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!👏

XXX

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!💞

MOVIES  and DOCUMENTARIES

  • 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 . . .

BOOKS

  • 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

NEVER FORGET

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MEMORY LANE

Believe you me (as my mom would say💖), you cannot pack up all your very favorite things from a house you’ve lived in for 35 years without living every single day on that beautiful old street called Memory Lane. MUSICA! I love it there. I’m good at it. Not the packing, the memories. Everything we pick up has a story, and looking at some things brings back the years, and leaves me with joy joy joy, a surprising result from what should be an awful job! Me (and Man Cat) when I first moved to Martha’s Vineyard from California, in my tiny house in the woods (that I accidentally bought because of the cute stove and broken bird feeder) knowing no one, devastated from divorce, scared, confused (like how did I get 3,000 miles from everything normal), with no idea what would come next. See that face? It’s the face of luckiness. But we never know where life will take us. Fun thing about growing older, you get to see your path! The little cottage I’d stumbled upon had a hand-written sign out front with a name, Holly Oak ~ the house had a name! It was small but it was cute! So much happened in the seven years I lived there, that in 2016 I used my old diaries and photographs to write a book about it called Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams. Next Willard is going to be all about this little house. Pure memory indulgence. Now it’s hard to wait … 👏

And I was right, wonderful things were ahead. As my eyes began to open to everything around me, I heard the birds singing, I admired every detail of the changing seasons. I began feeling like a bunch of fairies were always running ahead arranging little discoveries for me . . . it never seemed I had to look far to see them . . . and it never stopped. Here we are on our walk just the other day. Where’d that heart come from? We don’t know. We walked past it to where Joe is in the photo, and I suddenly thought “I can’t just walk by that,” and said to Joe, “Hey, look at this.” I went back and showed him and he said, “Take a picture of it.” (Joe, the gift that keeps on giving. Fairy found him in a restaurant and sat him next to me one night.💞)

Joe waited while I took pictures. I think it was just a dry place in the damp road where the trees hadn’t dripped. Put there for us.

We love our walk so much we put our name on it. Lots of times! 

Only 3 weeks ago our walk looked like this . . . colorlessness in all its colorless glory. Deeply beige. Good air though, good, clean, cold, briny, fresh ocean air.💨

Everything we see is art.🧡

And baby look at it now . . .The gift of our lives, being here in all seasons, a piece of our hearts will ALWAYS be here, forever, until time is no longer. It’s made for such a happy life! What I take with me from this: sea glass we found during hours of wandering the beach, heart-shaped rocks, tons of photos and videos, memories, of the porches we sat on watching the sun set, the barbecues on the beach with our friends, the yellow kitty I found and wrapped in my jacket to take home ~ too many memories to mention ~ always reminding me what a wonderful world this is. And the BOOKS we’ve listened to together out there (one Airpod in my ear, and the other in Joe’s)! Speaking of which: Oh boy, do I have good books for you! First off, have you read The Dutch House by Ann Patchett? SO GOOD!!!! A+++ and read by Tom Hanks! Which made it perfect. He acts all the way through it! We just finished it the other day, we both cried at the end. Walked the rest of the way home talking about it.📚 We are now reading something completely different, but equally compelling, memoir and history, my two favorites, and it includes archival recordings! It’s by Doris Kearns Goodwin and it’s called An Unfinished Love Story. We’re only just two walks into this book, and I thought I knew the history of the 1960s, but I was only 13 when the decade began, and am being TREATED to a whole new view in this book. I think what I was doing and thinking then (sooo busy watching Bewitched, meeting the Beatles) and compare it to what these others were doing and thinking. Another world! Walking and learning!👍👍 Win-win! Under the trees, through the woods, to the sea with my honey man, for a lifetime.   Even the sky knows it’s spring, and not afraid to show it.

Our house fronts on two streets, this is a view of the small-town, tree-lined street at the back…. . . I love the lawn going right up to the granite curb . . . in my mind, the cars and asphalt are gone, and what I see is a couple of horses nibbling grass . . . How quiet it is . . . make a right after that second car, and you see this . . .

Our House. The first time I saw this, before I knew I could buy it, I would come over and sit here in my car and stare at it, dreaming it into becoming mine.💖

Looking down from way up there, the sky, the same one we walk under, the same one you see outside your window, the same one that floated over that old street and this old house 175 years ago, has seen it all . . .

Seasons of beauty, and the excitement we feel waiting for each season as it comes, marking time as a gift. Sparkling sweet spring and my pink-flowered clematis Montana Reubens is blooming!!! I saw this plant for the first time at the first house we rented in England and fell in love 🌸. Wrote about it in my garden diary, came home and planted it. You California girls, do you know if this vine will grow out there?🙏 I might have to be satisfied with gardenias and sweet peas which don’t grow well here on the island. Gardenias, not at all!

The bluebells came from Lowely’s garden and now they’re in bloom in my garden and volunteering all over! In England, bluebells are protected, and in the spring there are carpets of them in the woods, for as far as the eye can see.🦋 

The Jan van Leeuwen peony my girlfriends gave me in 2020 in memory of my mother just bloomed in time for this Willard. The first of my peonies to bloom each year.💞 Wonderful! Big as my hand!

Next comes this one! My mom and Shirley Temple go together like peanut butter and jelly, bologna sandwiches and potato chips, saltine crackers and milk.💞

This is my second year of No Mow May. I love seeing what comes up when we don’t mow! It’s quieter too . . . no lawn mowers. 

Everything seems to be blooming at once, Lily of the Valley, 

. . . dogwood, and Lilac too. Mrs. Bowditch, who lived here for 30 years before us (to whom I give thanks every spring, summer, winter and fall), planted the entire west side of this property with lilacs!

Mrs. Bowditch’s wisteria is planted across the length of the house on the arbor that goes under our bedroom windows, under another bedroom’s windows, under the back stairs window, ending outside the Peter Rabbit room bedroom windows. Old old, with a trunk much thicker than my leg. Our windows, newly relieved of storm windows, are open at the perfect time… to smell the flowers, and hear the sound of the fattest bees!💤

I came in from the garden carrying my phone, and my shadow came with me . . . I looked down, and there was my OTHER shadow.💖 

Jack seems to be oblivious to what is going on in this house. He hasn’t said a thing about the shelf Carlton made for me (see the hearts?) being taken down and wrapped up to go to California. Doesn’t miss the pictures on the wall, not repelled by empty bookshelves, missing silverware, dishes, and nap blankets, doesn’t mind walking around, over, or through boxes … He does what he always does, looks cute, basks in the sun, shadows me…

Waits in my chair . . . because he knows soon it will be nap time . . .

Rolls over for Joe’s Man-hands to give him a good rub! He is going to love our trip across country. He’ll be center of attention 24-7!

And while packing, I look outside, feeling the springtime vibes of this 35th Spring of our lucky lives here in this house. This normal Valley girl, oldest of 8 children, walking to school in my Girl Scout uniform, Reseda High School alumni, squirrel-luring, doll-loving, bologna sandwich eating, Toni permanent getting, Zuma Beach sitting, star-wishing, Ciro’s dancing, Beatle-meeting, Joe-finding, cat adoring, birthday-cake making, cookbook-writing, LUCKY person.🌹

Only 35 Springs here . . . of the 175 that this old house has experienced. We did our part, 35 Christmases, 3 weddings, one memorial, and one movie night under the trees, too many birthday toasts under the arbor to count, flags on the front of the house, croquet and badminton in the garden, lobster dinners with Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James MUSICA wafting over the neighborhood, hot dogs on the grill, tea parties, Christmas Parties, Girl parties, egg hunts, a luau for Joe’s 40th, quilts-airing, sheets drying, kitties galore, visiting neighbor dogs, in short, LIFE. And I have photos of it all! I’m writing this so that hopefully the people who live here after us, will find this and know what a living thing this house is.🦞 It goes forth with my forever thanks and gratitude.🌹 

I went through my 17 photo albums and took pictures of everything I love. Much faster than scanning, and worked really well. This is one of them . . . it’s my first photo of the house, the exact view from that pretty street where I used to sit and stare.

And this, with hearts I stenciled on the windows for Valentine’s Day . . . Perfect forever-decor for this house. Even if you can’t see them now, you know they were there. And that’s what makes all the difference.💋

For happily ever-aftering than here in Camelot . . .❤️

I feel so lucky that when we get to California . . .

. . . we have another picket-fence garden . . . and a little house that I love. What Martha’s Vineyard (AND England) taught me is that I’ll be happy no matter where I am as long as I can be outside, with old trees, the sound of bees, the smell of dirt, watching birds, hugging kitties, watching the sun set, wandering with Joe. It always was and always will be

Our move in 2024 is very different from my move alone in 1982 … this time I bring my loves with me, my Kitty and Joe . . . and I bring you. I didn’t have you last time, I was in the process of growing into the having of you . . . this time is MUCH better! Can’t wait to show you all our new plans. But never worry that we won’t have our memories too . . . you’ve been here on the island with me for so many years, we’ll never forget it! And I’ll never stop writing about it. Like they never stopped writing about Camelot! Because once there was a spot . . . 😘

Jane Austen and I have a lot in common in that we know how to celebrate getting older! Same way we celebrated being younger! (douceurs in French means “sweets”)🍷

Here’s another harbinger of spring on Martha’s Vineyard, John’s Fish Market opens for the season!!! Oh my!!!🍤🍤🍤 Time OUT from packing!!!

You know it will be good when you go inside and see this photo that’s been on the wall for years . . . Glenn, John’s son, and I’m guessing this is his little sister? She’s smaller than the fish!🐙

You know it’s going to be good when you see this out behind the market! It’s the real thing!

So along with the rest of the island, we go down and stand in line for all their delicious delights, fantastic fresh fish, lobsters, and potato salad … plus, THE best shakes, fries, onion rings, burgers, fish plates, the Island’s best version of fast food, except (spoiler alert) it’s not really fast, but it’s GOOD . . .

And here: the creme de la creme. . . our first fish sandwich of the season. The best melt-in-your-mouth, freshest-fish sandwiches on the face of the earth.🐟 From a fish market that was here when I got here. I never met John, but I knew his wife Sandy . . . for years and years, I would come for fish and joke with Sandy. And now their son Glenn is there, cooking for everyone. If you come to the island, go there, and be REALLY nice, and tell them I sent you. For old times sake. Click HERE to find them. ❌⭕️

Took this bowl to Margot’s for a party on her porch on Friday night with all our friends . . . filled it with Brownies (p.109 Autumn Book ~ but I’ll put the recipe at the bottom of this blog in case you’re in the mood🤗) . . . I didn’t put my name on the bowl, left it and the embroidered linen doily for her . .. because it’s true. “Old friends is always best. . . Unless,” as Sarah Orne Jewett wrote, “you can catch a new one fit to make an old one out of.”♥️Our moving van comes in one week!🤪 But we’re going to stay another month. So all is well . . . we’re DOING it.🆘 Each day I get up and MAKE my day. That’s what it seems to take. A TON of conviction, more than any normal person should have to have, and as little over-thinking as possible. Trying to pay attention to the minutes so the days will take care of themselves!🌹

One last thing ~ just came in . . . we’ve had these “Secret Notes” (see the tiny matchbox at the bottom of this photo?) in our web store for years . . . but I recently decided we needed some new messages and so I made some! Just back from the printer, Kellee sent me a box! It’s an oldie but goodie turned new again. Little notes to stuff into pockets and backpacks . . . tuck into letters, use as bookmarks, give to friends ~ And, did you guys get a chance to read the comments from my last Willard? So so SO good … if you ever need to feel better about this old world, read those comments.💌 It’s all love all the time. You come out purified! Scroll down, it’s the Willard under this one . . . to read them, just click on the tiny word “comments” at the very end (just beyond all the other tiny words). And sign-up on the top right of this page if you’d like the Willards delivered to you! And here’s the recipe I promised! Happy cooking!❤️

L🅾Ve  Y🅾u 🌹

Off I go . . . this is the day I start packing up my STUDIO! I wrote something like 12 books in this room!!! 

And I’m taking it all!

My paints!

Every single memory is coming with me! Saving them up to tell you more later!🌹🌹🌹 Looking forward to our ROAD TRIP!!!

Adios dear ones!!! Thanks for stopping by! Have yourselves a wonderful day!💋

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