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.

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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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A Giant P.S.

All the stuff I forgot to tell you in WILLARD! Consider this a giant P.S. Here’s one of the songs we had at Joe’s party . . . MUSICA!ComeSitStayComfy?  Okay, well, I thought I’d show you a few more photos of the party itself . . . starting with the man of the moment . . .

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Our good boy (in dreams I walk with him) received a special cup from Rachel and Paul for his birthday.  And btw, we really couldn’t have done his birthday party without our darling English people  . . .🌟

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Here’s Paul putting up the lights, while the music is playing . . . gotta have twinkle lights at a garden party!

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We had a nice little breeze that blew the tablecloths off as fast as Rachel, Diana and Elaine (and me too) put them on!

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It was the perfect chance to use all the vintage tablecloths I’ve collected from flea markets over the years!

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But wind or no wind, it all worked out, and everyone came!

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balloonsRay and Paul started off the entertainment portion of Joe’s Happy Birthday Toasts with the perfect rendition of a little-known song called, ‘Philological Waltz’ (by Flanders and Swann, click there for the youtube version, it starts at 1 minute in) ~ Now Joe and I are trying to figure out what WE should sing for Ray’s birthday in October while we’re in England! Any ideas?

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Next up in our talented neighborhood, my girlfriends sang Martha’s newly-written words balloonsto When I’m Sixty-Four . . . And Elaine (who came out from California) fixed it so they had the music playing over the speakers  while they sang to Joe . . .

🎶🎵 “. . . Sue will still need you ~ you will still feed Sue, way past sixty four! 🎶🎵

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Looking at me and saying, aren’t we so funny and adorable! Yes, you are! 👏 That’s Martha upSingingBird front, you can barely see Barbara behind her, then Peggy, Elizabeth, Siobhan, and Elizabeth’s sister, Robin.

🎵 🎶 “Every summer you can have party in your big back yard, it will be pot luck . . .” 🎶

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An appreciative audience . . . including Gerry (married to Martha), on the left . . . he’s a doctor ~ and at one time he was a ship doctor, so he wore his old uniform and gave a fantastic speech in honor of our soon-to-be ocean voyage and Joe’s Birthday, of course.Birthdayyes

Which everyone loved!

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Making everyone cry!

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balloonsRachel and I call this the “the naked cake” photo . . .  it’s coconut with lemon cake and lemon filling. Rachel, who’s a baker at home where she lives in England, decorated it so beautifully … she scattered it with loads of tiny purple and orange flowers from the garden and it looked so pretty, but we ate it up before we remembered to take a picture of it! There were Happy Birthday candles on top which Joe blew out so his wishes will all come true. It will all have to go into the memory book. 💛IMG_2575The party lasted long into the cool of the evening, Frank singing Come Fly With Me right up to the evening stars 🎶 . . . a lovely celebration for a guy named Joe.🎈

June 2010 141And now it’s over, we waved a tearful goodbye to the ferry until everyone was so very tiny . . . our guests have all gone home, the beds are made up, the kitchen is quiet, and the house is back as it always was, except now with a new glow of party DNA that I’m sure will last for all eternity, magical house of dreams . . . I toasted up some of that delicious canned Boston brown bread this morning and had it with my tea, all buttery and crisp-edged . . . little thingsflowers

IMG_6175It’s cool today, a tinge of fall is setting in, I even have a little shawl over my shoulders this morning, the boat whistle just blew out in the harbor . . . the long shadows of the changing season are beginning to appear . . .

IMG_2505One of my favorite things, the light through the trees, dappling my stove, the walls, across my kitchen floor . . .tea cup

IMG_2639The vases are filled . . . my soul is braced . . .VonArnimQuote

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Jack is getting all the attention he requires . . . here he is throwing himself into whatever Joe is doing . . . love me, pet me, aren’t I the cutest thing . . .?

B  E  L  O  V  E  D

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Yesterday I worked on the cover for the 2018 wall-calendar (believe it or not! This is why I never know what year it is!), then I meandered through our old neighborhood into town to pick up the mail . . . past the picket fences and the roses, under the trees, taking my own sweet time,Home sweet home

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with all the singing cicadas serenading, loving the Island, loving our home, our friends, feeling so blessed . . . we can already tell that folks are packing up, going home, leaving us . . . it’s getting very quiet around here.little thingsMarch2010 214

This is Tuesday . . . Willard starts going out at 9 am my time this morning . . . and it will be going for the next three days, twice a day, until they’ve all been delivered. Did you know that there are almost 56,000 souls who have signed up now, sisters, moms, grandmas, BFF’s, Girlfriends, all receiving Willard?  It’s hard to imagine, but I love our kindred spirits. In this crazy world, we need each other.💞 Because

normalYes, we are! Never doubt it for a moment. There are many more people just like us than not. We are the builders, the sharers, the ones who try hard to make it a wonderful world, who see the good in things, we should be proud and never give up. 💕 My dad would agree. So that means we are right. Thank you Girls. xoYouHaveToBelieveWeAreMagic

starry night What else? (Losing my mind a bit, but oh well, what else is new?)  Oh yes, Thursday night, August 25th, I’ll be giving a little talk for the Library in Aquinnah ~ in case you’ll be on the Island, it’s at 5 pm at the Old Town Hall . . . I’ll sign anything you like, new books, old books . . . 💗 Bring it all.

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BeatrixAnd my friend Betsy Bray wanted me to remind you that she is taking a tour of “not-too-many” (but of course, all kindred spirits) through the Lake District next June, 2017. Go HERE for more info, and read about Betsy too … she was elected the first-ever American Trustee for the Beatrix Potter Society in 2012. Her tour would be perfect for anyone not wild about driving on the wrong side of the road, not to mention the fact that Betsy is a Beatrix Potter expert . . . knows all the backroads and little stories about the Lake District and going with her would be a real treat . . . in case Hill Top and the Lake District is on your bucket list . . . you would have a whole year to prepare!You can't have everything quote; susan branch art

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We, on the other hand, have only a couple more weeks to prepare for our adventure on the Queen Mary 2.  I’m already gathering clothes to pack. Trying not to take too much. Living with my new watchword, “layers” ~ topping it all off “with something wind proof, and rain proof!” 💦We know where we’re going. Boots, tall rainy grass, hills and dales.  And another notch in the belt of our dreams come true.🌟rainy dayIMG_1170

So reaching for all the summer I can get . . . here is my breakfast this morning . . . blueberries we picked on the side of the road on our walk yesterday . . . over Cream of Rice (which I will love forever, not growing out of it!)Sweet MorningsAnd for you . . . ideas for delicious and

EasyFruitDessertsGrab all the summer you can . . . Pack your bags and 🎵 come with me, to the sea, to the sea, the sea of love . . .packing

Love you! Have a wonderful day.💝 Don’t forget: “Layers.” ❌⭕️❌⭕️❌pink-flowers

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