Like this morning, I come down the kitchen stairs singing Que Sera Sera (or something, it’s always different, whatever the “guardian MUSICA angel” puts into my head when I first wake up, but today, Que Sera Sera) which brings back lots of Tea partymemories, and gives me all these great ideas that run through my mind while I’m feeding the cats, emptying the dishwasher, singing, “ I asked my mother what will I be . . .” and making tea.  I can barely get to the studio fast enough (before I forget) to add the new memories and ideas to the book I am writing, and then something happens to me.  I disappear lettercompletely, I hear nothing, see nothing, only a sort of ticker-tape noise in my brain (which sounds just like when my brothers used to clothespin playing cards to the spokes of their bikes . . .very good for hypnosis) and when I wake up a. it’s 2 pm and b. I need a nap, and c. I have to do laundry, get the mail, and go to the market, on oh yes! My Girlfriends, I need to say hello!  This is my problem in a nutshell.  I knew you’d want to know.

Walking through town to the post office (after I spend the morning writing) is a good way to wake up from what sometimes feels like a dream . . . it’s August on Martha’s Vineyard, the weather has been beautiful (actually stunning: last night a HUGE lightening storm, pounding thunder, blinking electricity, sirens, lit candles, pulling Girl Kitty out from under couch) but today, another dry sunny coolish day, just heaven), and the gardens and trees along the way are in full leafy bloom.  The hydrangea practically froths.

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The soil here on the island is acidic (because of all those leaves that are contemplating September. On their to-do list: Change), so most of our hydrangeas are blue, purple or white.


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I love walking on the quiet streets past the old fences, where there’s wicker furniture on porches and in gardens. It speaks to me . . .


white hydrangea



I thought you’d like to see this wonderful illustrated letter that came in the mail yesterday.  A real hand-written old-fashioned letter . . . a different kind of garden, but still, a garden …  it made my day.


lovely letter

(Her toe hurts bet-tee.) I love that a high school girl likes our book, don’t you? That she took the time to write with her review? I love her mother too ~ all that cooking, how great. They are good sunshine-spreaders.  Wouldn’t you like to follow her around for the rest of her life and be with her when she goes to England herself someday? Stand right next to her as she looks out over the Dales for the first time, takes a deep breath and tears come in her eyes because of the beauty?  See the little lambs she drew?  I wrote her back to say thank you and told her to go to the Appendix for A FINE ROMANCE, for my little videos and more England and maybe a little Beatrix Potter . . . 

flower border

Kitty Love

K I T T Y   L O V E

flower border I have left Kitty Love out of both of my last two posts but I woke up this morning with Jack’s eyes about three inches from mine, staring into my face; he seemed to be trying to tell me something.  Notice me.  Not that I don’t, but it is his goal that I never forget for an instant. There cannot be enough noticing.  You have to see what my house looks like.  He hints constantly:


By leaving rubber bands all over the house . . .


They are strategically placed everywhere he knows I go . . .  They are in every doorway . . . MAS MUSICA?


He puts them on his favorite window sills . . .


They are on the kitchen floor . . .


. . .  on the back stairs . . .


. . . in the dining room . . .


. . . in the hall, and he waits.

picked them all up

I picked them all up . . . these are just the ones from the downstairs . . .


I hold one up so Mr. Green Eyes knows I’m getting his hints ~ finally! 

jackie boy

I shoot it just above his head, he leaps off his scratching post, tries for it in mid air, misses (this time), runs to get it, brings it back up . . .

Jack is ready

And points to it.  Just in case I might miss it.  So we can do it again.


and again and again . . .


Girl lounges.  She is fine with it, as long as none of it gets on her.  If the action comes too near, she daintily walks to the door and says, let me out please.  Because, unlike Jack, she is a responsible adult and is allowed to go outside by herself (because she is part chicken and never gets further than two feet from the foundation of the house).


She lords this freedom over Jack.  He follows her every move from the top of the ironing board or window sill or screen door.  When she comes in, he sees her as a neighborhood cat, ie, the enemy.  He lies in wait, he chases her up the stairs, but she is ready. He doesn’t stand a chance. A few growls and he is back downstairs . . . boom boom boom, his feet hit the stairs . . .


. . . and there he is, looking up at me with those eyes saying, Hey, remember me?  Have you seen my rubber bands?


W I N D O W   of    O P P O R T U N I T Y

So, the window is still open, but barely, this is the fleeting  moment, the five-minute opening in summer when the peaches are time fliesripe and juicy, the plums are red and dripping, the cantaloupe is sweet and melts in your mouth . . .  So I thought I would remind you to take advantage of the moment with two delicious recipes you really can’t make at any other time of year . . . First, healthy and ice cold . . .

cantaloupe soup

When it’s really hot and the bees are drowsy, I add “ice cream croutons” to this cold soup.  Little round melon-ballers of vanilla ice cream are a wonderful surprise to find in this beautiful peach-colored soup.  Speaking of peaches . . . you could have soup for dinner, and this  for dessert, commonly known in the biz as having your cake and eating it too . . . 

peach and plum

Peaches and plums baked in a crisp . . . Bake this one for 25 minutes, just heaven on a summer night.  Make your weekend special with one of these recipes.  Peaches, plums, and Cantaloupes . . . the taste of summer.


B  E  C  A  U  S  E

look what's on its way

Artsy fartsy photography, just for you.  We’ve got it all, don’t we Girlfriends?  With lve from me . . . XOXO

love letters in the sand

F O R   N O W . . .

hydrangea border

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This is Your Life!

I’ve been wanting to do a post about my sister and her twin boys and today is the day!   First, MUSICA!  The picture below on flowerthe right, is my sister as a baby. I was fourteen when she was born (she’s the youngest of eight and I’m the oldest) so my mother let me name her — I chose Michelle after the most popular girl in my Junior High School (whose name was Shelly Stewart).  Most of us call her Shelly, some say Shelly Belly, and I call her Belle, as in Mee-shell, ma belle, somblay mon kee bon tre bien on somble . . . (my “French” is phonetic in case you can’t tell!).

family love

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That is Belle just after giving birth to the loves of her life in 2003.  Two little boys, Mason and Paden Stewart.

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My sister was forty-one when the boys were born . . . she had suffered with breast cancer a short time before she became pregnant, so these little dolls were and are her little miracles.  Mason is in Green and Paden is in red.  Not that you will ever be able to tell them apart.

Happy babies from the beginning. I have no idea which one this is.


But here’s the other one.  If I was forced to guess . . . (I can’t).  Sometimes I call them and ask who’s who in a photo and the boys don’t know either, which makes me feel better.


They have been such good friends from the very beginning,  We would come in when they were infants and they’d be in their crib holding hands.


They’ve been in it together from the start.

go. be. love.

Shelly and the boys used to live in Durango, Colorado. Unfortunately, their dad wasn’t well and so went MIA early on; that’s what happens sometimes . . . my brave sister has done it all herself. 

jim and kids

Maybe with a little help from this guy.  The twins are very much loved by my brother Jim who lived right next door to them in Durango for the first seven years of their lives.



They used to go on the job with him . . .

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My mom came to visit and the boys are doing what they do all the time, making art . . . paper, pens, pencils, brushes and paint, they love it and they’re good at it. That’s Mason in the Martha’s Vineyard lobster jammies.  You might wonder why the one on the right (Paden) has a beard and those amazing eyebrows.  That’s because this was November first . . . think about it.


Here’s Mason on October 31st, doesn’t he look happy?  He’s getting ready to go trick-or-treating.  Shelly is a wonderful costumer . . . look at these boys 

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So darling!!!!  She made their swords with cardboard and aluminum foil.  On the left, if I have this correctly, is Mason, on the right is Paden.  Or it could be the other way around. Either way, they could not have had any more fun going trick-or-treating that night than we did, going along and watching them.

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I’m pretty sure this is Paden with the beautiful eyes.  But it’s hard to tell because Mason’s eyes look just like Paden’s!

July 08 Vineyard 1398

I can almost hear Shelly going Arrrgh.

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See what I mean about the eyes?  Holy Smokes as my dad would say.  Here we are in Las Vegas at the Shark Tank (celebrating my Mom’s 80th birthday), and these are stuffed toy sharks.  The one on the right is the Hammerhead shark.  They will know who they are based on who had the Hammerhead.

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Mason, Brianna (their next door neighbor) and Paden, Adorable children, and beautiful eyes on all of them.

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One way you can tell who they are (which doesn’t always work):  Paden is usually in the green shirt, Mason wears blue.  

Paden is not happy because he is having his picture taken under the giant statue of Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch called “Forever Marilyn” and he would just rather not.  I really don’t blame him.


These may be the only two pictures I have of them where they aren’t smiling.

They take paper and crayons or pens everywhere they go. They have sent us their art for years.

Here are a couple of samples of their wonderful work ~ Paden’s snowman, and . . .


Mason’s fish that looks like he might have a bit of chicken in him (I mean the fish — around the mouth). (Ooops, just got a call from Mason, this is an Angry Bird, of course, what was I thinking!)  The colors in both of them are wonderful . . .

two tickets to paradise

They send me their art and I send them mine . . . these are the two tickets to paradise I made for them for their seventh birthday.

They are very proud of their Lego creations.  They put these things together, look close, there are like five of them on the table . . . 


This is another of their passions.  Minecraft. It’s a really popular video game and they LOVE it ~ at least they did last October when I took these pictures, by now I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t have a whole new passion.


Joined at the hip, they have magnificent obsessions ~ they know every species of shark (and draw great pictures of them); they also know the scientific name for all dinosaurs and whether they eat carnivores or herbivores (and draw great pictures of them).  When they were around seven, their school quit teaching cursive, so they asked Shelly for books with cursive writing and they taught themselves.   Boys after my own heart.  Here boys . . . Here’s some sharks for you:


Click HERE for Fun Facts about Dinosaurs.  I bet you know all this stuff already!


So these are their own home-made Minecraft characters. (His name is Enderman.) 


They make these little box creatures out of paper.(He’s a zombie.)



This one is like a snowman-pumpkinhead. (Actually to be exact, he is a “snow golem.”)  I know this may not be the most interesting thing to the Girlfriends, but for sure the TWINS will love it.  Right guys?  I thought the characters you made were wonderful . . . really creative . . . I liked them all but the craziest one was the tarantula! I don’t know how you did that!


These are their friends . . . from the left is Michael, then Seth, Mason, Ryan, and Paden ~ you can tell by their pinkies that they have decided to drink “elegantly!”  That’s what I heard.   You might note that perhaps the twins could be actors, they have very interesting facial expressions! :-)



Shelly and the boys are HUGE animal lovers. MAS MUSICA?  This is Gracie who is no longer with us, except in this beautiful frame, which she deserves because she was a doll of a love bird. She stood on Shelly’s shoulder while she put on her make up, and took seeds out of her mouth.  Adorable birdlet we all loved.


los perros

From the left, starting with Shelly’s dog Elsie ~ then my brother Brad’s two Jack Russells, Samantha and Orbit ~ and then Shelly’s Pepper, Chica, and at the top right, that’s Schmoopy . . . and that really cute little hairless dog over there with the red car is Paden.


This is Jack.


Unfortunately Jack didn’t make it which was a very sad day for everyone. But he was given the BEST funeral with full honors. No fish was ever loved so much.  Look at the lemon/rock circle of love, plus the little cross . . . Boys, you did an amazing job with this . . . 

hearts and flowers

IMG_1223. . . brilliantly constructed from highlighter-enhanced ice cream sticks and a pipe cleaner. Rest in Peace pobrecito.

heart of any man

Elsie has also gone to heaven too, and one of the boys made this as part of their memorial.  The hearts!  ohhhh. xoxo

If you do it with heart

And now, Chica, on the right, my personal favorite because of her adorable winning smile and because she never forgot me, passed on only a week ago.  She’s in heaven now and only Pepper is left to carry on.  Everyone is being very brave and so happy they were able to have their petty-pets for so long.♥

hearts and flowers

So when Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe come to visit . . . what do they bring?

Something orange . . . hmmmm, it’s Halloween . . . so maybe . . . .


Ah yes, just a little something for the yard.

Shelly loved it too.



Belle is a great cook ~ she fixed us this most wonderful lunch of spinach salad with toasted pecans and strawberries.  To pastabalance out all that health, she made her favorite recipe for “Macaroni and Cheese.”  Here’s the recipe . . .  she changed the elbow macaroni for “shell” pasta (of course she did)  ~ this has four different cheeses and is OUTRAGEOUSLY delicious. She served it all on our great grandma’s Haviland China. (Alice Carpenter, was the boys great-great-grandma.  That’s pretty good boys!)

Course we all had to go to the giant flea market.


And now it’s time to say goodbye.  We always kiss goodbye. We are sisters for life. ♥

hearts and flowers



Bye Mason, Bye Paden, I hope you enjoyed these pictures!  You live a magical life boys, mostly because of how you are. Give your mom a hug for me.  Now look away because I’m going to say something nice about you . . . These boys are fun, funny, smart, and creative, such good artists ~ they’re really great as a pair, good to each other, good to their mom, and just the best to be around.  On top of that, for the last three years they have made the principal’s honor roll at school.  I hope they keep doing that forever.  And never change and stay just the way they are (inside anyway — they are allowed to grow up,if  they  insist).

AND JACKSON BROWNE?  If you’re out there somewhere, you should let my sister make some macaroni and cheese for you.  

heart of the home


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