WAITING FOR HURRICANE JOSE

Hey girls, we’re just sitting around waiting for our hurricane to get here, hatches battened, listening to heavenly MUSICA. The storm’s been downgraded quite a bit and will likely just give the Island some high waves and a little wind. Not to worry. Our house is old and strong, we have our candles, there’s chicken stock on the stove, we can make a fire, we are 60 feet above sea level, we are the lucky ones. I’m much more worried about the folks down south and our darling friends in Mexico City. Prayers for so many these days.
 
I have something to share, and because it’s somewhat impure in message, I will purify between each paragraph with my collection of WHITE photos . . . you will like them, they will give you some breathing space of sweetness and light . . .  so here goes:
 Somewhere around 1990 my life was changed in a totally unimagined and unexpected 
way. Just like Julia Child put sparks in my mind about food and cooking and entertaining, and Joseph Campbell excited me to look to my childhood to find “my bliss,” and Beatrix Potter showed me it was possible to consciously choose the life you want ~ a man named Ross Perot added his voice to my repertoire and changed the way I thought about our government. During the next years, I thought I’d hear about it again . . . but I never did, not in the clear lesson-learning way I heard it that day.
While flipping through TV channels, a speech to the National Press Club given by a little guy with big ears caught my attention, and despite the fact that I’d never heard of him and had zero interest in government or politics, I listened. His down-home Texas accent and common-sense words rang true, and what he had to say was an eye-opener for me, and I have to say, a shock. Even though I was over 40, I barely voted at the time. I couldn’t have told you if I was a Republican or a Democrat because when I did vote, I voted for whoever I thought was the best person. I thought I knew how our government worked, that our President and Congress were taking care of business on our behalf and didn’t need me to help. I was so wrong.
Ross Perot talked about things I never learned in school, but things that every school child should be taught, and certainly every adult should know, and what he said has rung in my ears ever since. I never forgot it. All these years later, I can still hear him.
Jane Austen’s Cupboard
Lately, the little voice that resides in my head has been urging me to tell you what he told me. “Tell them,” it cajoles constantly. “Shut up,” I beg, “they probably already know, it’s not my business.” But the voice won’t shut up. I wake up in the morning with that voice in my head, “Don’t assume everyone knows,” it says. “After all, you didn’t.”  Once more, the voice is right. The voice says that due to age and love of cooking, I have teaching credentials. It says we’re all in this together. It says I only have one life. It says you won’t hate me. It better be right. So here I go. Doing my best to put this in a nutshell. After that, you can do whatever you like with it.
Always drink upstream from the herd. Will Rogers
You know I share every heartbeat I have with you, Girlfriends, many of us grew up together. And despite my interrupting our normal tiny vases, quilts on the clothesline, apple crisp in the oven, England, home and family-connections conversations that we love so much (just for today!), this too matters, because it’s everything for home and family. I wouldn’t be a Girlfriend if I didn’t tell you.
First off, breathe easy, I promise this has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. It’s about the way our government works, because outside of the three branches we all think we know about, there’s an invisible fourth branch, and in some ways, this one has more clout than all of them. Those in charge would rather we don’t know about it, it’s gone on forever, and lurks behind every decision made in Washington, everything that affects the health and safety and pocketbook of every American family, and covers its tracks with the words Freedom of Speech.
But they really don’t like to talk about it:
“We’ll just go with no comment,” said Stephen Cohen, a Goldman Sachs spokesman.
“We are not going to comment — it’s just not something we comment on,” said Dan Whitten, vice president of strategic communications for America’s Natural Gas Alliance.
“We never comment on any of our lobbying activities or lobbying expenditures,” Joy Sims, senior communications director for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Lobbyists. That’s what they don’t comment on, but what Ross Perot taught me about. You’ve heard of them, every big company in America employs them. Foreign governments and corporations hire them. The job of the lobbyist is to talk to their voting-buddies in Congress to get laws made that favor the companies they represent. There are somewhere around 10,000 registered lobbyists working in Washington DC this year. Many of them are lawyers who’ve  worked for our government. Half of retiring senators (such as Bob Dole (R), Tom Daschle (D), and Joe Leiberman (I) have become lobbyists. A third of retiring house members become lobbyists ~ not to mention their staffers ~ all insiders who cash in (lobbyist salaries are literally more than a thousand times higher than government salaries). They work for oil companies, the insurance industry, pharmaceutical companies, airline industry, gun manufacturers, food industry, the Chamber of Commerce, communications industries, the movie industry, charities, you name it. These lobbyists and the companies they work for are the real people who make our laws. All in their own favor, even if it hurts us. Lately they’ve been “taking it underground,” trying to stay out of the limelight, to obscure their activities as best they can.
Public servants: Persons chosen by the people to distribute the graft. Mark Twain
 
Lobbyists and their corporations contribute HUGE amounts of money to election campaigns, they organize fund raisers with high stake donors (which are needed because part of this terrible game is that the average Senator must bring in $14,000 a day in order to stay in office), and they lobby both R’s and D’s. For example, after all the haranguing and back and forth, if the votes for something the gun lobby is advocating go against them in Congress, they withdraw their support from those who voted against them, and instead, give everything to the campaign of their opponents in the next election, both money and media, positive and negative. And, by doing so, they teach the rest of the congress a big scary lesson. Vote our way, or we will use all our powers against you, you will be out of a job. And so, when little children are mowed down in a first grade schoolroom by a lunatic with an AR-15, nothing is done, and life goes on like nothing happened. 💔 And why, despite huge profits during what have been relatively lean years for the rest of us, do oil and gas industries continue to get massive multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies? Lobbyists. In their ear, full time, with money and influence, every day, where we cannot be, making laws that affect everything we do, handing out subsidies with our tax money. When we subsidize extremely profitable companies we are using money that could go to schools or infrastructure or healthcare. It’s our money. It should be used for us. We think since we are the ones who elect them, they should work for us. But that’s not how it works.⚡️
Nowadays, lobbyists fix it so Congress people barely have to work. Under direction of the corporations they work for, these professional arm twisters often write the talking points for new laws ~ and to make it even easier, they’ll pull together co-sponsors for the bills, and write the bill themselves, word for word. Do the congressmen even know what they are advocating for? Not if they don’t read the bill. And what difference does it make, as long as they get re-elected, which takes money, and the lobbyists are the ones providing it.

Don’t get me wrong, not every politician caves. Some do stick up for us. Some are hard at work year-round, even when not in session (Congress will be in session 133 days this year🤢).There are many good companies and organizations that, in order to keep up and get their piece of the pie, have lobbyists too, such as the American Cancer Society. But, it’s a huge difference when they give technical assistance on a cancer funding bill versus when one of the largest banks in the world writes a bill that will give it access to public deposit insurance to fund it’s exotic financial activities. Especially when that bank has just been bailed out with our money, while they foreclosed on our neighbors. Banks are happy, that’s what matters.
😘
 
But watch, when there is a hero-Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington kind of Senator or Congress person who speaks for us, wants common sense regulations for banks, big business, oil companies, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, etc, they are punished. Those corporations will use their considerable power, in commercials and other media (which more and more, they own), to vilify this person with false or misleading claims in places as seemingly benign as Facebook or on Twitter, to make them the evil one, so they can continue to do their dirty deeds, perhaps get them unelected, and use our tax money to do it. They know we don’t have time to check every story we hear.
Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
Adolf Hitler
 
 
“Too many government regulations” is the battle cry. Corporations don’t want regulations, regulations cost them money, and that’s all they care about. Regulations that help us, for health care, for safe cars, roads and bridges, for clean air and water, for food that isn’t tainted with drugs, for product safety and fairness in banking and identity protection on the web, for keeping guns out of schools; but instead, regulations are removed, and laws are written to benefit corporations. No regulations on credit bureaus means they didn’t need to protect our personal information, leaving the people (me included) to figure out what to do to keep our identities from being stolen. Now I think the government should fix this by issuing all of us new social security numbers and let Equifax pay for it. They won’t. No zoning law regulations in Houston, so the building industry had free reign to pave it over, got very rich doing it, and didn’t care that there was no place for the flood waters to go. Drug lobbyists work incessantly to reduce regulations, and now spend over 4 billion a year on TV ads ~ the average American sees 16 hours of drug ads per year (against our will) and we are now in an opioid crisis. Our prescription drugs are the most expensive in the world, while Medicare is prevented BY LAW from using its huge bargaining power to lower prices (thank you big pharma lobbyists, and chicken faced Congress who let that happen).  To hold onto their insane profits, big Pharma will fight tooth and nail against Medicare for all of us. Will our Congress let them? Probably. Who do you think will benefit if they cut healthcare? We can go bankrupt if we get very ill, lose our homes and everything we’ve saved for all our lives. Perfectly legal.
While our 22 year olds go into massive debt in order to get an education in the richest country in the world. Now they say, “tax reform,” and you get one guess to see who will benefit on that. While they shout “Freedom!” and “Clean the Swamp” and we believe them, and they go right on, swamping it up on our money.  There are thousands of examples of how they put their money making ahead of our safety. They don’t want us to vote (doing everything they can to stop us from doing so) or be educated, because if we don’t vote, if we stay ignorant about all this, they can go on whooping it up on our tax money. They’re so blatant about it these days, it’s shocking. They think they can get away with it and they do. But my darling girlfriends, knowledge is power, and we have knowledge. Tell your friends. Alert your children. Call your representatives and tell them you want money out of politics.📞
 
“When every man in a state has a vote, brutal laws are impossible.” 💖 Mark Twain
 
They tell us there’s no such thing as global warming, confuse us with argument, try to turn science, something we loved and revered as children, something that ended polio and took us to the moon, into a joke. They turned us against one another so they can go on pouring CO2 into the atmosphere, digging and fracking and tearing this beautiful gift from God, our earth, to shreds so they can add billions to the billions they already have. And the laws they write themselves says it’s all okay.
 
 Only one thing will stop it. It’s not term limits, that’s like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. It’s no more money in politics, period. Election campaigns that last six months, an equal playing field for all candidates. No contributions over $1,000. No contributions from corporations, no more corporate fundraisers. No lobbyists, both state and federal, (yup, we put them all out of work, too bad, so sad, your dad, get a real job). Government for the people by the people. And no, corporations are not people. People are people. And we the people can MAKE them change the laws to take the money out of politics. We really can. I am the Shirley Temple of positive thinking. I believe anything is possible.
So that’s it, I wasn’t wild about this information when I first heard it, but I’m still very glad I know. I hope you feel that way too. I don’t want it to turn you against our government, which I truly believe is the last best hope of a kookie, never-perfect world ~ it didn’t do that to me, it just made me take notice and do what I could to change it. But we need help if we’re going to do this, we need everyone to know, we the people need to be our own lobby, we need to be the ones whispering in their ears, we need to be the strongest of them all.
 “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 
Edmund Burke 
 
If I were running for office, my motto would be “A kitty in every house!”  The voice can leave me alone now, I did my part. What a relief! And always, always, when you’re looking for the truth in this complicated big-business world we live in, all you have to do is follow the money. And there you will have your answer. Ask yourself, “Who benefits from this?” That’s the question of the day. Here’s your diploma dear Girls, you just graduated, Government 101. Thank you, Ross Perot, you did a good thing.
 
“No country can be well governed unless its citizens, as a body, keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law, and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more.”  💕 Mark Twain
🎶 I am a Yankee Doodle Girl. 🎵
 
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming which is, as always . . . . 
Direct from the woods of Martha’s Vineyard.🍂
Besides walking in the woods, saying thank you God every day, I finished the designs for two more cups! And like the first two I showed you, these will also arrive in our Studio in early January. We are going to put them up for presale soon, and thought at the same time I would give you a link for a special card you could print out, like a promissory note, so you’ll be able to give them as gifts or stocking stuffers this year. We’re working on that. This first one is called “Girlfriends Tea” and it’s a big one, the 16 oz size.
Here’s the handle . . .
 This is the back, with a quote by our darling Nancy Luce, who could have used a few Girlfriends in her time (but now she has us 💞) . . . and on the bottom it says, “If friends were flowers, I’d choose you.”🌸
And to go with the Autumn cup, here’s Winter (in the smaller, 11 oz size, perfect for hot chocolate!)
The handle . . .
Here’s the back, and on the bottom, it says, “Not fit for man nor beast.”  Hope you like them!
Off I go Girlfriends, need to go try and put a freeze on my credit! Hope all is well with you, safe and cozy, making something delicious to share with the people you love. XOXO
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AHHH, SEPTEMBER . . .

Hello Darling People, thank you for your patience! Go get tea! It’s long! Lots of  MUSICA ! Because, it’s AHHH September, and we are so lucky. 💞

From my kitchen wall, it’s this month’s calendar page ~ I’m sure many of you recognize it, even with morning light dappling through the trees and through the kitchen window!  But soft, what light in yonder window breaks . . . it’s Autumn . . .

Autumn! (Even though it’s not quite yet! It’s acting like it around here!) 🍁Autumn, which, I’ve decided, is my spirit animal. Look at that dappling! Those boards there are because Joe’s putting new gutters on our house. Must do that every twenty years.

Here’s my other spirit animal yelling at me because I went out to hang clothes on the line! “Come home, mommy, don’t leave me!”

What a pair. My darling people. 💞

Well, I promised you “Travel Hints” today, and Travel Hints you shall have! But first off, we have a Giveaway to give away. Ms. Vanna lolled in her bed all day yesterday, waiting for me to finish, but today, she is OUT of here, so I have to hurry! (She has a
lunch date in Edgartown but is hanging around, zipped into her shimmering green mermaid suit, to do her duty, dive deep and pull out the name of our lucky winner!) Here’s  our lovely little September gift: Gingerbread Cake Tea (delicious, you’ll love it!), my new Autumn cup to drink it out of, two of my newest back-in-print cookbooks to inspire you with Autumn recipes and home ideas while drinking your tea, plus, for the season (for all seasons!): Gratitude! Can’t wait to find out who the winner is. SO many Girlfriends have entered ~ this is by far the most comments, and the most delightful comments, ever left on my blog, you are just the Best Girlfriends ~ if you’re ever sad about the state of the world, read your wonderful comments ~ it will cheer you right up! But still, despite the 3,300 entries, your odds of winning are still waaaaay better than the lottery! PS, I’m so glad you’ve loved the Zucchini Bread! 😘 So everyone cross your fingers!The winner is … Well, I only have a first name on this little slip of paper …  and it’s a name others might have, so let’s start with a detail she mentioned in her comment: our winner has an eleven-year-old daughter who loves to read Willard with her … I hope that narrows it down a bit. Our winner is STACY!!! Congratulations, Stacy!!! Being chosen from so many makes this a Red Letter Day for you! I have an iCloud email address (another hint) for Stacy, and I’ll write and let her know, so she can tell me where to send the books, and who to sign them to! And to all the rest of you, I loved every moment of this, thank you for that absolutely amazing demonstration of Joie de Vivre!

We make such a nice village, don’t we? Thank you! 👏 I promise, we’ll do it again!

Now, before we start with the Travel Tips, I thought I would show you our newest discovery…

So see that big Linden tree? See the upstairs window on the left of that tree?

We used to see these two little furballs all the time from that window, living in a hole on the back of the tree. We haven’t seen them in a while, and now we’re sure they found a new home, because . . .

Guess who lives there now? We just found out … there’s a perfect view from that upstairs window, almost eyeball to eyeball with that tree, and the other day Joe came RUNNING down the stairs to get his camera yelling, “Hurry get upstairs, you gotta see this!”  I didn’t know whether to be happy or not, we have a raccoon! But he sure is cute.

Between kitty, boyfriend (that’s Joe, permanent boyfriend), squirrels, birds, turkeys and now a raccoon, I’ve been busy designing new mugs!  Lowely came over today and we did pretend-drinking from it. It’s for Valentine’s next year, we’ll have them in the Studio the first of January. I think they are ridiculously darling and Lowely did too. I do, I do, I do, I do, I do. Would you like to see the back? I can arrange that . . .

Here it is! It’ll be a lot prettier when it’s the real thing, but I think you get the gist. The handle is pink floral, and the bottom says, “Of thee I sing” with musical notes.  It’s like a little story!  I can’t wait to see it in person. We will have them early next January, and when we are a little further along, I’ll put them up for presale. And, by the way, because so many of you have asked, there are a few cups left from the last collection, with such minor blemishes that they barely show, but we have discounted them, even a few Autumn cups are there …  but I would say hurry if you want one, because they are almost gone. Also, British Girlfriends, we have a retailer in England now, called Nursery Thyme, with an online store (and a real store in Devizes, Wiltshire), who is now carrying my cups, so you can get them without the crazy shipping charges from the USA!

And while we’re speaking of “almost out” . . . we are almost sold out of these two books. Going back for another printing for each 🤗, but we won’t have them until January. And, because we are in charge (how wonderful), soon they will not be available on Amazon, because we will be hogging the last ones for our Girlfriends, so if you find them gone, and you have in mind a signed copy of either of these for your holiday gifts, try our website.

I’ve also been in touch with the company that’s been working on the cookie plates and other luv-lee new things ~ they made the decals and we’re getting closer, but I’m not wild about how the writing has come out (it’s the one on the right). Needs to be better. So I sent them a photo of our mug to show them how it’s supposed to look and they say they can fix it!  Just want you to know I’m still working on it! I’ll let you know when they have it right!

As I design cups or do new art for next year’s calendar, I listen to musica, and I love to have the TV tell me a story. Sometimes I listen to the news, but it’s getting worse, I’m gobsmacked by the size of these hurricanes and the fires and whatever fresh hell comes after that. Lately, the news has also gotten more unbearably nuclear, with homeless and stranded people living in fear, wandering this earth of such riches, so unfairly distributed, and sometimes I really can not stand it, being a child of God and all.  So, I do what I can. And let Frank sing, Be Careful it’s my Heart, and then I turn to France in 1949! For spiritual sustenance! Heart! Beauty! The things that humanity was born to adore. I take a deep breath and let happiness and believing-in-good flow back in to my soul. It’s a great gift to have complete charge of the clicker. So off to France we go!

And listen to luv-lee French musica as I drive down long allees on my way to . . .

Paris! Where I will go to cooking school with . . .

Julia!

Paul comes into the kitchen while Julia is cooking, he says, “And for dinner?” He looks around, settles on a bowl, has a taste, looks at her, and says, “Mayonnaise?” I paint, listen/watch the movie, while my shadow makes himself indispensable through cuteness.

Julia made me hungry . . . so I put her on hold, and out to the windy garden I go, to gather delicious sun-warmed September tomatoes … to curl up in my chair with a little crisp iceberg, some mayonnaise, salt and freshly ground pepper, and voila, summer treat extraordinaire! Julia, I know, would agree. Except the mayonnaise is not homemade, so maybe I take that back. But she would enjoy the relishing, of that I am sure. She was a such a good relisher! Famous for her relishment of life, she spread the “utter bliss” of her passions far and wide, making relishers out of all of us! See what can happen? 

And speaking of heaven, while in the garden, I can’t stop bringing in the hydrangea.

It even looks good when it’s dead!

I was determined to make my garden last as long as humanly possible this year. We just planted more flowers (added reminder: everything is on sale right now), and some cool weather crops like lettuce and arugula and herbs… flowers like white cosmos that grow high over the fence and blow in the wind and from my kitchen window, my picket fence garden looks like a garden of wildflowers.

And mums the word!

We’ve been grabbing on to these last few days of summer, with a vengeance.  Even when rain threatens, we are determined. Drops began to fall, out comes the roll of plastic . . .

Save the table! Do not let the butter drown. Don’t allow the little holes in the salt shaker to close up! Don’t make us pour rainwater off our plates before we can eat! The men jump into action, rolling out plastic over the Teahouse of the August moon (the last people who owned this house called the arbor by that lovely name).

And the sprinkles stopped, and we were able to peel the plastic back, in the nick of time, for cooling breezes . . . On with the party! This is a small contingent of the delightful Hall family, Joe’s sister is on the left, and her children, plus some outlaws, like me. And the person peeking out behind Joe’s niece, Jen, on the right, is Siobhan, here visiting us from England!

After everyone left, I went looking for the moon, and found it, peeking through the trees just behind the Teahouse, still glowing under the twinkle lights, draped in a bit of blowing plastic …

Twinkle lights on the roses . . .

That moon reminds me, one of our Girlfriends, D’Anne,  asked me if I would put up the Full Moon Bookmark we make every year … the one with all the Native American names for the full moons on it? Remember?

. . . so, just in cases you didn’t get one, HERE it is again! Just click there, print it out, fold it in half, cut it out, and you’ll be ready for the rest of the year . . . the full Harvest moon is tonight! There was an online controversy this hear, was it the Harvest moon, or the Corn moon? I went for Harvest … it sort of means the same thing, corn and harvest … but, either way, it should be big and beautiful tonight!

So let’s go traveling, shall we? In order to give my travel tip in the right way, I have to talk about houses ~ you know how much I love houses, all houses really because for us lucky ones, they are temples of love, but there are a few that deserve special recognition, and England is FULL of these kinds of houses, all different, most made by hand, before there were power tools, and each one a total piece of art. They have names, like Buttercups up there. Don’t you just want to knock on the door and say hello, could I please come in for a cup of tea? Could it be from a blue teapot? Could you please turn on French musica? Thank you, oh yes, I will have a cookie, I mean, biscuit! These wonderful houses are a big part of my travel tip for today! Cuz you know, we’re going to England next year . . . and you’re coming too, either for real, or virtually, and we want to do it right, so we’re making plans. We want to stay in a cute house wherever we go, with a fireplace, because we deserve this, don’t we Girlfriends? I mean we don’t do it every day.

I took a photo of this house because it’s so cute, it doesn’t even look real. It’s like a child’s drawing of a house. And so many of these darling English houses are rentable, for the weekend, for the week, for the month. All anyone has to do to find one is Google, “self-catering holiday homes in England” (Self-catering means there’s a kitchen!) . . . and voila, take your choice, there are lots of photos, you choose what part of the country, what size, how much, everything. (I realized I’ve secretly been painting this house for years, I just didn’t know it.)

Here’s a big house and a little garden house. I will take the garden house, you guys can have the big one! I’m coming over, put the kettle on ~ and then let’s go for a walk!

And this darling thing, you’ve already seen ~ is the one we rented for our trip to England next year. And that’s what I wanted to talk about. The kind of travel tips I have for you are not normal. You can read about what kinds of suitcases are best, or which little zipper bags or zip-lock baggies are good for packing, about rolling vs folding, and how to consolidate, and how to bring nothing but a toothbrush, or whether or not to bring your pillow (which I find ridiculous) but I leave that to the experts because we are total failures at all of that. On my first trip off-island with Joe when we first got together, I asked him what I should bring, and he said, “Everything,” warming the cockles of my heart and, unbeknownst to us at the time, setting the tone for our entire future. We are no good at any sort of consolidation, we took 13 bags last time! That’s one reason we go on the ship, no airline would let us get away with 13 bags. For tidy packing tips, let Rick Steves help, he’s a professional. So, here’s what we are good at:

We’re good at this, the smell of grass and wide open spaces. When I was younger, I thought the way you’re supposed to travel is to see as MUCH as humanly possible and cover as much ground as you could each day. Run from city to city, museum to museum, face buried in tour book, wearing the same drip-dry outfit every day (true, I had to burn my travel clothes when I got home, I could never bear to wear them again), but I was checking off the “to see” list. Done, did that. ✅ I could be in six countries in two weeks easy. I could be in a perfectly darling place, and leave it before I even saw everything, to run to the next perfectly darling place. Why? I did not know. Then one day, Joe and I rented a sweet house for two whole weeks and stayed there the entire time and that’s when the real travel began.

Because we unpacked. And spread out. Hung our clothes in the closet. Because travel is hard enough, it’s lovely to have a home to come to each night. We put our toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet and flowers into a vase. And made ourselves comfy. And felt no pressure to get a move on. We could make our own morning tea.

We got to go to the same market for two whole weeks ~ we didn’t have to start over with “Sat Nav” (GPS) every time we wanted to find a loaf of bread.

 We tried all the luv-lee new and interesting things we discovered at the market . . . more than once! We learned which was the best butter, the most delicious milk, our favorite kind of bacon . . .

We took the ingredients “home” where we could cook our own delicious dinner together if we wanted, and be homey, and light a fire, or eat outside, and relax at the end of a long travel day and not always eat restaurant food. Because we had our own house. And we were staying for a while. We weren’t in a hurry.

While the laundry was going round and round in our washer and dryer, we could watch Poldark, or BBC and the Chelsea Flower Show, or the English National Sheepdog Trials, listen to the church bells from down the street (there’s always church bells down the street) and live kind of an English life, con Musica!

We could walk to our favorite bakery and butcher shop . . . and talk to people, and get to know the butcher and find out he not only owns the butcher shop but he also has a farm where he raises his animals. We got to know the area, as if we lived there.

Between the castles and gardens we were visiting every day, we discovered our favorite tea rooms …

And went often enough to say hello to the owner . . .

And discover which was our favorite taste treat!

We found the local antique store filled with English china, and, might I add, “eek” . . .

We’d be in one place long enough to read the paper and find the charming local festivals and plays and circuses where the real people went, where we were the only tourists (try that at the Eiffel Tower), because all the rest of the people attending lived there … and we’d talk to the apple farmers and look at what they’re wearing, and driving, and cooking, and what their children sounded like while we drank cider in paper cups. We have all this spare time for the little things, because we’re not spending it moving to the next place and relearning everything.

We walk out of our adopted town in all directions, in a different direction each time, and found adventures, and glimpses of heaven in unexpected places . . . because all the small towns in England have these ancient footpaths that go hill and dale, along rivers, through meadows and fields of sheep and bluebells that lead to the next little town and so on, all over the country . . .

And we talked to the people who walked there, and pet their dogs . . . they like Americans and we like them! We would hear about their children, and their trips to the US, they would tell us the history of the fairy ring we had just passed, or the stone circle just beyond the next hill, all kinds of talk.

It was an experience we never got while driving in a car . . . or while repacking, looking for our next hotel, or where we could wash our clothes, and missing almost everything else. And we did not suffer from “only seeing one place.” Because, we drove out to find something new every day, and if that’s what you are looking for, then what “new” is better than another “new” 200 miles away? The thing about England is that no matter where you are, there are always so many things to see. The place is crammed with history! And new is new, and all new is amazing and good. So why not stay in one place and from there, fan out? Because learning a place and its people is better done the slow way. Two weeks is the perfect time. We’ve tried one week, which always seems too rushed, we’ve tried ten days, not quite good enough, but we’ve learned two weeks is perfect for us. Now, this is just me and Joe, and only a suggestion that’s probably not right for everyone ~ we’re lucky because we can take our work anywhere, and arrange our time so we can do this. But if you ever feel like a jack-in-the-box in your travels, you might just stop traveling. Even if it’s for three days. And stay. And say hello, glad to meet ya.You can find your favorite pub, walk over with your books, make yourself at home, say “Hey” to the guy behind the bar, write in your diary, be a fly on the wall and watch every thing, and while away the afternoon . . . it’s very graceful. And, as the wise women say,

So that’s my tip, and I’m sticking to it. And guess what Girlfriends? Yup. Here’s where we’re going to stay for two weeks next May in the Lake District . . . I don’t think we get this whole house … but I know that’s our door up the driveway and I know that across the street is a beautiful lake.  And I know we’re bringing Kellee and Sherie with us! And you know what else?

I’ve been working on a special cup to celebrate our BYO Picnic Basket Party next May 11 to which you are ALL invited . . . A cup with frolicking lambs and bluebells, oh my! Coming in January, to add to the excitement and the getting ready.

And the back?

Oh yes, it’s Jane Austen, and our adventures, and our picnic on the lawn of Castle Cottage in Near Sawrey, where Beatrix Potter lived for thirty years, that’s where we’ll be a-meetin’ up ~ from everywhere! On the bottom of this mug it says, “Memories are made of this.” Have you put the date on your calendar yet? I promise, for those who can’t make it, I’ll blog it . . . so, one way or another, be there or be square.

And I do have packing advice, I’m not totally lame, I figured out this little system back when I first met Joe and I still do it. Just in cases I actually have to look good, go out to dinner on the ship, go to a picnic or something, I’ll have the right things . . . and as long as I don’t forget my list, it always works like a charm.

One more thing, just making sure, did everyone get their WILLARD? Because if not, click there and you’ll have it! If you’d like Willard delivered to your email, click HERE to sign up for the next one . . .

Now back I go to my lovely shadows . . .

Have a wonderful day, Girlfriends. Stay safe, say prayers for all in need, watch for the moon, and do this, for the magic . . . Kiss . . . and parting Musica

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