … we don’t always run out but, as some of you know, sometimes we DO!😳

Here they are! This is the cover of the 12″ x 12″ wall-calendar! (Still practicing painting people, thought I would bring her home from Farmer’s Market with the groceries! Look! She stole my ring!)

Here’s the back of the wall calendar . . . so you can see 3 of the months for 2025 . . .

This is the extra-large desk blotter ~ the cover shows all the months for the whole year . . . but . . .

Here’s the month of April up-close . . . each month has tear-off pages, the year-in-advance, huge squares, and extra room to write! 

This ⬆️ is the cover for the Mini Wall-calendar… a picket fence with hollyhocks, very fun to paint! And here ⬇️ is September . . .

An up-close look ⬆️ at the September top and bottom page for the Mini.

Last but not least, the cover for the purse calendar ~ it’s the same size as a checkbook. There are more pictures of everything at that link.😘

Here’s where the calendars are conceived, before they’re delivered and ready for adoption by you!👼

Here are the California doctors preparing the babies for delivery (what am I SAYING HERE???🤣)

All from me, with you know what!💞💞💞

With you know who.😹

And guess what else? Susan Branch Studios is now on the new wholesale site called Faire! Before, if you wanted to find my things you had to get them directly from us . . . but now, if you have a retail store (and a resale number) you can sign-up to carry my cards, notepads, books, and things in your shop at wholesale prices, no matter how big or tiny it is! You can shop through Faire or you can contact us directly for wholesale prices! This is all new to us ~ Calendars and books will be on the Faire site soon!❤️ But the rest of it is ready right NOW!!👏

Last week the Island had its unofficial opening for the season, Memorial Day! And like forever, we got our flag up in time for the kids!

I’ve painted calendar pages about this delightful event that has been happening right in front of our house since the 1800s! Not just here, but all the schools on the island … For us, it’s the Tisbury school up the street, kindergarten through 8th grade. With flags waving, they march by me and my camera as they parade down Spring Street in the dappled sunlight to the harbor ~ on their way to the shore to throw their bouquets of flowers into the sea in memory of the heroes who fought, lost their health, or their lives, for our country, for us. Our grown-up chests swell seeing them and hearing their little school band play patriotic songs! Remember “Over There” from the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy? 🎵…The YANKS are coming, the YANKS are coming, the drums rum-tumming everywhere . . . so beware, say a prayer, send the word, send the word, over there, 🎶 we’re coming over, we’re coming ovER and WE WON’T COME BACK TILL IT’S OVER OVER THERE! 🇺🇸 YAY!

If you haven’t seen Yankee Doodle Dandy, or if it’s been a long time, look for it. It’s about George M. Cohan, born on the 4th of July, who wrote wonderful songs that you barely ever hear anymore. It’s so good! You’ll love it. It’s WWI, but it’ll bring back memories you don’t even have! And then you will!👏


Here’s a scene from the movie … still gives me chills. Being born just after WWII means that even though the war was over, we kids still grew up with it. My parents and their friends were the Greatest Generation and this was their LIFE, so the 1950s was still a total reflection of the war. TV was filled with it ~ besides Yankee Doodle Dandy on the Million Dollar movie for 7 days straight, there was Sgt. Bilko, Hogan’s Heroes, No Time for Sergeants, I Led Three Lives ~ and at the movies, there was Operation Petticoat, Mr. Roberts, The Caine Mutiny, Bridge on the River Kwai, and tons more  … while my dad was busy building our bomb shelter in the back yard! Seeing men in military uniform was normal everywhere. My uncle was in the Navy until the 70s. Much of the camaraderie among close friends and family came from what they all went through together. It must have felt so good when it was over . . . but so many young years lost. No complaints from them, not ever.💖

They were children during the Depression, and in their teens and early twenties, they were hit with WWII. The men were sent away and most women were left at home and went to work in factories to keep the home fires burning. Everyone wanted to help. But it wasn’t easy. They lost boyfriends and husbands, kids lost moms and dads, parents lost children, grandparents lost a  generation, and siblings lost each other. (And imagine how it was in England, being bombed every night!) It marked them, and still marks many of us. (If we thought Covid was bad, imagine THIS nightmare for six-ish years.😩) But we definitely learned from it . . . our parents showed us that money didn’t grow on trees, and that it wasn’t everything. We learned how to make do or do without, and found out we could have anything because we could make it ourselves. We felt their patriotism, admired their courage, adopted their pride, learned to work hard, and we still feel their values in our hearts. And so, I cry when I hear the old music, even after all these years. I love seeing that spark carried forward with these neighborhood kids and hopefully they won’t have to experience a terrible war to be taught what matters all over again. The lessons need to last much longer than just a few generations. My darling daddy would love that.💖 My darling daddio. 💖 Blog Daddy to you guys. On the 80th Anniversary of D-Day ~ Probably the reason we are all here to celebrate and honor as we do.💝

And there’s Joe! We were late this year, we ran like crazy to get the flag up before the kids got there . . .

And JUST made it!!!

Because HERE THEY COME! Cutest dang thing!

I’m not sure who is more excited, them or me, or their teachers!

But they do love it, we can hear their excited voices easily a block away … always on the last Friday before the holiday weekend. I’ve been taking pictures of it for the last 35 years! And not one bit of difference in any of them! Only the faces have changed! Those first kids I saw are at least 40 now!! And I bet they’ve never forgotten this.💝

Night and day, out there with my camera . . .🇺🇸

I was hanging my flag even back at Holly Oak (see the roof?), before I knew about the kids! Finding out about their parade was the frosting on the Martha’s Vineyard/New England Cake! (Along with church bells, graveyards, fog horns, houses, seasons, husband, and girlfriends.💞)

Here I am, at Holly Oak, when I first got to the island! And see that little apple picture on the cupboard?

Here it is again … I brought it with me from California (where I painted it …) 

And here it is again, practically in the same spot, already up for our first dinner party in our new (old) house.

Here’s an up-close . . . and now it’s  on its way BACK to California. We decided it would be the simplest of the simple things for us to remember my years here, so Kellee made prints of it, available for the first time, as of today, in our webstore!

 Let me show you what it looks like here in June, it’s the month everything blooms!

It’s gotten very fluffy around here!

Both in town and out on our walk, lots of green fluff! We’re still listening to An Unfinished Love Story by Doris Kearns Goodwin while we walk, and it just gets better and better! I found out I knew NOTHING about what was happening politically in the 60s!!! I’ve always been a slow starter! I’m just glad to find out there will ALWAYS be new things to learn about! Makes life so exciting!

Joe planted our first wildflower garden in the way back of our garden … and now it’s starting to bloom with these paper thin poppies in all variations of pink and orange. I go out every day, it’s tiny, but I’m thrilled to finally have this!

I took a tiny vase of them to Lowely’s TGIF the other evening . . . cutting tiny wildflowers is a very good way to show your undying love . . . I hope she saw that!❤️

And we’ve been going out to dinner with best friends and the best views. A very wonderful combination!

And then there’s that gigantic camel’s head in the room(s) that I try to pretend isn’t there. We’ve done such a good job! We have actually downsized! I’m proud of us. I didn’t think it could be done. But as usual, all the way along we’ve been reminded

The “pantry shelf” Carlton made for me at Holly Oak, is empty and ready to go!

Here it is at Holly Oak after Carlton remodeled the kitchen for me. Such a handy shelf, only one jar wide so nothing can hide “in the back!”💖

I will miss every room in this house, but maybe the pantry the most! Extra fridge, food, bowls, tablecloths, big pans, trays ironing-board perch for Jack (or for drying bread at Thanksgiving ~ and sometimes even ironing!), washer and dryer, baskets, recycling, back door with screen door straight out to the “Teahouse of the Vineyard Moon,” where we’ve had so many summer dinner parties under the twinkle lights  … Joe got out Jack’s cat carrier so he can go in and out and get used to it being around so he’ll be okay with it when we actually have to use it! It’s a good thing he already likes to be inside things.👏

Time to go! I have to plan what to make to take to a party on Saturday!

I can’t wait to take you on our cross-country, cucumber- sandwich, kitty-is-coming-with-us drive across country …  It’s going to be so much fun! Freedom! Road Trip! eeek! Off I go! Thank you for dropping in  … And don’t worry about me, other than the 20 lbs I’ve gained from eating my way to a stress-free life, I’m fine. Love you! ❌⭕️❌⭕️

P.S. Since today is the 80th Anniversary of D-Day, a very sad and amazing Red Letter Day in the History of the world, I thought I would add a few inspiring, touching, meaningful, educational, wonderfully written, and EXCITING Books and Movies with AHA moments galore that we have learned from and loved. There are so many! It’s a subject without an end. Hopefully these will inspire curiosity to take to you to other stories . . . Please feel free to leave your own suggestions!💞


  • Darkest Hour
  • The Rise of the Nazis, PBS (Amazon Prime)
  • Mrs. Miniver
  • Bridge on the River Kwai
  • The Longest Day
  • Schindler’s List (the reason Steven Spielberg was born, book is JUST as good.)
  • Dunkirk
  • I Was A Male War Bride (fun, Cary Grant)
  • I’ll be Seeing You (1944)
  • The New Look (on Apple+, about Dior and Chanel in Paris during the war)
  • The Major and the Minor (more fun, has Ginger Rogers in it)
  • Downfall (Apple +, Peacock, Amazon Prime)
  • I couldn’t bear to watch Private Ryan, but I think I might try again and just skip the first half hour . . . 😥
  • If you want more . . .


  • Dead Wake Erik Larson
  • The Splendid and the Vile Erik Larson
  • Against All Odds by Alex Kershaw
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelley
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • A highly rated list of WWII books from Amazon


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177 Responses to A little May, a little June . . . a little happy, sweet old tune . . .

  1. Lost in NH woods clutching my Zinnias and Baby's Breath Giclee says:


    I finished reading all your Willards last Friday. I always look forward to “pat addison (cave junction, OR)” and “Debbie Boerger”, for the newsy updates. I’ve been thinking for a while that I haven’t seen a post from Pat Addison, so I googled her……

    “Patricia Addison, 69, of Cave Junction, died Feb. 10, 2024 at her home.

    Arrangements with Illinois Valley Funeral Directors.”

    This entry was in local paper, Illinois Valley News, Feb. 13.

    I checked the funeral home and there wasn’t an obituary, only this short post in the newspaper.

    I wanted to pass is info along as I know many enjoyed her posts, the peeps, kitties, ducks chasing the rooster, turkeys, Lion burgers ……..” Her last post was January 8, 2024

    Hugs to all.

    • sbranch says:

      I just can’t believe it. She never said a word about being ill . . . I wish someone who knew her would write to us . . . Because if she lived in Oregon, what was she doing in Illinois? Or was she? I loved hearing about her life!!! 😥 Thank you for letting us know…

      • Tawni Urrutia says:

        Thank you for letting us know about Pat! I always thought of her as the Jo Northrop of our Peanut Gallery!
        ❌⭕️❌⭕️, Tawni Urrutia from Lodi, Ca

      • Me2 says:

        “Arrangements with Illinois Valley Funeral Directors”… maybe going/flown home to be deposited there, or just the handling-prepaid arrangements made by from years ago…

      • Lost in NH woods clutching my Zinnias and Baby's Breath Giclee says:

        Cave Junction Oregon is in the Illinois River valley. Pat died at her home. I don’t think she ever mentioned the name of the river where she would watch the boat races. I think she must have requested the simple obituary in the local newspaper so we would know what happened when her posts just stopped.

        I remember one girlfriend would drive through Cave Junction on her way to camp or her summer place and Pat invited her to visit. I just can’t remember who it was.

      • jeanie says:

        Thank you for telling us this sad news. I kept looking for her enjoyable posts. So kind that you checked into this and then let us all know.💜

    • Me2 says:

      !Thank YOU so much for the Pat notice!
      I always followed her, at times it could take many reads with hundreds of others posting….she was a brightness, gave great down-home updates and appreciated all. She was such a joy and always left me laughing with her great wide array sense of humor. She knew this was only “just temporary housing” and some of her posting her hinted of that and her health.

      • Suzette Shoulders says:

        HI! I know southern Oregon, where Pat was from, and the Illinois River Valley is near Cave Junction, so she died where she lived, sweet woman. RIP, Pat. Suzette in Oregon

    • Margot Birkett says:

      Thanks for letting us know! 😔. I saw she wasn’t writing as much then the January post. For some reason I thought she was downsizing.

    • Cathy from Golden, CO says:

      So sad……to hear of this…

  2. Meredith says:

    I am so excited about my new calendar! And I will love your road trip updates. In CA, maybe you could record a podcast about your next chapter. A lot of people would love for you and Joe and your best friends to keep us company while we do dishes or go for walks. I love that you and Joe listen to books together — that is so sweet! I think there are so many freelance sound engineers or podcasting producers who could help get you started. And your Island friends could join you for an episode, too.

  3. Becky in Toluca Lake says:

    Wishing you all the best with the packing, the goodbyes, and the move! Holding the three of you in my heart, and looking so forward to hearing about you getting resettled in California! You have been missed!

  4. Kelly B in Pittsburgh says:

    Susan and Joe,
    What an exciting yet bittersweet time for you as you pack up and prepare to leave your beloved island home. I feel attached to it as well as you’ve done such a wonderful job sharing it with all of us. Love everything about this Willard, especially getting another glimpse of Holly Oak back in the early days, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that picture with the flag on the roof before. And that apple painting coming full circle with you from Ca to MV and back to CA is pretty special. I’m wondering if you will be taking the white wrought iron leafy design lawn furniture (that matches my tea cart found at Brimfield) with you or will it stay with the house and maybe be in the estate sale? Enjoy every walk by the sea, wildflower, parade, church bell, lobster roll, dinner party and thanks, as always, for sharing.

  5. Jody Thiel says:

    Dear Susan,

    Your moves always seem in tandem with mine. Thank you for giving me courage and the ability to accept the changes, the unknowns, the questions as to what is ahead. You share with such honesty and it certainly helps to know we can live a new adventure at any age. I like to liken it to my love of gardening. Sometimes in order for a plant to thrive and grow; it needs to be transplanted. Just as the plant flourishes; we can too. Safe journey! Thank you for taking us all along.

  6. Linda Talbott says:

    Thank you for the Willard, Susan! Can’t wait to follow you on this journey back to California! I loved both of your houses on the Island. We had very similar paths: school, work, marriage, divorce, and then figuring it all out. You and Joe were so lucky to find each other. I never found the second act and reverted to my introversion and books. But I did have a son to keep me company and now a baby granddaughter. If it’s any consolation to you, nearly all of us have to make lifestyle changes in our old age – most due to reduced income in retirement – and the arthritis in the knees! Keep looking forward – I can’t wait to see what you create in California!

  7. Tracey Steele says:

    Your calendars all look beautiful, but the cover of the purse one is absolutely gorgeous.

    Lovely picture of your father, he was very handsome. The parade is very impressive. I know I would get all choked up seeing the children waving their flags. I am going to have ‘Over There’ in my head all day now!

  8. Teresa says:

    Wow it’s almost time to go…good luck with the move and enjoy your last weeks on island. Very exciting times ahead!

  9. Karen Holly says:

    May and June are truly beautiful months. Everything is growing and having a really good time doing it. I am glad your packing is going well. Best wishes to you, Joe, and Jack as you reach the final stretch!

  10. Amy from Wisconsin says:

    Good Morning Susan 🇺🇲
    I can honestly say I will miss your posts from the island. Thank you for all the years of your beautiful pictures through the seasons.
    When do you leave the island?
    Has your home sold?
    Sending love and safe travels to you, Joe and of course, Jack ❣️

  11. Lillian Zemlicka says:

    Dear Susan
    Thank you for this Wonderful post. I am SO beyond happy that you are able to look at this move in a positive way, I hope you will have a Lovely trip across the US. I’m So glad you are taking us with you.
    We Love You
    Lillian 🩷

  12. Debbie R says:

    Can’t wait for the road trip! Woot woot 😎 You and Joe Keep hanging in there.

    Debbie R
    Godfrey, IL

  13. LindaMichael in PA says:

    Thank you for this wonderful patriotic post. My dad was an MP in the Army, stationed at Fort Story in Virginia Beach. Because he was considered legally blind without his glasses, he could not join all the brave men going overseas. He spoke fluent Pennsylvania Dutch, so was in charge of German prisoners. We kids heard many stories about that time, and passed down to our children, who have passed them down to their children. Keep that history going!
    I live right across the river from the local airport near Reading, PA. This Friday the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum World War II Memorial Weekend will begin. This year is very special, celebrating 80th anniversary of D-Day. Usually a B17 Flying Fortress flies in, as well as many other vintage airplanes. It’s thrilling to watch them fly over the house (some were “Little Friends”who flew as far as they could to protect the Flying Fortresses on a mission). One night there will be women dressed in 1940s garb, and big band music from that era is played. I love sitting on the front porch hearing the music. Of course, I’ll be shedding tears of gratitude all weekend. ❤🇺🇲❤🇺🇲❤🇺🇲

    • Margot Birkett says:

      My Aunt Anna was an Army nurse, was a WAC during WWII, did 30 years. She retired to your area in the late 1970s. Beautiful there!
      Margot B

  14. Melissa Pimentel says:

    Oh what a wonderful end to my day finding a brand new Willard with kitties tucked in bags, pics of Holly Oak (extra exciting to me as I’m right in the middle of reading Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams for the first time…the first of many I can already tell!! Oh I love it!!), kids parading with American flags and bouquets of flowers, paper thin poppies that are almost too cute to give away which shows how extra much your dear friend means to you and oh the new calendars that look so good!! Wait I almost forgot….the apple basket picture now available to buy!!! Eeeeeep!! How will I get to sleep after all this excitement!! You are an absolute treasure of a girlfriend!!

    • sbranch says:

      Makes me so happy you like it Melissa! Thank you for telling me!💝 And for all the sweetness in your comment!❌⭕️

  15. Margot Birkett says:

    Thanks for writing this…every morning on this base I hear the Star Spangled Banner 🇺🇸. I hope future generations will love our country and learn from us what our parents taught us.
    I love the delicate poppies. It takes a bit of time for some seeds.
    So glad to see the calendars!

    OXOX ox
    Margot B

  16. Chris+Wells+Knickerbocker,+TX says:

    I love that Jimmy Cagney movie! People seem to remember him for the later years when he always played a gangster, but he was an incredible singer and an even better dancer! I may have to watch that movie again.
    I know you’re making the most of your last weeks on the island ❤️. Praying for a safe journey across the country.

  17. Annelies Dease says:

    So much goodness shared ….singing along in my head to all of the patriotic songs. What a generation our parents were ( and are). Had a giggle when I saw the bucking bronco…I have that picture too! It was at Knotts Berry Farm. I was wearing my best western outfit and boots of course. Oh the sweet memories. Safe journey you two! Now when I wave from the road as I drive past your home, I will pretend you are waving back. Oma sends her love too 🙌❤️🥰

  18. Janet in NC says:

    So enjoyed a peek of summer traditions on the island, so much history, sentiment and purpose with children and community honoring the memories of our nations heroes. Your floral painting just pop, the peony and hollyhocks are gorgeous! Wishing you a full heart of island memories on your journey to a new coast of treasures to uncover. Godspeed.

  19. Sally DeLiberato says:

    Did you sell your beautiful house?

  20. Peggy Willoughby says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write to us while packing. I love, love your calendars and get the mini one every year. Often I frame the pictures from them. Others I just tape to the wall in my office.I have just ordered the apple print!! My birthday is in apple month, September, so I love everything apple. I have an apple clock and other apple things in my kitchen. So your print framed will be perfect. The picture of your dining room with packing materials made my tummy clench. So much to pack in there.Are you taking the beautiful curtains? looking forward to riding along with you as you travel West. Love you, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      The curtains will go with the house! This house loves them much more than the California house would! I emptied out another room this morning Peggy. It actually looks so smooth and clean and sublime, as opposed to the dining room where the packing takes place!!!💋

      • Margot Birkett says:

        Oh I was wondering about the beautiful curtains. Your first real ones. We always make every home better than we found it. That’s the Girl Scout way!
        Margot B

  21. Beverlee Moreno-Ring says:

    You have memorialized so many parts of your wonderful island life in your calendars and books. It will always be with you and Joe. Home is where the heart is and you take your home where ever you go. Even on the train! Looking forward to the road trip on to your next adventure. ❤️ Beverlee

  22. Beverlee Moreno-Ring says:

    Forgot to mention….your Dad was so handsome! Also, that was a wonderful tribute to the greatest of generations..Thank you Susan. ❤️

  23. A good pantry is a priceless thing! One of the saddest losses in the evolution of modern houses. Perhaps you can figure out how to add one to the California house! Isn’t it interesting how life goes sometimes. You thought you were clearing out the California house for someone else, when it turns out you were making space for yourselves and your Martha’s Vineyard treasures. Best wishes for safe travels in the coming weeks…x

  24. Ann Y. says:

    Hey Susan – great post and good suggestions for books and wonderful movies to remember our families who lived through WWII. I just posted my father in law’s photo on my FB page – he landed on Omaha Beach and fought through to Germany. We still have a captured Nazi flag that all his buddies signed! He passed away before I met my husband – would have loved to meet him. Good for you downsizing – been there, done that – and good luck with the move. An adventure for you and Joe. When you have the right person by your side it all works out. I think you, like me, has what my mom used to say…”you picked a peach in the garden of love!” Enjoy the excitement of your ne adventure!

  25. Martha says:

    All so exciting, Susan! The road trip and anticipation along the way …heading off to another chapter and beautiful California.🌻 We’re visiting our son in LA and have been non-stop taking it all in. We’ve been down to San Diego and up to Ojai, have seen the seaside beaches among the way…we can say we get it! We live in Northeast, MA (met you in Nbpt. at the British shop years ago…🇬🇧) and love it – the seasons, the Yankee ingenuity and sensibility of New England. But, being here, the blue skies, the flora and fauna, successful year round gardening, the fresh fruit and veg. – the “vibe”… I understand your move! I’d referred back to some of your old Willards for recc on coastal CA beach towns and restaurants to go along the coast -well, thank you for those 👌🏻 and how glorious they all were! 🌺🌴🌊🍽️
    As retired, in our early 70’s the practicality of a move to an environment like CA makes perfect sense! Wishing you & Joe happy anticipation as you prepare to head West!

  26. Mary Kopecky says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thanks for taking time to publish your wonderful monthly blog when you are obviously up to your eyeballs 👁👁 in preparations for your move back to sunny California. It’s always such a bright delight for us Girlfriends to enjoy each month. Wishing you road warriors safe travels as you wend your way westward. As Ward Bond of Wagon Train confidently shouted to the brave pioneers as they set out, “Wagons ho!! ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      I will remember to holler that to Joe as we pull away!!!🤣 xoxo

      • Mary Kopecky says:

        Oh Susan….if you ever consider simplifying your life even more and buying another smaller property than your AG land, I saw the perfect “turn key” home for you on Pismo Street in in the heart of the historic district in SLO the other day. Ii’s one of my favorite properties (built in 1876) and is for sale for the very first time. This home oozes charm. It has recently been completely renovated inside with new hardwood floors, cabinets, new bathrooms, kitchen, and plumbing but still retains lots of the original details. All the almost 3,000 sq. ft. of living space is on the main level. There are four bedrooms and two bathrooms. You and Joe could easily walk to the Thursday night farmer’s market, downtown shopping, and restaurants within 15 minutes. The large lot is ready to be landscaped with a lawn, white picket fence, flowers, 💐🌼🌹🌸 gate, and your fabulous garden in the spacious flat back yard. Your MV furniture would and accessories instantly transform this beauty back to the cozy home it was back in the day. Check it out on zillow. The address is 571 Pismo Stree, SLO. I wish I could buy it. Happy trails! ❣️

        • sbranch says:

          I went to look Mary … what a pretty house!!! Much prettier than ours in AG!! But there is a creek where we will be, with water, that we can use to keep our garden green, it’s hard to give that up! All doors are open however, anything could happen!😘

  27. Candice Black says:

    I have watched several of the movies and read several of the books that are on your lists. I am a tried and true Anglophile, my Dad served in the Army and was stationed in the UK at the first US built air field which was close to my Mom’s small town and she served in the Women’s Land Army and did her bit working the farms and I will borrow the phrase “to keep the home fires burning.” She met my Dad and immigrated to the USA as a War Bride after the war ended. I have read several books that have quite good story lines from life during WWII:
    War Brides by Elfrieda Berthianume Shukert & Barbara Smith Scibetta.
    Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly and Yours Cheerfully by A.J. Pearce also author of Dear Mrs Bird.
    The best is remembering my Mom tell her memories of living through WWII in the UK, She and many other women were very brave and amazing to leave “Home” and all of their families and come to the USA to live for the rest of their lives!

    • sbranch says:

      What a wonderful family history Candice!!! Thank you for the book recommendations!❤️🇬🇧🇺🇸

    • Dianne in Upstate New York says:

      Dear Candice
      My mother also came to the US as a war bride. My father was “attached” to the army as a special weapons expert, and he and my mother met in London. I, too, have read many books about the role of women during WWII. I just finished reading Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea. It is about the women who served as Donut Dollies during the war. Believe me, they did more than hand out coffee and donuts!! Although it is a little “heavy” at times, it really opens your eyes to the role that women played. Are you familiar with the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear? It begins with WWI and progresses through WWII. The final book in the series was just released, and I can’t wait to begin turning the pages. I will have to look for copies of the books you mentioned. I am currently reading Beyond That, The Sea about a young girl who is sent to the US (instead of to the country) for safety during the war. My mother lived through the Blitz, but would never speak of her experience. The more I read, the more I understand why

  28. Mamey Brown says:

    I still can’t believe you are leaving the island but your reasons are so understandable. I am soooooooo glad you are taking us with you and I hope you continue to blog and willard as often as possible. I have LOVED following you all of these years here and hope to continue. Thank you for all the wonderful memories and art you have shared with us. Everything has been so inspirational.

  29. Tasha Railton says:

    What’s the name of your paint color in your kitchen?

  30. Dee+Ann says:

    Your list of books, movies, and documentaries….couldn’t agree more! Eighty years ago….what an amazing generation! Currently watching “We Were The Lucky Ones” on Hulu…so good but also heartbreaking. Looking forward to your Freedom Road Trip as you cross the USA.

  31. Kathy W says:

    Exciting time for you and Joe. I think the joy and fun times ahead will outweigh the sadness of leaving MV. Have a safe and fun trip Susan! And I love the Apple print! That is going in my shopping cart for sure. So beautiful. 🍎❤️

  32. Linda Pintarell says:

    Me too…looking forward to the being with you on the road trip…and to welcoming you back to Cali! Just have to remark…the picture of the two kids on the bucking horse. I have the exact same pix of my cousin and I about the same age – I would bet even in the same place…Knox Berry Farm. Am I right? Just curious. One of my favorite pix ever. We are both now 80 and he lives in TX and I in CA. But we are in constant contact and I love him so. Very fortunate to have him in my life. So glad you are enjoying your last days visiting with friends, i.e., dinners, parties, etc. Safe travels sent your way.

    • sbranch says:

      YOU are right!🐴

      • Margot Birkett says:

        I went to Knott’s Berry Farm when I was very young, when our relatives were visiting from Pennsylvania. Did you gals know that you cannot get boysenberry jam or syrup anymore, Smuckers took over and stopped making it!! That was Knott’s signature berry! 😔
        My dad loved it!

        Margot B

  33. Eileen F says:

    What a great movie list. I’ll add “Miracle in the Rain” to it. Fell in love with Van Johnson ❤️

  34. Dawn Jones says:

    Dearest Susan,
    You are such a blessing to all of us. We all love you so much. I hope and pray each step you take in this journey brings you joy. All the happiness you have given each of us. You and Joe deserve joy beyond measure. I want to be like you and am grateful for all the years I have learned from you. Cooking, painting, gardening, decorating, reading, walking, watching, listening. Your calendar blotter is on my desk next to all of your books and cookbooks. My favorite is Distilled Genius which I have given to friends and family. Our two granddaughters are reading right now for summer reading. Also the best Graduation and Teacher gifts. Your advice and wisdom are our inspiration. Thank you, thank you. We love you! Dawnie Jones❤️🙏🏠🇺🇸

  35. Sandi, now in Plymouth says:

    You are doing so good! Moving up the road almost killed me, but it’s been a year and I think I’m doing okay. I left you a comment on the last blog but didn’t see it as it’s happened before. I told you to go to your garden and call a few fairies who might want to make the trip to Cali with you! Always good to take a few familiars with you! Bless you dear Susan and keep up the great move work you’ve been doing. I would love to hear the announcement of your Estate Sale. Wishing you the best and thanks for keeping all of us informed! xoxoxoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Trust me, we go through periods of being killed, then we snap out of it, then we snap right back into it!!! This is NOT for sissies. And there is secretly no bigger of a sissy than me! Thank you for your WONDERFUL words … it truly does help!!!

  36. Martha Martinez says:

    Hi Susan!
    I’ve loved your calendars and art, especially the 2 year purse calendar. Sometimes I wish you would include some actual photographs you’ve taken of your beautiful house with the flag, your pretty kitchen, your quilts, your garden, the view outside your kitchen window, a floral arrangement you created, your Beatrix Potter collection, nature photos where you take walks. Things like that! I think that would make a lovely calendar as well.

    P.S. Love that pantry shelf. It’s perfection!

    • sbranch says:

      I did it! For 2021 I did a photo wall-calendar called This Old House, A Year on Martha’s Vineyard. You can see it if you google Susan Branch 2021 photo calendar. I should do another one.

      • judy young says:

        Please do another photo calendar of this house you are currently in. Take lots of photos before you leave. I can’t even begin to know how you are feeling about leaving there and moving back to California. I worry about you with all the wildfires California seems to have, and they say this year will again be the hottest one on record. Is your California house close to the sea? I hope so, hang in there, it’s going to be okay, I just know it!

        • sbranch says:

          I have taken jillions of photos since the moment we got here . . . I think it would be fun to do another photo calendar!!! Yes, we’ll be about 3 miles to the sea, and close to the summer sea fog too … in an agricultural valley with a creek running through it. 💝

          • Margot Birkett says:

            I am really good at staging for sale and unpacking! 😉California here you come!

      • Margot Birkett says:

        A California one!

  37. Beth Keser says:

    Looking forward to your road trip adventures!
    Another book to add to your list is We We’re The Lucky Ones. The miniseries is also on Hulu Have a safe trip!

    • sbranch says:

      Started watching it, but the SADNESS of it … was too unbearable to watch and then try to go to bed. True terrible story. And only one of over 6 million.😥

  38. Andrea says:

    You are doing great!! Such progress in such a short time. Proud of you. I know it’s hard but all great things are worth it. Making the decision is over. Soon packing will be over. The rest will be a breeze. Love ❤️you. YOU GOT THIS!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes! We ARE doing great! Love your positivity Andrea!!! I’m pretty proud of us considering this very difficult job!💖

  39. Debi Hutchinson says:

    Exciting changes ahead! Enjoy every step!

  40. anne Miller says:

    “The end is nothing…the road is all.” Willa Cather
    Wishing you safe travels and sweet adventures!
    Anne from Ohio

  41. Amy from Wisconsin says:

    Good Morning Susan,
    What an incredible task you both have taken on. Hooray to you and Joe.
    I have to be honest I am going to miss your photos and stories from
    Martha’s Vineyard. All of the history, walks to the sea and your dinner parties with friends.
    On the other hand I can only imagine the upkeep and expense.
    Bravo to you both for making what must have been a difficult decision.
    When do you leave?
    Has your home already sold?
    Good luck, safe and fun travels along with much love from Wisconsin!

    • sbranch says:

      No, Amy, it hasn’t sold, it’s not even up for sale yet. First we have to get the things we want onto a truck going west. We’re getting there! Then we can make it pretty again and put it up for sale, and THEN we can take Jack and go!

  42. Dianne in Upstate New York says:

    Dear Susan,
    Isn’t it wonderful- and comforting- to move something that has hung on your kitchen wall from house to house (I should say home to home, because that is surely what your house is)? Especially since the kitchen has always been the heart of your home. I can’t wait to see where you hang it in your new kitchen.
    I have always wanted to visit the Vineyard around Memorial Day (in order to watch the school children march to the sea), since you first mentioned it years ago. Maybe next year. Unless you plan another girlfriends’ crossing at that time of year. I did visit England in 2022 for Remembrance Sunday. I had dreamed of doing just that, since you mentioned it in your blog. What a memorable experience. I was in Winchester, since I was returning home on the QM2 later that day. The cathedral was standing room only for the service with an additional crowd standing outside the doors. Poppies everywhere! No mention of sales- just reference and remembrance. So moving.
    For you and the girlfriends- I just finished a wonderful book recommended to me by my niece- Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea. It is about the Donut Dollies during WWII. Believe me, they did so much more than hand out coffee and donuts to returning soldiers. They were actually near the front lines!!
    Wishing you, Joe, and Jack the very best once you begin your journey westward. What an adventure awaits you!!

    • sbranch says:

      Good Night Irene is what my siblings and I sing at the end of a wonderful evening together, in honor of our Grandmother on my father’s side whom we never met. Sounds like an interesting book, on my list!!! Thank you! Winchester … what a perfect place to experience Remembrance Day! Did you see Jane Austen’s burying place in the floor there? It was likely crowded, but maybe you did! Gorgeous place. xoxo

      • Dianne in Upstate New York says:

        Dear Susan
        I did see her grave in the floor, as I have visited Winchester twice- once after the eastbound crossing with you and again before a westbound crossing the following year. Speaking of graves in the floor- did you know that the grave of the unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey is the only one you can not walk upon? You can walk upon everyone else, but not the unknown soldier. Such reference. It is bordered with poppy wreaths and guarded. When Kate and William’s wedding party entered, they had to separate and walk around the grave before joining together again. I should mention that Good Night, Irene is a little “heavy” at times, but don’t give up. The ending is worth the journey

        • sbranch says:

          I won’t give up! Is this you Dianne M? I’m sure it is. I have a pile of your letters sitting here next to me. Saving them till I have time to reply, which I never seem to do!! Just quickly, as far as I know there is no humidity where we are in Ca. If there is, it might be a deal breaker!!!😆 Your letters put tears in my eyes, you are so kind and touch all the right places. Not to mention the SOCKS handmade by your own little self. Thank you dear. They are packed for the trip! Perhaps we will go to England again next spring. This is my hope. If so we will have to try our little adventure again! I loved your trip to Lexington Concord and Orchard House! (in a letter from 2023!) My heart is in the right place, but the day has other things in mind! Thank you Dianne! Always lovely to see you here!❤️😘

  43. Sonya Hewes says:

    LOVE the picture of your Dad – My Dad was a Navy man as well – and what’s ironic is you were doing a book signing in Prescott, AZ, I came to that with my dog and was heading to take care of my dad in MN because he was dying of cancer. You let me go to the head of the line so I could be on my way. I believe your dad had just passed away, so you clearly knew what I was going through, bless your heart.
    My girlfriend and I will be on Martha’s Vineyard in October – we just booked at the Harborview! Can’t wait!

    • sbranch says:

      He had, and that was one of the hardest days of my life. Going back to his house and he wasn’t there and the next day attending a long-planned and WONDERFUL tea party in Prescott which I will never forget. My job was to look normal so I wouldn’t ruin things, but it took all I had. You are the first person to know the secret. I can talk about it now. Losing our dearest family members is impossible to imagine.💖

  44. Margaret Harke says:

    Ready for the road trip! Looking forward to seeing your take on the country as you go west. Being a born and breed Californian, I think the west is the best. Welcome back!

  45. Lynn Braha says:

    Have a wonderful cross-country trip! I can’t wait to hear about all your adventures. Just know that the East Coast will be a little sadder without you!

  46. Laura says:

    Been thinking about you so much! I know you must be a mix of emotions!!! Have a safe trip , can’t wait to ride along!!!

    Laura in Illinois

  47. Kathy Branch Spicer says:

    I love that you shared a preview of the calendars! I ALWAYS purchase a mini calendar for the side of my fridge, and I found 3 frames that fit the art perfectly, and after the calendar is changed out for the new year, I select my three favorites (or more, because I change them out seasonally) and I display them to keep enjoying the art. The fact that you gave us a preview of September is great – my favorite month, the month of my birth.

    Moving is SO difficult! But this new beginning is exciting for us, too, to experience through your eyes (and also tugs at our heartstrings). Can’t wait to see you, Joe, and Jack all settled in out in sunny California. Sending love, strength, and anything you might need to get through the trials of moving. xoxoxoxo

  48. Sally Jenks Roth says:

    I know I would miss the Vineyard too much to do what you and Joe are doing. You are very brave however I think you’ll be happy wherever you are.
    Be safe and well, enjoy your new/old life in California and come back often to MV! For some reason it feels to me as if you are going to Mars, not just across the country.

    • sbranch says:

      We will come back whenever we can and rent and BE here, we’re determined to hold onto it! I know, feels like Mars to us too! Feels like closing doors instead of what it really is, OPENING doors!!! 💋💋💋

  49. Pamela Linn Burkham says:

    Simply put, Thank You Susan for another Willard. We look forward to your posts as you head to California. You bring joy to us.
    Pam Burkham
    [email protected]

  50. Betty Birney says:

    My absolute favorite WWII movie is Since You Went Away starring Claudette Colbert, Joseph Cotton, Jennifer Jones, Monty Woolly, Shirley Temple. About the home front. My dad was in the worst of the Battle of the Bulge but made it back to my mom and sister – and then I came along! I’ve watched that movie a million times and will watch it again – I believe you can watch it free on YouTube. Susan, last year I made an epic move from L.A. to Manhattan, mostly by myself (husband had just passed away.) I did it! It’s great! I’ve adjusted well and you will, too.

  51. Suzette Shoulders says:

    Dear Susan, I cried at the last ‘Willard’, and cried again at this one! It is so amazing how you tug my heartstrings, girlfriend! I am thinking of you each day as you are so busy with your down-sizing ! Hooray for you! What a big life change you are making, kudos for you for making the hard decision now! As for the books about WWII, did you ever read
    “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr? It was amazing, spoiler, it does make you cry! hugs from Oregon, safe travels when the big trip happens! Suzette the quilter and birder

  52. Edie says:

    Thank you for the calendars. Just pre-ordered mine. I would have such a hard time leaving this home. You are brave. Hope all goes well with the movers and your trip to California. However, no snow in sunny CA!

  53. Robyn says:

    A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Parnell is on the Amazon list. I just finished it yesterday and it is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

  54. PJ says:

    Watching the D-Day survivors on PBS Newshour earlier this week brought me to tears. We owe so much to the Greatest Generation. Thank you for including them in your Willard. My dad was a veteran of WWII and was a POW for 18 months in a Nazi prison camp. He spoke very little about it until the last years of his life. While he was imprisoned, his brother died while serving in the Army. I can only imagine my grandparents’ grief.

  55. Melissa S. says:

    Just love following your moving process….sad and good things. Life changes.

    Wanted to ask….what has happened to Carlton? He was a main figure in your settling on the Island.

    • sbranch says:

      Carlton is still here, still my dear friend, still a wonderful person. When we meet we talk about how much fun it was working together way back then.💞

  56. Barbara Anne says:

    Happy trails to you, Joe, and Jack as you head west after your decades in the far east! At last your heart will be on one coast again, aside from missing all of Martha’s Vineyard. May your cherished belongings bring you comfort in the days ahead and assure you of the continuity of life.

    Safe journey and thanks for all the fish! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more!

  57. Cindy Stierhoff says:

    OMG Susan, I missed the last Willard so I was just too confused at first about packing up the Vineyard House! Yikes!! I was the Valley girl who was a Brownie walking home from school in Encino, than a Girl Scout racing home in Van Nuys and lastly a grad from Monroe in Sepulveda. We have so many of the same dreams to remember as we make the same change in our lives as a necessity. We hoped Pismo was going to be our retirement, waited too late for that one, so last year we departed back to the Hill Country of Texas, but I can always jump on a plane, unlike you, and race around again seeing all my favorite places and best of friends I left behind, but not forgotten, never, ever.

    • sbranch says:

      We’re already planning to jump on a train!🚂🤣 It makes it more bearable. We definitely led parallel lives!

  58. Karen Burnham says:

    Best book I’ve read about WWII is All the Light We Cannot See. Good luck on finishing your packing and moving. Must be so very hard.

  59. Sherri McShane says:

    You have such a good, positive attitude. Change is hard, but you will find happiness at the end of the road. As one who has moved many times, I try to look at each move as a fresh start! I wish you a safe journey and much happiness in your new home. Much love!

  60. Kay Amhaus says:

    We’ve only lived in our latest house 22 years and I can’t imagine packing up a place you’ve lived over 3 decades! Oh, the many wonderful memories you’re also taking along with you. Been watching all the D Day commemorations and marveling at how few veterans from that time are still with us – all of them over 100! How sad an entire generation that saved the world is almost gone now. Dad flew in the B17 flying fortresses and he never talked about his war experience except to say he loved England and the English people. Later in life, he’d reference it in funny ways. Such as responding to our first trip to Paris by telling us, “We bombed the railroads in Paris.” Or telling about a musical he and fellow service men performed in and attended by the Queen (later Queen Mother). He always wanted to go back and see England and I’m so glad he got his chance in the 80’s when he and mom were in their 60’s.

    • sbranch says:

      So many of the American airfields are still there, and many are set up as living museums … maybe you could visit your Dad’s!!💞

  61. Karen+Horrigan says:

    Just wanted to let you know my teacher friends and I had our annual Susan Branch Girlfriend Party (Brunch) today-a 6 1/2 hour affair! We almost ran into the dinner hour, talking, laughing, and munching of course. We discussed your move to CA-all surprised, but understand your reasoning of course. I’m the most disappointed as my husband and I are planning an anniversary trip to Martha’s Vineyard this fall. We wish you could have joined us, but you were there in spirit! Blessings on your move!

  62. Brenda King says:

    Godspeed as you head to your next adventure in life.

  63. Carol on the farm in Iowa says:

    The photo of your dad about did me in! So young and handsome our fathers were when they went to war. Ours were the same age, my dad being born August 31, 1922. They came home forever changed in one way or another.
    God Bless you always

  64. Denise Hyde says:

    I like the film Yanks, with Richard Gere, Vanessa Redgrave and others!! Really good film about the build-up of American troops and equipment in England before D-Day and living alongside the British.

  65. Helen Edwards says:

    Another amazing show, Band of Brothers. One of the hero’s from right here, born in Lancaster County 🇺🇸

    • Denise Hyde says:

      I agree, Helen– Band of Brothers is one of the best series ever filmed!! And seeing the trilogy from Spielberg and Hanks–including
      The Pacific and Masters of the Air–helps us appreciate the incredible sacrifices so many made that others could remain free!!

  66. Patty McDonald says:

    Oh Susan, my dad was born in 1919 in England and was in the British army. Mom grew up in Belgium. Daddy was captured at the Battle of Dunkirk. When watching the Dunkirk movie, I cried the whole time. The Nightingale book is the closest I’ve read to how my mom described Belgium …..when under German occupation . They had so many war stories. I’ve read many books but they make me relive what it was like for my parents, Uncle, and Grandparents. I no longer read or watch war stories. I know what happened and thank God for our freedom and ask that all those that lost their lives defending that freedom are truly blessed.

    • sbranch says:

      I can only imagine, but how lucky you are that they shared their stories … my favorite thing about going to England are the constant reminders of what happened there … no one has forgotten and you feel it there every day. Such a blessing. Thank you for writing and reminding us. Never again.🇬🇧🇺🇸 xoxoxo

  67. Pam in Indiana says:

    Good morning, Susan!
    Like someone wrote – I replied to your post about deciding to move. So many replies, I don’t know if you posted it. So forgive me if you did – my husband and I moved outside of Indianapolis a year ago in March to be closer to our eldest daughter and to have a house big enough to accommodate our visiting 5 children and their families (two in TX and youngest is in Omaha – our son is at Notre Dame) which makes it 20 when they were here at Christmas and will be here for the 4th! But we moved from our beloved Queen Anne tower home of 43 years where we started out and raised all 5 kids along with several dogs and cats, reptiles, fish and small rodents.

    It was such an emotional ordeal – we found the perfect house on the day I was ready to break up with the realtor (brought a bottle of wine for her to the showing). We had looked for over a year – I had been praying about it for about five years before my husband retired. We had even looked at building but glad we did not as it was right in the middle of the building supply chain era.

    The house was hideous on Zillow – painted that Tuscany brown throughout as it was the model home for the subdivision and was popular in 2006 when built. It was my 69th birthday. I said we’d quickly look at the house then go out to lunch.

    It is perfect for us – a master and a guest suite on the main, a gourmet kitchen, a fireplace, a sun porch, a walk out basement that has 4 bedrooms for all the Littles (10.5 of them!), a salt water pool and a beautiful yard looking at a prairie preserve and park.We bought it that night at dinner!

    We brought our most beloved items – bought a bunch of new stuff like a couch to hold all 20 of us in the basement and I found a beautiful baby grand on Facebook Marketplace!! And I had an amazing painting crew paint everything white to go with the white wainscoting.

    It is not my Victorian – I do have all my Beatrix Potter figurines and all of your books. And I brought my rose dishes like yours (I think you said you are leaving yours behind!). We still have the Victorian – and it isn’t cleared out just yet. You give me strength and courage to go back to finish the job and prep it for sale. It is just an hour drive. I used to be so sad reading your posts about your vintage home and missing those touches in the new – I no longer have a kitchen window as my sink looks out across the bar and into the living room. I never wanted the open concept home – and this is to a small degree. I still have small spaces like the study and my quilt room in the basement. But it is perfect for us an we love it every day – it is like being on vacation as there are so many places to go to shop and to eat. Trader Joe is just a couple of miles away – and a brand new Costco is two miles the other way. And the three local Littles come for Sunday dinner and a swim!

    I grew up outside of Phoenix but my family is from SF and Sebastopol – so we always used to drive to SF in the summer – and stayed in Santa Barbara on the way up. My four daughters and I have gone to SB for a girl week a couple of times and I found the hotel we used to stay in back in the 60s! I so love where you are moving and I’m so very happy for you and Joe and Jack! We just drove to NJ for a family member’s funeral and I thought of you and your trip and wondered if you’d be taking 70 like we did but I just googled it and you will most likely take 80. That is the way we drove out to Michigan in 1975 when I went to grad school. I drove the stretch from Denver to Omaha and could not believe how flat it was! I was so excited to see the hills of Iowa and anticipated mountains but my husband told me that the Alleghenys were not like the Rockies that I had just left. I was so sad!

    Any way, I am sure this is too long to post but just wanted to tell you I am following along in spirit – and can identify so much with you right now. You are giving me hope and guidance as we finish our downsizing! And a master on the main is a good thing. I rolled my ankle getting out of our beautiful pool last night and am very sore. We have crutches back at our old house – doubt if we would have brought them but now thinking I need my husband to go get them as we had planned a trip to do some maintenance.

    Take care and wave if you drive through Indianapolis!


    Pam in Indiana

    • sbranch says:

      Good luck Pam! Thank you for this! I emptied out a room this morning!!!! That’s 3 upstairs! You can do it. Take care of yourself!

  68. Kathy (Garden Girl) says:

    Hi Sue,
    It was a treat to see your 48 star American Flag! My husband has wanted one for ages as that was the flag when we were born. Eventually found a small one at an antique market which we have now framed. Still processing how it must feel for you and Joe to be leaving the island. It was so nice to meet you both a few years ago at Titcomb’s bookstore. I have loved all your books and calendars over the years and appreciate the spirit you put into all of your art. My Dad was also a WWII veteran and we keep our red poppies ever present on our car’s rear view mirror – as he did. Stay strong in your resolve. Keep your memories close. You’re both doing what is best for you at this stage. With hugs and thanks for bringing us all along, Kathy

  69. Carol on the farm in Iowa says:

    How on earth did you get the flag on the roof at Holly Oak?

  70. Joyce says:

    With a head full of memories, a gazillion pictures, eyes looking forward…it appears you are near ready for the next chapter. My hat is off to you for making this huge decision, while the energy still flows freely.
    A little tip from someone who has traveled thousands of road miles with not one, but two sweetie felines…a cat carrier is not going to cut it…they are fine for the quick trip to the vet or on a plane…but hours in a vehicle, nope….
    Might I suggest a small dog kennel…room for a travel litter box, cozy blankets,toys, water…using one, keeps your beloved four legger happy and safe, especially taking them in and out of hotels. I also recommend a comfort, size appropriate harness with identification tags, and a leash…a second layer of control should you to open the kennel with the vehicle door also open.
    Safe travels, as you begin your California Deamning road-trip.

  71. Kate says:

    Winds of War & War and Remembrance 2 of my favorite books ever by Herman Wouk.

  72. Brenda W says:

    My dad was in the 82nd Airborne during the war. That was where he met my mom in England and brought her to America as his bride. I can’t imagine how hard it was to live during those times and neither one of my parents ever really wanted to talk about it. In some ways I wish they would have but the older I get the more I understand.
    On a lighter note, I wish you and Joe a safe and happy trip and cheers to a new beginning in California.

  73. salve stamatelaky says:

    susan, i still check your site although i have less time now as i’m now a caregiver for my hubby, tambi, who has alzheimer’s. i saw your dad’s sailor picture and we have the same august day birthday! i wish you and joe a very happy and safe long trip. love, salve

  74. Nancy Kelley West says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for remembering Memorial Day, D Day, and ALL the other days that are dear to our hearts for freedom loving Americans🇺🇸My dad served in the army during WWII and although he is not here anymore, that American spirit lives on in me. He would be 100 years old this year. Although he wasn’t able to serve overseas, be served just the same! And he instilled in me a very fierce love for this USA!And for so many who have gone before us to fight and die for OUR COUNTRY and freedom loving people in this world! NEVER FORGET, but too many people already have.

  75. Rita Baker says:

    A favorite movie of mine is, The Best Years of Our Lives. A favorite new book is, The Watch maker’s Daughter, about Corrie Ten Boom. Heading home now from a road trip to the central coast of California, where I found a Sharon Lovejoy book I didn’t have in Cambria, then was thrilled to find your Autumn book in Carmel!!! As others have said before me, a huge thank you for including us in this most busy time of your life.

  76. Annie in Central CA says:

    Oh Susan, I’m already so sad to be missing ‘our’ house. (You probably don’t know, but I live in the Peter Rabbit room when no one else is there. I’m very discreet!! 😂). I know the pain of downsizing and leaving behind a beloved home, and the progress you’ve already made is so impressive! I’m cheering you on, and am so thankful that you take the time to keep sending Willards amidst your busy days. Best wishes for a smooth move and a happy transition. And welcome back to the central coast!

  77. Hello Dearie Sue,
    I am SO grateful for that greatest generation- who were able and willing to do what is right and stand up to the evil in the world. I feel that some people in our current world need to remember them and could learn some real lessons from them. They are a generation to be proud of forever!!!
    Character matters more than just about anything.
    I am so impressed with your progress in downsizing. I need to do some of my own without moving.
    I hope Jack does well on your trip. He is such a beautiful, wonderful boy!
    Take care and be well!

  78. Arleen in Vermont says:

    Susan, just wondering if you will be taking your dear, beautiful old gas cook stove? I think that’s probably my favorite part of your kitchen. My kitchen is my happy place and just looking at yours is cheer and happiness (especially if there happens to be a kitty in it). The best of luck on your journey which I will most certainly follow along!


    I love to hear from you! My dad was in the Navy and stayed in the reserves for many years. He was so proud. My mom is about to be 100 years old in November. They really were the “Greatest Generation”. Thanks so much for your art, and memories, and love of all things. I make journals. (Just for myself and as gifts.) Can you please put some journal type things in your shop?? Or, reprint your scrapbooking items?? Please??

  80. Elizabeth cassinos says:

    Oh Susan I have to say, this is one of my favorite Willards in a long time. Seeing those wonderful children waving those flags and bringing flowers to the sea melted my heart. Kudos to the community and school district for continuing this wonderful tradition. Our tiny town has a little bike parade and a memorial service at our small cemetery. My two daughters and I and the pastor of our church had the honor of placing flags on our veterans graves at the beginning of Memorial weekend and then collecting them at 6 pm on that Monday evening. It was very humbling. Anyhow, I’m happy to see that there are still patriotic moments happening with our youth all across this great country. And I love everything you wrote about the Greatest Generation that ever lived. Please try and finish watching Saving Private Ryan. So amazing, have lots of tissues.

    • sbranch says:

      What a wonderful thing for you to do! I promise to do that… finish Saving Private Ryan … it’s the least I can do!❌⭕️🇺🇸

  81. Kathy says:

    Hi Susan, I have really enjoyed this Willard. I’ve read many WWII books, such evil met with such bravery and sacrifice. I’m going to miss your kitchen and pantry most of all. O that stove ! 💔 I’m so excited and happy for you tho! How old is that picture of your art studio? Is that Joan Lunden on the tv screen?! You are so blessed to call two such beautiful places home! Safe travels for you, Joe and Jack 🙏, who knows I might see you if you pass thru Ohio. Any chance you’ll be stopping by The Learned Owl? Kathy

  82. Zoe Greenwood says:

    Just “thank you” for it ALL- the Willards; the teas; the girlfriends; the family times; the memories; the calendars; the books. YOU are a treasure to hold dear and we all do! Best of luck to you and Joe on your new adventure…full circle, just like lifeitself.
    God speed and God bless.
    Love, Zoe

  83. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    So sad……to hear of this…

  84. Ann Umfleet says:

    Do you all know there is a new ‘Downton’ in the works?

  85. Susie Durrschmidt ~ LI, NY says:

    I have just read Willard and all the responses, and, whew, very heartfelt through and through. I gave myself permission to take my time and savor each and every word and story and memory as you spoke from me too. My Dad was in WWII and served in Naples, Italy. Five of my uncles served overseas and thankfully all returned and went on to have their best lives back at home. So much to be grateful for and proud about. I am a baby boomer, 2nd child of 5. Family means the world to me. I wrote down a few of the books everyone is suggesting as I am an avid reader. Thank you once again, Susan, for all you do and are for all of us. You are joy, joy, joy in my world. Thanks for taking us along with you to CA. I sure could use a good trip. A virtual trip with you, Joe and Jack is perfect (or should I say “purrfect”). Blessings.

  86. Magdalena Mikulska says:

    Dear Susan
    Wish you happy trip. I like your willards. With Love

  87. Mary Jo Longgrear says:

    Thank you for wonderful Willard. I so enjoyed hearing again about the magical start of summer on the island and the recognition of our service members. My husband and I were both in the Air Force for almost 10 and 9 years respectively. We were fortune to have served during the cold war. and see any combat.
    Blessings to you, Joe and Jack and you continue to get ready to make the move. I can only imaging how hard it must be, but I commend you for making the decision and the move while you’re young enough to enjoy it and adjust to everything. Safe travels and enjoy the trip across the country! ❤️🚗

  88. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    Loved this post as always! Thank you for the tributes to the Greatest Generation! I was blessed to know two gentlemen (through volunteer work at our local Historical Society) who were there. I went to the 100th birthday celebration of one of them and the other one was part of liberating one of the concentration camps. What a privilege to know these men before they passed. Gleaning stories from them is something that cannot be duplicated.
    Blessings and prayers go with you on your cross country journey!

  89. Ann R says:

    Susan, About Jack is he microchipped? God forbid he gets loose and lost. Just thinking worst case travel scenario. Happy trails, hope it’s an enjoyable and adventurous trip.

    • sbranch says:

      He isn’t. But I think I will do that. I microchipped another kitty I brought out here, although she did not stand one chance in a million of getting out of that car!!! I think it will be the same with Jack. We don’t open car doors unless kitty is in his cage!❤️

  90. Gail says:

    Susan- So happy for your next adventures and new views- thank you for always taking us along! Sad to tell you, but it will help somehow– my sweetheart of 48 years passed suddenly in February. We actually met you and Joe at a book signing in St. Charles MO! And because of YOU, we actually sailed on the QM2 last summer to celebrate our 48th anniversary!! So grateful we got to share that memory together! Our 2 grown kids have been a great comfort, support and help as I now navigate life as an “independent” person!?! Hug those you love often, and thank you for letting me just share my heart… PS Mrs. Miniver!– ALWAYS Mrs. Miniver! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      ALWAYS Mrs. Miniver!❤️❤️❤️❤️ Oh Gail, I am so sorry. I can’t even imagine.😥 I will do as you say, more hugging. Thank you for telling me. Take good care of yourself. ❌⭕️❌⭕️

  91. Aly B. says:

    I was just saying….”I’ll have to google a list of the best WWII films…” and voilà! It’s right here!😄 Now, maybe I missed it…but… …. I didn’t see Band of Brothers (it’s currently on Netflix). It’s the absolute BEST WWII story! A 10 part series. I am totally obsessed! ❤️🤍💙😊

    • sbranch says:

      Need to check that one out! Sometimes I have to be careful, too much violence on the screen does me in … I can read it, but seeing it is just too real. So I’ll check out Band of Brothers and see if squinting will be enough!😆💖

  92. Nancy Pankuch says:

    Susan, have enjoyed ur art and books from the beginning!! Our 3 dtrs were raised with the traditions you suggested in your books. I am 76 and my childhood was filled with sewing lclothes from feed sack bags. We lived with my grandparents and grandpa raised rabbits in the backyard. He would let me pick out the fabric for the bags of rabbit food at the feed mill. He was WW 1 vet and had immigrated from northern England in 1915. Served in US Army in Italy in WW1. He shared alot about being a bicycle runner behind the lines taking messages from unit to unit. I learned alot about war from him. The film 1915 was all about his experience.
    My dad was marine in china in WW2. And my husband of 56 yrs served in Pleiku Vietnam in 1971. Our first child was born while he was there. He returned home just before her 1st bday.
    We are the home of the free because of the brave!! God Bless America!!
    You will do fine with downsizing!! We did it 8 yrs ago from Ohio to Florida!! Big job but worth it!!
    Please keep Willard coming and all of your items as well. Stay well and enjoy the next adventure!! Nurse Nancy

    • sbranch says:

      I just loved hearing about your family! And you are a nurse! A family dedicated to service! Thank you! I’m going to look up that film. I think I saw it, but if so, it was a long time ago! Thank you for the positive words!❌⭕️❌⭕️

  93. Christine Testa says:

    Hi Susan!
    I was on the vineyard last weekend for the high school graduation (my neice!) and it was all I could do to keep my mother from walking the streets looking for you 🙂 We’ve been fans for 30 years, and my sister lives on the vineyard. Every time we visit we look for you! Who will I look for when you and Joe move? You’re the biggest stars out there!

    I am wishing you all the best on your move! Are you planning on having a garage sale before you sell the house? Please give us lots of advance notice if you are… it would be worth the trip!

    • sbranch says:

      Look for us, we might be gone, but we will never leave. When I know what is going to happen here with the things we don’t take, I’ll definitely put it up on Willard!!!😘😘😘

  94. Judy M Huska says:

    Oh my, catching up on Willards and I see you are moving to CA. Wow, all I can say is it’s hard to move out of your comfort zone like that but when you have support from your husband it’s easier. Then again you did move across country alone after your divorce…brave girl. I think about the struggle I had when newly married I moved from NY to Fl. I had my husband then but I was so homesick. Now he has been gone 10 years and so are many of my family members. I’m at such a cross road I don’t know which way to turn. Blessings to you and Joe at this change in your lives. You are so brave!

    • sbranch says:

      This no knowing which way to turn seems kind of elemental in the way things go! Too many options. Or too few. Not enough pros, too many cons… or all choices are perfect, so how to choose? I do think the worst thing is waiting too long… just be where you will feel loved, that’s the most important thing, and where there are flat floors, and no ice!😆

  95. Debbie Boerger says:

    Oh Dear! Pat Addison! Thank you “Lost in NH woods”. I, Being Debbie Boerger, I So Loved her newsy letters. I’ll bet there are quite a few of us who will remember and pass on the Pat stories. She will be missed.
    I can never match our farm girl, Pat, but here goes….
    I haven’t really come up for breath since arriving back in Maine. 2 days later, the men arrived to put in the new humongous window unit in our loft bedroom. Wow! How fast time flies, and how soon it seems that you must start replacing things, like this water/wind and rain facing window. Then it was painting it with urethane for days, and days, On goes a coat, dry, sand, and then 4 more coats. Then using my trusty razor to get the excess off the clear, lovely, insulated glass. One large picture window and 2 smaller casements. I also sanded and sealed my Stargazing sky light window in our bathroom. When we have clear nights, I open it and stick my head out in order to be Awed by the Milky Way. Last night the fireflies were merging with the stars. Now that all the trees are leafed out, their “breath” dims the sharpness just a bit. Apple trees have bloomed, crabapple has bloomed, hawthorns have bloomed, and now the Stars of Summer, the Peonies. Dear Susan, I know you aren’t a fan of their aroma, but I am, so many vases are being filled. We have 5 nice big plants. We have a great farm hut just a bit up the road, and when they are ready, She has various bouquets, so flowers will always be theress. Today I got a flat of chives just for the blooms, and 2 bunches of Tuscan kale. Chives flowers look great with oregano in bloom in vases with a little Rosemary. It is just wonderful! Tom started 3 heirloom tomatoes we got there a few weeks ago.
    When we first arrived we put my oldest and dearest friend from Tampa under the Peonies!
    Her daughters gave me a big Ziplock with Miss Anne in it. We were both from the deep South, but missed having peonies. We promised each other that we’d have our ashes put under these here. And they are. I love thinking that she’s part of them, as will I. You know, they do Love bone meal!!. I know, I’m a bit weird. 🙂 Her middle daughter who is a professor in England, sneaked some of Anne into Kew Gardens!!
    The ajuga bed has finished its lovely blue spikes, which look so pretty with the Lily of the Valley in some of the little vases over my kitchen sink. I also have a collection of tiny “critters” from our travels. A black sheep from a Navaho friend who made me my small rug, a cow Tom got me in Switzerland, a turtle that has a bobbing head, a tiny hedgehog. I’m a creature of habit, just as are you! Tom made a new bed on the opposite of the blue stone steps he built. I think it’s called Veronica? It sends out tentacles and has tiny blue flowers. Hopefully to cover the dirt so the wild flowers (AKA weeds) don’t take over. The 2 lilacs have bloomed, the French one is still Gawjus.
    Yesterday a buddy of Tom’s came to put in the replacement for the old, rotted French doors while he was at the doc’s.
    My Lovely Tom got home with worrying news. His prostate cancer may have returned. He’s being scheduled for bone scan and MRI. Very coincidentally, we made the decision a few weeks ago to keep the little townhouse condo in Tampa, mainly because of the excellent Hospital 15 minutes up Bayshore from the house. Here in rural Maine, we live in a Doctor Desert. We’ll go up to Bangor to have those done, and if necessary, go back to Tampa for treatment. I’m not Hair on Fire worried now, as we can be back in 3 1/2 hours flying from Bangor.
    We also decided to offer our wonderful neighbors first right to buy this house when the time comes. They are thrilled. It’s just the 3 families, and we’re very close. The kids I watched becoming adults, are now parents, with kids in college. Together we own all the land bordering our gravel road. One of them calls our group The Keepers of the Peace.
    My heart could not be fuller. Never would have thought I’d have such a wonderful life….Second time around, right Miss Sue?
    You are doing your move the very best way. Ship out as much as possible and make the house ready for the next family to live there. So much easier to paint and clean. I’ll bet someone you already know will be the buyer. You never know what magic will come to pass.
    Thank you, thank you for making life so beautiful for the Girlfriends!!
    Mucho Big Love,

    • sbranch says:

      Positively Miss Debbie! Thank you for this delicious letter! I am not happy hearing the news about Tom, but if attitude is anything, and it is, with you two, only the best will ever be your outcome. I am so happy to know you these past years. Here’s to the magic! 💋💋💋

  96. Judy Young says:

    This has nothing to do with this post but Susan have you joined British Book Club on Facebook. They have so many WONDERFUL suggestions of great reads I know you and Joe will love!

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