OL’ CLOCK’S A-TICKIN’

clockHi Everyone! MUSICA? Oui!  Well, that ol’ clock’s been a-tickin’ and suddenly, almost momentarily, we are going to climb aboard the Queen Mary 2 and sail out (following a hurricane, but oh, who cares, oh yeah, me😜) into the deep and churning North Atlantic, wearing our anti-sea sickness bracelets, eating (hopefully), tea-drinking, dancing, sleeping, knitting, diary-writing across the ocean until we get to the port of Southhampton in Jolly Olde England. We go on Thursday . . . this Thursday, ready or not . . .

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asaLOOK 👀at this place! Are you ready for this? A friend of ours sent this wonderful photo from his recent trip to Scotland ~ I thought you’d like to see where we’re going.  Not just Joe and me, but you too, virtual travelers, thru the backroads of the English Countryside, all the way up to Scotland . . .👏 We’ll take photos and post them as we go so you can enjoy this true-life adventure along with us. We are SO excited!!!!! I mean really! That tiny white spot halfway up this mountain is a house! And the white dots in the “foreground” are lambs. Yes, it’s vast. Probably makes you cry from being overwhelmed with joy when you see it (and smell it, and breathe it) in person.  I can’t wait. enchantmentcruis-boat-artSailing, sailing, over the ocean blue . . . I made the BEST playlist for the trip, I can’t wait to get in the car and let Vera Lynn give us a Calgon kind of day . . .BarrieQuoteFairiesIMG_2813

So we’ve been readying everything . . . planning for the people to come put the storm windows on in another month or so, drying out the basement from the exploding hot water heater debacle (better now than later) . . . making sure the garden is put to bed as best we can . . . it’s still going strong . . .
pink-perfectionIMG_2815a garden

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Joe’s finishing up the job that our dear friend Paul started when he was here with Rachel helping us celebrate Joe’s Birthday! A miracle, that this bannister is repaired before we go. It’s only been broken and a health hazard for about three years! Paul, if you see this, thank you. Aphrodisiac City, men at work.💞 It took a village.
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Here’s my guy now . . .

We’re supposed to be having a hurricane or a tropical storm (no one can decide) today, or maybe more like it, tonight. But we took our walk this morning as we always do . . . and it was just gorgeous, with lots of wind and a fallish chill in the air.  I’ll miss this walk ~ it’s my spot. Although something tells me we’ll be able to find plenty of other wonderful places where we’re going!  The photo above looks in one direction, then I turned around and . . .

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And this is it in the other direction.  At the end of this road is the water. Heaven?
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We stopped and visited our “Creek Friends,” Bruce and Gayle, who live down there . . . and this was the view from their amazing porch . . .IMG_3832

Bruce took our picture. Yes, we are happy!
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Here we are starting our walk into the woods and back home . . . this is the part of the walk I call “Ireland.” Because this is what I imagine Ireland looks like. I’m probably wrong, but there you go!

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And you know soon I have to leave the little love of my life, Jack Sprat who eats no fat . . .
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The one who has more curiosity is his right paw than the rest of the world has in all four of theirs! 🐾🐾

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See that rubber band on the book.  Jack does!

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Then I added a ball . . . he thinks I’m going to grab him, so he’s trying to get it without forgetting that he doesn’t want me to do that.

Jackie

Bo-bo Baby . . . pure personality.

Jack the cat

We’ve loved him since the very first day we brought him home. He is the hardest thing about leaving. (Did I tell you we will be celebrating Thanksgiving on board the ship the last evening on our return trip? It’s a long time from now, 2½ months!) Jack is so smart, he can get bored, and I don’t want him to wander around aimlessly when Barbara (who’s staying here with him) is at work, he needs a lot of attention.  So far, besides Barbara, I’ve enlisted two other girlfriends to “come visit” and play with Jack.  He has already gotten used to me being home. I adore this cat.  I would take him if I could.

Jack puts his toys all in one place

He gathers his toys. He is a hunter-gatherer.  That’s like human.

Girl Kitty

And, there’s another problem I’m sorry to have to tell you. That our darling Girl Kitty has gone to heaven. After 15 wonderful years of bringing us love, purrs, laughter, and furry sweetness, our little green-eyed Girl became more and more ill, and crossed the rainbow bridge to kitty heaven.

Girl Kitty

It was a very bad day, the day we had to say goodbye into her trusting eyes. Poor little thing. Such an elegant little person. I know she feels so much better now, and that’s what makes it bearable. I don’t know what’s worse, losing someone who has loved you, or losing someone you love.😥

girl kitty gets ready to change the tablecloth

Adorable Girl. She made life more fun. She is missed already. We buried her in a pillowcase in the kitty graveyard in our garden, and marked her burying mound with flowers and a heart-shaped rock.heartsThe children this morning

Despite the fact that Girl and Jack couldn’t really be called best friends, or even passing acquaintances for the most part . . . and I’m sure being an only child more or less makes Jack’s day, still, he must notice that he is alone. So that’s why my girlfriends are coming to play with him while we’re away.

I have faith in the unseen plan. I trust that all works out exactly as it’s supposed to.  Whether I like it or not. My job seems to do the best I can and keep going.

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And so, onward and upward, we are packing.  Here are the napkins, complete with ants, and the tablecloth I’m packing for our upcoming BYO Picnic Basket Party in Stourhead, bunnyinthecarrotpatchWiltshire, at High Noon, on Sept. 18, near the grass bridge. I hope our rental house has a basket to put our picnic in, baskets are hard to pack in suitcases! But we’ll get one!  Our picnic is going to be a world thing ~ kindred spirits are coming from everywhere. We’ll be toasting Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday ~ the invitation was extended through the Beatrix Potter Society’s wonderful (free) online newsletter called Pottering About. And if you can’t make it? That’s what I’m for. Pictures will be here waiting for you.❤️

picnicHere’s how our picnic won’t look.

Daisy's picnic

Maybe more like this if I can find a hat like that.

Our English picnicHere’s the last one we had at Stourhead. We are not just whistling Dixie about the fun-ness and the beauty and simplicity of this gorgeous place!!!  But I have to say, I’ve never met a picnic I didn’t like.IMG_2793

Lots of packing going on.  I’m in love with these packing squares. Have you heard of them? They are new to me and I’ve been marveling over them like they are the greatest thing since sliced bread and already both of the people to whom I was waxing poetic knew all about them. So I may be the last on earth to hear of them. But just in case YOU are actually the last on earth . . . these things are WONDERFUL for organizing suitcases. You get four of them in a set, all different sizes.  This is the smallest one . . .

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Perfect little, soft, zippered square, and inside are all my scarves folded up.  You know how when you travel your scarves unscramble all over the inside of your suitcase? You fold them a hundred and fifty times but it doesn’t help? That can’t happen with this. It’s like having dresser drawers in your suitcase. This is the scarf drawer! And you can see through the top, so you know what’s inside. Just pull it out by its tote-able handle, and there they all are!

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Here’s the next size up . . . the sock drawer!advice from momIMG_2801

All zipped up and organized.  Don’tcha love it?  I still have the T-shirt and jammie drawer and the sweater drawer to go!  But VERY handy. Just pile them in your suitcase and you’re ready to go. You can read more about them HERE:

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And these, I got two of the big ones, and one little one, for our bathroom stuff. So we don’t have to hunt!  Pretty neat huh? I got them HERE . . . and everything comes in other colors.

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Here’s some of our electrical gear including that heavy boxed transformer. You can’t see the extension cord and the power strip, but there’s the English hairdryer we bought the last time we were there. So anyway, we’re getting organized. I hope you are too . . . you know we plan to smuggle you all aboard and I want you to be ready. Don’t forget your fuzzy slippers and flannel jammies and cozy bankies, your diary, your book, and all the things that make you happy. We’ll provide the tea and the MUSICA!

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And if you get ready early, you can spend a little while listening to the radio . . . I was interviewed by the Good Life Guy last week . . . we had so much fun, I thought you might like to hear it. Just go HERE. I love the radio!

IMG_5287My charm bracelet and the first charm Joe ever gave me . . .get-attachment.aspx IMG_3739

here we go!Joe's doll

Here’s a wonderful poem by our Girlfriend Georgie (@farmgirlgeorgie on Twitter) . . . which she wrote after we came home in 2012, before A Fine Romance was published.

  • We watched you sail out, 🚢we watched you come home
  • You told us the tales as through England 🇬🇧 you roamed.
  • There were cups made by Emma, and beautiful sheep.
  • Your journey was endless. My when did you sleep?
  • We laughed 😂 and we cried as we followed your posts.
  • It’s as though we were there, all the time, we would boast . . .
  • “You should see where we’ve been. We’re going here next.”
  • And every day it got better. 🌄 We were never perplexed!
  • And soon we will all take this journey again.
  • You will bring us along with paints, brushes and pens.
  • The memories you’ve lived have been captured in part
  • On paper and bound, 📚 given birth from your heart!💛

Isn’t that good? Didn’t she do a good job?  I wasn’t sure if I’d ever shown you this, but it was too cute not to share. I’ll be keeping a diary again this trip🎨, and we’ll see if it becomes a Scotland Diary or not!  I’ll definitely need to paint us a new map! I packed my art things! Basically, I packed everything! If you need anything, extra socks, a teacup, a pen, laundry soap, or anything, just ask, I’m sure I’ll have it with me.my paintbrush, doing what comes naturally

Since I started writing this post, the wind has gotten stronger, the temperature has candlelightdropped ~ it’s cold! And rain is pattering the windows ~ it’s getting interesting out there, trees are bending and leaves are flying. I’m in sweater and shawl, it’s cozy here and I won’t be a bit surprised if Joe makes us a fire! We might be studying our map of Scotland in candlelight tonight if we lose our electricity!

Okay everyone, I could yak all day, but I gotta go pack those other two squares! Won’t be long now till Bon Voyage, I’ll see you on the ship! You can watch HERE to see us leave the harbor at 5 pm on Thursday. I’ll be the teeny person waving madly from the top deck.  Your Pal, Anna Susanna Dana Branchburger the Third who loves you.💕

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640 Responses to OL’ CLOCK’S A-TICKIN’

  1. Suzanne says:

    Bon Voyage, you two beautiful kids!

    I’ve only been to Scotland once, and
    just scratched the surface. Can’t wait
    to enjoy your take on that gorgeous place,
    and to hear about all the other adventures
    along the way.

    So sorry to hear about your dear kitty. It’s the
    terrible bargain we must make when we adopt
    and love these sweet souls – that future day when
    we must part. But it’s so worth it.

    Good bye, good bye (she says, waving back at
    you and Joe on the deck)!!!

    xo Suzanne

  2. Jana says:

    Girl Kitty is now companion to your Dad perhaps? Two loving spirits now loving from another realm, delighting in the delights of their earth-bound families.

    Cannot wait to follow you and Joe through this Scotland trip. Scotland is on my bucket list. Bright blessings! Safe travels, kind words, and good service to you both wherever you go!

  3. Karen Lotito says:

    Hi, Susan! As I’m writing this I can see QM2 from South Street Seaport. That’s me waving with my friend Clare who’s here visiting from England! We all wish we were on board with you and Joe; you have a gorgeous day to sail! Our condolences for Girl Kitty. She’s playing Over the Rainbow Bridge with our Fluffy, Cookie, Mittens, Samantha 1 and 2 and Murphy.
    Have a wonderful trip and be well and be happy! I look forward to following you along on your merry way! Love, Karen 😊🚢⚓️🇬🇧

  4. jeanie says:

    Oh Susan, I’m so very sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. It touches the heart in such a deep down way, doesn’t it? All the love. Fifteen years together is a great gift but it make the parting harder. I hope that Jack will not grieve so much as my Gypsy did when his kitty-mentor Stimpy died. I’m glad there will be many to come give him loads of love.

    On another note, bon voyage! While I was familiar with your work before (yes, even had a calendar or two!) I didn’t realize the Martha’s Vineyard connection until my first visit there last month when I bought “Isle of Dreams.” I know why you fell in love with the Vineyard — I did, too. Everyone who sees my blog posts keeps asking if I met Susan or saw your wonderful house! No, but how I wish I had!

    Have a glorious time. I will, of course, be following along — and checking out A Fine Romance, too!

  5. Kat Fry on Rose Creek Farm says:

    Hey Y’all!…And Awayyyyy We Go!!! What a Wonderful Enchanting Magical Day September 8th is! The continuation of the Grand Adventures of 2016…being able to stow away with the two of you. No better travelin’ Buddies than y’all!
    And back to beautiful England and the Magnificence of Scotland! Jess n I celebrate our 46th! and I noticed that another F.O.S.B & her Hubs celebrate their 43rd today. And dear friends of ours celebrate their 26th! Good things abound on this day!
    Was heartbroken to hear about sweet Girl Kitty. I’m glad that y’all were with her. She was loved & held dear by literally thousands worldwide. We know it soothes y’all’s hearts & minds knowing Jack is in such loving hands. Y’all will have many fun stories to tell each other when y’all get Home. And I know he’ll love looking at your diary and all the great photos!
    And a big Thank you for sharing FarmGirlGeorgie’s fantastic poem! She captured the whole Adventure perfectly!
    Love the travel bags! A definite must have for our next Adventure.
    And now without further ado…..Happy Anniversary to Us and Bon Voyage to You Two!

  6. Linda says:

    Watching Live right now . . . Bon Voyage Joe & Susan !

    Linda of So Cal : )

  7. Janet Conn says:

    Thanks for sharing the link to the Webcam. It was fun watching you and Joe set sail out of New York harbor past the Statue of Liberty. Wishing you fun and safe travels. Enjoy your trip.

  8. Carol S says:

    I’m so excited because I just watched you and Joe go off on your ship! Thanks for the link to the webcam. 😉 And I am wishing you just the very BEST time in Scotland–it couldn’t happen to a nicer couple.
    So very sorry about the loss of your sweet Girl Kitty. Tears welled in my eyes as I read your post. We will miss her too.
    Can’t wait to hear of your travels, thanks for taking us with you! Bless you on your way.

  9. Merci says:

    Oh Susan,
    You probably won’t be able to read this for a while, but I went to the site you showed us and saw the Queen Mary 2 sail out of the New York Harbor, it was spectacular!!! They even did a close up of the passengers on board, too awesome! What a wonderful and exciting time you and Joe will have. I saw you pass the Statue of Liberty and a huge freighter! All so very exciting! OK, will be awaiting pictures and stories! Have a wonderful time my dear “Girlfriend”!

  10. Kemi Ramsey says:

    I cannot believe I got to watch you and Joe steam out of New York harbor on this beautiful late afternoon while sitting in my own little Illinois bungalow thanks to the Port Authority web cam! I was waving and shed some happy tears to be able to see you off. What a thrill that was – I probably would faint from joy if I was on the boat. I was txting my NYC brother who had no idea you could watch a ship leave long distance like that.

    I was so sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. She had a marvelous life and being able to cross over with your loving family by your side is a big blessing. I laughed when you mentioned that Jack might be very happy being an only child -what a great cat!

    Your beautiful writing and art always lifts my spirits and I am sure looking forward to your dispatches from Caledonia. The wonderful thing about your travels is that we girlfriends in the “cloud” know we will get to share them with you in your art, photos and words. Big Thank You and Many Blessings!

  11. Rhonda P in Woodson, TX says:

    Susan,
    I watched you depart New York Harbor yesterday from my office and absolutely loved the experience! Thank you so much for sharing the webcam site. I was in awe of the massive buildings in the New York skyline, a site I will probably never see in person, but I was practically in tears when the Statue of Liberty came into view!! I simply cannot tell you how impressed I was! Thank you again for sharing your wonderful life and grand experiences with us. I will be traveling with you all the way.

  12. Claudia Cole says:

    Bon Voyage dear Susan and Joe! I will be thinking of you and all that you will see and do. Be my eyes and ears for my future trip to England.
    Enjoy! Enjoy!

    Claudia and China

  13. Claudia Cole says:

    I am so sorry about girl kitty. Little kitty mark our heart with unconditional love and sweetness. I hope Jack the little kitty rascal won’t get into too much trouble (FUN for him) believing himself to be the “King of the Castle”!
    Good luck and safe journey.

  14. Rose Utterback says:

    So sorry for the loss of Girl Kitty. I lost my kitty three years ago and I still miss him. Best wishes for a delightful trip. Can’t wait to hear of your adventures.

  15. Lori Monroe says:

    Our sincere condolences on loosing Girl Kitty! Pets are our kids. It is so hard when they pass! She is in heaven and you will see her again. It is good you are going on a trip to take your mind off of
    things! We hope you have a wonderful time!

  16. Patricia Edde says:

    Girl Kitty is in an endless field of catnip now. Those of us for whom (?) our pets are little (or not so little) people know exactly what you are going through. There are no words and the pain seems everlasting but eventually the memories replace the emptiness and we are grateful for the uncountable blessings that they gave us. My Sam (my stubborn little love – he is a Chihuahua after all and has to protect the image of all that have gone before him and all that will follow) is 15 now and I can see the beginning signs of the pain (mine) that is to come but I will do what needs to be done when the time comes and love him fiercely for all of the time that’s left. May this trip to Scotland do its part to bring you joy (bittersweet as it must be) to help you through the loss of both your beloved father and your precious girl. My thoughts are with both you and Joe.

  17. Mamey says:

    Have a WONDERFUL time!! I am soooo excited too! Can’t wait to see! Bon Voyage!!!

  18. Darla Unger says:

    Thanks for the tip of the packing bags, I never seen those before. Have a Great Trip!!!!

  19. Sad Fan says:

    Susan,

    I am really worried about you. From your pictures, I think you are suffering through some depression. Your hair isn’t colored or cut. When did you stop doing that?!? I didn’t even recognize you.:( Aging is hard, but why stop “being us”? You would look 20 years younger with your old hairstyle. I remember on your last trip on this boat, you got a haircut onboard. Why not try that this time and add a color too?

    Sad Fan

    • FayE says:

      There is not a product on the market that can make Susan Branch more beautiful than she already is. She reminds us…by being the person that she is…that real beauty is seen through our spirits of joy, living, loving, caring, sharing, friendship…and grieving.

      Susan is a beauty product herself! She is “free” to all of us to light us up inside where it counts. She is “free” to all of us to lift our spirits and re-route us. She is also “free” to all of us to model how to be kind without thinking…how to be creative in our own way…how to be charming without pretense…and how to be authentic – the root of real beauty.

      Bottom line, Susan is a “free” beauty product and role model for all of us. She nourishes, cleanses, revives and supports all of us. Did I mention that she is “free”?

      The Girlfriends love that Susan is not superficial – that she walks in her own authenticity. How can her mirror not reflect her beauty?

      Thank you, Susan Branch, for sharing yourself and modeling what real beauty is. You show us how to radiate beauty. You are a priceless cosmetic!

      • sbranch says:

        What a sweet thing FayE! I think I missed that from our sad fan, but your response was wonderful. I yam what I yam, that’s all I can say.

        • Vicki says:

          Susan, go to Claudia Hill’s wonderful blog, Mockingbird Hill Cottage and see the loving reader comments…about YOU!! Claudia just finished one of your books and devoted much of today’s post about you. She lives in upstate New York and works in the Broadway theater community (dialect coach); her husband, Don Sparks, is a songwriter and also an actor currently on TV (I think he’s originally from San Diego). They are both the NICEST people with incredible heart and soul. Claudia builds amazing doll houses and is also a superb writer. She loves you, as do I!

          Heard you’ve landed! Can’t wait for your next post from the road!

      • Joan Kotvas says:

        Since when do we have to be what someone else thinks we should look like. I agree with fayE. What I see lately in Susan is peace, thankful for her ceative talents, And someone in love and enjoying where she is in her life. What is this your hair should be “cut and colored.” How dare someone who thinks this actually say it out live. If you think Susan might be depressed is one thing but adding about ones appearance that YOU think she should do is another thing. Is that sympathizing with your friend. Joan

      • Christine says:

        So true I’m in my middle fifties and stopped highlighting a few years ago I get more compliments on my hair now than I ever did! I’m not trying to cover up my getting older I can’t stand artificial hair color I can always spot a dyed head of hair in a weeks time the gray stripe is going down the middle be you not a fake you

        • sbranch says:

          You go girl! I think whatever makes any of us happy and fits into our lifestyles is just the perfect thing to do! Color if you want, don’t if you don’t want, wear false eyelashes if you want, and don’t if you don’t want . . . we will still love you anyway, and that’s all there is. 💞

      • Jeannie says:

        Here! Here! Oh how I wish I had known Susan when I was in my late teens and 20’s struggling with low self esteem and insecurities! I still struggle even now at 72!!! Every time I read Susan’s blog I get lifted up a little bit more. I got to finally meet Susan at the Malaprop’s book signing! What a delight to meet them both!

        • Jeannie says:

          Also, I think I started a trend in Asheville when I worked at a downtown bank. I have never colored my gray, I figured I worked for every grey hair I get! Pretty soon I started seeing my customers letting their grey grow out! And now 10 years aren’t younger gals coloring their hair gray??? Love it!

        • sbranch says:

          Being all “high-esteem” probably isn’t what it’s all cut out to be anyway. Probably just a lot of pretending! Love you just the way you are Jeannie!

  20. Siobhan in Santa Monica says:

    Bon Voyage, darlings! I can’t believe I missed the sailing yesterday…darn it! I do know you will have the lovliest time again. Thank you so much for sneaking us along. I am so sorry to read of dear Girl Kitty. We know she had a charmed life with you and Joe, so kind of you to tend to her peaceful ending. (sigh) So grateful for you, dear Sue! xoxo

  21. Nancy Carreiro says:

    My condolences for Girl Kitty. I hope you have a wonderful journey.
    Love Nancy

  22. I’m so excited for you! I feel like I’m the one going, although in a way I am! You so inspire me to make a similar trip one day but I’ll keep living vicariously through you until then. I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your kitters. We lost our almost 18 year old boy in March and it still makes my heart ache. We love hard, we lose hard.

    Have a beautiful journey and make the most of every blessed moment. I’ll just be here reading Isle of Dreams which just landed on my doorstop tonight. Gah!!!

  23. Charis Miller says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. What a sweet girl. Pets are loved dearly and missed sorely. Hugs to you.

  24. Helen says:

    So sorry to her about Girl Kitty, especially on the heels of losing your wonderful father. Compound grief ☹️. Thinking of you and Joe during this time.

  25. I’m so sorry to hear about Girl but I’m glad it happened before you and Joe left. They are so precious for so many reasons. Safe travels to my favorite New York Times Best Selling Author! 💕

  26. Georgie says:

    Susan

    I watched you sail out again this time too! The thrill never gets old!

    Thanks for sharing my poem! What wonderful memories of your last trip!

    I’m beginning to pack our picnic basket.

  27. Debbie Boerger says:

    Read Shepherd’s Life when it came out. Author just spoke here, as we have a large sheep raising community, mostly women, who raise them, sheer them, card the wool, spin the wool, dye the wool, and some knit or weave the wool. All the wool women pitch in to sheer the sheep. Some just buy the wool and make fabulous things from it. Enjoy every minute of your “Crossing”, Susan and Joe. Thank you for taking the time and the effort to let us in on the adventure.
    Debbie

  28. Gale Puffenberger says:

    I am so sorry about Girl Kitty. We had to say good-bye to our 16 year old cat last summer so I know how much you will miss her. Jack will miss her, too; he just doesn’t show it yet. I am looking forward to traveling vicariously to Scotland with you!

  29. Robin on the Vineyard says:

    so sorry to hear about Girl………….. it is always so difficult to lose a beloved pet.

  30. Cyndee Randall says:

    I could not even read the rest of this after sobbing through the news about Girl Kitty. I am so sorry. Hugs to you, Joe and Jack. Blessings on your journey and safe passage.

  31. Texas Leigh says:

    Poor you and Joe mourning your Girl Kitty. My eyes filled with tears about her passing. Those beautiful green eyes will be missed. I’ve never seen a cat with such a sweet face.
    Have a beautiful voyage and yes, I know about packing squares. They are simply wonderful, especially for Virgos like me who love things to stay neat.
    Happy sheep seeing!

  32. So sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. I always loved to see pictures of her. She looked so sweet.

  33. Paula Gulley says:

    Oh Susan, I am so sorry about your kitty. I know you loved her very much and I know she knew it. Have a wonderful trip and enjoy yourself!

  34. Candice Black says:

    Dear Susan and Joe,
    So very sad to learn that Girl Kitty has crossed over the rainbow bridge. She was definitely a sweetheart! It is so hard to lose a furry family member. Sending you hugs.
    Happy and safe travels to both you and Joe. I am sure that you will have a fantastic time. Thanks for taking us along! Bon Voyage and Cherrio for now!

    • sbranch says:

      She was my baby. It’s sad she had to go so young. Only 15. My other cats lived until almost 20 … so I just couldn’t understand it.

      • Vicki says:

        I got my old guy to age 19 but then I had to let him go. The time comes for our aging, whiskered, feline friends. He’s been gone a year but I still look for him underfoot. I’m so sorry about Girl Kitty, Susan. I’d neglected to offer my sympathies.

        • sbranch says:

          Nineteen is really good ~ so many lovely years. It feels much more right then (if there is such a thing), but I thought 15 was much too early.

  35. Jan Lane says:

    Oh, so sad about Girl Kitty. In May, we lost our Xena…………18.5 yrs. old, but in June we got a baby…………little Delphi. She is a joy. So glad you will be out and about to focus on other things. It has been a difficult year for you, so enjoy this change of pace. Safe journey. Bon Voyage.

  36. Jenni Schilz says:

    So sorry to hear about your kitty, she was lovely ~ I’m sure Jack is missing her. Prayers for your loss. And prayers for your trip. I just recently stumbled across the packing squares myself and was thinking what an awesome idea! Cannot wait to see your pictures!

  37. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Bon Voyage, Susan & Joe! Have fun. Make memories. Be safe.

    So sorry to hear about Girl Kitty. We most always give thanks for the furry angles that have blessed our lives. For it is through their unconditional love, dedication, and loyalty that we learn to be better people.

    Thanks for taking us “virtual travelers” along with you.

    Warmly…Marie

  38. Roz says:

    I’m so excited to be traveling to Scotland & England through your eyes, lens, & inspiring words. I may never have the privilege of visiting these places myself, so fun to tag along with you & Joe. Reading about sweet Girl Kitty brought tears to my eyes since we just lost our 15 year old kitty, Waimea. I still see her sitting on all of her favorite places, especially the kitchen table in the middle of my morning paper. Best wishes for a fabulous, safe trip. Blessings from Oregon, Roz

  39. Judie G says:

    Just wanted to say how sorry I was to hear of Girl Kitty’s passing. I know how difficult it is to say good-bye to our furry children. But I’m sure she is feeling so much better in Kitty heaven!
    Would also like to wish you the best trip ever!!!! Of course I’ll be there all along the way! Can’t wait for your next post.
    Bon Voyage! 🚢

  40. Regina Carretta says:

    Susan….have a glorious trip as I know you will……if you have time to ponder a question, a recommendation…..a friend and I will be taking a trip to London in the spring, 4 or 5 days in the city, then we’d like to spend an overnight in a village closeby , max a 2 hour train ride, where the train goes directly to the town (we won’t be driving)…a small village, with lovely gardens and a church or two to explore, a tea shop, a pub….you have had so many experiences so we have come to you for some guidance….a friend recommended Canterbury?
    It looks like a larger city than we were seeking…any words of wisdom would be appreciated….you shall add “travel advisor” to your resume!! Thank you!

    • sbranch says:

      Thirty miles south of London is Hever Castle, where Anne Boleyn spent her childhood. It is WONDERFUL, close by, lots to see and learn, in the countryside ~ but maybe just a day trip. OR, run up to any tiny town in the Cotswolds, maybe Broadway or Bourton on the Water? Both would be perfect for an overnight, exactly what you described.

      • Regina Carretta says:

        oh my Susan….I looked up Broadway and asked some friends who have been there and they describe it as a “jewel of a place”….does it really look like that with the honey-colored stone buildings, pubs, shops, history??..thank you for suggesting it…..it may be our country escape when we do our London trip in April…..does the train go directly there?
        thank you dear and continue to have a beautiful trip……thanks again for being “travel planner”….

  41. Jan K. Stewart-Bass says:

    We need a promise from Joe regarding: “REAL MEN WEAR KILTS.” So…….. we want to see laddie Joe sporting a red Stewart plaid (tartan) kilt while standing, with Susan or by himself, in front of an ancient Scottish castle!! Yay! I can hardly wait! I’m just sure he will comply, especially since I am of Scottish heritage myself (a true Stewart) and he will want to make me, a dear lassie friend, quite happy! And….. Susan could also wear a kilt (a charming pleated skirt for her sweater sets like back in the ’50s-’60s), maybe one in the Stewart Black Watch? Which is a lovely green and black plaid/tartan, as you know. Do I have jolly-good ideas, or what?!! Wishing thee, Susan and Joe, a blessed-good travel through the wide and glorious terrains of wee Scotland! “By yon’ bonnie banks and by yon’ bonnie braes, where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond, where me and my truelove were ever wont to gae, on the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond…” (don’t sing the rest of the song; too sad!)

    • sbranch says:

      I am NOT so sure he will comply with that request, despite jolly good idea, although I’ve been hinting. But so far he just looks at me. We shall see!

  42. Courtney says:

    Love your Trilogy Susan. I know YOU but you don’t know ME. I’m from Cambria and read your books knowing who most of the SLO people you named by first names only! First time I’ve ever read books like THAT!! Saw your first water color and fell in love with years and years and years ago. I think it was in a store on Higuera very near where Broad Street crosses. I’ve always thought your work was just beautiful and I love the way your mind works – always wished I could paint like you paint. Anyway, I’ve lived in SLO Co. since 1975 but moved to Auburn and then out of state to my farm. I am back now in Cambria and work at Linn’s Farm. Wish we had some of your beeeoootiful stuff out there. Anyway, loved the trilogy, read all 3 in about 4 days.

    Thanks for all of the lovely moments. You are THE BEST!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Hi to Linn’s and all the luv-lee Cambria folk. My brother lives in Auburn…we cross paths very lightly!

  43. Caroline Elsted says:

    Susan, if you want to know what Ireland really looks like please come and visit, we are just a short hop from England you know and have lots of gorgeous scenery and meandering roads for you to explore.

  44. Ellen S says:

    So very sad to read about your Girl Kitty. I had to take some time as it brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I had to help my kitty Holly on her way over the Rainbow Bridge on the first day of this month. It was so very hard to do, but she was suffering so. She was 19. I had another kitty, Sammy, who was also only 15 when it was time for him to go. I rescued another little one, Zoey, from the shelter where I work, after Sammy left me, and I always thought that Sammy sent her to me to help me heal my hurting heart.

    I watched the QM2 sail away from New York Harbor, thank you for that. I’ve never been on an ocean voyage or to Scotland and am looking forward to reading about your travels.

  45. Linda Cppeland says:

    My condolences to you and Joe with the loss off your father and your Girl Kitty.Being an animal person my family has lost many dogs and as whole lot of kitties pover the past 69 yrs. and they are all waiting for me and my three sons

  46. Carolyn from SoCA says:

    The sad news of Girl’s passing accompanied by melancholic music made me teary! Saying goodbye to my fur-babies has been the most difficult part of loving them!
    I wish that you could take Jack with you, too. Maybe next time.

  47. I’ve just finished reading ‘A fine Romance’ and now I see you’re off again! I loved the first adventure especially as we just got back from a 14 month trip to England. You’ve captured the country perfectly and made me all the more homesick and longing for more. Have a wonderful time and I look forward to following your blog this time around. …. And fingers crossed for a little less rain 🙂

  48. Nicky Brett says:

    Susan, I know you are well on your way to England, but I wanted to send my regards about Girl Kitty. She was such a love and a joy to see her in your posts. I know you and Joe dearly miss her as do we. Take comfort in knowing you gave her a loving home.

  49. Marisa Hayden says:

    Oh Susan – I am so sad to hear of the passing of Girl Kitty. Thank goodness she was able to be loved and treasured by you and Joe throughout her life. I am sure that she is purring in your Dad’s lap up there – both of them quite content. Hugs to you. I also hope that you have a lovely time on your trip!

  50. Jeannie says:

    Oh Susan, I just today got to read this post, from musica to radio interview, and am SOO sorry to hear abt girl kitty!!! It was always such a delight to see her quiet demureness next to Jack’s bouncy self, when he came along and disrupted her quiet serene world! It is always sad to say good by for now to all our furry friends. She was blessed to live her life with such a loving sweet family! I can imagine what a fun, laugh filled picnic you had on your first week-end of many in England! And you’re going to Scotland also!!! Can’t wait to see Scotland through your eyes! Oh, what fun this trip is going to be!
    Tra la la! A traveling we will go!
    Hugs,
    Jeannie
    Chirp Chirp
    from my little love birds!

    • sbranch says:

      I was just looking at photos of Girl this morning, all fat and serene, her highness, queen of the quilts. A darling Girl she was. Thank you Jeannie! I’m living in some sort of surreal world now where nothing is normal and every day is a surprise!

  51. Sheri says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry to read about your sweet Girl. I always worry when you are gone, that she might go while you are not there. So on the one hand, I’m glad you were there to love on her and make her last days special. But so sad to lose her.

    Have a wonderful trip! Jack will have plenty of playmates, and he will be so happy when you get back. Can’t wait to hear about all of the adventures!

    • sbranch says:

      I am so happy to have been there. I think maybe she waited for me to come home . . . anyway, it was better this way, considering the circumstances. I’m hearing that Jack is doing well, so I’m not worried, I just miss him!

  52. Lois Madden says:

    Well, I’m way behind on blogs! Life has just been too bloody crazy to make time to sit, sip and read. Like you, I recently had to say a heartbroken farewell to Ms. Bella, one of my Feline Aids Positive kitties, in my geriatric Cat Sanctuary. She was a fighter and I let her fight for as long as either one of us could stand it. Alas, the time came for me to make that dreaded decision to help her move on to Kitty Heaven. Bless her wee heart, she took a piece of mine with her 💕. It’s been a tough year in my Cat Sanctuary, with four kitty losses over the past year. My heart has a lot of mending to do… everyone’s thoughts and good energy would be much appreciated. Recovering from so much loss is a very hard thing to do
    alone. My heart goes out to you, Joe and Jack (even if he doesn’t want to admit he misses Girl Kitty 🐱).

    I love the poem by Girlfriend Georgie… thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to catching up on all missed posts from your ongoing trip to Scotland. It’s my dream journey as well.

    I must share that I have the same leaf rowing rabbit you have sitting at the base of the broken bannister Joe was painting. It sits in our guest bath for friends to enjoy! I just love that darn rabbit. It inspires such joy.

    Like you, I’ve never heard of packing squares! Can’t wait to check those out… I can see a purchase in my future.

    In Light ~ Lois🐾🐾

  53. Lisa G. says:

    I’m so so sorry about Girl kitty. She seemed such a lovely little person. May she rest in peace!

  54. Stacey says:

    Just catching up on your blog and I’m so sorry to hear about girl kitty! It’s so hard when our furry friends pass on. She was well loved for many years and you can have peace in that. Looking forward to reading about your UK trip thus far! We are going to the cotswolds and London on 10/15 for 10 days! We’ve rented a sweet little cottage in Chipping Campden, can’t wait! ❤️🇬🇧

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