Living on love and other things (mainly strawberries)


It’s really awful when you’re so swamped that you don’t have time even to write down the things you want to remember for always. But it’s really nice when everything that happens is so freaking wonderful that you feel like you need to hold on to it forever.

It’s really nice when you wake up at six in the morning and smile and think how you have to hurry because soon you’ll be in the truck on your way to the strawberry patch with your best friends. You don’t have time for breakfast but that’s okay because you’re so fueled by passion for what you do that you don’t seem to need food anymore, except strawberies and peas. It’s really nice when your family all gets together to put on a party for you and your sister, and when you’re rushed and you don’t have time to get everything ready you come back and there’s a bunch of guys setting up tables and chairs and pounding nails and suddenly it all falls together and pretty much all that’s left for you to do is stand back and watch. People are great like that. They do things for you. And I don’t know any finer than the ones I’m fortunate enough to call friends.


It was friday night but we partied into saturday. When the bonfire at last died down I was way too exhausted and way too overflowing with all kinds of feelings, all of them positive, that I went to sleep without writing a word in my journal. But I’ll tell you a little bit about the party because I said I would – pretty much it was all I could have asked for. My friends came. We ate strawberries, even though we’d (I’d) been eating them straight all day. All the little kids wanted to ride in the gator, so I took them around the field. We danced in the grass, and then Somebody who shall not be named got a game of frisbee (AHEM AHEM) started on the lawn in front of the donkey pen, right by Rt. 60. (This is only a great idea if you have lots of tall boys who can catch the frisbee before it flies into the road, or are macho enough to run out there between cars and get it when it does.) I figured, what the heck, but I don’t have to play frisbee at my own party. Come to find out it’s much more enjoyable to sit back and watch all the boys dive for it than it is to walk back and forth across the field when your team loses every time. Feobe and I sat on Daddy’s tailgate and blew bubbles into each other’s eyes while Tim slammed into the donkey fence, Josiah rammed into people as usual, and New Guy completely creamed Daniel, which not many people have been able to do. It was a good time.

Then it got dark and we played ghost in the graveyard and ran up and down the ramps in the barn and knocked ourselves out and then someone knocked over the hay fort and we roasted marshmallows.

Joy gave me sparklers; I never had sparklers before.


I’m glad I’ve finished high school. I’m glad Sadie talked me into having a party and I’m glad it didn’t rain. But most of all I’m glad for all these people because they’re the best part.

This evening it’s storming, but we’re still getting together at the barn to celebrate for Father’s Day. This morning in church people took turns and stood up and said things about their dads. Some told stories. I have lots of stories I could tell about my dad. About driving to the casino to see Kevin Costner in concert and going to market when it’s still dark and finding my little Ranger and paying 200 down for it after talking to the guy ten minutes. But it’s stopped raining now and I gotta go and if I start in on something it’ll get sappy fast, which no dad ever wants, right? I love you Daddy. Thanks for taking me to that Kevin Costner concert.

~Emma ❤

Brad Paisley – We Danced

tonight we party

barn party, 2016 (photo courtesy Naomi)

After closing yesterday Sadie and I helped Daddy hang up the lights. Actually they both did it and I just stood there watching and making stupid jokes like I always do when my mouth isn’t taped shut (and thankfully it usually isn’t.) It’s the third time we’ve strung these lights from the rafters; first two springs ago for a barn dance, then last June for my cousin’s graduation party, and now again for mine.

We’re having a party tonight. And my favorite people are coming. We’re going to dance till the fireflies come out and then some. I’m so excited.


barn party, 2015

I’ve never had a graduation party before so we’ll see how we do. I’ll let you know later.

~Emma

Kip Moore – Girls Like You

Luke Bryan -Crash My Party (seriously Luke Bryan you’re welcome to crash mine anytime!)

strawberry season (and whoops)

Soooo I realize I’ve dropped the ball on my own challenge of posting every day. (It’s harder than you think!) I promise I’m going to catch it though! I may even turn this into a weekly or twice weekly thing because that would be so much easier. Easier is not always better, kids, like in the case of robotic vacuums (has anyone else been living in the dark of these highly disturbing contraptions?) but in the case of Emma, weekly blogging might be a very sensible plan. I don’t want to knock myself out. I have a job to do. Stuff depends on me. And for the first time in what feels like forever, I’ve got a purpose that I may have worked eighteen years to realize. I frickin love it. I love my work. Today we opened for the season, flags out and doors wide, and my sister, three cousins, and these other two boys that we kinda sorta really like, drove out to the strawberry patch at 7 to pick fifteen flats to sell. The W Farm is one of my favorite places on this whole earth. The hill where the strawberries are overlooks the valley where the red barns are clustered like great big strawberries themselves, then the White House beyond and the soft billowy trees of Pennsylvania forests. PA is my second favorite state. (To learn more about my favorite state in this ere Union see category labeled ‘Texas’.) 

Having work that you love to do keeps you grounded and steady when the world feels like it’s turning way too fast and in all the wrong directions. Sometimes I wonder if this is the drama capital of the state. If I had my way, things wouldn’t change much, but  that’s not the way it is, and everything’s moving fast. I always want to keep my little circle safe and sound. You can’t do that. Like Forrest Gump says, “It happens.” They say change is the only constant – but I say, our God is the only constant. And it’s so weird and so beautiful to me that I can still be so at peace, more so than I’ve felt in months, even when my heart is softened and hurting for so many people at the same time. That ain’t me; that’s Him. 

Anyway ramble over and see you when I see you! I have a party to see to tomorrow. It’s gonna be lit. 😊


As you can see we are very attractive people. (Also known as ‘the picture I decided not to post on instagram’)

~Emma

The stars fell on (insert name of smallest township in CHQ county)

This waiting-until-the-very-last-second-before-I-go-to-bed-to-post-on-my-blog-that-like-five-people-read-thing has got to stop, because I’m exhausted. And it’s only the beginning of June. It’s been quite a day. Got some new employees to help on the farm – which was a great idea if I may say so, we totally don’t have enough people working for us already…. (I’m being sarcastic obviously, but no, I’m glad you’re on board, Bowie and Virgil!) Also toping the news charts, the bulb on the top of the shifter in my truck popped off mid-turn and scared the living heck out of me, but we’re okay, don’t worry. With June busting out all over I’m an absolute horror of sneezing and wheezing, but we’re dealing with that with “as much grace as we can muster” (thank you, Downton Abbey, for your endless supply of intelligent-sounding phrases). Big news flash for y’all – local honey helps zilch when it comes to allergies. Contrary to popular thought, It will not save your soul. It will in fact not do anything. Your only hope is to get some drug interactions going on. (“Oh, drugs, no problem.” – Dr Fleischmann) (Oh my gosh, I hope my aunt doesn’t read this or she’ll be horrified at the path I’ve set down!) (Seriously though, when you’re so sick you can’t even do your dang job, you’ve gotta get some reinforcement.) (I promise I’m done with parentheses now.)

I walked into the library this evening and headed straight back for the VHS section like I usually do, because why watch a DVD when you could play a buzzing VHS instead, you know what I’m saying? To my dismay, the shelves that used to house my beloved 90s movies were filled with dime novels marked 50 cents apiece. “Where are the VHS tapes?” Sadie asked the dude at the reference desk, because I try to avoid talking to anybody last six o clock pm. “We got rid of them,” he said with zero emotion. “The only ones left are those few on the sale rack.” 

I took a step back, stabbed through the heart. My whole life turned on its head! 

What about The Apostle? What about Geronimo? What about Cary Grant? Who authorized this abominable action????

Disheartened, I went to look through the scant collection of surviving tapes. As far as I could see there was no rhyme or reason to the ones they’d kept…you have to wonder why so many people in the last decade of the twentieth century thought it was their calling to make workout videos. Anyway I was about to cry. Until my eyes lighted on one case, a familiar case, and I pulled it out with joy – The Stars Fell On Henrietta. 25 cents. Done.

So Sadie and I dished ourselves huge bowls of her homemade ice cream and watched our strange little movie that we love and nobody else has heard of, and Robert Duvall charmed my heart as usual, and Aidan Quinn made the room spin with his dreamy blue eyes, and Raymond still fell off the oil derrick, and all turned itself to rights in the end. And now it’s 11:00 and this farmgirl needs to hustle herself to bed where she belongs.

Goodnight. Thanks for reading!

~Emma

Kip Moore – Running For You

Carly Pierce – Every Little Thing

Chris Stapleton – Traveller

 blessed and tired (like, really tired)

Last week in church my pastor came up to me and told me that next week they were honoring the graduates in the congregation, and I would be asked to come up to the front and say a little bit about what my plans are and what I’ll be doing now that I’m finished with high school.
“I know you hate that question,” he said, and I think I kind of rolled my eyes because yes, I do.

But I love my church. So whatever I gotta do. This morning I walked up front with two other girls. They looked really shy, so I went first. I tried to talk loudly so the old people would hear. I said I was working for my family and I was going to Colorado (wink wink), that I loved growing things and working with animals, and then I stopped, suddenly aware I was talking too much. I tend to do that whenever I have to say anything to a gathering of people, or really whenever I open my mouth…I mean, what am I doing now? I’m rambling. I smiled and stepped back and the other two girls took turns at the mic, saying what college they were going to and what they would be studying in short, succinct sentences. I kept smiling and thought, “I’m really weird.” 

The pastor gave us each a gift – a big, beautiful, brand-spanking-new Bible with a pink glossy cover that I can’t stop staring at (and maybe drooling over). It smells good too, like new leather and possibilities. Inside there are sticky notes placed strategically with insightful and encouraging things written on them. (I have an important question: do all men write in all capitals? It seems like every one I know does.) After the service people congratulated me and asked me about my job at the Ranch. It was the closest thing to an actual “graduation” I had, since when you’re homeschooled – ahem – when you’re Emma Anderson, you kind of just lollygag your way into June and tie up the loose ends of unfinished assignments and one day, hey, you’re done. Woot-woot. No ceremony, but it’s all the same. 

I’m through with high school and I have more friends than I knew and a beautiful pink Bible. I really love my church. #feelingblessed


And #feelingtired too, I can’t imagine why, except that I drove home at 12:30 last night from a bonfire with my cousins. It was a young adult’s group from my aunt’s church, and we were the out-of-towners. Six of us drove down there in Peter’s truck, stopped for supper + ice cream, and went to a bonfire by a pond where I garnered many bug bites, despite putting on bug spray. If you go into a bunch of people you don’t know, it’s better to do so armed with a bunch of people you do know. In the end we had fun, though if there be a next time I may or may not be sitting out on ultimate frisbee. Emma + the frisbee = angry Emma + lost frisbee.

(I photograph people without telling them)

It’s always interesting, and kind of weird, to experience different groups of friends. Everybody has their quirks and habits and jokes. When you go to Pennsylvania there is a very real chance you will encounter some rednecks. Some of them even roast hot dogs on the end of fishing poles and go “frog-gegging” (look it up, I don’t know) by the light of the moon. Some of them are really weird, some aren’t bad. I still think my friends are best though. Supposedly the idea behind this excursion was to find boyfriends for Molly and me. This did not come to pass but we got ice cream.


In other news, I watched The Free State of Jones with my mom the other night and I’m still reeling internally. Between graduation parties and retirement parties and recitals, I’ve seen a lot of people from my past over this weekend, which has been equal parts awkward and sensational. 


Sadie picked some peas from the patch this evening, and I tell you this – there is nothing in the world so wonderful as the taste of sweet peas in June.

~Emma

Lee Brice – Love Like Crazy

Maddie & Tae – Sierra

 Journey – Faithfully

Sam Hunt – Cop Car

cowgirl

“You’re a cowgirl,” she said to me, and my heart soared like a kite.

Everyone can agree that the cowgirl lifestyle is an attractive one, right? Even if you’re not super-duper-mega-almost-to-the-point-of-lunacy into it, like I am. I have Panhandle magazine advertisements taped to my closet door. I’m into it. Not really sure how I got this gene, since I live in the northeast and nobody in my family has ever been a cowboy. But for years now all I want to do is go West and be a cowgirl. Not one of those model cowgirls who wear leather fringe skirts and shiny wild rags – though that’s cool too – no, a real cowgirl, the kind that actually rides horses and ropes cattle and drives the herd. I really, really want to be that girl.

This August I’m going to Colorado. Now it’s official and I find myself telling everybody, because it’s a good way to distract them from the feared “what are you doing after you graduate?” question that was stale six months ago and is totally compostable now. “I’m going to Colorado to work on a ranch,” I say, and they veer off their original track to go on about how cool that is and how much I’ll love it there. (Works like a charm. It’s awesome.) Even after I explain to them that I won’t actually be wrangling horses, I’ll be mostly working as kitchen and wait staff, they agree that it’ll be a fabulous experience and yes, that sounds just like you, Emma. They probably say that because I’m one of the like 10% of people in this county who wears cowboy boots 24/7. Or maybe they say that because they know me.

The other night I told my friend Joy about the ranch. She was all over it. “You’ll love that!” she said. “You’re a cowgirl.” And since Joy is one of the people I admire and respect the most, it meant worlds to me that she would say that. (She likes Marshall Tucker and Greg Allman, so yes, of course she knows what she’s talking about.) I’m no cowgirl, seeing as I can barely neck rein a horse and I’ve never handled a lariat in my life. But if there is such a thing as being a cowgirl at heart, and I know that sounds cheesy as all get out, but if people are born to do certain things and I believe they are, then I’m there. I’m out in Arizona or Nevada, branding cattle and pointing them North.

This summer in Colorado will be the first time I’ve held a job in the general field of what I hope to do, not to mention the first time I’ll see the Rockies, or the first time I’ll be apart from my family and my farm for an entire month, which is still a long time for a soft-shelled eighteen-year-old like me! It may be this summer and this place that determines for me where I’ll go; if lassos and campfires and grazing cattle are really what makes my heart sing the most. It’s still a little fuzzy for me to grasp when I tell people – I’m going to Colorado. And like I tell some, I might come back…I might not.

So thanks, Joy. Maybe someday soon I will be a real cowgirl. 😊

~Emma 

George Strait – Amarillo by Morning

Brad Paisley – This is Country Music

Dirty vs. clean

“You’re filthy,” Mama said, meaning me.

My twelve year old self would cringe to hear this, but I love being dirty. I don’t genuinely feel like I’m working unless I’ve got some grime to show for it. The dirtier the better. No, mom, I don’t want to shower yet. I’m enjoying my life just like this. Why would you make me wash this off just to sit on the couch?

It’s almost like a sign of dignity, the level of filthiness you can achieve over the course of a day. You can always do better. How black are your fingernails? How dusty is your face? If the soles of your feet aren’t the same color as the ground you’re standing on you’re missing something in the process.

I remember one night last summer after closing I was so filthy I drove the gator to the creek and sat right down in it (the creek not the gator) with all my clothes on. When I went back to the house I avoided the busy road by cutting through the fire hall parking lot…forgetting, of course, that it was a Tuesday night and all the volunteer firefighters would be assembled outside for their weekly meeting, until it was too late. All the volunteer firefighters in this town have seen me with wet hair and streaming mascara. I hope they’re recovered by now.

No doubt about it, there is something very calming and conclusive about a shower at the end of a day, when the work is done, and that pretty much beats staying grubby. It gives a sense of closure, like wiping off a blackboard to start again tomorrow. Plus the acoustics of the bathroom are far superior to anywhere else in the house, so if you want to sing like Carrie Underwood, here’s your best chance.

So yes, Mama, I will go take a shower.


(Did I just write a blog post about showering??? And it’s only Thursday.)

~Emma

P.S. Thank you so much everyone who’s been reading this so far! And everyone who’s just popping in too, whoever you are – I’m really grateful ☺️