YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD FOR FAIRY TALES

My dad says I should blame it all on Vanna. It’s her fault I’ve been away so long!  I love the way that sounds.  But first thing’s first . . . we need MUSICA to go with our Fairy Tale.

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 Don’t be mad at us ~ we come bearing gifts . . . I’m sorry I’ve been away so long.  I hope I didn’t worry you, I missed you just as much as you missed me!  Everyone is happy and healthy around here and keeping out of trouble the best we can.  You can see we are surrounded with mini-miracles, Girl and Jack in the same photo!!  Yesterday! (Look at his cute folded paws!)

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‘Course the whole world is a miracle now that the lilacs are in bloom . . . this is my view out the window from my art table.

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Here’s up close and personal, a bee’s-eye view.

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IMG_1058  Here’s the sky view, lilacs are everywhere on the Island right now ~ it smells wonderful outside!

  So here’s more of what’s been happening around here. Besides the fact that we have two new baby squirrels coming to the feeders ~ who won’t hold still for six seconds so I can take their picture, but they are adorable! The tiniest ears in the world.

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Our tulips and daffodils bloomed, so perky after that cold winter. You have to call that a miracle!

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And then there’s this . . . our ornamental pear tree.  I’m very big on spring flowers, I like the shock of it!  This does it for me!

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We still have a few of these Angelique tulips in bloom . . .

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My birthday was perfection, thank you all so much for your well wishes!  My dad and his wife Jeanie sent me this darling birdhouse!

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And the dogwood did its part by blooming soon after . . .

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Heres another photo of the dogwood . . .

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When Joe was digging the hole to plant the dogwood, he found that little blue bottle in it.  I celebrate that little bottle all the time. Buried treasure! Kind of a fairy tale, don’t you think?

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Here’s another picture of the pear . . . I can’t get enough of it. I could live there.

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Here it is again, showing off with the weeping cherry and forsythia . . .

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And more forsythia, not to be outdone . . .

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When we bought this house in 1989, there was a wonderful magnolia in the garden that bloomed every year and made the perfect spring picture for all passers by. In fact, long before I bought this house, I used to drive past it in the spring, just to see all the wonderful flowering trees in bloom.  The woman who owned the house before me, Mrs. Bowditch, was a garden lover.

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This was her tree, and the legacy she left for us.  But one day, this beautiful magnoliatree up and died, and I’ve mourned it ever since.  I know Mrs. Bowditch was looking down from heaven saying, “Susan, Put it back. It’s your job.”  It took three years to find the right kind here on the island to replace it with.  I wanted the exact same variety.  But they didn’t seem to carry it in our nurseries ~ only other varieties, with different flowers.  In addition, I find it hard to trust the name tags on the trees, I trust them more if there is a flower I can see.

planting a new Magnolia tree

There was exactly one flower on this one when we found it last year at Vineyard Gardens, but it looked like the right kind!!!  So excited, we took a chance and brought it home.

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And prayed that it wasn’t some sort of trick. I waited for it to bloom this year, and we got lucky, because it was the right kind! It still has a way to go before it reaches the glory of the original tree, but I am so happy to have this view back! A pure pleasure. Happy Mother’s Day, Mrs. Bowditch.Thank you for the inspiration!

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And here we are in the way back . . . enjoying more . . .  

spring!

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Oh yes, we’ve been celebrating by walking through the woods out to the pond and the ocean every day . . . 

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The leaves are back!  We watch seagulls, terns, finches and osprey flit, dive and prey and we do “Morning Science” which always starts with the words, “I wonder why” . . .  Big breaths of this air soothes the winter soul. A blessing.

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Speaking of blessings, here’s one of the things I missed ~ well, I missed sharing it with you ~ was Princess Charlotte’s Birth Day!  Weren’t you thrilled they had a girl?  How perfect! And isn’t Kate’s dress adorable?  

Princess Charlotte William and Kate must wake up and pinch themselves every day!   Now Kate can shop for baby dresses!  Of course we non-royalty types celebrate in our own way, by drinking tea from our new Emma mugs!  Not a bad way to go!  Too cute! I hope everyone got one . . . Kellee announced their arrival on Facebook . . . I know they’ll sell out from Emma soon, if not already.  They always have a limited supply of these special event mugs which is the good news and the bad news!  

Another thing I missed with you was . . .

Mother's Day

So, Happy Mother’s Day to all of my soul-nurturing Girlfriends.  The world wouldn’t be fit to live in handwithout you!  You are kind of IT.   I just saw a wonderful movie that I think would make the perfect Mother’s Day gift for you.  It’s not new, it came out in 2011, so it’s available on Netflix and all kinds of places, even on YouTube. I know you’ll love it.  It’s called The Well Digger’s Daughter.  It’s French, you have to read subtitles, but it’s easy to get used to and the cinematography is heaven with lovely views of the French countryside. I loved the musica too.  And the dad in this movie is wonderful too.  Also, the clothes on his five daughters!  It’s set just as WWI is beginning.  So happy Belated Mother’s Day dearest ones!   

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So where have I been?  What is my pitiful excuse?  You aren’t buying the Vanna excuse?  I didn’t think so.

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envelopeI’ve been doing this .  I’ve been writing our book. I made you a promise to try to have it before Christmas do I decided to put my shoulder into it and make it actually happen. The Musica for today was a hint.  I’ve been playing it for inspiration and strength.   I think anyone who must march to a finish line would be helped by playing this music.

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And this is where I am now.  Deep into my watercolors, making new art for our new book, which finally has a name.  You’ll be the first to know . . . ready?  I’m scared . . . OK, here we go . . . 

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Here’s the first time I wrote it . . . trying it on for size . . . to be or not to be, that is was the question.

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And I liked it! So here’s where I got serious.

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And here’s where I started to mean business.

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 And here’s where there’s no turning back.  Yesterday, Kellee posted THE FAIRY TALE GIRL in the web store for presale (everytime I type presale, my auto fix changes it to “resale” and now it’s Donotdisturbchanging autofix to “outfox.”  Stop helping me outfox!)

Anyway, this is the book I’ve been trying to write since about 2006 and would not have been happy in life if I didn’t. I had to, even though it’s a completely new thing for me and I had to practice by writing A FINE ROMANCE first.  Which was not only fun, but very helpful as far as learning is concerned.

THE FAIRY TALE GIRL began as just one book, but when I added the art and photos and recipes, it was too big, so I had to make it two books ~ The Fairy Tale Girl comes complete with a cliff hanger ~ so very soon we’ll also have the sequel called MARTHA’S VINEYARD, ISLE of DREAMS. And guess what else?  They are novels! Based on my diaries.

my diariesYikesI know, but it’s true.  And this isn’t even all of them!  So, of course I’m scared to death!  But counting on the fact that

fairytalesI’m plowing forward despite trepidation.  I think you will like it, it’s sort of like the blog only more and longer. For the next month, before it goes to print, I will be digging through old 

img066photographs like this one, laying out my pages in the book with them so you can see what I’m writing about ~ and painting the art so you can go on a little virtual journey with me back to the 1900s.  What do you think? A novel with pictures!

For those of you interested in preordering The Fairy Tale Girl, yours will be signed copies and shipped to you first before anyone else ~  as soon after August 15th as possible, on a first-come first-serve basis (because we really never know how many to print of these things). The actual “Publication Date,” when you should be able to find it in stores, is October. That’s so we have time to send books to reviewers.

magicAnd now, because I’ve been away so long, and because that was bad, I want to make it up to you by GIVING AWAY the first ten copies of A Fairy Tale Girl by Susan BranchTHE FAIRY TALE GIRL to ten of YOU!  So leave a comment and we’ll have a drawing, and wear poor Vanna out with all the work to choose ten winners!  It’s good for her!  They’ll ship out the moment they arrive.  And BTW, if my Blog is delivered your email address, you need to come here to www.susanbranch.com in order to leave a comment ~ at the very bottom of this post, where you see a row of tiny words, look for “comment,” click there, and voila, leave a comment, and you’ll be entered.

thankyoufor your support ~ love you Girls.  Everyday I’ve thought the same thing as I’ve been writing, “What would the Girlfriends like me to tell them about?”  This time it’s a fairy tale, complete with a Prince Charming, a bite of poison apple, and lessons learned!  We all have a bit of that fairy tale in us, right? ~ but I’m not telling anymore! Until maybe next time.  Previews are only fair. 

Have a wonderful day! XOXO 

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YOU and ME and LOUISA, makes THREE

Hi Girlfriends!  Yes!  I had a wonderful birthday, thank you so much for all your well-wishes!  I’m still having it!  Friday is a Girl-Party Lunch on opening-day-for-the-season of a restaurant at the golf course and all the guys are coming too. The birthday that will not end! MUSICA  I heard this on my birthday in the car on the way to lunch and I haven’t been able to stop singing it since, thought I’d spread the wealth.

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balloonsSpring has sprung, bo-yo-ying around here!  It’s so wonderful to have an April birthday! Look at my flowers! Gorgeous! This is why I love birthdays.  My mom called, my dad, my brothers and sisters, my friends.  That’s my favorite thing, those calls. ♥  My cup runneth over.

Parrot tulips

These parrot tulips are from my friend Marjorie. We do have daffodils just about to pop in the garden, but it’s still very very early spring.  Lovely sun and around 60* today, but no flowers except on my kitchen table.

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Even a gerbera daisy for my little vase ~ still can’t believe Joe found this little blue bottle in the hole he dug out back for our dogwood tree. People ask me where I got it, I say it came with the house. I don’t know which I like better, the dogwood, or this little bottle!  (OK, the tree, but only by a hair.)

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We went for a walk on my birthday and it was gorgeous out there.  This probably doesn’t look that great to you, winter worn sunand still no leaves, but it was heaven ~ cool breeze but nice warmish sun. When you’ve been indoors for a long time, there aren’t words for how fresh it all seems. Smell of ocean, thawing ground, blue sky, and the birds have lost their little pea-picking minds! Chasing each other through the trees ~ singing so loud, we have to stop the whole way out and look to see what they are up to.

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My walk is my best “thinking place.”  I try to remember to carry pencil and paper with me so if an idea pops into my head, I can write it down and not forget. When I get home I run to the studio to see how it fits into my writing.

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to the water

 This day we ended up laying flat on the cold sand (in coat and jacket, very cozy, it’s not summer yet!), letting the sun bore into us for about ten glorious minutes, listening to the sound of the waves, the wind and the peeps of the birds, watching the sky ~ of course I had a thought I wanted to write down ~ I dug around and found a pen, but neither of us had any paper! (Or phones either!)

notesThat’s when a white seashell comes in very handy!

Progress on the book (because you’ve been so patient about the blogging part  which I love you for, very, very much!) has been good! This is the longest story I’ve ever written ~ in order to get all the photos in, it has to be two books. I get so excited I can’t stop ~ when I’m in writing mode, I try to stay focused and not do anything else but write.  But both books are done and at the copy editor as of April 12th!  He’ll have them for a month, in the meantime, I’ll be doing the watercolors for them.  I’m trying so hard to get them to you by Christmas, but I still have a ton of artwork to do.  My birthday has jumped between me and my paintbrush this week, but soon I’ll be free to burrow down and focus again.

Tickle-me pink  Once I got going, these books pretty much fell out of me.  They’re not exactly memoirs because I changed a few things to susan branch diariesprotect the innocent (mostly me of course :-), but they are  fact-based ~ on the diaries I’ve kept since I was in my twenties ~ I would say it’s an 87% true story, at least “semi” autobiographical and a novel rather than a memoir, two novels! I think you will love them. Remember Diana, my best friend in A Fine Romance?  Remember how funny she was?  Well, she and I laugh all the way through the new books. It’s so hard for me not to tell you the whole story.  But I want it to be a surprise so tell me to shut up.

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susan branch 2016 wall calendar

Thank you. I needed that. :-) And this was waiting for me on my Birthday too. The color preview of the new 2016 wall-calendar ~ also, the mini, the purse calendar, the magnet and the desk blotter calendars came too. Everything bright and shiny and new.  We should have them by the end of July if not sooner.  And even more good news, Kellee called to tell me . . .

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that REASONS TO GO ON LIVING prints have come in and are in the web store.  I think she announced it on Facebook, but I promised I’d tell you when we got them.  

And, you may be asking, what did I want for my birthday? You can  see it was already a Red Letter Day ~ but my special birthday present was . . .

IMG_0683This.  I wanted to go to Louisa May Alcott’s house and take you with me.  So that’s exactly what we did yesterday.  Joe and I packed the car for a day trip along the backroads to Concord, MA ~ a town famous for lots of reasons, probably number one, because it’s where the first conflict of the Revolutionary War took place. And, it’s also famous for Orchard House (c. 1690), the house where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women.

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Stay

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Speaking of memoirs that turn into novels; we learned so much on our visit . . . for one thing, Little Women is 87% true too ~ Louisa changed names, places, and times to make it more of a “story,” but it was truly based on her life, friends and family. It was so much fun learning about her real sisters and seeing how much they had in common with the characters, Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth.

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And here at the front door, you can see the perfect reflection of spring . . . tiny leaves about to burst.

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In the orchard, one or two of these brave flower souls.

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Louisa’s dad made this “desk” for her ~ this is where she wrote Little Women.  It was considered quite something in 1865 for a woman to have a desk of her own. I am so glad she did!

“Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.”   Louisa May Alcott

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The table where Jane worked

But look at this desk, it’s even smaller, this is where Jane Austen wrote during the most prolific time of her life in early 1800’s.  At this tiny desk.  I don’t know how these girls did it. I always ask, “How did they do it, were there piles of paper all around them on the floor?”  But no one knows.

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susan branch studio

 This is where I write . . . I live in the Paperless Society, my trash is full and my floors are always covered with little bits and piles of book everywhere that we all have to step around. With all this space I have no excuses for not getting it done! One thing Louisa and I have in common, until I get it done, I will find no peace either.

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working in the living room

My work in the paperless world leaks out of the studio to the back of the sofa and right now, the table in the living room is covered with photo albums!  Jack is king of the room, everything he surveys is his. I don’t know how he gets up there!

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This was my favorite thing at Orchard House, that owl over the fireplace in Louisa’s bedroom (where the desk is too). Her sister May (the artist, Amy, in Little Women) painted it.  When she was young, the Alcott’s encouraged May to draw anywhere in the house she wanted to, many walls are adorned with her art. She also painted the flowers next to Louisa’s desk.

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Louisa collected owls. Isn’t this just the most wonderful thing?!

May Alcott at Orchard House

Besides line drawings, there are also some amazingly beautiful framed pieces belonging to May. She was quite highly regarded.  BTW, Those are needlepointed foot warmers on each side of the fireplace; the tops come off and you fill them with coals!

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Almost everything in the house actually belonged to the family.  You are seeing the real thing when you go to Orchard House.

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A cupboard in the kitchen.

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They made the house so homey.  It opened to the public in 1911 ~ keeping all of the history and originality has been a work of love for over a hundred years, for generations.

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This quilt was on Marmee’s Bed, she made it.  And they did call their mother Marmee.

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Louisa’s sewing box, with needles and thread. 

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And Beth’s piano.  Not really.  But when I came in this room, tears came in my eyes.   The piano belongs to Louisa’s real sister, Elizabeth.  Like Beth, Elizabeth died very young at only age 16.

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That’s Elizabeth in the picture. It’s all seems to come alive.

from the Concord Museum

I think I will stop there.  Next time I want to show you some of the houses in Concord because they are GORGEOUS.  This scene is actually a model made in 1930 . . . we saw it in the Concord Museum, so there’s lots more.

Birthday game

This is the birthday game my girlfriends and I play ~ we call it the “Ring Thing.”  We drop our rings over the candles, light them and then everyone gets to make a wish.  Let’s do that girls, let’s all make a wish.  Think of a wonderful wish, I’ll count to ten.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  OK, now very slowly, close your eyes and make your dearest birthday wish . . . and send all of your lovely thoughts right to heaven along with mine. XOXO 

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