Hello darling Girlfriends . . . I just wanted to do a quick update so you can see why you haven’t been hearing from me!  Today is Joe’s 64th Birthday🎈 and we will be celebrating this afternoon with about a hundred of his nearest and dearest friends, we’re going to let him know that we will still need him, we will still feed him, even though, he’s 64  . . . So we’ve been keeping ourselves very busy getting ready!birthday party


Old friends have come from far and wide ~ we’ve been planning this party since last January ~ and even invited everyone before we went on our cross-country book tour, but with everything that’s happened in these last months, the actual organization part was put off until maybe these last two weeks, but even so, the tent showed up right on time . . . we have lots of tables ~ I’ve been cooking, and today we birthday partydecorate! Party starts at 4:30 pm. The man bringing the music system comes at noon, the birthday cake (to serve 100, three tiers, coconut lemon cake) comes at 4pm … I spent all day yesterday with three of my dearest girlfriends making a playlist for the party!!! 🎵 🎶 It was SO MUCH FUN.  We included my Dad and had Tennessee Waltz on the list, and for about 4 hours, we sang along balloonswith the songs, decided whether they should make the cut, said yes or vetoed, and jumped for joy when we remembered the perfect song… like this one MUSICA … we chose a mixture of 70s and 40s musica from Dancing Queen to I Only Want to Be with You, plus La Vie en Rose, and Fly Me to the Moon ~ my niece Holly has already requested I send the list to her …. We hope singing and dancing will break out all over! It’s a once-in-every-15-years-type-party to celebrate Joe with all our good friends ~ actually, the last time we did a party like this was for his 40th birthday!  But this boy deserved a party, and anyway . . .fun is good

dancing fools



Paul's Birthday

⬆️ This was dinner last night . . . There’s Diana from California on the left (BFF from Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams), our dear old friend Peggy, then Paul, of “Rachel-from-England-fame,” then Elaine (BFF who hired me to work in the record department in Fairy Tale Girl in 1971), then Rachel herself, then darling Bob, Peggy’s husband, and then Siobhan, from England (from that adorable stone cottage in A Fine Romance). So this was a fairy tale dinner . . . 💞 with the freshest farm-stand corn that just jumped off the cob, and with people who love to sing over dessert!🎵

⬅️ Remember cute English Paul? He calls Vineyard Haven, “Haven,” and Cape Cod, “Cod.” We love him.  This little portrait was HIS birthday surprise last year . . . . 🎁


Here’s Ray and I . . . pen pals is how we met, she in England🇬🇧, me in America🇺🇸 …. she’s 20 years younger than me ~ we’re going to England to celebrate her 50th 🎂 this fall ~ a few years ago, Ray and I discovered that we both wrote to Queen Elizabeth when we were children, AND we both got letters back from the same Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen (the longest serving Lady-in-Waiting in history) …. 20 years apart!!! Now this is a friendship that was meant to be.💕

So now I must go . . . so much to do, but I had to let you know what was going on so you wouldn’t think I was just ignoring you!!! Never! XOXOXO

Have a wonderful day! 💛


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What Ever Happened to HOLLY OAK???

Hello Darling People!  I’ve noticed in your comments that some of you think I am giving away the very first Beatrix Potter Person I ever bought.  Some are saying thank you, you are so generous. But it isn’t true. To let that stand would be doing a Giveaway under false presences. I could never do this . . . for more reasons than one. MUSICA?


Remember this?


The time I showed you Joe’s special brand of handiness when he was in process of healing Jemima’s broken neck?  See the chip on the left side of her bill?  No, I would never foist this girl off on some unsuspecting YOU. She’s mine, the first BP Person I ever got, and I will continue to paste her back together (or ask Joe to do it), as needed, for as long as I live.


I’ve never quite gotten over seeing how he did this ~ with one large rubber band and half a toothpick. I couldn’t do it in a thousand years. Joe is so talented. And it worked, her neck is back on and she’s “good as new!”

IMG_2495BUT a few years back, I acquired a brand new girl so now, until right now anyway, I have two . . . I’ll keep the old one, and you’ll get the “new” one (they were both actually born the same year, 1948, five years after Beatrix Potter died). There’s no glue-chain around your Jemima’s neck . . . Yours is perfect with bill totally intact. And the wonderful Walking with Beatrix Potter book is for you too. Signed by me, with your name, as soon as I find out who you are. I hope you’re ready, Because, It’s Time. Thank you for taking part in this Giveaway, I love your wonderful comments! Okay, here we go . . . .


🎵 Jaa-ack? Go get her! 🎶


While we’re waiting for Jack to bring Vanna down … I thought I’d tell you Jack’s new trick. I get his ponytail band ready for shooting (so he can fetch it back to me), I pull it back, Jack 2016 susan branch calendarstretching it and pointing it in Jack’s direction, his eyes are locked on me … I say, “Ready?”  And, every time I say, “Ready?” ~  he SAYS, “E-e-e-reusss,” and burrows down even more in alert cat-faced readiness. It sounds like “YES” to me. He doesn’t say anything unless I ask him if he’s ready. So, you know what that means . . . ? While we were away Jack learned English. Like in Love Actually, he wanted to be able to talk to us in our own language, “just in cases.” He has an accent (coming from another land originally), so it’s not perfect yet, but he can talk! Such a smart boy.


Handsome too.  And Now . . . Oh, my . . . Vanna has already made the LEAP. She’s IN the barrel, scissor-kicking to the bottom (still in her pink nightgown ~ she was half asleep, got IMG_2489in late last night from her Euro-trash-type carousing 😜 and not in the mood to get into her mermaid suit) . . . over 2,000 little slips of paper with your names on them are whirling and twirling in a veritable vortex ~  it’s quite a sight ~~~ her long arm is coming up through it all ~ and now, she’s UP!  And in her hand, between her long elegant fingers, each wearing a thin golden ring, her manicured nails painted with blue polish, there’s just one little slip of paper which she tossed in my lap, and headed off for the coffee pot. And SO, the winner of our darling Beatrix Potter Person AND wonderful book, which I will be personalizing IS . . .

C L Y D E N E    D U R A N

And so that’s it! Can’t be too many with that name! The hardest thing about Giveaways is picking a winner. It’s a love/hate thing for me. Hard to only have one winner. But the “reward” for all of you who aren’t named Clydene is this: I thought I would answer the MOST-asked question on my Book Tour. I took questions at the end of each talk, and every time, someone would say, What happened to that little house? Do you still own it? What happened to . . .


Remember Holly Oak?


My first little house on Martha’s Vineyard, the one I wrote about in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams?


The one I accidentally bought when I ran away from home, from California to Martha’s Vineyard, where I took my broken heart to start life over again?bathing


The one that became like a dollhouse for me, like a toy, where I added a fireplace, and a bedroom, and put wallpaper in all the rooms?



Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams

And then got three kitties for it . . .


Girl, Bill, and Man Cat.

books 012

Home at Last

sbpixThe one with the little “guest shack” in the backyard? Where the cows from the farm next door came to have snacks? That Holly Oak?   Well, let me tell you. Here’s what happened:  There I was, minding my own business, living in this little house, working on making a life, pretty sure I was meant to be alone and probably done with men forever,  and then, out of the blue, when I wasn’t looking, what showed up but . . .afineromance


And believe it or not, I still managed to find two main things wrong with him: 1. He was a baby, too young, five years younger than me, and 2. Way too handsome, handsome being dangerous.  But he was also a tall man, with a beard, a 6’2″ Leo who could cook. Everything I’d mentioned in my diary that I thought might work for me. Everything the tea leaves had told me he would be.💖

sue and joe

And he was persistent. Look at those eyes. Plus, as it turned out, he loved Christmas, and riding the train, and sailing on ocean liners, and fires in the winter, and he could fix anything and cook lobsters, so, tell me, what choice did I have but to snap him up before he got away???? After a year or so, we began to notice that Holly Oak was too small for both of us!  Joe dwarfed everything and felt closed in, my art was taking over the house.  Very casually, we began to look for a new place to live. And one day he came home and said . . . Let’s go look at a house … let’s go look at this:

July 08 Vineyard 642words fairytale dreamEeek, I screamed. And to make a long story short, we fell madly in love with this dream house, and have lived here since 1989. We bought it in the days when Island houses were affordable.  Although we were turned down for two loan applications before anyone would trust that we could pay for it, the third time was the charm. Even we didn’t know for sure if we could make that payment, but I told Joe that even if we lived there for just one year, and then had to sell it, it would still be worth it.


And like all the people who’ve lived here since it was built in 1849, some part of our spirits will remain forever in this inspirational House of Creativity.IMG_7085

My house


And every season is wonderful here. If we ever sell this house, we’ve already decided to offer it to you guys first . . . it would be wonderful if a friend who appreciates it would be the one to live here after us . . . so put that on your calendar. 😽


This was the dining room when we first moved in, complete with pineapple wallpaper . . . There’s a snippet on the left of my old bedroom curtains from Holly Oak which I made from tablecloths all those years ago. I STILL have the last fragment of one as the curtain in our downstairs bathroom. I baby it, so it will last, but it’s not long for this world.


And after a while, we redid the dining room and it looked like this . . .

table setting dinner party

There have been many wonderful parties in this house . . .

november 2010 020

memoriesSomething tells me it was all Julia Child’s idea!


The house has an old-fashioned pantry . . . there’s another fridge in there, plus the washer and dryer, and baskets hang from the rafters in the peaked roof.

June 2010 065

And a great old kitchen . . . we bought the stove at a store called, of all the perfect things, “Stove Heaven,” and put in the wood floor, but almost everything else is original to the 1950s, when Dr. Bowditch, the previous owner, made the cabinets, the scalloped piece over the sink, and put “blue marble” linoleum down for the counters.



But in order to buy this house, I had to sell Holly Oak. So I sold it to my girlfriend Elizabeth!  She and her husband owned it for a few years, but then they had to sell it too, and now it has a very nice woman living in it . . . who I wish would win the lottery or have some other wonderful thing happen so she would move to Paris and let me have my house back!  I would have such fun with that house! I have all sorts of dreams about it.

holly oak

And it looks like this! We were invited in to see it and have tea in the backyard . . . she’s really taken perfect care of Holly Oak. It still has the little porch Carlton built for me.


The shack is still there! “The size of two king-sized beds, half bed and half floor.”


And there’s the deck my dad built.

IMG_8682There were lots of things I recognized, some bits of old wallpaper, the writing I did on the wall, and the cupboards Carl made with the hearts in them. I don’t tell anyone where the house is, the owner has added on, so it looks a little different, and I was careful in the book to give the wrong directions to get there . . . Just in cases. I want the very sweet woman that lives on that quiet road in the woods to continue liking me and not take my name in vain. So that’s what happened to Holly Oak! I should have remembered to put all this in the Epilogue in the book, but I forgot.  I’ll do it for the next printing.


And what have I been up to?  Nesting!!! Taking deep breaths. Filling my vases with flowers. Reveling in the magic of an ordinary day!


Dreaming about our upcoming trip on the Queen Mary 2 . . . Carlton stopped by the other day to give us a present . . . that ship model! So it’s my newest stove-top decor.


And, we’re in the throes of planning a big ol’ birthday party for Joe! Rachel and Paul and Siobhan are all coming from England . . . if you read A Fine Romance, I’m sure you’ll remember who they are, plus about 100 more of Joe’s nearest and dearest, including Diana, Elaine and Elizabeth, coming from California.  I’ll be sure to take pictures and show you!


Time to light the twinkle lights for dinner in the garden. I’m going to make something delicious, I just don’t know what it is yet!!!

cooking with kitty

Perhaps something like this . . .


Cicadas are singing like crazy this quiet afternoon, a sound that tells us it’s the beginning of the end of summer. It’s something we didn’t have in California, the cicadas high pitched noise, like a police whistle that never ends.  A bumper crop of blueberries are beginning to ripen out on the dirt road where we walk, and the very first leaves, just one or two, have turned orange.  Today’s my dad’s 93rd Birthday. I’ve been thinking a lot about him, remembering all the little things. Not to worry, I only feel blessed and lucky.Time ...


And in the meantime, I’m doing what I always do, staying on the sunny side of life.inthe gardenJust about to start writing us a new WILLARD!  If there is still anyone left who doesn’t know what that is, I would be shocked, but just in cases, click there, and you can read about my Newsletter that will just show up in your email (whenever I manage to get one done!). Sign up if you haven’t, and put your mom on too, and your BFF, because it’s free and this next one is going to be a dilly. All about our trip to England and Scotland.

Byee for now Girlfriends . . . Hope your August is wonderful! Start thinking about what you’re going to wear in Scotland, I think it’s going to be COLD up there! XOXOsealed with a kiss

August 2010 005

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