We’re Doing It!

Check this out! We’re doing it!!! I’m so proud of us! As you know, packing up a house to move is not easy! But we plod along, one foot in front of the other ~ and it’s working! Even with breaks to have fun! This is my studio window … from where I’m sitting right now! The view has changed! Scary, or what? Need Musica! 

I SO love old music!!! I hope you do! New music too, but there’s just something especially touching about this old WWII stuff. So what’s new? Basically Joe and I have been flitting around in two worlds. The wonderful world of our friends, and our “normal” springtime Island life, the garden,🪴 walks, books📚, parties, and making lots of wonderful new memories 📸 (because it ain’t over till it’s over, and even then, I promise you, it ain’t over) ~ and the other world, slow-moving, dust-eating🧹, boot-kicking, forced-march, teary-eyed, earth-based, packing🧳, barn-emptying, decision making, deep-cleaning ~ discovering lost things, wonderful things, and remembering💌. Put it all together, and we have Real Life. Something we are learning to rise above!🥳

I probably don’t need to explain much with these pics! I think you get it… This is the packing room. Formerly known as the dining room.

Do this long enough and you begin to look around the house for new creative ways to pack things! We’ve hired a wonderful old friend to help us, and this is totally HER!👏 A true packing genius! First time I realized, that space thing, it’s an art!💞

From the dining room to the living room, she has marked all the boxes, listing everything that’s in the boxes on the boxes, they are numbered and the numbers correspond with a list of everything on paper, plus she photographed them. All bases covered, this should work! 🤞

It’s not pretty! Probably more like making sausage.

But you know what is pretty? All the clean and empty rooms, with clean and empty closets! It’s been one room at a time. Packing up what we’re taking. We took the four poster in this room. We have three, having four-poster beds is based on my childhood books and old movies, and I HAD to take one of them with us. For Louisa May Alcott. For Beatrix Potter. For the memories.💞 Do people even have them anymore?

We took this one. Bought all our four-posters 30 years ago at Leonard’s Beds in Rhode Island.💝 

I’m kind of proud of how pretty the rooms look even with nothing in them! This is the “baby room.” These walls used to have all my oldest family photos on them, my grandparents as children, and our kids (my siblings) as babies.

You’ll recognize this one . . . it’s my Peter Rabbit Room  (click here if you never saw my Peter Rabbit Room💝). You can still feel the coziness in this lovely room tucked under the eves, so much like a tree house (easy to feel it lying in bed, looking at the tops of trees outside the windows) . . . and I left behind two tiny bits of Peter-Rabbit-Room: a cloth purse in the cupboard lined in blue and white check, Peter Rabbit on it, with his cotton-ball tail, and there’s a door hanger as you go in, with Peter Rabbit on it, that I got at Hilltop. But those two things up there ⬆️, they go with us.

Our bedroom, see any tiny ears?

There he is! This is his “rubber-band room” … We play every morning and every night before bed … and whenever he can trap me up there during the day. I stand at the door and shoot rubber bands (thick hair-ties) over the bed to where he is standing on an exercise bench! He catches them… see his eyes? He is waiting!

My studio . . . kind of my last pack-job, not done yet. For any of you involved in this same kind of nightmare ~ all this just proves that if we can do it, you can too!

Yeah, we tried that. Doesn’t work. It’s actually a lot like writing a book, or any big project ~ at first it’s so disorganized it feels overwhelming, but then, you just put one foot in front of the other, and one day progress becomes visible, and you are surprised to say “I’m DOING it!” Deadlines are helpful for me, but we have changed ours 3 times, however…

The kitchen . . . Not done, because we still live here, but getting close! We took everything off the fridge, and now it’s all working its way back on!

The truck got here yesterday and they started loading . . .😳I’m not thinking about it. 

Not even trying to hide this truck! It’s like having Godzilla in your driveway.

Joe and a helper worked until about 10 last night when it was cool and moonlit ~ they got a lot done!

The whole trick in loading a truck is balance. Is what they say. (Carrie in England and I have been texting back and forth ~ she wrote this funny thing: “Is there anything worse than moving? No. Nothing. By the end you’re chucking hammers and screwdrivers in with the China.” 😂🤣 And that’s exactly where we are right now, and exactly what we’re doing. Soon we’ll likely be throwing last-minute loose papers, shoes, tea balls into the back of the truck!)

They finish loading today . . . and supposedly that truck full of stuff will be on the ferry this Saturday! We’ll see. Then we clean up the house, and make it look beautiful. That’s when we officially put it on the market, and in about three weeks, we pack the van … an ice chest full of goodies goes between our seats, Jack’s carrier sits on top of the ice chest, and we fill the van with my original art and other stuff that goes with us! And off to see the wizard we will go!

And in the MEANTIME … the other side of our lives, the beauty side . . . because that’s there more than ever!

We walked over to Lowely’s the other night, walked home under this moon, amazing how pretty pictures of night sky can be with just a regular iPhone.  

Daily I take my scissors and go out to visit Joe’s little wildflower garden, our first, to pick a flower or two, and to see what new thing is coming. We have no idea, we just got a big bag of mixed seed on the internet and threw it out there. First up was poppies! Something coming now I have no name for . . .


Here it is!

We went out to Menemsha for dinner aboard our friend’s sailboat   . . . to hang out, eat, drink pink wine, and watch the sun go down ~ Jaime brought these gorgeous flowers, we brought potato salad from John’s, the fish market I told you about in the last post … they make it JUST like I do, except they don’t use onion, relish, or celery. But they do the hard part, so we just gussie it up and voila! Tis the season, and if you can’t get to John’s, look here! It’s the best recipe! (From my Summer Book if you have it.)

Be sure to add the mayo to the eggs and potatoes while the potatoes are still hot or warm! It’s the trick to the deliciousness!

So there they were, waiting for us . . . that’s Jaime in the hat with the blue dress. She’s my friend who had TRIPLETS (a total surprise), all boys, and then a year later, ANOTHER boy! No one could have done it better. But, I’m still not over it. I probably would have given up on life that very moment, even before the actual BIRTH!😳 But the boys are wonderful and in their 30s now. Back then I saw an article about Jaime in our local paper … then I saw her for the first time shopping in Edgartown. I knew it was her because she had a stroller for THREE, and those 4 babies were all in there! What a gal! In so many ways. Besides making life for all her friends so much more festive, she’s a famous caterer here on the Island.💖 

There’s George, the Captain of the ship (called appropriately LOL, because that’s what you do when you’re on board), working the bar.

Such a gorgeous night . . .

Before we went to the boat, I saw this set-up on the beach … had to go take a picture … I think it was a wedding shower! What a party! When I first moved here, my sister and I took a table & chairs, champagne, cake, salad, paper cups and plates, tablecloth, and brought my Dad here for his 60th birthday in my little old VW convertible. We bought cooked lobsters at the fish market up the street, and celebrated his birthday right in that same spot on the beach. Swam to get the butter off, and drove home under the trees with James Taylor singing to the stars. Now that’s a memory!


On the boat, same thing, we ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed, we breathed this rarified air and watched the sun go down. More wonderful memories.

The sunset turned Joe pink, and made his hot pink shirt even hotter!

Well, I have a hundred more things to tell you, but this is already long enough and I still have more! For one thing . . .

Remember this? Recognize it? Yup! Downty!

Better known as Highclere Castle (as in Downton Abbey). I did a whole post about this wonderful day… you can read it HERE!  

Well, guess what? Highclere Castle is having a contest that anyone can enter! I got an email from Laura who reads my Willards and is also their media person ~ she told me about the contest and said I should tell you! The winner will receive a three-day, two-night trip for two to Highclere Castle this September complete with airfare, accommodations, ground transportation, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Castle and estate, and tickets to an invitation-only VIP cocktail party hosted by Lord and Lady Caravan! AND she sent us a bottle of the Highclere Castle Gin! It came in a velvet bag, tied with gold cord, and even a little recipe book! It’s good to have friends in high places! Made with botanicals from the estate and from the orangery and with the lavender planted in the 9th century by the Bishop of Winchester. We got it, but we haven’t tasted it yet. Saving it for when that truck goes away! Or tonight, whichever comes first.😁

You can enter the contest HERE. They say if you buy a bottle of Downty gin (I renamed it) they’ll give you 20 chances to win the trip ~ it’s a promotion … but you don’t have to in order to enter, Laura stressed to me that it’s free! Nothing to lose! And it’s all inspired by the coming release of the third Downton Abbey movie! Big-time Red Letter Day!💞


So what else … in my last post, at the bottom, I listed a whole bunch of books and movies to read, listen to, and watch … I need to add Band of Brothers to it, which streams on Netflix . . . as suggested by one of our Girlfriends. We watched the first episode last night, so GOOD. Killer good. Scared to see the next one as we are talking D-Day, but ready to sqwinch my eyes closed just in cases. Just finished Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, so good. We both cried at the end. No wonder so many baby boomers ended up on drugs in the 70s and 80s … everyone had PTSD after the terrible violence of the 60s, I was only in the 11th grade when John Kennedy was killed, it was one after another, John, Martin, and then Bobby … and I have brand new respect for President Johnson. Little tug of my heart for him.💖 Books are such wonderful things.

Something else, if you go to the top of this Willard you will see “Home Cooking” . . . put your cursor there for a drop-down … Take your time, look at “Summer Recipes,” and “How to Cook” … for lots of summer deliciousness and cooking demonstration blog posts. Kellee did a wonderful job putting it together! Happy cooking!

Look Here . . .

We got the Secret Notes back in! They’re hand-made so it takes a while, but so special. . .

This is our first year without shrink wrap on our calendars .. NO plastic. I’m happy! I can’t believe all the tags and plastic and stuffing there is with everything we buy . . . I hope it works well. Be sure to let me know if you have problems. Fingers-crossed it works.💞

So, time to go and start throwing things into the truck! But I had to show you . . .THIS was the very first night in our house way back when. JUST the beginning of 35 years of wonderful friends, food, and FUN! (But I think what I’m hearing here is “We need more beer!”🤣)

Here’s to us Girlfriends! Happy summer! Thanks for all the wonderful sweet comments! Love you! 😘

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227 Responses to We’re Doing It!

  1. Rose Welchans says:

    Which Doris Kearns Goodwin book did you read? Best of Luck to you

  2. Sandra Walton says:

    Whow what a shock to read you are leaving the Vineyard but to return home to California completes the circle …you have been amazing packing it all up …with Joe ….and Jack ..the best gifts from the Vineyard.
    Every best wish for the future ..for the hours of happiness in your new home …a new chapter..a new beginning..but a return that is so so special.
    Thank you for all you have shared with us …thank you …
    From Sandra in Birmingham UK

  3. Sarah Maldonado says:

    Oh, Susan! You both are such troopers to go into that world of moving! It made me feel that I need to get myself in gear to pretend I’m moving to clear out all this scary stuff here. I’m proud of your wonderful attitude and efforts!
    I bought my new calendar and while “in the shop”, I purchased the tiny circle vase with the heaven is within quote. I fell in love with it when it arrived and wanted more for gifts but was told I was lucky and got the last one! Happy though, as it sits here on the table by my chair and books and keeps tiny blooms making me smile.
    Sending safe moving wishes for you.

  4. Christina says:

    What a fun adventure you and Joe had on the island. Hopefully you can go back often to continue your friendships and memories there. Have a safe trip! 🚙❤️

  5. Maureen from SoCal says:

    Oh my goodness, what an amazing blog post. Memories, joy, anxiety foe moving. O love the quote about new beginnings often being disguised as painful endings. Such mixed emotions. You are so brave, but we will welcome you back to California with open arms to make the transition a wee bit easier. Your home is so beautiful even empty. You can tell you loved it very much and cared for it like your best friend or family member. Your friend carrie is a crack up throwing hammers and screwdrivers in with the China. So true though. Ta ta for now dear one. You and Joe are such a great couple and I always inspiring and uplifting. Blessings.

  6. Linda G. says:

    Wishing you both the very best in your new chapter in life. I hope you are able to take your vintage stove with you?

  7. Ginnie Judd says:

    Ah, Susan, you are so wonderful! And so funny! I laughed at your description of soon you’d be throwing all kinds of odds and ends into the truck. Been there!

    I’m so proud of you and Joe – your attitude, your willingness to tackle this big task – good for you! And thanks as always for the joy you bring. It’s always so welcome.


  8. Blbc says:

    Living Life at its very best!

    I will miss the stories of New England life as you were living it. Ah, but California awaits and a new adventure, new stories to share.

    Waiting with eagerness with each page that you publish as you “take us all along”.

  9. Barbara Weaver says:

    Ohhhh. We did this three and a half years ago. Downsized to a wonderful over 55 community only 30 miles up the road from our home of 30+ years. What a job! The packing, the throwing away, the giving away (“Do you want this?”), the boxes, the piles of stuff, and, yes, the tears. We love our new home and neighbors but it was a bitter sweet adjustment at first. You’re right about the memories. We will always have them with us no matter where we are! Moving was certainly an adventure. But downsizing was a smart decision. Here’s to new memories! BabaraWeaver

  10. Carolyn Stanley says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I followed your blog religiously from the time I retired in 2012 until 3 or 4 years later. Your blog, and the fact you recognized me and often responded kept me from going bonkers in those early days when I was in a void after having devoted so much of my time to teaching my 7th and 8th graders. For the last 6 years, thankfully, my days have been filled with my hubby and me taking care, first of our grandson (going on 6) and now our granddaughter (going on 2 and first girl in three generations!)
    Hence, I had lost track and didn’t realize you were moving from Martha’s Vineyard back to your roots. I do hope your journey is filled with excitement and promise, and I hope life there will be as full as your last 30 plus years on the East Coast.
    You and I are of the same age, and yes, I do understand about stairs.
    I’m looking forward to hearing about your new adventures on the other side of the country. Be safe.

    • sbranch says:

      Of course, I recognize you Carolyn, glad to hear you are not BONKERS!🤣 Nothing like a job you like to keep you sane!!! ❌⭕️

  11. Judy Barnes says:

    I, like you Susan, moved from a house I had lived in for 20 years. It took me 9 months to pack
    discarding and keeping things as I went…no easy task. But I was moving home also (from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania) after being away for 30 years. Good luck to you and Joe and safe travels across America!

  12. Barbara Anne says:

    As Dale and Roy used to sing, “Happy Trails to You until we meet again, Happy Trails to you, keep smiling until then …” Tears are okay, too, when the memories get too sweet to hold in so your eyes leak.

    However did you and Joe decide what would stay and what would go? We face those decisions soon.

    Wishing y’all well! Hugs!

    • sbranch says:

      First imagine the house is on fire. Then take it from there!. Also, our place in California is less than half the size of the one in MV, so if you have 6 jars, take 2! Kind of sums it up!

  13. Darcie says:

    Thank you for sharing another grand adventure with us, as always!

  14. anne Miller says:

    You never fail to amaze…. Only you would share the fun in the chaos of moving!Happiness Prevails!

  15. Betty O. says:

    Love all your Willard’s Susan, the flowers you weren’t sure about what kind they were- I don’t know either but a trick I learned recently will tell you. Take a pic w/ your iPhone ( thinking you might have one) after you take the picture, go to photos to that flower photo.. move your finger up from bottom of your screen and either in the description below it will tell you or it will say ‘look up plant’. Click on that and viola! You’ll know. I was walking w/ my girlfriend on beach walk in Half Moon. Bay and we learned several names of flowers and plants that we were curious about.
    Happy trails my friend; look forward to having you back in California very soon!

  16. Liz+from+Sterling+Heights,+Michigan says:

    Susan – I found your Heart of the Home and Christmas books around 1990 in a little bookstore in Pittsburgh, PA. That was our third move in the six years we’d been married, and I can’t begin to tell you how much “home” your beautiful books brought to both of us! We’ve moved two more times since then and happily celebrated our 40th anniversary last year…your books, Willards (and now your yearly zoom with The Enchanted Book Club!) have accompanied us every step of the way! We wish you and Joe all the very best on your journey back to California! It’s the being together that’s most important!

  17. Laura says:

    Wow! What a Willard! Such an exciting time!!! Enjoy your last days there on the Vineyard, can wait to hear about your journey to CA!! My calendar arrived this past week! Beautiful 💗

    Love to you & Joe
    💗 Laura in Illinois

  18. Soooo much admiration for taking on such a monumental task as a cross-country move! We did it three times, and your friend is right – just tossing things in boxes at the end, still packing as the truck is loaded, and all sorts of craziness… But I love that you found time in midst of it all for such an elegant party (my own moves usually just involved bribes of pizza and beer for helpers, hehe)… Anyway, wishing you safe travels, more smiles than tears, and much happiness in your new home! ♥

  19. Carol I Nicholls says:

    I so look forward to your posts – thanking you for giving me this blessing.

    You might like this book:The Women: A Novel: Hannah, Kristin.

  20. ANDREA MCVETY says:

    You ROCK at moving!! Getting it done. You have made such progress and it has been HOT! Even in our cabin in Maine HOT. Hot on the boat. Hot back in Rhode Island. JUNE is really BUSTIN’ OUT ALL OVER! The hydrangeas are magnificent this year, wherever we go. I even have one that has NEVER bloomed in bloom. We picked strawberries 🍓. Haven’t done that in years. It reminded me of one of my favorite lines in On Golden Pond when Henry Fonda says “can’t we just pick them lying down”. Soon you will be writing a Willard from California. We all are cheering you on during this adventure. Love Jack. Can’t wait to hear all about your trip. We take our cat Lincoln with us to Maine. He sleeps the entire way! He loves looking out the windows up in Maine, listening to the Loons. Band of Brothers was wonderful. The Greatest Generation for sure. We took a Viking River Cruise a few years back, from Paris to Normandy. I can’t describe what it was like being on those beaches. They are beautiful now, nothing like the the grainy images we have all seen. Paying respect to our fallen Heroes. All those white crosses. I brought sand from Omaha beach back for my Son, currently serving in the US ARMY. We will never forget.

    • sbranch says:

      HOT!!! I love the thought of that cruise … food for thought!!! We will never forget. I cry every episode… Those GUYS. 👏👏👏

  21. Teri Wallace says:

    Good luck with everything. I love the Peter Rabbit room. So cute. I have a cherished Hunca Munca Beatrix Potter figurine that is special to me. I also want to do a little Peter Rabbit vignette in my garden where you hang up a little blue jacket and tam hat on a stick. Saw the idea recently and am looking for just the right pieces.

  22. Beth T. says:

    Such a lovely post, more sweet than bittersweet, which I think is the very best you can do when you are at the precipice of a goodbye/hello moment. I always try to comfort myself that at least we are not the pioneers, saying goodbye forever as we head out. Now we have not only trains and reliable postal services, we have FaceTime. Not as good as a walk down the road, but comforting, still.
    And, Susan, I have to tell you, I gasped when I saw your Baby Room. Those two framed pieces are the very ones that hung in my grandparents’s home, forever. How many naps did I take, falling asleep in that cool, safe bedroom that they still called “Jackie’s room” even after she was married and a mom, with those sweet babies on one wall, and Blue Boy and Pinkie on opposite wall? How I loved those little ones! Bessie Pease Gutmann? To have one more afternoon in that little house, falling asleep while the adults talked in the other room…

    • sbranch says:

      We had Blue Boy and Pinkie too!!! I love people to talk in another room while I fall asleep! Still today! So comforting!

  23. Patty Volner says:

    We are soooo happy you will be in California again. Maybe we’ll get to see you before the next crossing! Safe journey across the USA.

  24. Kim Rose says:

    Wishing you all the very best. We moved to our ‘retirement’ home 2 years ago so I have some idea of what you are experiencing… I love our new space and the freedom that it brings and daily I get to reminisce the happy times in the old house. You do seem to be having loads more fun packing up than we did though… The last lot of boxes where we “mixed the screwdrivers with china” were packed to the tune of language I can’t share 😊

    • sbranch says:

      Well, we do know that language. We are the normal ones you know! But in between! That’s where the sweetness lives!😂

  25. Paula Duarte says:

    I can so understand the organizing, packing and moving situation. Only child who did that after her parents’ death for a four bedroom, hundred plus year old family homestead. Then, I, myself, have moved foot times since then. All the understanding to you who are in the thick of it. Thanks for taking us along on this journey, can’t wait to see what this next chapter in your lives will hold. (One note, Rhode Islander here and I frequently drive past Leonard’s out on Route 44 but that is Massachusetts!)

  26. Rosemary Brandt says:

    Hi Susan, I love your art, your books, your Willard, etc. Your home is so special like you. What wonderful adventures you and hubby enjoy. I know it is bittersweet to leave behind your home and friends. How nice it will be to go back though. Safe travels!

  27. Karen Mac says:

    Dear Susan, I always tell my family and friends that my girlfriend SB is my neighbor. I live one state over. I admire your bravery to pack up all that you love, and move west. I’m sure your friends on the Isle of Dreams will miss you terribly, but it will be a great reason for them to see another part of the country. I also hope whoever buys your beautiful house will preserve the integrity of it, and love it as much as you and Joe did. Let’s keep the fairy tale alive! I wish you, Joe, and Jack a very safe and happy trip to the other coast. Soon enough you’ll be able to call it home. After all, it’s not where you are that makes a home, it’s who you are with. How lucky you are that you have friends, family, and girlfriends all over the globe. The fairy tale is alive and well. 🩷

    • sbranch says:

      I could never escape the fairy tale and I never want to! Listening to the birds this morning! How good it all is!

  28. Sonya Hewes says:

    You are moving right along and looks like everything is going in the truck so organized. I like to call myself the Queen of Organization! lol Anyway, I must make some potato salad – you know how everyone says, “My mom makes the best potato salad!” well, I made some and my mom was the taste tester and I made a couple corrections and she said it was great! And yes, I put on gloves to make it while it’s hot, all that good flavor seeping in together! Happy continued packing – I’m glad that you have memories for each room you pack ♥

  29. lak says:

    WOW, congrats on the move and getting the packing done! Moving is exhausting, but new shores calling are always exciting. Between what we think it will be and what it truly becomes can be so interesting, fun, stressful, and like moving a little bit of everything! Wishing you the best road trip, safe travels, and many laughs and beautiful sights along the way! Love that quote about anxiety and freedom! Looking forward to your updates along the way! You are a real trend setter!

  30. Donna says:

    Susan- does this mean you will be in California full time now? I’m so confused?!

  31. Nancy P. says:

    You summed it up so perfectly. Moving is such an ordeal, and bittersweet. We all can relate, especially in our later years, I do think it is more difficult, but we haven’t moved in many years. The big move from NM to AZ was hardest, because we had a house built, one that I had so much input into the design of, drew up the basic plan and a couple of rooms myself. We had an incredible view in all directions, but a breathtaking view of the close mountain range on the backyard side. So many memories made there, and lessons learned on our wants and needs in a house and yard at that time, and for future plans. We thought our kids would have a hard time moving, but they were fine! It was my husband and I, and we vowed to never again get that attached to a “thing”, like a house, even though it becomes a home with so much love in your time there.
    Moving three times in a couple of years here in AZ was more learning, with a rental while we built one, then within 6 months in that new one realizing it was too big (house and yard and electric bill), too formal for this gal who loves sweet, cutesy and whimsical decor, and too much work. We were smart to downsize then, and we love this smaller house for so many reasons, and we have the most memories here now, we have made it our own and redone things many times, and it will continue to evolve. I have to organize well here, even with lots of storage, and it’s freeing to give away things, especially for my brain!
    Sending you so much love and wishes for so much freedom and peace in your head, heart, and life, Susan and Joe! Thanks for sharing with us and helping us, too, through your experiences. Nancy (gingerbread snowflakes gal)

  32. Stacey says:

    Life really is the circle game isn’t it? I think the truly lucky look back at happy memories instead of regrets. Welcome back to the old neighborhood, I hope you and Joe feel at home here soon.

  33. Rebecca says:

    Susan, Yes I have 2 four poster beds from late 1700’s. The beds are high over 2 ft from floor. There is incredible storage space. I inherited one so lots of childhood memories and the other found on side of road covered in barn grim. Once I cleaned the bed it is a stunning tiger maple. I love thinking of all the stories it could tell of babies being born in it and sadly people passing. Also, the person who handcrafted such a beautiful bed by hand from wood grown hundreds of years ago. Are you sure you want only one?

    • sbranch says:

      I want them ALL! But I got ONE despite the fact that this is NOT a colonial house! Too bad, I don’t care!😂 Blessed!

  34. Dearie Sue,

    What an adventure and you are so very brave to let go of the shore and sail out onto the sea of change. Mark Twain would be proud of you!, and so am I.
    It’s so much work to move- the last I did it was 27 years ago but before that I never lived any one place for more than a few years. I keep telling myself to pare things down so that if I move again it won’t be so much- but I never do.
    I hope the truck loading goes smoothly and that when you get on the road with Jack an Joe that you have a delightful trip!
    Lots of love to all of you!

    • sbranch says:

      It was my dream to live in one place for a long time. 35 years was PERFECT. Our house put a mark on us, and we put ours on it. Found true love. xoxoxo Thank you Gabi!

  35. Siobhan in Santa Monica says:

    That big ol’ know it all Lao Tzu!

    I’m starting to pack up my studio for the umpteenth time with no destination in sight – just an out date of Sep 30th. The itinerant studio! Maybe into storage as space is disappearing for poor artsy crafty folks like me who live in one bedroom apartments without a blessed garage! You’re giving me courage!

    So looking forward to all your new newsy news! We’re all lifting you up and wishing you safe travels, and know goodbye will be soooo hard, but it’s not for forever…you’ll go back and visit a lot I suspect! And California will be so delighted to have a daughter returning who brings joy and light with her whereever she goes!

    And thanks for the tip on the Highclere contest! Whoooeeeee…I sent that puppy far and wide! September in England sounds like the bees knees. Love you so much, Susan Branch! You make me feel like a ‘normy’. xx

  36. Barbara Heinsohn says:

    I’m excited for your next adventures. Have a safe cross country drive.

  37. Carole Woolery says:

    Wishing you and Joe much happiness in the next chapter of your life together. Thanks for taking us along.

  38. Kristen in the Land of Pleasant Living says:

    Susan, I know it seems silly that all of us girlfriends feel like we are taking your move just as hard as you & Joe (of course we aren’t) but it shows how much you are a part of our lives and how very much it means to use that you have been willing to share your life and personal thoughts, both about the big things and the little things.

    That can be both tedious and I’m sure frightening to share but I can’t say how much, in a faker and phonier and agenda pushing world, it has helped me to hear your innermost thoughts and emotions about your life and how reaffirming it can be that maybe we’re not the crazy ones but the normal ones, as you always quote

    As hard as this decision I’m sure has been, after all, I think us kindred spirits have all been drawn to you because we are fellow homebodies and history and tradition lovers. We don’t like most change! But you and Joe are making a smart decision for yourselves to continue to enjoy life and it is a wonderful gift to give your friends and relatives. I lost my last grandparent last summer and while I wouldn’t change anything because I know my grandmother wanted to stay in her home until the end, it was incredibly hard for all of us to clean out and discern what to do with their historical farmhouse packed with treasures. It’s hard enough decluttering your own things but to clean out someone else’s, there is incredible guilt and stress trying to decide how to best honor these things as you feel guilty for just trashing them. Should it be sold? What even is it? What if it’s an heirloom? Donation centers don’t even want this kind of stuff, etc.. You made the unselfish decision for your loved ones.

    I know you’ll be just a tad busy these next few months settling in to your new/old home, but for future projects, I agree with the others that I would love another diary book or more, especially about your early years with Joe post A Fine Romance, how you came to find and buy the Spring St house, and as much as you are willing to share, I would be curious to know if it was difficult to trust again after your first marriage, or was it difficult to going back to being in a relationship after gaining strength and freedom on your own, etc.. more about your relationships with your siblings and friends. And please include all of the 5 senses details that make your books so cozy and delightful like what you were seeing, smelling, cooking, decorating in each season! I am also eager to read Enchanted and would love to hear more about your trip to Ireland and will of course want to hear about your return home to California.

    Thank you for giving us this opportunity to communicate with you. Rereading your special books have helped me get through so many tough times and your descriptions have helped me to define what I want my life to be.

    Hope all this and more comes back to you, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” Proverbs 11:25. Love of love!

    • sbranch says:

      This is why I love “us,” the normal ones. Because we are real with each other. Love your ideas of books, so I copied this comment to keep for when we get this done and I have time to think! Thank you ALL back for your communication. It has made my life wonderful. I felt connected to you while I was writing my first book, was talking directly to you, before I even met you! Look how lucky! xoxoxo👀👏💋

  39. Bunny Perkins says:

    Dear Sue, Fingers crossed you’ll write a “House Book” some day and include all the magical memories & fabulous photos of your Martha’s Vineyard home! 🤞🏽

  40. Mary Overman says:

    I felt moving pangs as I read this lovely, lovely post. I can feel the teariness – I would be an emotional wreck and I so admire how you and Joe are doing the needed work. I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment before but I became a huge fan when Heart of the Home came out and I religiously read your Willard newsletters. Am I correct in understanding that you and Joe originally planned to sell your California residence and keep the Martha’s Vineyard home? But then, after sitting down and taking the long view, decided the reverse made more sense? I can’t even begin to say how much I admire you two for that undoubtedly difficult decision. And I am so cheering for you every day as you take on these hard things. Holding you in my heart all through this next adventure of yours! Thank you for Willard!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, you are correct A+ on your reading test!! We changed direction, did a 360 at the last minute! Suddenly we just KNEW what was right! SO glad!❌⭕️

  41. Tedi Kostka says:

    I just did what you did – in reverse. Left my beloved California to move to the Prescott Arizona area to be near the grandkids. Even though my move is over, your Willards are helping me appreciate what I have and not pine for what I’ve left. Thank you for all your wonderful comments about your new Cali life and most of all for encouraging me to be happy for the dream life I had in my dream home and move on to new adventures. It really is invigorating to start anew, how lucky are we? Sending much love!

  42. joanne says:

    I am so excited for you and Joe, and Jack! Safe travels and say hello to California for me. (A native California gal here too) I wish I had the quotes from this post when we moved from our home of 23 years recently to a new state. It was, and is soo hard! I will miss all things Martha’s Vineyard after all these years through you, but new and exciting things await, and what fun you’ll have making all your special things feel at home in their new space.

  43. patty says:

    Home is home and no matter where you roam, as long as you and Joe and Jack are together, life will still be grand! You have so many wonderful memories and more to make in California! East or West, home is best! Right?

  44. Cat Wheeler says:

    I’ve been a long-time fan and am so happy about your and Joe’s new adventure. I feel like we have a symbiotic relationship because I did what you did only geographically in reverse. I divorced in NY and after my sons were grown, moved to AZ without a job or a friend. In the 29 years that I’ve lived here, I found husband #2 almost immediately and lifelong friends just as fast (amazing), a fabulous job where I recently retired from after decades! Who would have “thunk” it? Weren’t we the brave warriors? As is said, the biggest risk is not taking any risk which we both did and found gold. Can’t wait for the CA Willards and photos. Wishing you a great “voyage”!

  45. Helen says:

    Good luck with your move. We moved this past September and I do not want to move again!

  46. Kay Amhaus says:

    Have read your blog for so many years, I’m feeling a bit teary myself at your taking leave of that wonderful old house. But you’re heading “back home,” so this new chapter in your lives will certainly be sweet. Good luck with the rest of the loading and thank you for showing us that beautiful house one more time.

  47. Ann R says:

    Go West Sue Go West! Happy Trails!

  48. Trudy says:

    Wishing you both a lot of happiness and good health for many years to come in your ‘new’ home.
    All memories came back reading your post about moving house which we did 2 1/2 years ago with indeed sad tears and tears of happiness!
    Take care and save travels.

  49. PJ says:

    The picture of the moving van with the ramp down reminded me of our own moving experience. My friend’s twins, who were almost four at the time, loved running up and down the ramp as we packed up. I remember pure exhaustion on those last days of packing, but once we were on the road, excitement and anticipation took its place. Next month will mark ten years since we made out cross-country voyage. Safe travels, Susan!

  50. Oh my but I feel for you with all of this moving business. In my previous life, when I was married to an army guy, I moved 16 times in 22 years, and with five children in tow. But somehow you get through it. You have to be organized and I can see that you are. I know it will be a bit of a heart wrench leaving your MV home after so long, but I think you will be very happy back in your California home and I look forward to your new adventures there. Life will be just as good, maybe even better. One thing I wanted to thank you for this morning was for the beautiful friendships I have made through your Willards. Your community of commentors is just wonderful. I have been blessed enough to have made a few “in person” relationships with some kindred spirits, all met through this fabulous medium and I thank you for that! Oh, and I wanted to tell you about my dream last night. (I have very vivid dreams, just so you know.) In my dream I was at your house and you were having a yard sale. I found a little china sugar dish that I liked and I was buying it when I spied a doll I liked. Upon closer inspection, above it was a doll I liked even more. She was a tall very peculiar rag doll in that she was carrying a little wooden house on her shoulders. Her head was actually inside the little wooden house and you could see her sweet little face through the open doors at the front of the house. It was love at first sight and I had to have her. She was beautiful, and then, (because dreams are funny things you know), you were suddenly at my house with myself and my sister Cindy, and we were setting up at the table to have a paint day together, because that is what we do. And I remember saying to my sister in my dream, can you believe that Susan is here having a paint day with us? haha That was my dream. I thought you might enjoy it too. Anyways, I hope you, Joe, and Jack have a very safe and uneventful journey West! I wish you all the best in this new chapter of your life. Safe trip and happy landings! Love and hugs. xoxo

  51. Nicole Brake says:

    For whatever reason, I was so sad to learn you are moving. I have enjoyed your posts and read your books for years. I am 51 now, and moved from Los Angeles, CA to New York about 11 years ago with my husband and 2 children. I was running away from family and painful memories. I grew up in Burbank. You were the inspiration for me making that change to this beautiful part of the country with 4 seasons. I have written to you before in years past. I am estranged from my mother and am an only child. I learned so much from reading your books. Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams definitely my favorite one. Wishing you and Joe all the best.

    • sbranch says:

      You do right to guard your life against toxicity… it’s out there, but you don’t have to put up with it. GOOD FOR YOU. I didn’t speak to my darling dad for 3 years … he was so controlling even from 3,000 miles away, even into my 60s… one time he made me so mad, I just hung up on him and didn’t speak to him for all that time. One day I called and said hi, he said hi, and we went back to talking like nothing had ever happened. From that moment on, we were best friends, he was my FRIEND. You never know what’s going to happen. Do what YOU want, you only have this one amazing life and you do deserve to be respected. Sending love…❌⭕️❌⭕️

  52. Diane Rawski from Carson City, Nevada says:

    Looks like California dreaming is becoming a reality!!!

  53. Laurie+Nico’s+Mom says:

    I was gifted one of your earliest books back in my twenties. I’m now in my sixties. I have all of your books and use your recipes regularly. I never miss a Willard. I’ve printed and saved copies of all your paper Willard’s. You’ve been my therapist for decades!
    You may remember me as the commenter who shared her home with seven house bunnies. One by one we lost these little darlings and we’ve taken a break from being bunny caregivers, but with the bunny room renovated we are hoping to adopt once again.
    We have lived on this acreage in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada, for 28 years. I cannot imagine living anywhere else but I know the day will come when house and garden maintenance (and those stairs!) will become too much for us. To witness you undertake the same thing with your customary positivity and aplomb is heartening. You are so very brave! I hope I can manage the same thing with a fraction of your grace when the time comes.
    I wish you and Joe and Jack all the best in this new adventure. Hugs to all! ❤️❤️❤️

    Laurie Nico’s mom

  54. Carolyn S. Johnson says:

    Praying for safe travels for you and Joe as you make your way all the way across America – to home – California! I was born in May 1946 – so I understand where you are at this time in your life – downsizing!!! Which is what my husband and I did about 10 years ago. It took time – and patience – and lots of help. But we enjoy our patio home and even have a small yard for flowers. But very little upkeep which is nice. Gives us time for many other things – such as riding our bikes. He’s 84 and I’m 78 – but still at it. Enjoy your special life in your other beautiful home. I will have to say the house on Martha’s Vineyard was so special and most beautiful. You were blessed to live there for 35 years!!! Blessings to you and Joe.

  55. marsha chowdhury says:

    So exciting!! It takes courage to let go and start a new chapter but you both are doing amazing! I’m sure there are tears here and there. I cried every night for two weeks before we left on an expat assignment. It was a wonderful experience and now I wonder why on earth I shed those tears. I learned so much, mostly about myself during that assignment. It’s like planting a garden. You plant yourself in new soil and watch you grow. I wish you both all the best in your new soil!

  56. Julie Borg says:

    Can I just say that this move of yours is causing me trouble? I’ve had visit Marthas Vineyard and try to (stalk) run into Susan Branch on my bucket list for years. Sad sigh… But I can’t wait to see your new adventures and I hope you taking that awesome stove with you!

  57. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Cheers to a new adventure 🥂

  58. Dianne in Upstate New York says:

    Dear Susan
    Just a short post, as I know that you are beyond busy. Did you use Woodlawn Blue on the walls in the empty bedroom, as well as the kitchen? It’s such a soothing and restful shade. I love the flower arrangement that Jaime brought to the gathering. It looks as if it is in a La Fermiere yogurt pot. I have so many waiting to be recycled. Now I have a new use for them- a container for flowers, the perfect birthday gift for a friend!!

    • sbranch says:

      I looked in my “Paint” file and I’m not sure, I think maybe, but all it says is “Front bedroom, soft blue, can in basement.” Except all the cans in basement are now gone! You could never go wrong with Woodlawn!🌺🌸🌼🌺🌺🌻🌸🌸

  59. Melissa (and her tuxedo cat Purrlick) says:

    Oh I loved this Willard!! So many emotions and it’s not even my house. I’d see a pic of a familiar room and exclaim “OH the Peter Rabbit room!!” then the kitchen “Oh the kitchen….the kitchen windows where you’d hang your leaf garlands!!”. When I saw the truck in the drive and the side door of a home that has been as much of the story as anything else you write about I thought “Maybe we can all convince the next owner to write a blog so they can show us how they love it and how they decorate” (yes that’s a very long shot). I recently read one of your posts from 2011 (I’m rereading from the beginning) where you were in your SLO home and said you and Joe might just end up there someday and if you did you’d let us ladies know so maybe one of us could buy your MV home. Oh please one of you ladies pick up the mantel and move in and tell us all about it!! And please for the cherry on top adopt a Tuxedo cat and put patchwork quilts on all the beds ❤️

    • sbranch says:

      I didn’t remember that! So we’ve been thinking about this for a while!!! It’s such a difficult decision! Took us at least 13 years!!!

  60. Charlene near Seattle says:

    it came to you as a house… Then you made it into a home… Now you have turned it back into a house again!
    (I’d add “just like magic” except that it has taken too much time, blood, sweat, and tears for it to have been magic! Job well done, in both the “making” and “turning.”)

  61. Sandra says:

    That house and the gardens are so beautiful, it must make you feel sad to leave them all. I got it all wrong a while back and thought you were getting rid of your California house. Oh well, you are making the choice that suits you the best now, that is the main thing.

    • sbranch says:

      We wer3e leaving California, but we flipped the plan, and decided we would move there, rather than stay on Martha’s Vineyard … it’s better for getting old … no stairs, all one level, no ice, or snow … and other things. But we will never say a total goodbye to this island and our friends here.💖💖💖💖

  62. Pam says:

    Clicked on the musica link and got a video of some young woman singing ang playing away on acoustic guitar. Don’t think it was the music that it was intended. First linktree gone, now this. It was the same music video that showed up with the first June blog musica link.

  63. Mary Saunders says:

    Congrats on all your progress! This is such a bitter sweet blog post. I am so happy that you are going to a HOME with a garden an a studio waiting for you rather than a totally blank slate. I look forward to seeing how things progress. Blessings on your new chapter. Hugs!

  64. Suzanne says:

    Susan, my husband and I have also
    been there, done that, and it is SO
    HARD….both physically and emotionally.
    But, you’ll get to the other side and
    each day will be a new adventure. Take
    good care of each other (and Jack!), go
    gently, and enjoy the journey all the way
    to California and beyond, as you discover
    and re-discover all that you love there.
    Can’t wait to see photos once you are a
    settled in! With love, Suzie xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      When I get too sad, I look at the photos of where we are going to remind me . . . looking forward, but so grateful for these wonderful years and amazing friends we’ve had here. xoxo Thank you for your support . . . I think I will be sooooo happy to be done with it, and in our little California home, people will think I have forgotten my 35 precious years on Martha’s Vineyard!!!😅 Not going to happen!

  65. Carol Brashears says:

    I am cleaning out my parents home . The bought it the year I was born, 1955, and I lived there til I married. I moved 500 steps from that home.
    Memories are in every nook and cranny. It was so overwhelming with emotion as I went through things that I could only do it for a while and then had to take a break. I have found every card and letter the ever got- including the letters the sent each other when dad was stationed in Japan during the Korean War. They did everything themselves in terms of home improvements. I thought everyone’s dad would stop on country roads to look for flat stones to build stone walls in the back yard.
    When my grandparents were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary, dad painted the house and ran out of paint or time,so he just painted Happy Anniversary Daisy and Roger on one side of the house! Mom wallpapered many rooms and cut out the ivy to go up the walls.
    I have worked hard to clean and polis ever floor so their house will shine for the next owner.

    • sbranch says:

      Hardest job in the world. It’s so much easier to do our own homes . . . easier for me to let go of my things than to let go of my mom’s things. xoxoxo

  66. Karen Williams says:

    Hi Susan and Joe,
    Sending you so much luck for your move – it’s awful whilst you are in a mess, then it’s wonderful to get going! You will ace it, I’m sure! I’m hoping I won’t have to move much ever again – but never say never! I’m still using my liddle notes in the box and love leaving them for people to find…

    My name is in the mixing pot so fingers crossed I might win the trip to High Clere!! And I won’t need to fly there – just drive there!! 😂😂
    Much love
    England U.K. 🇬🇧

  67. Deborah Ferguson says:

    Oh Susan I too am going to miss Marthas Vinyard. But maybe now that we are in the same state I might just be able to get to an event! Do you know who is gioing to buy your house? I bet there are thousands who would love to live in it. We just moved in March from a large two story to asmall prefab home. I had to throw out, give away or donate 3/4 of my beautiful antiques, even some of my doll collection. But I’ll be 70 this year and it’s better for us to be just a few minuites from my Daughter. I am so looking forward to taking this trip with you! How marvelous to start over again in a place you already love. P.S. You should leave an original Giselle of yours hidden somewhere in the house, and your hand prints and date to. Praying for safe travels you all. Debbie in Ca.

  68. Kit says:

    I am loving reading about your move. For the first years of our marriage, we moved every year with my husbands company. I got to be a pro with packing…lol Now we are back home and celebrated 34 years in this house in May. I wish you lots of love and good luck and can’t wait to read about your next chapter! Make those memories!

  69. Debbie Boerger says:

    Marie!! I had a suprise visit from “Lost in New Hampshire” last Thursday, June 20. I’d just stepped out of the shower, and there was a friendly knock on the door. And there she and her husband were. They had been camping in Maine, and were on their way into Ellsworth to check out a tick bite she had. All was OK.
    She told me you live in the Annapolis Valley, which is where we spent a lovely 2 weeks, two June’s ago. Actually, at the Sea Faring Maiden, on the river right across from Annapolis Royal. The lovely woman who owns it is from generations of Annapolis Royal folks, but a grandfather left for the Florida West Coast, where he met and married a Tampa lady, which is where we spend our Winters.
    This SB Community is so Amazing. If we make it back over on the Digby ferry this Fall, I’ll contact you and see if we can take you out to supper. We adore all of Nova Scotia, having explored almost all of both islands since 1989.
    “Lost in New Hampshire” was a God Send, as they gave us so much extremely valuable info on treatments for recurring prostate cancer down at Mass General. She had seen my latest post right here.
    Take good care,
    Debbie in Maine

  70. Jen in NM says:

    Oh my gosh! I remember Jaime and her triplets in their stroller – they were famous! Your posts make me remember so much about the Vineyard from the ’80s and ’90s :).

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