Hello My Darlings...
How is everyone out there? I hope you're all fine and well. A couple of weeks ago, my twin 7-year-old nephews were perched on two stools at my kitchen counter, in front of my laptop, so I could show them photos. And because they were normal 7-year-olds during a change of the season, they were sneezing, and hacking the entire time, while my head was between them both. I pride myself on always being well, but I was making myself into a flu sandwich here, and a person sometimes does totally make his own destiny by the choices he makes! SO, to make a long story short, I just spent the last two weeks asleep in bed. Even now, I get up, stretch, paint, drink tea, eat chicken soup, run into the studio to talk to the girls, and then go back to bed. Feel fine, but still, you know, tired.

It has rained the entire time we've been at our house on the central coast of California and sometimes it's so raw and cold it reminds me of half-frozen celery. So Joe made me homemade Chicken Soup and mooshes me up with comforters and feather pillows--- and with the cold celery day outside, I have to say, I love being sick sometimes. I found the sweet spot on the sofa. Love to go there right this minute and I just got up!

I haven't Twittered, or anything, in days...here we are, about 20 people away from having 10,000 Friends on FACEBOOK, and I've been too tired to look! (But you can tell I'm feeling better, I did look! And I say, HOORAY!!!!) I know it's because of the recipe ideas, photos, books, and movies we share, because of darling Peg who is always doing something creative and telling us about it, because of the little tags, bookmarks, and other things that Kellee and Judy make to give away...and because of all the connection between our Friends, and the stories they tell! All good news! Which is what we do need more of in this world!!! Thank you all for making it what it is! As one of our FOSB said, it's the "happiest place on the web."

So, as consciousness begins to set back in, I find I'm waking up to a wonderful world! Today the weather says we are beginning a week of California sunshine and 70 degrees! "The Secret Garden," one of my favorite movies, is starting on TV right this minute!!! Which is perfect, because it's still dark out, and if I can't go to my secret garden, I will be happy to look at the television one. We have two and a half weeks of California left before we start heading back to the island. We're renting a truck and driving it home (the nice long slow fun America-the-beautiful way!) because all my photo albums and scrapbooks are coming with me. My mom's albums too and my grandma's, so with those, along with lots of other things, we needed a truck. It's always something; living on two coasts is fun, but it's also trouble. It's like a two story house, where everything you want is on the opposite floor of where you are. But the two floors are three thousand miles apart!

I decided to make myself a project while I'm here -- so I'm writing PANCAKES into a book! I'm handwriting it, painting it, giving it some photos and quotes, and making a breakfast cookbook out of it too, starting with my mom's delicious pancake recipe, the one that made our childhood kitchen smell warm, bubbles popping in the black iron frying pan --- plus all the other cozy breakfast recipes we love....if you never read PANCAKES (it was on our web site for awhile but we're taking down and putting up and rearranging for the new blog, so it's gone now, and deserves to be a book anyway; it's too good to just be flapping around on a web site), it's a wonderful story, all about inspiration, and impossible coincidence, with a bit of destiny thrown in for good measure, written by a fan who sent me a letter one day, out of the blue, and who's now become a friend. It's the story of the time he and his wife came and met me on Martha's Vineyard; the childhood memories that awoke in his wife that makes everyone I know cry when they read it; passing that A-Number-One, first-test-of-a- good-story, with flying colors! It will be ready really soon, because it's all I can think about! While I'm writing, every so often I think of something, or find the perfect quote, that when I paint it, makes me do that little scream Diane Keaton does in the movie "Something's Got to Give" when she's writing her book at the table in front of the window in her bedroom -- remember? (If you don't, get it from Netflix, it's wonderful!) That's how fun it is to me! Little screams and the words Thank you God.

The OTHER thing, well two wonderful, new things, are ready right now. Number one...something everyone has asked for for the last ten years: "Please make the first 'Snail-Mail Willards' into a book!" So we did! It's done. In a touchable, page-turnable, soft-cover, real keepsake book that we can snail-mail you! It's "ALL GOOD NEWS," a Limited Edition of the original, hand-written Willards, from 1995-2003, just as they were sent out; except these will all be signed and they include the story of the "real" Willard, and his smoking dog, "Jack;" not available in stores, just for you, from me, as always, with Love....

And, if that's just not good enough, we have number two, just in time for Mother's Day, another brand new book! This one makes me slightly wistful because I wish I'd done it in time so my Grandma could have filled it out. It's a hard-cover, keepsake book, called "MOM, TELL ME YOUR STORY (please)." The pages are lined, the paper is nice, the cover is embossed, there's a ribbon marker, there are places for photos, it's for your mom, or your grandma-mom, your sister-mom, or your best-friend-mom; and for YOU-mom, to fill out, so there is a record of all those tiny important questions that we always meant to ask and write down....a record in a real book that will be sent down through the generations that will become more and more valuable, all the way to priceless, over time. Fun little questions (I wrote them, so I s'pose I would think that!) about childhood, dreams, clothes, books, love, motherhood -- questions I would give anything to have had my Grandma answer, in her own handwriting, instead of us relying on our miserable memories! In the back, there is a place for Mom's signature, her real name, in her real handwriting, that will be touchable and forever. You can tuck in letters, a lock of hair, a best recipe, and other keepsakes, filling the book with essence. I love it, hope you do too. I think it'll end up feeling like a wonderful long personal letter from your mom, or from you, to the future.

Our Blog is almost done...I've been writing and writing (during the awake hours!) and we have all kinds of new things that will be on our web site very soon....I LOVE the comment letters you've been sending. I haven't felt well enough to answer them lately, and now I'm way behind; they have become quite a large little pile, but here I am saying (the same reason I started Willard, I ran out of time to answer everyone!!!) -- THANK YOU my friends for all those fun color choices, for the stories -- you make me laugh! I love that you love'd Gladys Taber, and got to hear all your "discovery" stories of her. You brighten my day in a way I could never tell you. I feel sooooo connected with you...it's the best part of my job--actually it's the reason I do it! I love that this WILLARD goes out to thousands, all over the world, can you believe it?! And here we are, all gathered together, reading and being sisters of the heart. Love love love it!

What else? I got a new computer!! Tra-la, finally, and it's a Mac! I'm going from a PC to a Mac, in case I needed a little excitement in life! And yesterday my girlfriend Elaine came over here and transferred every single bit of art I have ever painted, every word I've ever written, all my books, onto my new computer. Years ago, when we first scanned my art, it took eight computer storage boxes (like hard drives), each about the size of a photo album, to hold it all -- and those boxes stayed safely stacked up in the studio with Kellee. We didn't trust me with them! Now, even though the amount of art has more than doubled, it takes up only a fraction of the memory on my new laptop...so amazing! It's a moveable feast! I have it in my own grip. For the first time! My only problem now is how to get at it, and what to do with it. But I know where to go to find out! I'm excited...I can keep diaries on my computer now, with art and photos! There must be a thousand fonts on that computer... sent a thrill right through to my toes when I saw that! Wakes up my creative heart...the possibilities and all the things I don't even know yet! It may take me five years to figure it out, but hey, what else do I have to do!

Still watching "The Secret Garden" while I'm writing ... love how it starts off in black and white, and then, when the children go into the garden for the first time, it suddenly turns to glorious technicolor! Just like spring! A long winter of black, brown, grey, and white, and then suddenly, technicolor -- all those yellows we yearn for (in daffodils and forsythia), then the pinks (cherries and apples) and lavenders (lilacs), and we're on our way! Won't be long now, and "Just Joey" roses will bloom in their deepest most delicious peach fragrance, and my other favorite, the yellow "Julia Child" roses, they'll be back, perfuming the garden. When the sun comes up here, I'll take a picture of the crabapple that's blooming (despite the deluge and celery-ness of the days), it's so pretty, I think it could help make your day. I want to dive into the center of those flowers and (guess what) take a nap! Like a bee. It was a smart day when we planted that tree! Sending you springtime good wishes and happy days, your friend for life,