Wild Conjecture and Downton Abbey

Fair warning, I’m about to talk gibberish about Downton Abbey, Season Six, episode two and a little bit of episode teacupsone.  If you haven’t seen them, and/or don’t wish to hear about them, look away from this blog immediately. But other wise, come along with me . . . for a recap. And lots of wild conjecture and wishing. Perhaps a cup of tea would go good right now? And oh yes, le MUSICA. I could play the Downton theme but you JUST heard it last night, so I’ll look for something a little bit different but still in England.

Downton from my TV

I just love how Downton starts, love this big yellow lab. He sets a perfect tone of realness and family and gives us the first glimpse of heaven so we can go ahead withFalling in loveSo! Have you been loving it?  Me too! It’s practically the only thing I do outside of book writing these days. I was SO happy to learn that Anna and Bates are not murderers after all, phew! There will be no Downton Abbey hangings! Hooray, we don’t have to think about that anymore!

IMG_4789Maybe these two can start smiling again, or, er, maybe not. Because there is always something. Out of the murdering frying pan into the baby-wanting fire. Misery knows no end. I’ve come to realize that it’s always bad news when these two go to the Boot Room which is where they spent much of the last show.Susan Branch pink-daisy-borderIMG_4771But the girlfriend relationship between Mary and Anna gets better all the time. Now Mary wants to help Anna with her pregnancy problems. Of course Anna thinks Mary shouldn’t put herself out, but Mary said, “I owe you for so much, for keeping my secrets and for hiding that fearful Dutch thingamajig.” (Those Dutch!) So off we go to the special Doctor that helped Mary to have her baby.IMG_4799“. . .  just a little stitch, very fixable,” said the doctor, and voila, we’ll get you a Bates Baby. ‘Course we can’t tell Bates, that would ruin the telling of Bates for later, when we will all burst into tears from happiness when we find out they are having twins. (Not a spoiler, just making things up, I have NO idea!!! But why not Julian? Give them a good head start on that houseful of children they want.)clap your handsIMG_4827But already, look at Anna at the Pig show. She looks ten years younger just knowing there is hope. Mary is so good, she’s solving everyone’s problems.IMG_4545Oh yes, Mary. (She can’t help it, forgive her, oldest child syndrome, don’tcha know.) Besides whisking Anna off to the Doctor, Mary runs Downton, talks like a grown-up to the pig man, and self-appoints as the Carson-Hughes wedding planner. But she still doesn’t know that Edith is Marigold’s actual mother.

That will be a fun day.fox hunt on downtonShe is also done with riding side saddle. And if she falls into a ditch, no big deal, she brushes herself off, gets back on and starts all over again, mud in hair and all. A regular Scarlet O’Hara. As an added bonus, she has a lovely tendency to believe in more equality for everyone, i.e. not wanting her darling Carson to marry in the Servant’s Hall, perish the thought. Which tells me she could very likely MARRY an Irish ex-chauffeur!! Why not? Look at the way he looks at her! Cute, cute cute!downtonOh yeah! As you know, I’ve been hoping for Tom to be the one for Mary for a long time. They need some fresh blood in this new generation. I would love to see a total surprise romance between them ~ with their two darling children who happen to be cousins, they could run Downton together (because they both have common sense, plus Mary has the heir) until someday, years from now, when they give the whole place to the National Trust. He respects her mind, and she will never have to play solitaire again.Downton Abbey Mary Crawley Tom BransonWhat a darling couple. They will look back at this photo and say to themselves, remember when we were young? They will tell their children, “This was taken before Daddy and Mummy even knew they loved each other.” They will say, “Too bad we didn’t read Susan’s blog, then we would have known sooner and quit wasting so much time on fast car drivers, stuck up do-nothings, rude and smug Miss Buntings, trips abroad, and fearful Dutch thingamajigs.”1925 phoneMary solves nothing for Edith ever. Edith might gain some respect from Mary who would maybe stop calling her a Ninny sensible womanif she would a.) fire that misogynist editor who supposedly works for HER, b.)take over the magazine and run it herself, c.) move herself and Marigold into that fabulous London apartment belonging to Marigold’s father who we think is dead in Germany but no one knows for sure. And d.)Start going to all the most fabulous parties and meeting the whole Bloomsbury intelligentsia and having dinners down in Charleston.Then start British Vogue Magazine. And be done with it. Lady EdithShe could use gold dresses like this one for her photo shoots. Which reminds me, aren’t the clothes fabulous this season? I think they changed them for every scene last night. We were always in some room or another being dressed by a ladies maid.Lady Mary and her blue robeHow about this robe in the first episode? I’m surprised the blackmailer didn’t throw toast at it.fashion senselady mary's underwearI noticed last night that Mary got new underwear, did you see? This was her old stuff . . .Lady Maryand now this . . . so very 1925.

IMG_9769And I miss Rose. She was always such a smart dresser, and golly, so much fun.Lady RoseShe’s now married and living in New York and I miss her. Mary got a letter, she thinks Rose might be pregnant, but Edith thinks it’s all balderdash, but what I hope is that Rose makes it home for Christmas.And then there’s darling Mrs. Patmore who handled the whole dilemma for Mrs. Hughes with such total adorable English charm, first, and quite rightly, slamming back a shot of sherry, and then suggesting to Mrs. Hughes, “Maybe you should just leave the lights off.” I loved the moment when the light of understanding first comes into Mr. Carson’s eyes, and she says, “Oh yes, I think we’re there.” I would give her a Golden Globe for that performance.

Yes, they’re there. It looks like they are going to figure it all out just fine. Oh, Elsie, Oh, Charles.💞 Two hearts that beat as one.

Mrs. Hughes has changed too, with her new smoother hairdo and much stronger attitude, putting her foot down, that she would rather be married in the schoolhouse than in the butterflies in loveGrand Hall at Downton. What do you think? Which would you want? I go back and forth, because although Downton is gorgeous, it just might be too much and I bet the school house is very cute. Although in that country, pick a meadow with a river and voila, get married there. Now there’s a tug of war between Mrs. Hughes and Mary, with Carson in the middle. (I think Joe and I will dress as this couple at our next costume opportunity. We already look like them!) 

And then this . . .

IMG_4831Oh My God, (Ignore my gorgeous hat) Where is Marigold? She was right here a minute ago!  Marigold! Marigold! Where for art thou Marigold?

People mill about in a frenzy, and then . . .


…the rescue.


The heartbreak.


And now, the poor Drewes have to go, get out of dodge, not welcome anymore. Well, let’s face it they had to anyway. Otherwise what would we do with Daisy’s father-in-law, Mr Mason, who is being kicked off his farm by the neighbors who are going out of the Lordship business forever?



We needed an empty farm to fill, and the poor Drewes family had no clout. And we just love Daisy. Who just happens to know all the right people even if she is anti-establishment. So the balance is there, between happiness and heartbreak.


Life is not fair.

wild turkeys

Just ask our local wild turkeys who are trying to drink from the birdbath in our yard.

Yes, and what else?


Well, first we had a drenching rain,


And then we had lovely snow …


So while I drew and painted, Joe made us a fire


And took down the Christmas tree . . .


And we both kept one eye on the birds .  . .


They were hard not to notice . . . they are so thrilled with the snow, it’s so quiet now, the Island is settling in for a long winter’s nap.


The Cardinals came in droves!


And I’m just here wearing out pencils, one after another . . . It’s going so good Girlfriends, and I get closer and Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreamsthis book gets more romantic every day, I could have called it A Fine Romance too, if I hadn’t already used that one!. Right now I just took my first train ride, in pictures, quotes, and watercolors. It’s so exciting to think that in a few months I’ll have my new book in hand, and then so will you, and then Joe and I will be off across America in our Fine Romance van. We’ve gotten quite a few book events scheduled: Look HERE ~ you’ll see that so far we’ve reserved bookstores across the USA from MA to California. We’ve had paintinggreat luck everywhere until we got to the Northwest . . . where we were unable to nail down dates that would work for everyone. We tried our best, we were even taking the train up from California, but time is getting short (bookstores get booked for signings far in advance), and we’ve had to move on. I’m so sorry to miss you there ~ but maybe we’ll have better luck at a future date. And we have WONDERFUL things planned at the bookstores so far. Talks and a tea, regular signings and library fundraisers Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreamstoo. We are still working our way down to Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara and Vroman’s in Pasadena, then across to Book People in Austin, Texas and so on, stopping at lots of Independent Bookstores, as we head back home in June. So there are lots more dates coming . . . keep checking back because I’d love to see you somewhere along the line! And don’t worry, if you have preordered Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, the last book of this trilogy, your books will go out before any go to the stores. You will be the first, and they will all have signed bookplates in them, and I think that will be in April. Can. Not. Wait. Ding Ding!

bellhollyHad to show you two stocking stuffers I got from Joe. He comes into my studio all the time, almost sneaks in, is quiet as a MOUSE ~ and I am SO lost in thought, SO buried in the moment, I don’t hear him, and he scares me to death and I wish to kill him every time for almost 30 years. I beg him to warn me, but he forgets. So now, my new gift: when he goes through the living room on the way to my studio, he slaps this bell to warn me, and I immediately burst into laughter. It’s so perfect! It works!



The second is this, which Joe is going to hook to my art table so if I want him, all I have to do is squeeze this shrieking cat-scaring horn and he, supposedly, will come.  I have yet to try this out. Right now it’s on the back of the sofa, so when he leaves my studio he squeezes it, and I burst into laughter.

Two very practical gifts. ♥

me, just before going into Beatrix Potter's house

Now this ~ remember this? I’m just coming out of Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Cottage for the very first time, and that is JOY you are seeing on my face. Well, this year Beatrix Potter Beatrix Potterwould be 150 years old and there are all kinds of celebrations planned, both here and in England, and if you’re a part of the Beatrix Potter Society (like I am), you can find out all about them. I’m taking part in her Birthday Party here on Cape Cod, where I will read and talk about my first visit to the English Lake District and to Hill Top (click here~scroll down to July 28th). And my friend Betsy Bray, who is very active in the Beatrix Potter Society is planning to take a Castle Cottagegroup on a ten-day tour in June 2017 up to Beatrix Potter Country in England and YOU can go! First come, first serve that is. Here’s all the information. It’s a perfect opportunity Beatrixfor likeminded people, who don’t want to travel alone to get the best of the best by someone who really knows ~  Betsy gives talks about Beatrix Beatrix and WilliePotter all the time. So she’s read all the books, has been to all the places and knows all the secrets and will even be taking the group to Castle Cottage, which I never got to see (that’s it in the photo above), where Beatrix lived for 30 years with her husband, William Heelis, right across Post Office Meadow (you see there with the lambs) from Hill Top. And so much more. You can get an idea of what you’re in for HERE. I just wanted you to know first, I know it’s a long time until June 2017, but it will get here Beatrix Potter roomsoon enough and there is nothing like planning ahead! Of course, for all you arm chair travelers, you have me, and our upcoming trip to England and Scotland, later this year, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. So, lots of lovely English countryside for us for the next couple of years. ♥

blessings Hope you are all well and fine. For any of you who gets confused about who’s who in the zoo on Downton, this should help. Bye for now Girlfriends, I have to grab my paintbrush now, I have a train to catch! Love you! XOXO

Cast of Downton Abbey

Downstairs characters





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Rabbit Rabbit 2016!

MUSICA Rabbit Rabbit 2016A toast to my good fat friends

wave bye bye

to 2015

December 2015 wall calendar

We had a lovely Christmas . . .quiet and filled with all the gentle reminders of what Christmas is supposed to be. Food, friends, family and

Love I've got my love to keep me warm


But now it’s time to . . .


dancing chickenTurn your calendar over andcelebrate

January 2016

Because, for the New Year and always . . .


January 2016

HERE’S TO US . . .



I love having you here . . .

Happy New Year

Time for


winter from my window

I remember last year around this time . . . out my front studio window, it looked like this!

Birds in the snow

And here, from the kitchen window . . . it was birdland!

Birds in the snowand the wonderful world of Cardinals.

Bird in a love cup 

Beatrix Potter people were warm and toasty on the kitchen window ledge . . . despite the blizzard . . .

Kitchen garden in winter

And it was so Beautiful! Every morning I would jump up to peek out this window in our bedroom to see what the morning would be.sense of beauty; susan branch art

Winter storm Martha's Vineyard

Pristine and white, I could never be thankful enough.

snow day candles in a snowy window


Vineyard Haven Ferry

Deep dark and delicious

snowed in

Magical Fairyland

on the walkAnd even though we have no snow now . . . it is still very beautiful, and getting colder every day. Today, in fact, is a three sweater day. . . that’s what I am wearing right now. I took this picture yesterday while we were out walking  . . . I’m looking into a rain puddle with the leaves at the bottom and the woods and the sky in the reflection. Is this not gorgeous?


In this one you can see where the puddle ends

photo 3-11

And here, where the woods begin . . .



Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams

Overhead fly the swans . . . so I painted this one for my new book . . .

on the walk

And out at the end, the waves come on shore and it smells fresh and wintery and like a garden of composting leaves . . . and way back you can see the ferry crossing . . .Merry In The Winter



Sunday! Be still my heart . . . 

Downton Abbey Highclere Castle Series

Our last season . . .I will love every moment . . .

Girl Kitty

Downton will make our winter very cozy, Downton, the kitties, Joe Hall Guardian Angel Extraordinaire, and me, with a book project and my paintbrush. It will be a nice winter. MAS MUSICA



Susan Branch Winter

Count your blessings

Jack the climber

Just about to start putting away the old year . . . dreaming of the new one coming and all the good things I hope will happen . . .

light houses magic My favorite fairy

dining room after Christmas

The table is cleared . . .

Christmas dishes

Christmas dishes are all put away . . .

Counting our Blessings

My Days Book is next to my bed with all the lovely empty pages inside and the future yet to be known . . .

And me?

inspirationYou know where I am. Every day I add more pages to the new book, Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams ~ finished pages. My goal is to have it done by, at the latest, Valentine’s Day . . . not printed, but off to the printer by then. I thought you might like to see a few new bits I’ve painted for it recently . . .There’s a little story behind each watercolor, but I’m saving them as a surprise for you. 

Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams

Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams

Yes, there is singing in this book!If you do it with heart . . .

Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams

And Kitties!

Jack paints

And Jack, who is constantly with me, proudly helps, thank goodness, I could never do this alone.

memories summer memories

my first house

my first house

holly oak in the snow

You remember the little cottage I bought when I first came to the island? It was called Holly Oak.holly

Martha's Vineyard Isle of DreamsWell, in this new book (which should be coming out right around April), we go inside the house, I want to show you around, it’ll only take a minute, as you can see, it’s not very big, but it has a really cute stove . . . I’ll show you both with watercolor and with lots of photos, before and after photos too. I think you are going to love this book.gifts

It’s totally tied with heartstrings. And this is too . . . wishing you all the very best . . .SB art/BlessingHappy New Year! Thank you for another wonderful year of connection, of knowing we are not alone. I’ve loved every second of it . . . XOXO

here we go!

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